Former President Gayoom departs to Oman as president’s special envoy

Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom departed for Oman today as a special envoy of President Abdulla Yameen.

“During his visit, former President Maumoon will meet officials from Oman, and discuss ways to further boost the existing bilateral ties between the Maldives and Oman,” the president’s office said.

Gayoom -leader of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives and half-brother to the president – is reportedly unhappy with the imminent impeachment of the vice president and had opposed a constitutional amendment that set an age limit of 30 to 65 years for the presidency and vice presidency.

Last week, Gayoom denied rumours that he favoured a person other than tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb to replace Vice President Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed.

Despite the rumours of a rift between the Gayoom brothers, the former president said in a tweet last week that the appointment of a deputy is the sole prerogative of the president.


Schools to re-open on August 2

The education ministry has announced that public schools will re-open on August 2 after being closed this month following an outbreak of dengue fever.

Schools were temporarily closed on July 1 based on advice from a task force formed to control the spread of the mosquito-borne disease. But special classes continued for grade 10 students ahead of the O’ Level examinations in October.

Four people have died from dengue fever while more than 600 cases have been reported this year. A total of 775 cases were reported in 2014.

Two people died from dengue last year. A relatively severe outbreak of dengue in 2011 saw a record high 12 deaths.

Last month, the government launched nation-wide efforts to prevent mosquito breeding, including mosquito fogging in Malé and the atolls and clean-up programmes.


Head of financial intelligence unit resigns

The head of the financial intelligence unit at the central bank, Ibrahim Athif Shukoor, has resigned from the post.

Shukoor told local media yesterday that he had resigned on June 21 to work in the private sector.

He was appointed to the post in November last year by the governor of the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA).

The financial intelligence unit was formed under the anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) law passed in April 2014.


Mandhu College announces partnership with international universities

Mandhu College signed four Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with foreign universities yesterday to enable students to transfer to UK degrees, becoming the first Maldivian higher education institute with direct credit transfer arrangements with international universities.

The private college said in a press release that MoUs were signed with Westminster International College, Brickfields Asia College, SG Academy, and MAHSA University. All four institutions are based in Malaysia.

“With these collaboration arrangements Mandhu College aims to provide a formalised pathway for credit transfer for students,” the press release explained.

“Furthermore, this collaboration aims to facilitate students to transfer to a higher level program at the respective universities, thereby reducing duplication of instruction and enhance earning of academic credits, which will ultimately lead to reduction of costs and time students have to spend to earn these qualifications.”

Last month, the education ministry evicted Mandhu College from its premises in the old Malé English School (MES) building following a protracted dispute.

The college has since reopened in a new three-storey building on Majeedhee Magu near the Reefside shop.

Under its partnership with Westminster International College – a division of London School of Commerce Groups of Colleges – the college explained that students who complete the Mandhu College Foundation for Degree Studies programme will be given entrance to complete their degrees in Malaysia and UK in the field of business studies.

Students who complete the Diploma in Business at Mandhu College will also be admitted into the second year of BA (Hons) Business Studies to complete their degrees in Malaysia and UK.

The Brickfields Asia College will meanwhile accept students who graduate from the Mandhu College Foundation for Degree Studies programme to complete their degree via UK degree transfer programme in the fields of mass communication, business studies, human resource management, business administration, accounting, finance and law.

The UK degree transfer programs are awarded by over 10 renowned universities in the UK, the college noted.

The partnership with with the SG Academy involves the exchange of expertise and knowledge in skill related programmes. “The five star rated institute by the Department of Skill Development of Malaysia awards qualifications from City and Guilds, UK,” the press release stated.

The MoU with the MAHSA University in Malaysia meanwhile “facilitates students graduating from Mandhu College Foundation for Degree Studies Program to gain entrance to degree programs in Nursing studies, biomedical sciences, environmental health and safety, medical imaging, physiotherapy, medicine and pharmacy studies.”

The college said its ‘Going Global’ initiative will “expand learning opportunities for students and at the same time it will enable to establish international education programs that will enhance student’s global engagement and diversify their thinking.”


ADK doctors perform first successful surgery to remove brain tumour

Three Maldivian doctors at the private ADK hospital have successfully removed a brain tumour in the first time the surgical procedure was performed in the Maldives.

