“Emerging from their planes, tourists are whisked into lavishly equipped boats which cross the turquoise sea to their resort islands, or onto seaplanes to get to farther-flung islets. Those who visit the capital find a tiny city which functions well and looks strikingly modern by South Asian standards,” writes a columnist for the Ecnomist.
“Beneath the calm, there are bitter, highly personalised differences of view regarding the former president, Mohamed Nasheed, who was arrested on October 8th in the south, a week after fleeing the trial to which he had been summoned. He was released from custody on October 9th, given 25 days to answer charges that he overstepped his powers while president, and restricted from leaving the capital.
His supporters extol him nonetheless. “For so many years he was the only one fighting for our democracy, our freedom, our right to speak our mind,” says Ahmed, a photographer in Male. He is not a member of Mr Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) but praises the changes it has brought, ranging from better transport between islands to a health-insurance scheme.
Adam, a young doctor, feels differently. He feels that under Mr Nasheed’s presidency it became “not cool to say you’re a devout Muslim who prays five times a day”. He says the ex-president was whimsical, and asks why he had to spend a month personally overseeing the construction of a conference centre in the southernmost atoll.”