Opposition MP and tourism tycoon Gasim Ibrahim has warned the government that he would not “surrender to the pressures” of authorities after they halted operations of his airline, Flyme, and ordered the closure of spas in five resorts in his Villa chain in the past 48 hours.
In a statement released on Monday, Transport Ministry said that Flyme airline, which began operating on October 2, was asked to halt operations while the ministry carried out an audit. The audit is addressed on an incident with the aircraft which took place on December 24.
The audit would be carried out within three months to determine whether the Flyme operations are administered according to the Civil Aviation regulations, the statement read.
However, on Tuesday morning Gasim’s lawyers successfully sought a civil court order to resume Flyme operations.
Meanwhile, on Sunday the Tourism Ministry sent a notice to Gasim’s Villa resorts ordering management to shut down resort spas until further notice, claiming the ministry had received reports of prostitution in those departments.
On Monday, a police team accompanied Tourism Ministry officials to Gasim’s Paradise Island resort to investigate the reports.
However, the resort’s manager Gaisar Naseem rejected the ministry’s order, claiming that no illegal activity is occurring in the spas, and refused to close down the spas without a court order, local media reported.
Naseem was summoned to appear at Police headquarters for further questioning at 2:00 pm on Tuesday.
Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam confirmed that police are cooperating with the Tourism Ministry to investigate the allegations against the resorts.
Gasim, Leader of Jumhoory party, has said the government’s recent decisions are targeted to “silence” him because of his work in the parliament and on a political platform.
In a press statement released on Monday night, Gasim assured that his businesses are of high standing and will bring only a good name to the country.
However, he warned that the government’s allegations that he is running “brothels in the resorts” will harm the tourism sector.
Gasim also warned the government that he will “not surrender to the pressures”, and that the government is “foolish” to think otherwise.
During the December 23 protest to “defend Islam”, Gasim criticized the government’s religious credentials.
“We don’t know there is a moderate, higher or lower Islam. We only know Islam, which is above all the religion. The only road we must follow is based on Allah’s callings,” said Gasim, slamming the government’s calls for “moderate Islam”.
Ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs have also recently accused Gasim of proposing amendments to “destroy” the government’s budget for 2012.