It’s a political State of emergency… Not a real one!

Today is just another day Maldives is making headlines again for all the wrong reasons. The timing couldn’t be more perfect as tourist high season is just beginning and the country depends heavily on tourism revenues.

bomb disposal unit  checking on a reported IED
bomb disposal unit checking on a reported IED

The government all of a sudden declared state of emergency across the whole country citing security concerns. Specifically the authorities believe a container of explosives and fire arms has been imported to the country from China (by VP and his partners) and some elements are planning to use them against the president. The president already survived an IED attach on his boat after he returned from Hajj and the VP has since been arrested and kept in detention pending charges of “high treason” according to the home minister. The VP is accused of all sorts of crimes including running gangs, influencing police and military, bribing institutions etc. and its very likely that there are some elements of truth in these charges and that he will be given long prison sentences. The parliament is already trying to impeach him without the support of the biggest opposition party MDP, which means a crucial 5 votes needed to pass the impeachment motion will have to be either bought or ransomed for the release of former president Nasheed (who is also in jail) or whichever is less costlier for the current government.

mdp demo
Opposition MDP rally against the governement

However the view from across the public is of deep mistrust as this state of emergency looks very much an effort to stop huge demonstrations against the government for detention of several politicians including the former president Nasheed and Sheikh Imran the leader of Adhaalath party. What is most apparent in these unfortunate events is that the decree to impose state of emergency also includes clause halving the number of days the VP can prepare to answer to the parliament in the no confidence motion. The stated reason for the state of emergency namely about loose weapons posing danger to the public shall have nothing to do with the number of days VP can get to prepare for his defense. It’s also true that the current government has very little public support and is in deep trouble with public opinion locally and globally. Imprisoning politicians, stifling dissent and ruling under state of emergency should not be the way forward for Maldives. Maldives is such a sunny country we can do better than this.

For the record we can say that Maldives is as sunny as always and there are no threats to life or property and guests are unlikely to be ever harmed in their holidays. What is happening inside is crude political drama and is more hype than substance.

Former president Anni sentenced for 13 years behind bars

In a deeply flawed trial, the former president Anni was found of guilty of terrorism and sentenced 13 years behind bars. This is a deeply shocking news to many as the twists and turns of this saga were closely followed by friends and foes alike, although nobody believed he would anyhow get a free or fair trial. President Nasheed (popularly known as Anni) had many friends and foes, but even most of his foes agree that this time he has received more than he deserves.

Some facts about the trial:

  • Anni’s defense witnesses were prevented from giving witness; the court essentially said the prosecution witnesses were too strong to be negated by defense witness.
  • One of the three sitting judges was a prosecution witness in the first lesser charge. The state prosecutor was also a witness to the case.
  • The prosecution changed the charge sheet almost overnight without giving Anni’s lawyers time to make defense. The original charge was a lesser charge of wrongfully imprisoning a person, the later was terrorism.
  • Anni’s lawyers had to quit because the court essentially made it impossible for them to work by giving them strange and unworkable deadlines to defend the former president.

Despite these setbacks this will be a blow to the sitting government for allowing this farce of a court case to have gone to completion. In the middle of the court case there were frequent allegations and sightings of govt. officials such as the all powerful tourism minister meeting with sitting Judges and even supreme court judges. The allegations were that current government wanted the courts to windup the case as quickly as possible so as not to allow more media scrutiny into the case. It is also interesting to note that this court case was quickly revived up after being left gathering dust for 3 years just a few weeks after government owned apartments were given to court judges.

Politically this is a big mistake by PPM who have majority of parliament, government and judiciary all in their hands to be seen as crushing any form of dissent. The government cannot hide under the slogan that they are unable to interfere with judicial proceedings. This is a well-known tactic everywhere used by all sorts of dictators to crush dissent. They used just one mantra and it won’t buy them any legitimacy. It is unlikely that the govt. can stand the negative pressure from media and global community.

http://www.haveeru.com.mv/dhivehi/news/167021

Where is the Mad one?

This is probably the hottest question in Maldives right now. This is about a prolific blogger who used the alias “moyameeha” meaning mad person who mysteriously went missing one evening 46 days ago. Since then many things happened and this case has been on everyone’s conscience and yet after a lot of work trying to find him, his whereabouts is unknown. From what is already known, he lives alone in Hulhumale and has received online threats for his controversial views like politicians prior to the disappearance. Police have launched a massive campaign to find him and yet they don’t seem to have come up with much. Maybe they have but they aren’t revealing much of what they have found. Notable news stories that has since come up with which may or may not be connected with this story include a report of a forcible abduction of a person in Hulhumale and a storage facility that was destroyed by fire. The abduction according to police was a woman who was drunk and they refused to divulge any other information about this case as they believe the two cases are not related. The storage facility that was destroyed by a huge fire some allege might have something to do with disposing of evidence to something more sinister. However nobody is sure of anything as of yet, and the authorities are not yet in singing mood.

And then there is the politics.

