Maumoon Abdul Gayoom; Abdulla Gayoom

Gayoom’s call for referendum on foreign freeholds dismissed

Dismissing former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom’s call for a public referendum on foreign freeholds in the Maldives, vice president Ahmed Adeeb said today: “The former president has raised his personal concerns. But the president of Maldives today is President Abdulla Yameen.”

Gayoom, the leader of the ruling Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) and half brother to President Yameen, urged the president to seek public opinion on ratifying the constitutional amendment.

In a letter sent to President Yameen and shared with the media, Gayoom said previous governments had refrained from selling parts of Maldivian territory to prevent influence over the country’s independence, sovereignty, and resources.

This is the first time Gayoom has publicly opposed Yameen.

Addressing Gayoom’s concerns, newly appointed vice president Adeeb said: “How can we govern if we are to call referendums on every issue? We’ve only been in government for two years. We also have aims, hopes, and responsibilities. President Yameen has to be accountable and fulfill his pledges. Not everyone will agree on every step he takes for economic reform.”

People are resistant to change, but approving foreign freeholds is a change that must happen, Adeeb said at a press conference today. The decision had been difficult for President Yameen, he added.

President Yameen ratified the amendments today.

Meanwhile, the president’s office yesterday said President Yameen will not respond to any letters shared with the media before the president responds to the letter.

The unprecedented provisions will allow foreigners who invest more than US$1billion to purchase land. At least 70 percent of the project site must be reclaimed.

The constitution previously prohibited foreign ownership of any part of Maldivian territory, but allowed leasing of land for up to 99 years.

The amendments were approved within a day after they were submitted to the People’s Majlis. Parliamentary standing orders were changed beforehand to fast-track the process of passing a bill into law.

Some 70 MPs of the 85-member house voted in favor. Gayoom’s son, MP Ahmed Faris Maumoon, had voted for the amendment as well as Adeeb’s appointment as the new vice president yesterday.

Rumors had spread this week that Gayoom opposed Adeeb’s appointment. However, the PPM leader has repeatedly denied favouring a particular candidate, stating that the appointment of a deputy is the sole prerogative of the president.

Attorney General Mohamed Anil meanwhile said the president is not obliged to hold a referendum on foreign freeholds. Article 262 (b) of the constitution states the president is obliged to call referendums on changing provisions in the bill of rights or the presidential and parliamentary terms.

Ten MPs of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) and nine MPs of the Jumhooree Party (JP) also voted in favour of the unprecedented changes.

MPs opposed to the move expressed concern over possible Chinese military expansion in the Maldives, and the lack of time to review the amendments.

Dismissing concerns over the establishment of military bases, Adeeb said today: “We are not going to sell our lands to any country. We are trying to do business here. We want to bring in many corporate investments. We are not going to sell land to other countries, whether its China or Saudi Arabia. We are not gifting our land to other parties. We want to mobilize investments worth at least US$1billion.”

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4 thoughts on “Gayoom’s call for referendum on foreign freeholds dismissed”

  1. President Yameen? Hrmph! More like President Dismiss! When reporters asked him about Rilwan's abduction, it was promptly dismissed. 10,000 protesters in Male streets? Dismissed. Raise that number to 20,000? Still dismissed. Evidence of corruption by then Tourism Minister now vice-president? Dismissed. The entire world calls for an end to politically motivated criminal trials? Dismissed. Dismissed. Dismissed. Everything is dismissed by President Dismiss.

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  2. At last there is some opposition in Maldives. Thank you Maumoon.

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  3. What Ex President Maumoon do not understand is, with the current VP President Yaameen, has no need for him! Maumoon should be aware of consequences!

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  4. Every country must have, promote, and depend on Foreign Investments. Even super powers like China, EU, and USA allow foreign investments as it a backbone of the economy. As for the Maldives, there is no choice or alternative, and there will never be, but depend heavily on foreign investments.

    A billion dollar! thats great, imagine just five such investments and Maldives could be another international hub. But what hub??

