New beginnings – The Weekly Review

June 21st – 27th

This week saw a number of fresh starts – in particular for Supreme Court judge Ali Hameed who was cleared of misconduct charges.

With the police’s investigation of the judge in relation to his alleged appearance in multiple sex tapes already suspended, the Judicial Services Commission’s decision appeared to close all investigations into the issue.

JSC members past and present called the decision a contravention of Islamic principles, suggesting that the commission had clear grounds to remove the controversial judge.

The Supreme Court this week also ruled that sitting judges can vote in the appointment of a lawyer to the vacant position on the JSC – overruling current regulations prohibiting their involvement.

After a previous request from the Supreme Court, the Home Ministry this week dissolved the Maldives Bar Association – the single largest lawyers’ group – for failing to change its name.

Meanwhile, the government’s legislative agenda seems poised to begin in earnest after the People’s Majlis reached a compromise on the composition of standing committees this week – an agenda that will no doubt be assisted by the defection of another opposition MP to the government’s camp.

Elsewhere in the Majlis, Housing Minister Dr Mohamed Muiz was called to answer questions regarding developing plans for Addu City.

Speaking with Minivan News this week, Tourism Minister Ahmed Adeeb defended the government’s first legislative proposal – the special economic zones bill – against accusations that it will do little to alleviate regional disparities in development.

Adeeb argued that giving the government flexibility in negotiating relaxed regulations for new investors would be the best way to bring quick developments to the atolls.

The government also promised a new options for the tourism sector, with the launch of the country’s first guest house island – though critics questioned the real benefit of the scheme to local communities.

The enactment of anti human-trafficking legislation was acknowledged this week as the US removed the Maldives from its watch list, while local employers of undocumented workers in Laamu Gan were also given a second chance as the government’s removal of illegal migrants continued.

As the administration announced its intention to seek US$600 million from China or Japan for assistance with the new start for Ibrahim Nasir International Airport, the Maldivian Democratic Party revealed its decision to sue former President Dr Mohamed Waheed for his role in the termination of the previous development deal.

While Sri Lankan leader Mahinda Rajapaksa made an official visit this week – offering assistance in a number of areas – former President Mohamed Nasheed suggested India ought to assist Maldivians by helping the MDP remove the current government.

MDP MP Imthiyaz Fahmy suggested that sometime government ally Gasim Ibrahim’s candor regarding judicial and security service pressure in his political decisions further supported the MDP’s coup theories.

Theories of a health service in crisis were given additional support this week by the death of a 31-year-old pneumonia patient en route to Malé as well as angry protests outside Kulhudhuffushi Regional Hospital.

Finally, Malé City Council this week revealed the extent of the littering problem blighting the streets of the capital, while experts revealed hopes for resurrection of the country’s reefs after in the face of a potentially devastation el nino.