MDP the opposition party is trying to get as much currency out of this issue since their electoral defeat, in both presidential and parliamentary elections and accusations are flying energetically everywhere. Proxy NGO’s run by MDP members are making reports accusing everybody from the president to the scholar to the laymen and everyone in between. Astounding as it may seen, they are even energetically promoting the theory that this is about a forced disappearance orchestrated by religious scholars and irreligious street thugs however difficult maybe to promote the theory. One peculiar thing that is unique to MDP is always to appealing to their international partners rather than trying to convince the electorate that their position is better than their enemies. In this regard they have made quite damaging allegations against the country such that investors and tourists arrivals will be affected by alleging the country is gripped by extremism etc. This is not a new thing to MDP and this maybe the reason why they lost lot of support from patriotic mainstream when they are seen to be too out of touch with the common people and too eager to impress their international partners elsewhere.

Whatever the political leanings maybe, this is a worrying case and there appears to be an honest desire to arrive at the truth with the resources we have. Even if a crime is established and a culprit brought before the law, it’s highly improbable that justice will be served because of the giant sized holes in our constitution.

Fake demos cost travel advisories against the country

Basically it happens like this. The country is highly polarized with people pro and against controversial former president Anni. Approximately a little bit less than half of the population supports him while the rest are split between what could be termed as royalists (PPM) and progressives (JP coalition). So we have 3 major political thinking at the moment. The current hullabaloo about the case before Supreme Court is just a technical legal process which has to be completed whoever runs the show. There are many issues in the whole story including the personal lifestyle of a Supreme Court judge and the quality of evidence JP submitted against the first round of presidential elections. To summarize the whole story, it may be safely said that politicians are encouraging disruptive behavior by calling for tourism boycotts which are usually followed by unsuspecting politically naïve followers.

In resorts the political wheeling and dealing are enthusiastically followed by resort workers who discuss the finer points of the days happening after duty hours normally in the staff gym or cafeteria. There is great camaraderie and honest heart to heart discussions sometimes quite heated. To make for a party atmosphere soft drink cases are usually bought from staff shop and enemies and friends enjoy political toast to their political masters in Male’. Usually somewhere in the discussion the idea to capture the moment and share in social media occurs to somebody and is carried out.

From there on the evil political masters take over and twist the story to their advantage and start frantic anti campaigns against the country.

To make the story go viral they even include Iran and Syria as well in the hash tags to get attention to the story.

The damage has already been done. What started as a light hearted talk was quite successfully turned to something more sinister. Travel advisory against the country has already been issued from 5 countries and more are to follow. Those who are calling for tourism boycott against the country are the true enemies of the country. Tourism can make or break this country and no sane person with a cool mind will call for self destruction. If this was about a single hotelier abusing the staff or something similar, a strike can be justified. But we have at the moment is no strikes and irresponsible hot-headed politicos inviting maximum damage to the country. It’s sad that TEAM the biggest organization representing tourism workers also appears to support boycott of tourism forgetting that more than half of those who work in resorts are not going to support their political view. TEAM shall be more neutral and be support of all political views to succeed in the long term. Whichever party comes to power, a self damaged economy would be the most difficult wound to heal.

Election fever, everywhere…

goidhoo jumuhoory campaign

Its everywhere now, the tv, the blogs (ours included with this piece), the news papers. Its also that time when people can enjoy a little bit of dreaming about the many promises the politicians make. Reality will always dawn after the results are known and the first 100 days gone.

The list of promises this doesn’t seem to be burdened with any sense of balance unlike the in previous election when they at least tried not to drift away to promises. Below are some pledges various politicians are making to the people as of now. God only knows what they have in mind come tomorrow. These pledges and promises are not based on facts, studies or based on any such frivolities of life. Some are just gut feelings they have, concocted on the spur of the moment…

1) The (proverbial) bridge between Male’ and Hulhule; perfectly feasible but unlikely to be started for another 5 years.

2) OLPC… our version of one laptop per child by Gasim . The explanation for this was to lighten the burden of heavy books the students are carrying to school!

3) Anni’s banana and milk pledge for students to sip in the interval time…

4) Pledge to upgrade the 2kRf for the elderly to 3.5k by Dr. Waheed. The catch might be to raise also the age of the recipient to another 5 years!

5) A house (basically) for every married couple upon getting married! By Gasim,

6) Creation of thousands of jobs. By Gasim, Yameen, Anni and Waheed. How nobody seems to know and whatever they know, they certainly are not articulating well enough. Maybe they have ideas of opening factories etc. But this is also a very manageable issue if they would acknowledge their previous efforts were misdirected.

From the direction of general discourse, its very likely that neither party will get the 50% votes to conclude the exercise in one round (ebburun). If it indeed comes for a second round, its very likely that all parties except MDP will make a grand coalition to defeat MDP in the second round.

Dr. Waheed the incumbent president is all alone by himself without support of any big party after his coalition partners joined Gasim because of lack of campaigning.