ADK managing director Ahmed Affal told local media yesterday that neurosurgeon Dr Ali Niyaf, and general surgeons Dr Abdulla Ubaid and Dr Ibrahim Moomin performed the surgery on July 4.

The patient was a 47-year-old Maldivian woman. She has since been released and is in good health, Affal said.

The patient did not suffer common side-effects such as speech impediment and facial paralysis, he noted.

The first successful removal of a brain tumour in the Maldives represents significant progress for the local health sector, Affal said.

The hospital is now equipped with facilities to perform neurosurgeries, he added, and will be performing similar procedures in the future.

Affal expressed concern with the government’s health insurance scheme ‘Aasandha’ not covering brain surgeries performed in the Maldives.

Aasandha, however, covers the costs of performing brain surgeries overseas, including travel expenses.


President appoints chancellors to Islamic university, national university

President Abdulla Yameen has appointed chancellors to the newly established Maldives Islamic University (MIU) as well as the Maldives National University (MNU).

Former MNU chancellor Dr Mohamed Zahir Hussain was appointed the the MIU’s first chancellor while Civil Service Commission (CSC) chairperson Dr Mohamed Latheef was appointed the new MNU chancellor.

President Yameen also appointed Dr Ali Fawaz Shareef as the vice chancellor of the national university.

Zahir Hussain is the chairman of newspaper Haveeru and had served as education minister for 11 years during the 30-year reign of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

He was appointed MNU chancellor in March 2012 following the resignation of former chancellor Dr Musthafa Luthfy in protest against the transfer of presidential power the previous month.

Today’s appointments follow the ratification of a first amendment to the Maldives Islamic University Act on Thursday.

The new law passed in April was due to come into force in August, but the first amendment fast-tracked the process of upgrading the Islamic College of Maldives or Kulliya to a university and required the president to appoint a chancellor.

Kulliya was officially declared an Islamic university on Thursday.

The appointment of a new MNU chancellor meanwhile follows ratification of amendments to the Maldives National University Act last week, which authorised the president to appoint nine members to the 13-member governing council, including the chancellor and the vice chancellor.

The president could previously only appoint the chancellor.

The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party had warned that the changes will compromise the MNU’s independence and politicise the institution.


Trial begins for eight suspects accused of assaulting police officer

The trial of eight suspects accused of assaulting a police officer during a mass anti-government protest on May 1 began today.

Scores of protesters and some police officers were injured during violent clashes on the night of May 1. Video footage shows protesters tripping and kicking a Specialist Operations (SO) officer and one man hitting the policeman over the head with his baton.

The seven male suspects and one female suspect were charged with assault. At the first hearing of the trial at the criminal court today, the presiding judge reportedly gave the defendants three days to appoint lawyers.

Sergeant Abdul Rahman Hussain had been flown to Sri Lanka for medical treatment after the assault while the police publicised video footage of the incident and appealed for public assistance in locating suspects.

The police forwarded cases against 15 suspects for prosecution in late May.

The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party had meanwhile accused police of torturing and threatening to kill three suspects arrested for assaulting the police officer.


President to appoint members to university governing council

The parliament has amended the 2011 national university law authorizing the president to appoint nine members to the university’s 13-member governing council.

The government-sponsored amendment bill was passed with 38 votes in favour and 16 against at today’s sitting of the People’s Majlis.

Under the existing law, the president only appoints the chancellor of the university, who becomes the head of the governing council.

Once the amendments are ratified, the president will appoint the chancellor, vice chancellor and deputy vice chancellors in addition to five members from outside the university to the council.

The main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) had warned that the changes will compromise the university’s independence and politicise the institution.

Politicising the university would pave the way for hiring and dismissing officials for political reasons as well as the “misuse of the university’s students, employees, and resources to achieve political purposes,” the party said earlier this week.


Police searching for assault suspect

The police have appealed for assistance from the public in locating a man suspected of assaulting a shopkeeper around 11:30am on Tuesday.

An eyewitness at the shop in the Maafanu ward of Malé told newspaper Haveeru that a foreigner assaulted the elderly shopkeeper after the latter refused to give out MVR80 worth of purchases on credit.

The foreigner grabbed a knife on the counter and stabbed the shopkeeper. The victim was stabbed eight times and taken to the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) for treatment. He reportedly did not sustain serious injuries.

The police have meanwhile posted CCTV footage of the suspect and urged anyone with information about the suspect to call the police hotline number 3322111 or the organised crime department at 9911099.