Circus in parliament as MPs reject bill banning sale of alcohol

Parliament has narrowly rejected a bill outlawing the sale of alcohol in inhabited islands, airports and other places frequented by Maldivians.

Of the 57 MPs in attendance, 28 voted against proceeding with the legislation, while 23 voted in favour and six abstained.

Several MPs from the two main parties vociferously raised points of order when independent MP Muttalib, who proposed the legislation, in his closing statement after the debate, told DRP MP Ali Azim to repent for his remarks and called on the authorities to take action against him.

Azim had argued against the legislation, claiming it was not a “sensible” or “necessary” law.

However Deputy Speaker Ahmed Nazim did not allow any points of order, leading to pandemonium in the chamber. The sitting was temporarily called off after almost every MP walked out in protest and quorum was lost.

Muttalib also accused MDP MP Mariya Ahmed Didi of opposing the bill because of her “close association” with the Holiday Inn in Male’, and accused MDP MP Mohamed Mustafa of defrauding pilgrims to “steal their money”.

After the sitting resumed at 11am, Muttalib said MPs would have to “bear responsibility” when the government authorised sale of alcohol in hotels in Male’.

A number of Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party-People’s Alliance coalition (DRP-PA) MPs joined several independents and all the MPs of the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) in either abstaining or voting against the bill.

Among the MPs who opposed the legislation were Thohdhoo MP Ali Waheed, Galolhu South MP Ahmed Mahlouf, Vili-Maafanu MP Ahmed Nihan, Mid-Henveiru MP Ali Azim, Villigili MP Mohamed Ramiz, Feydhoo MP Alhan Fahmy of the DRP and Maavashu MP Abdul Azeez Jamal Abukaburu and Isdhoo MP Ahmed Rasheed Ibrahim from the People’s Alliance.

Mid-Henveiru MP Ali Azim
Mid-Henveiru MP Ali Azim


During the debate, several MPs argued the bill was unconstitutional as it would indirectly authorise the sale of alcohol.

Article 10(b) of the constitution states no law contrary to any tenet of Islam shall be made or enacted in the Maldives.

Machangaoalhi North MP Mariya Ahmed Didi, chairperson of MDP, argued tourist resorts should also be considered inhabited islands.

“The constitution states all Maldivians have equal protection under the law. Therefore, if we are to give protection to people in inhabited islands, we must provide it to people in resorts,” she said, adding resort workers spend most of the year living in the resorts.

Ungoofaru MP Dr Afrashim Ali of the DRP, a religious scholar, said MPs were mistaken when they argued a law was not needed to ban a practice forbidden in Islam, as it was necessary to devise regulations to protect Maldivian society from social ills such as alcohol.

He added flaws and imperfections in the bill could be remedied at committee stage.

His DRP colleague, Mid-Henveiru MP Ali Azim said MPs should consider whether such a law was needed and whether it would protect Islam in the country.

“My thinking on this is very different. We have to consider who we are trying to forbid alcohol to. We are trying to make it illegal for expatriates and foreigners who visit the Maldives. I don’t think this is a reason we should make it illegal,” he said.

With the economy reliant on the tourism industry, he continued, it did not make sense to outlaw the sale of alcohol only in parts of the country as this would not prevent Maldivians gaining access to it.

Azim said the bill was backed by “the Jews” as part of a long-term plan to weaken the country and introduce other religions.

Meanwhile People’s Alliance MP Abdul Azeez spoke in favour of the bill and urged MPs to send it to committee, but voted against it.


Speaking to Minivan News today, Mauroof Zakir, spokesperson for the coalition of NGOs and associations campaigning against the sale of alcohol in inhabited islands, said the reasons given by MPs for rejecting the bill were “unacceptable”.

“We agree that there are problems with the bill, but throwing it out doesn’t solve anything,” he said. “While [parliament] has the power to send it to committee and cut and trim it, the things they said were intended to mislead the public.”

The coalition was considering proposing another bill, he said, and planned to stage protests and employ civil disobedience if the government enforced the revised regulations on the sale of alcohol.

Last month, the government revised the regulations on the import and use of alcohol to revoke over 800 liquor permits issued to expatriates in favour of authorising hotels to serve foreigners under strict supervision.

The Economic Development Ministry argued lax monitoring of the liquor permits had resulted in a black market for alcohol in the capital Male’.

But, the Ministry’s revised regulations were withdrawn following public pressure before it could be enforced and were sent to a parliamentary committee for consultation.

Under the regulations, tourist hotels in inhabited islands with more than 100 beds would be authorised to sell alcohol to foreigners, but the hotel bar should not be visible from outside or employ Maldivians.

Further, an inventory of the alcohol in storage and daily sales has to be maintained and made available to police on request, while the storage room has to be monitored by CCTV cameras.

Alcohol could not be kept at mini-bars in the hotel rooms and expatriate employees at the bar would be subject to police clearance.

Zakir said the coalition would begin work “immediately” on filing a case at the Supreme Court to abolish regulations made 50 years ago that gave authority to the Economic Development Ministry to allow the import and use of alcohol.

Following today’s vote, he said, the coalition expected the revised regulations to be enforced.