 

anni campaign goidhoo

New closing hours for business; in Maldives and in Egypt

.Image

The new closing hours are actually older closing hours and Egypt and Maldives have different reasons for the time change. In the case of Maldives, the administration maintains this is a necessary measure to fight gang wars which has claimed several lives in the past few years. Reading by the comments in the Haveeru and Sun, it appears that the majority of the readers approve of the measure. It just goes on to show that people are willing to sacrifice some liberties to live in peace. Considering the size of Male’, the amount spent on armed forces, this shall not be an issue in Maldives. However urban development has not been matched by upgrades to criminal law etc which sees serious criminals getting away with ludicrous punishments. The issue MDP is raising about the current batch of judges who were secretly administered an oath of office and a life time job is also valid. It’s a big injustice to the profession and a disincentive to those who aspire to shine in that field.

  

 In the case of Egypt, this measure was to cut cost associated with state subsidized power. In all Middle Eastern countries power is subsidized by state and despite wealth of gas and oil, a substantial portion of the energy bill is consumed uneconomically. Its one reason all Middle Eastern countries want to upgrade to nuclear power. Another reason of course is development of nuclear weapons which is a good deterrent. A good examples is North Korea which will never be attacked whatever it does because they have proven nuclear weapons

Should we quit the Commonwealth?

This is a question which was raised in our Citizen’s Majlis recently in an aimless debate (the kind of useless talk politicians call debates…) which will one way or another way be answered negatively just not to be seen as politically incorrect by both MDP and their adversaries in politics. This was raised because commonwealth is seen to be taking a much uninformed approach to the political developments in the Maldives in the last few months. It seems the commonwealth diplomats were not appropriately briefed on the situation from all perspectives or that they were bombarded with too much info such that they just threw all the info they were given away and googled info the easy way. Googling (or Yahooing for that matter) info this way is prone to error and there should have been no surprise there.

But what are the practical benefits of being in Commonwealth? Here are some tidbits of info we came across along these lines.

“If they get a lot of benefits, and that you’re angry, try to think of it this way:
The Brits conquered their lands, exploited their kids, making them work in mines, killed dissenters, killed their leaders, killed the natives, brought in immigrants from China, made them work at meagre salaries, implemented the divide and rule policy to the detriment of national unity, left during the Japanese occupation, shamelessly came back to claim power after the Japs surrenderred, continued to exploit the economy.. all to satisfy the needs of the Brits during the Industrial Era.. and it lasted for 2 centuries in some countries. In other words, it’s payback time for the Brits!”
link1

“Visits from the Queen, the opportunity to lay a wreath at the Cenotaph, a much better chance of winning a gold medal in the shot put because Russia, Germany and the US don’t compete in the Commonwealth Games…”
Link2

“The Commonwealth doesn’t have too many legal benefits these days, it’s mainly a friendship organization. One benefit is that if you are travelling to a country in which your own country doesn’t have an embassy, you can obtain assistance from the embassy of any commonwealth country…”
Link3

“…Only writers from Commonwealth countries can compete for the Booker Prize which is arguably the most prestigious prize for a single written work (novel) by an author. The Booker prize has the effect of propelling a writer’s career sky high.”
Link4

The lies, half truths and blatant propaganda.


We are truly living in interesting times now. Currently we are going through a phase of contradictions and it will be interesting to see where we emerge after this. Lets enumerate some current realities.

  • We have a divisive president superseded by a low key one.
  • A government which doesn’t have anyone to represent them in parliament.
  • We have extremely polarized media who don’t even pretend to be neutral.
  • We have the vanquished government, refusing to establish the ‘mutiny’ or ‘coup’ in any court of law.
  • We also have a courageous position by the incumbent president who publicly stated that he will stand down and handover the presidency to the former president if the ‘coup’ is established as fact.
  • We have an unplacated opposition (MDP) who haven’t given a thought to play within the system.
  • We also have a call to boycott all the good things in life… Like Lavazza, RedBull, Marlboro etc. All in the name of pressuring the current government.
  • We also have a dysfunctional parliament which is wasting millions of public money to continue with the farce.
  • And then of course we have the FRIENDS OF MALDIVES, who are again calling for boycott of our resorts. (With such good friends like that, who needs enemies? J)

All these positions are maintained by half truths, lies and blatant propaganda. This is about justifying the ends not the means to achieve the objectives. In this struggle of self interests, all is fair and right. But should that be the case? Can’t somebody advocate outright honesty?

Occupancy dropping!

mdp women protestors drenched in protest
mdp women protestors drenched in protest

After an average high season of tourists in November to February, occupancy rates in resorts are dropping across the board with an alarming urgency. Our friends in many resorts say the situation is desperate in many resorts as the continuing political struggle in Male’ is taking a heavy toll on the tourism industry.

And there is no end in sight for the problem 😦

The parties to the struggle are firmly locked in immutable positions and there is very little room for either party to maneuver.
For the vanquished MDP, it has to maintain the story of being wronged and unlawfully ousted narrative to gain lost ground to some of politically unpopular policies it pursued while in power.

For the victors (DRP, PPM, Adhaalath and the coalition), they have not yet finished distributing the political chairs amongst themselves and have only a few months to face the election. So they will also try their best to retain the temporary advantage they have and make a good impression on the voters.

Both sides of the conflict are using media to spin their version of story and are being increasingly graphic in their story telling. Sometimes it seems as if the only real reason for the continuing protests is in Male’ to take good pictures to put in the media. Above pic is a good example of that.

