Approval sought for six ministers

President Abdulla Yameen has requested the approval of the People’s Majlis for six cabinet ministers.

The request was forwarded to the Parliament Committee on Oversight of the Government today.

The six ministers to be reviewed are:

Minister of Islamic Affairs, Dr Mohamed Shaheem
Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture, Dr Mohamed Shainee
Minister of Home Affairs, Umar Naseer
Minister of Environment and Energy, Thorig Ibrahim
Minister of Housing and Infrastructure, Dr Mohamed Muizzu
Minister of Economic Development, Mohamed Saeed

A request for the approval of five ministers was sought on Sunday, which are still in review.

Approval for the Minister of Education, Dr Aishath Shiham, Minister of Youth and Sports, Maleeh Jamal, Minister of Health and Gender, Dr Mariyam Shakeela, and the most recent appointment, Attorney General Mohamed Anil, has yet to be forwarded.


Fugitive MP leaves parliament after four weeks on the run

Heniveru-South MP Hamid Abdul Ghafoor of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), has left the grounds of parliament after his four-week refuge there.

MP Hamid has been charged with refusing to provide a urine sample, following the police raid on Hodaidhoo in November last year.

Sun Online reported that MP Hamid had left after assurances that he would be allowed to stay in his own residence, crediting a newly cooperative relationship between the government and the MDP.

The police have been unable to summon Ghafoor to court, as doing so would violate the Parliamentary Privileges Act.

Article 11 of the Act prevents an MP from being summoned to court during Majlis hours.

The Act was amended on October 30 to enable MPs serving sentences to attend parliament.

Speaker Adulla Shahid warned police in late October that, “Any act that violates the People’s Majlis immunity, honor and functioning and committed in contravention to the [Parliamentary Powers and Privileges] Act will breach the Majlis privileges.”

Despite this, the Maldivian National Defence Force (MDNF) stormed the Majlis on October 26th, removing (MDP) MP Ali Azim and handing him over to the police.

MP Ghafoor expressed concerns that the MDNF would do the same to him, and was sentenced in absentia to six months in prison for non-compliance with court summons. The case regarding his failure to provide a urine sample is on-going.

Ghafoor said he has spent his time in the Majlis doing parliamentary work and reading, as well as receiving supporters and family members.

He was not responding to calls at time of press.


Bangladesh to reopen worker migration to the Maldives

Bangladesh will lift the ban on worker migration to the Maldives after a government delegation was sent to investigate allegations of fraudulent recruitment, forced labour and migrant unemployment.

In September Minivan News reported that the Bangladesh’s Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET) had prohibited immigration over concerns that labourers were being lured to the Maldives with the promise of jobs, only to find themselves unemployed and unable to return to their home country.

BMET Director General Begum Shamsun Nahar told the Dhaka Tribune that “a delegation went to Maldives recently and found that our workers are all employed there.”

However he noted that the wages in the Maldives were low while the migration cost was high, with the average worker spending around Tk 2,00,000 (US$2500) to go to country, despite earning only US$150-190 per month.

The Dhaka Tribune noted that while the Maldivian government’s data put the number of Bangladeshi workers at 80 000, BMET had only recorded the departure of 28,000 workers since 1976.

The head of the delegation to the Maldives, Deputy Secretary of the Expatriates’ Welfare Ministry Badiur Rahman told the Tribune that workers were using middlemen to bypass immigration procedures, “and overcome the limited interest of Maldivians in becoming labourers.”

According to Mohamed Ali Janah, former President of the Maldives Association of Construction Industry (MACI), the lack of a functioning labour management system combined with this domestic labour shortage prohibits employers from recruiting legitimate workers amongst the expatriate population.

Janah estimated earlier this year that the country’s illegal foreign workforce was potentially at 100,000 people, he said the failure to implement a functioning system of labour management in the Maldives had made it hugely difficult to find legitimate workers among the expatriate population.

“Why would we want to hire potentially illegal labour, we don’t know who these people are,” he said. “We have a huge number of projects in the country right now, so we will have to find the people to work, even if it is from China or Cambodia or another country.”

The Maldives was this year placed on the US State Department’s Tier Two Watch List for Human Trafficking for the fourth consecutive year.

As with last year’s report, the country avoided a downgrade to the lowest tier “because [the] government has a written plan that, if implemented, would constitute making significant efforts to meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.”

However US Ambassador-at-large for the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, Luis CdeBaca, noted during the release of the report that the six countries again spared a downgrade would not be eligible next year – including Afghanistan, Barbados, Chad, Malaysia, Thailand and the Maldives.