    I am very certain the government would have done some feasibility and study of such a project that will attract NOT individual investors but corporate. It would have been a great move if the government would have let the public have knowledge of the real objective, which specific sectors, benefits on job creation, local community involvement, etc. At the moment it sounds speculative. Lets have a look at potential industries:
    TOURISM
    *More hotels to come up which demands more skilled manpower….yet another dependance on foreign labor which takes out most of the foreign revenue.
    *Europe market is down as EU economies continue to slide and less people traveling lavishly as a decade back. The Asian market, although pays well for the bed, has killed F&B, diving, water sports business which is main revenue the resort earns directly, and the government benefits from the taxes. Government looses on room tarrif taxes as the actual revenue received back from tour operators is minimal compared what the tourist pays (am sure MIRA is aware)
    *90% of the top managerial posts are managed by foreigners. Maldivians are more into low pay jobs in housekeeping F&B (attendants), and transport. Not attractive enough, ironically we don't have much boys and girls with skills and certified backgrounds except on-job experience
    ****However, if the government allows controlled gambling resorts which would also be taxed for such activities, no doubt we would get all the American and Chinese casino operators in Maldives in a matter of minutes. 1 billion dollars is peanuts for them…good for Maldives.
    FISHING
    *Exports to Europe still minimal with the duty imposed. Other Tuna producing countries are price competitive and well equipped industry that can sustain quality supplies. Maldives is still behind in terms of cooling chain from the moment the fish is caught to the minute its loaded on flight. Unless there is a clear ground with no political attachments and international sanctions, unlikely is fishing industry. Anyway existing companies seem to have what it takes
    *Maldives imports more Tuna products from Thailand, Indonesia, China and Malaysia than it produces or exports. Sounds crazy isn't it? Poor regulations which have killed the Maldivian Brand letting cheap foreign brands take the market. So a billion dollar in fishing doesn't look good unless we allow Japanese and Chinese trawlers to use nets!!!
    OIL
    *Will take decades to research and more decades to get benefits if at all they find it. An environment time bomb disaster incase of accidents, etc
    MANUFACTURING
    *Its happening everywhere in developing world especially in Asia and Africa. But, Maldives does not have land and space. This is a requirement as the by-products and toxic wastes from manufacturing must be destroyed or buried somewhere. Such industry (that has toxic waste) will pollute the seas.
    ****But we could go into assembling and re-exports. Allow factories to set up plants just what middle east and developed Asian countries are doing.
    MILITARY BASES
    *No ordinary common man would know, but is is feasible and very lucrative. We see superpowers paying billions to small countries just to have landing strip or a refueling port. Maldives could be rich in days but at what cost?
    *Maldives is geographically best spot for such a base for Chinese (spying on indians and lengthening their Asian domination). Americans (the have one already about 500 miles off Maldives coast, but would give them a central point for their activities in Asian and Middle East. Indians (just to keep chinese at bay). No other country would be interested in military facilities in Maldives.

    What do you think and what would be your advice to the government in terms of which sector of investment would benefit the common man, the economy while maintaining our security, culture and beliefs. Ok decisions have been made, but for the sake of making people more relaxed than scared, lets have a chat bout it on TV or radio and get public support.

    The dark side of major international investment is what unhidden requirements are demanded because the project will be foreign, the owners are foreigners and you can't ask them live a Muslim or Maldivian life. Ever wondered why Dubai is such an attractive investment destination? FREEDOM!
    * Freedom to lead their way of life (whether it is to have pork, alcohol or not)
    * Social network between people (whether in escort status or using body for money)
    * Casinos where money, alcohol and women are a necessity…money laundering cannot be stopped in this trade
    * Permission to worship own beliefs (may temple, a church or an idol would be needed)

    Dubai is one of the most developed 100% muslin country but they have all the types of alcohol, prospitutes, gambling, pork…everything the Islam has prohibited is found in Dubai. But ironically it HAS NOT affected their life, their cultures or believes because of good governance and strict rules.

    I am in for investment if the government can use it to develop skills in youth, job opportunities for Maldivians, assurance of revenue for islands close to these investments, proper government tax, equal opportunities for all Maldivians and not only the rich get the deals and bids on related projects. It is also important for these investors to keep a certain percentage of their profits in Maldives.

    I won't support the deal if it is related to military or a country being involved. The government must also lay down details for the public to understand, contribute and comment on these investments. The reason I insist of public approval is because, GMR deal (which also sounds better as its just 25 years operation compared to owning land) was crashed in pieces and the public were made to feel that their country was being auctioned. That was not true as MDP had clearly put the idea openly to the people.

    Maldives needs foreign investment but let is be transparent and let the people also have a say.

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