Taking all these into context one wonders, why are we fighting? What is the real price of this in-fighting? Is this an affordable fight? Already we have been able to inflict 200 million ruffiyaas worth of damage in a few hours to police buildings and equipments. What more do we need? Loss to tourism income might not be as visible as burnt and torched buildings, but once the resorts revenues gets below to a certain threshold, they will start laying off workers and closing for ‘renovations’. But who cares?

What will happen tomorrow?


It appears that we are heading to another political showdown tomorrow as the opposition party claims it will do all it can to block Dr. Waheed from giving his presidential address. The military and police have also announced that they will block 15 sensitive areas from Male’ in time for the address. These are hardly news that the world expects from the this peaceful holiday maker’s country. But who is calling the shots and why? Is there logic behind the ‘decisions’?

If there are reasons they clearly are  obscure and it might involve some deep thinking to find it out. So let’s give it a try.

[Disclaimer: the following sequences of events is for imagination only]

  1. 09:30 local time. Resortworkers team manages to secretly insert a camera to parliament chambers to record the happenings inside. 🙂
  2. 10:00 Dr Waheed arrives in parliament in the official black car with first lady and hundreds of armed guards.
  1. 10:05 The parliament speaker announces the day’s agenda and introduces the president.
  2. 10:20 Dr. Waheed starts “Bismillah…(In the name of Allah)…” [and then all hell broke loose… parliamentarians start making noise, throws furniture at each other, yells and shouts obscenities…]
  3. 10:47 Dr. Waheed tries to continue… but ultimately too tired and frustrated, he steps down from the podium and takes a seat near the speaker of the parliament.
  4. 10:53 The parliament speaker names a few members of MDP to be evicted from the parliament chambers… [some parliamentarians are now indistinguishable from street hooligans… some even shirtless and most engaged in real physical violence against opponents!]
  5. 11:03 In other places around Male’ a few arson attacks were started by unknown assailants at the same time as the presidential address was going on and fire lorries were seen rushing to scenes of carnage!
  6. 11:07 Resortworkers team manages to hack in to the servers of local media stations (Dhi TV, Raaje TV, TVM, Haveeru, Aafathis… [with Anonymous’ help] of course!) and quickly discovers what is already known: That other than Raaje TV and Minivan News, all other media outlets are trying to downplay the situation while the above two media outlets are deliberately misleading the public by exaggerating the events unfolding in Male’.
  7. 11:37 The southern most atolls Addu, Foa Mulah and Huvadhoo declares independence from Maldives and names Dr. Didi (MDP chairperson) as the president. Kulhudhuffushi island council is said to be in talks with Indian high commission to join the Indian federation!
  8. 11:42 Dr. Waheed announces abolition of parliament to the cheers of Srilankan high commissioner and the Chinese envoy. [dunno why! 😦 ]
  9. 12:03 BBC announces that US 7th fleet is headed towards Maldives (from wherever it was based!) with a fearsome armada of ships, destroyers, submarines and at-least two aircraft carriers! [getting scary now!]
  10. 12:59 CNN reporting that a platoon of crack-commandos descended on the parliament house in broad daylight, overpowered the security forces and snatched Dr. Waheed and first lady and escaped via a radar-evading helicopter to…. somewhere…
  11. Resortworkers team signs off after a momentous day in history!

Parties in self-destruct mode

Dr. Waheed in campaign
Dr. Waheed in campaign

Our political parties (the active ones at least) seems to be working in auto-pilot self destruct mode. One would be forgiven for thinking that enough has happened in the last 5 years for politicians to realize what aught to be done or said (or not) would have been grasped by now. But this doesn’t seem to be the case even now. They are doing the same mistakes they have done AGAIN! Let’s enumerate the mistakes of the ruling coalition first.

  • Appointing discredited people to important positions (ministers, directors etc). Let yesterdays paper be yesterday’s news.
  • trying to redo the same thing again (like reverting back to the tourism  sunny-side logo again)
  • copying the same tactics for different political campaigns. (originality would be better)

Where the yellow shirts are wrong.

  • Foul mouthing MNDF and police, because whatever happens they will stay. The party may change or the leadership may change, but institutions like police and military do not change. So its no use to call them names. Former defense minister Ameen Faisal tried many times to raise this point. But his voice doesn’t seem to be audible at the policy level.
  • Associating with violence or condoning such behavior. The effects of violence will serve as a powerful reminder of all that was wrong within and will be useful ammo for the yellow shirt’s enemies. Playing it cool with  politeness and respectability will win more hearts and minds.
  • Appear to benefit from influence. The recent decision by Male City council to award Lonuziyaaraykolhu to MDP’s “journey to justice” campaign was universally despised if Haveeru ( a relatively moderate paper) comments are a good measure of what people thought about it. The yellow shirts shall refrain from being seen as receiving an advantage from its position. The opposition’s chances will be better if they play the victim part.
  • Appearing to be secular and aloof from the religious voice. Every party needs religion and religious scholars to show that they care about religion and people’s belief. Even the atheist North Koreans tried to show that heaven was involved when their great leader passed away. So yellow shirts aught to do some soul searching here. Selling the middle of the road brand in religion has been proven not to work in Maldives politics.

MDP big demo underway…

TMDP big demo underway in Male'

MDP’s long planned big demo is underway in Male’ with thousands of MDP supporters. The demand for now is for incumbent president Dr. Waheed to announce a date for a fresh referendum or else! 🙂

Actually our sources in the demo reports that the temperature is quite cool yet and there is possibility that further demands may be spawned as the demo goes on. The only worry for now is that the police forces might intervene to stop the demo at midnight which might lead to confrontations. However, its equally likely that the police will play it safe this time because it would be in the interest of incumbent government now.

streaming of demo is available @ www.newdhivehiobserver.com

So, what do you think? Could the recent power transfer from Anni to Dr. Waheed be called a coup?

So, was it a coup or not?

military person looking at the remnants of his base

The recent change of administration in the country raises a lot of interesting questions. Already the vanquished MDP party has determined that the former president Anni was unseated by a military (or a civilian?) coup. The opposition claims otherwise. So who is telling the truth and who is lying? Or could it be that this situation has also joined the philosophical realm where both truth and falsehood are somehow intertwined?

So we leave our friends and fellow resort workers to answer these questions below. If they are pro MDP then they may answer the “If so” questions. The rest may answer the “If not” questions…

If so

  1. Who are the coup leaders? A few private police boys cannot hide after doing such a big thing.
  2. What were the motivation? Over work? Fatigue? Could be because there has been almost constant nightly demonstrations  prior to the fateful day.
  3. Are the police and military same minded? Remember, there is only HQ for all our forces.
  4. There are allegations that police and military were bribed. But they are also highly paid, so who would have financed the big bribery campaign? How much could be the tipping point for a serviceman/woman? We understand that the average monthly salary of our armed forces personnel is higher than 1000$ per month.
  5. Why did it took a huge MDP congress meeting to realize that it was a coup?
  6. Why did the MDP congress hastily pass a resolution to block the line of communication with the current administration and called it illegitimate?
  7. Why did the police allow massive damage to their facilities in the islands? We understand that more than 9 regional police and military facilities were torched by angry MDP mobs. More than 30  police and military vehicles have also been torched in Addu alone, most of them have only recently been donated by China for the SAARC summit.
  8. Did the command structure broke down after the coup? Does that happen after the military  win? After they win why did they gave command again to an unpopular president and an even more unpopular and ineffectual opposition coalition?

if not

  1. Why did the police use excessive force to breakup the first strike after Anni was unseated?
  2. Why did they (who?) changed the official TV channel (MNBC1) to its former name (TVM)?
  3. Why did they hastily gave ownership of all government media to opposition media regulatory body MBC?
  4. Why did the criminal court issue an arrest warrant for former president Mohamed Nasheed (Anni)?
  5. Why is the parliament (still on vacation) uncharacteristically quiet when these massive developments happen? MDP has the majority even in the parliament now  and yet they seem to unable to cut their all important holiday short– when the country is literally burning.

Any questions?

President Anni resigns, what next?

Dr. Waheed, the new president of Maldives
Dr. Waheed, the new president of Maldives

Lets first congratulate Dr. Waheed, the new president of Maldives. Dr. Waheed is a quiet, soft spoken, extremely polite figure who has worked in UN diplomatic missions for quite some time. Dr. Waheed is generally looked upon to be impartial and fair and he retained the trust of both MDP and opposition parties even in the height of political tensions these last few days. We wish the new president well and hope he will be able to bring the country to working order in a near future.

Former President Anni and former president Maumoon still have sizable support of the people and what is not known yet is weather there will be a race between the two in the near future. For Maumoon its very much anticipated that he will not enter again to politics but for Anni there is every reason to anticipate a fighting political campaign ahead for him. Its interesting to note that the major 3 political parties in the country had experienced splits in the last 3 years and only MDP is left because it was the ruling party for the last few years. With Anni out of power it is likely that, the bindings that kept the party from splitting will cease and break out. If MDP were to split it would be a split in two, with the ‘countryside’ faction headed by DR. Didi who would be the majority and a Male’ faction lead by aristocrats from Male’. This has been quite anticipated for some time the media and there are already signs that the MDP’s self examining process will make it real. During the last three years, Anni seemed to have ears only for the Male’ faction on important policy matters which was probably the undoing of the party. Unpopular issues like licensing liquor sale in inhabited islands were advanced by the MDP’s Male’ faction with probable self interest in the issues. On a personal level, if the cases of bottles of liquor recovered from president’s residence were proved to have been for his Excellency’s consumption, there will be a very slim chance for him to get elected again.

links:

shakenshpere

maldivestoday

www.maeed.com

nafix

mymaldives

Police joins protesters– (now this is serious stuff!)

Maldives police joins demo

 

In a quickly changing atmosphere last night saw for the first time in the history of the country, police taking sides against the government in the on going demonstrations. Our sources in Male’ tells us that this could be the result of the military high command not being seen to be balanced in the orders and the police just revolted to show their disagreement with the top brass. The revolt started when MDP activists confronted the opposition protesters and pelted them with stones and the police tried to intervene. The police apparently got orders not to intervene. However when the intervened and arrested some MDP activists the military confronted the police and asked them to release the activists the police had apprehended or to hand them over to the military. The police did not obey this time and openly started siding with protesters. All this happened in the early hours of the morning and since then the police had changed the venue of the protests to the main square of Male’. Negotiations are on going with police and senior commanders and the president’s effort to speak to the protesting police seems ineffectual yet.

 

The developments in the last few hours has brought Male’ to a standstill with a number of arson attacks and attacks at business and private properties from both camps of the politics. The atmosphere is tense and opposition is calling for the vice president to take over the country.

 

The government if it needs to survive this latest development needs to seriously align the policies with the desires of the people and to listen to many untold reasons why its fast loosing credibility. This could start with making an effort to appear to dispense with justice and fair in arrests or detention. Even yesterday police gave a statement that there are difficulties pursuing an investigation against a prominent member of ruling party’s family member who was caught with a large stock of alcohol in his home. The said person was suspected with the same kind of contraband two years ago and the investigation was stopped short mysteriously.

 

 

The resort workers authoritative political review:

judge Abdulla gazi
Judge Abdulla

Even foreigners ask about Judge Abdulla.

It has become a standard talk starter and its even a question Maldivians have been asked in foreign countries. There are instances where Judge Abdulla is asked by police officers in India who have read the news about the ongoing saga of the abduction of Judge Abdulla by MNDF and the ensuing protests. But who is Judge Abdulla and what made him so special that the democratic president had to have him arrested despite seemingly universal opposition?

Velezinee

  • Velezinee was right even though she looked wrong!

To some, Judge Abdulla might be a victim of injustice but to others Judge Abdulla symbolizes everything that’s wrong in the judicial system and they might be just right! This was the same judge who remarked on a murder case verdict that he was letting off the suspect in the case to hold the health minister responsible. Perhaps this was the finest hour of the Judge and the suspect did not waste much time after that and only a few days later was involved in another murder. The same Abdulla had a disciplinary case against him when he was sworn in for lifetime in an almost clandestine ceremony amid heroic opposition by Ms Velezinee who made quite a scene for herself in protest at the judicial circus that was unfolding at the time. Ms. Velezinee at that historic moment would not have looked right but she did stood up to an important principle.

The major players of the current situation are the ruling MDP and a coalition of parties in a forced marriage of convenience.

  • Adhaalth
    • Adhaalath played the erudite Islamic scholar part in first few years and people mocked and scoffed at them for being scholarly and religious. Next they joined the pioneers of democracy the MDP. MDP repaid them by forcing them out of parliamentary elections by pitting strong MDP members against Adhaalath member who again lost. So Adhaalath party has rightly aligned with the left like just another real political party hoping to make their mark on the political landscape.
  • Ppm
    • PPM is the Maldivian equivalent of congress party of India and whatever happens is the party is going to stay. The party has lots of potential and talent and only seems to lack a replacement leader of the exact caliber for the former president Maumoon. Former president Maumoon however he was depicted was an accomplished politician.
  • Drp
    • DRP if it was human shall feel like going through a divorce after the formation of PPM following the leadership split and the future does not seem at all bright. The split of the party left DRP with a broken financier in Thasmeen Ali and few reform minded mps here and there who could not show enough obeisance to the house of Maumoon. The voter base of the party was of course all works of the former president and could be likened to a cut and paste version of the id card database at the time!

    yamin

    Pa

    • PA is a for its founder (The right honorable Yameen) what is normal business attire for a businessman. Its simply a platform, a prestigious title for its patron and a useful self made, political position to give press conferences etc. The voter base of the party is not even worth mentioning and the ideology is blank.

    Dr.-Hassan-Saeed

  • Np
    • National of (Gaumee) party is headed by Dr. Hassan Saeed and Dr. Jameel who were credited to have played important roles in the early years of power transfer from the last president to the current one both against and with MDP on various issues. However their influence is marginal at the moment after Dr. Hassan’s failed bid to presidency in the last presidential elections.

    Gasim Ibrahim

  • JP
    • JP is very much like PA except that Honourable Gasim is also very much like what is Sylivio Berlasconi is for Italians except for the allegations of mafia connections! Despite all his eccentricities (everybody has them!) Gasim is much more a favored figure than other contenders in the current climate for his generous philanthropic works.
  • the possibility of a formidable coalition
    • in the next upcoming presidential elections there is a real possibility of a serious threat to current president and the ruling party if the opposition comes under a strong coalition. There are already signs that such a coalition might take place and various parties will be assigned various functions to work in tandem to change power. One such plausible configuration would be like:
      • PPM: for political activism- providing the muscle
      • Adhaalath: for spiritual leadership
      • JP: the financier – for campaign financing
      • DRP: sleeping partners in business -for increasing numbers
      • Np: Gaumee party – for managing public relations
  • MDP’s miscalculations
    • If somebody is at the center of attention his or her even smallest acts will be noticed and MDP was no exception. Upon becoming the ruling party they tried everything to appear ‘nice’ to everybody and nothing seemed to work. MDP tried the positions of :
      • the adamant protester (the iconic picture of Anni being dragged away by MNDF)
      • the darling of media (TVM or MNBC until very recently tried to balance reporting— now sadly given up)
      • the liberator of religion (at first Adhaalath scholars were quite free to do whatever they wanted with Islamic ministry, which is not the case anymore..)
      • introducer of new concepts (started tax regime, transport regime, health insurance regime, pension regime etc)
  • The SAARC idols
    • The latest SAARC summit hosted in Addu just turned out to be like a a show or a performance (worth around 800 million Rf) as Addu city does not seems to have benefited from aught except a mention in history that this so and so city hosted this so and so summit and no more. To add salt to injury, the government stubbornly kept their stand with stone commemorative idols (souvenirs of SAARC summit) which were universally despised by the people of Addu.
  • Spa closure or brothel closure?
    • The government unwisely ordered spa closures throughout the country in response to growing demands by opposition protesters to close brothels in Male’ which operates under names of spas. This knee-jerk reaction by the government was interpreted very negatively by media, some mentioning even that the MDP led government is considering closing tourism altogether under popular protests. The administration hoped to achieve the victim status image for themselves but this status was obtained by financially sacrificing the country.
  • GMR fiasco…, yes its a fiasco!
    • One of the first major undertaking the MDP led government after coming to power was to outsource the management to Hulhule airport to GMR which has since been a bone of contention between the opposition and the ruling party. Part of the problem could be the inexperience of the persons who dealt such a huge contract with GMR hence the government is always seen liable to protect GMR’s interests rather than government ‘s interests.
  • The expensive immigration database
    • another bad apple in the political basket of MDP is the formidably expensive database software someone negotiated on behalf of the government with Nextbis which was subsequently found out to be able to be home grown and even the Americans promised to give such a database for free! The loss on the government on this shameful project is well over 200 million ruffiyas for next 20 years
  • To MDP’s credit
    • health insurance
      • universal basic health insurance which was started a couple of months ago is a welcome break for the country amid rising prices and growing political instability. There are still many things imperfect with the system and yet its perhaps one of the best things to happen in the last eventful few years.
    • transport system trials
      • transportation system via ferry dhonis, buses has started in many parts of the country despite several major transportation contracts being awarded to opaque seemingly paper companies.
    • the taxes
      • Taxes shall ideally not be taken from anyone (especially from workers :)), but is a modern day feature of economies in most economies of the world. One reason for the implementation of tax was to take more Ruffiyas from circulation which in theory would reduce demand on dollar which was one MDP manifesto pledge. The next reason was of course to increase more ways for government to make money. It took a change of government for the government to be sufficiently brave to introduce tax and its a start.
    • renaming Hulhule’ airport
      • After GMR got to run the Hulhule airport, it was rumored that GMR was researching Indian influential figures to use one such figure’s name in place of the airport’s name, which prompted the government to quickly rename the airport to Ibrahim Nasir who is the second president of the country, preventing GMR from giving an Indian name to the airport.
  • Secular camp taking advantage of MDP.
    • Perhaps one of the most damaging factor to the success of MDP is that it allowed the die hard secularists (the intolerant ones) to take advantage of the democratic liberal values initially professed by the party. Under various guises and schemes, they advanced their agenda which are universally abhorred by large majority of the country such as gay rights and religious pluralism. This is not about the rights and wrongs of the cases in question but rather political cost of the positions and MDP seems rightly duped as to where the votes are.
  • the media alignment
    • Media is a very useful tool both opposition and government can use to advance their cause and reach to the hearts and minds of the people. However both parties seems to use media to their own detriment. The opposition fares worse in this aspect that it doesn’t even care about the semblance of balance in reporting and disseminating information. On the other hand the government up until very recently tried to be professional and bring balanced reporting. By abandoning a valuable position of trust, government is ill advisedly coming down to battle a fight which does not exist!
  • the political cost of the protests
    • the political cost / benefit calculations doesn’t seem to have been anticipated in the protests that are currently taking place in Male’ in protest at the arrest and unlawful (yes its unlawful!) detention of Judge Abdulla. The protests are more loaded with emotion than reason and cold calculated political manipulations which is a good thing. The last thing we need is political intrigue to go along with the sorry state of everything else in the country.
  • the learning process..
    • an interesting feature of the ongoing protests is that both parties are learning from each other, the pros and cons of the trade. for example GP (Gaumee party) is doing what MDP has done to Maumoon’s regime by manipulating public relations against it using media and they seems to be succeeding here and there. On the other hand MDP seems also to have cracked the code as to how to bring masses out for a show of strength by watching Adhaalath doing the same despite their dismal parliamentary representation.

The media circus continues…

If the stakes were lower, this could be hilarious; here are the newest twists in the story about the order to close spas

  • The government asks for legal advice (closest translation) from supreme court on the legality of sale of alcohol and pork. This in itself is funny because supreme court is nobody’s lawyer!
  • MATI, (resort workers arch enemy!) or the resort owner’s cartel is suing government for ordering closure of spas in resorts and seeking damages caused to the industry’s reputation. This in itself is funny if we consider that the secretary general of MATI is the husband of tourism minister! The dynamics of suing a person’s own wife as part of the job will no doubt be painful and we are sorry for the sorry couple. 🙂  However its very likely that they are more in the know with the specifics of the case against them both and hope they can amicably settle their difference in their own sweet private time.
  • DQP (National Party) which has successfully sued government many times before and won cases against government possibly as a precursor to another court case has requested the police investigate tourism minister and the president for causing irrevocable harm to tourism industry saying that the rulings derived from the false-wedding-vow should be applied in this case. The gist of that ruling was that its a civil offense to cause any harm to the economy of the country either by deed or by action..

What is not funny in these political maneuvering is

  • The negative publicity this generated across the media despite the high value tourism we have. The administration clearly needs to dismiss their spin doctors who didn’t warn them about this media storm.
  • The judiciary is not yet famed for their impartiality and a slanted judgment will force the government to reinvent the wheel of tourism.

However it is our assessment that these suits and counter suits are just political equivalent of ruling MDP and opposition coalition pulling each others legs, because ultimately neither party will be able to take responsibility for destroying the tourism product.

Paradise accused of prostitution

Villa group's Flyme airline
Villa group's Flyme airline grounded

In an evolving political dispute heating up between the ruling MDP and the opposition coalition, the latest victims seems to be Villa Group of hotels and their own airline Flyme. Apparently responding to calls to close down  prostitution centres  in the big demonstration held on Friday, the administration responded by sending police and tourism officials to Paradise island to check on the spas in the island. Embroiling in an increasingly political battle, the tourism ministry sent orders to close the spa operation in Villa’s 5 resorts which the resort politely declined citing legal inconsistencies. Villa’s own Flyme airline which ferries tourists and locals to the area around Maamigili island airport has also been grounded yesterday by order from civil aviation authority citing safety concerns. This is in contrast to the fact that other local airlines have never been similarly grounded following major incidents.

Its unfortunate that political scores are being settled against critical infrastructure and tourism facilities which are the mainstay of economy of the country. It is in the interest of the country to keep tourism industry in firm stable footing and to insulate the industry from  political infighting as  tourism industry is critical for the economy.

Alidhoo staff on strike, again!

Alidhoo Cinnamon Island JResorts Maldives
Alidhoo (Cinnamon Island)

We are getting reports that a strike is happening at Alidhoo Cinnamon Island over last month’s pay. Apparently the resort has still not paid August month’s pay to the staff and is not even able to tell the staff when the resort can pay them. The same situation was repeated in June when staff had to go on strike to get their pay! That time the resort fired 12 staff for their legitimate demand on pay.
SAARC secretary General Dhiyana and JResorts owner Abdulla Jabir
Chairman of Yacht Tours Jabir with his wifeDhiyana former AG

Under the labour laws of the country, every employer is required to pay the previous month’s salary no later than the 10th of the next month. Cinnamon Island resort which is owned and managed by JResorts Maldives (formerly Yacht Tours Maldives) has a history of abusing workers rights and flout labour laws without fear of reprisal. The managing director of the company happens to be a senior member of the ruling MDP and a former parliamentarian whose wife is the current SAARC secretary general. It is scandalous that such high profile persons can afford to openly flout laws of the country with impunity.

We call on the Tourism Ministry and the Human Resources ministry to look in to the recurring problem of delays on staff’s monthly pay at resorts managed by JResorts and to bring those responsible to justice.

Tourism Ministry reprieving dodgers

Alidhoo Cinnamon Island JResorts Maldives
Alidhoo (Cinnamon Island)

The decision to reprieve resorts who are dodging payment of  rent and accrued fines is a dangerous precedent created by the tourism ministry. This is actually a very serious  issue as all of the owners of these defaulting resorts are senior members of the ruling MDP party. Tourism industry is the one sector of our economy that works well relatively compared to other sectors so its an alarming situation. The ministry and administration has to make a point of being seen as not playing favourites to the party members.

Tourism ministry may have considered the effect of revoking operation license of these resorts and the ensuing economic factors which might negatively effect the upcoming national elections in their decision. However these figures owed by the resorts in question are not of the magnitude that would have been impossible for resorts to come up with if the resorts are in business. Our resorts are well known for their over pricedness where even a bottle of water is sold for guests to the equivalent of a bottled water case! Also a quarter of million dollars is average monthly value of payroll in a mid sized resort. So its bewildering how the ministry has to bend its uprightness just to appease party benefactors.

Below is a list of resorts and the amounts owed by these resorts as rent and fines.

Alidhoo (Cinnamon Island) (JResorts) $792,042.12
Kuda Rah (JResorts) $759,363.38
Funamaudda (JResorts) $1,241,226.20
Filitheyo Island $2,563,509.01
Medhufushi $3,431,328.44
Kudafunaafaru (Zitahli Resorts) $669,604.72
Hadha (Park Hyatt) $200,833.33
Giraavaru $2,519,276.98
Kihaadhuffaru (Zitahli) $1,471,221.90
Laamu Olhuveli (Six Senses) $4,751,511.11
Nasandhura Palace $265,054.93
Total $18,664,972.12

source:Haveeru