15 thoughts on “Circus in parliament as MPs reject bill banning sale of alcohol”

  1. We are Muslims and we know that alcohol is forbiden for us.
    No need a human law to remind us the law of God.

  2. We see many Arab and non Arab muslim countries selling alcohol in hotels. Why do we have to be like Saudi Arabia? I hope the MPs know that our prosperity depends on tourism only...not on fishing. The day the MP's vote to ban sale of alcohol even in resorts will be the day we start living in poverty. If things go the way some of these fundamentalist MPs want, our future is indeed dark.

  3. The state spent MRF 58,733 per hour or about MRF 0.5 million per day for the parliament. (Figures are from the revised forecast figures for 2009 as stated in the budget 2010).

    When will we see a parliament in the Maldives that makes sense to the people. How much money do we have to spend for them to learn and adopt to the democracy that we seek for.

    The above bill is another in the series of bills and activities that the parliament has worked on that wasted public money. How much have we achieved since the formation of the parliament while we spend MRF 1 million for every two days worked.

    During these economically difficult times, it is very saddenign to see this is happening. Some of the parliamentarians does not seem to know what they are doing and what they are suppose to do.

  4. This bill would have directly robbed opportunities from those in inhabited islands to be integrated and a part of the tourism industry from which they have been excluded for so long. It is already illegal to sell alcohol to Maldivians and it is illegal for all Maldivians to possess it. Instead of hurting the chances for the growth of local economies, we should be focusing on Brown Sugar and Oil and tackling all the social repercussions of these two substances.

    Crime, violence, and the growth of gangs are directly connected to these two substances – not alcohol. And while we should not condone the proliferation of alcohol either, we need to focus on the roots of the current social degradation we see. The things that matter.

    Within 5 years we expect every eight grader in Male’ to have contact with Brown Sugar (HEROIN). This is the State of Our Nation, and it is not acceptable. Let’s focus on that.

  5. Spot on Malik. but what did you really expect? we elected these self interested, power hungry lunatics who have no regard for people's welfare and their prosperity. doesn't give a shit really!

    And whats with these religious folks who keeps protesting and making a mountain out of the mole. Listen folks; alcohol is not the only thing forbidden in islam. like Lying, deception, brabery, theft (any form), manipulation of others, gossips and eating others flesh in their absense. these are the sins we commit everyday by the hundreds, BUT no one cares, no protest nothing. why is the two standards. Quran does not emphasize on alcohol, no more than it emphasizes on lying for eg..

    this current show that national Holhuashi and other NGOs have put on for now has got nothing to do with religion and its teaching or with public welfare. We know it and its time to get real.

  6. We as Muslims should reject what MUST be rejected, may it be available on the street just for free or otherwise!

    Where was Mr. Muttalib when "in the Name of Allah The Beneficent and The Merciful", License to Import and License to Sell Liquor was issued during the pious reign of Mr. Maumoon?

    Hon. parliamentarians, the peoples have pressing matters to be taken care of!

    Please stop this cacophony and get on with the job of the peoples who through their nose are paying you fat salaries which you have proposed and voted in their name!

  7. I wonder if any of the esteemed parliamentarians have noticed the many reports about Maldivians brewing their own alcohol in inhabited islands now.

  8. This is not only about alcohol.
    Many Maldivians are now puppet actors for foreign militant jihad groups. Their agendas are percolating to the surface in our Parliament.

  9. Are we crazy as a society? A secular govt. is the way to go. Everyone should be free, as long as they dont hurt others.
    We break the statues Hindus bring to pray to yet we are appalled when somewhere muslims are being discriminated against? I think most Dhivehi people dont think for themselves. Makes me sad.

  10. Salim: You really think gangs don't consume alcohol and go on violent drunk rampages? I don't think you get out much. I've been the victim of one. Drunks are infinitely more dangerous to the public than people under the influence of heroin or hashish.

    Besides, to lay the blame for all this violence solely on those two substances is ridiculous and will do nothing to end this vicious cycle. There are far more deep rooted corruptions and social problems that have led up to the formation and growth of these gangs. I know little boys who have been cut up by their older brothers rivals. You think they grow up and simply forget?

    On topic; I am sick of all these antics that have little more effect than feed the media and entertain the public. There are far more serious issues to tackle and these highly paid "members" waste our time either bickering or not turning up at all.

  11. to Mohamed Badeeu:
    Than please for gods sake reject those tourist for consuming alcohol in the Maldives. I say NO to Tourist!

  12. Dhivehi Resistance, this is not only about militant jihad groups.Many Maldivians are now puppet actors for christian missionary groups. Their agendas are percolating to the surface in our Parliament.

    Alcohol should not be sold i

  13. Hey Dhivehi Resistance, this is not only about militant jihad groups. Quite a few "Maldivians" are now puppet actors for christian missionary groups. Their agendas are percolating to the surface in our Parliament. For them, I wanna say, preach your religion in a better manner; show proofs & good evidences in favor of your 'trinity' claim. Have well-organized open public debates with prominent scholars of other religions. Don't abuse others as if other religions is like an 'alcoholic plague'. Prove your selves with your Bible, prove it that its the word of god as you claim, like Muslim scholars do it..

    About Alcohol..Intoxicants should not be forced to be sold in communities whose majority accept that its forbidden & cancerous and rejects its sale amongst them.
    Islam forbids Muslims to produce, trade and consume intoxicants and also respects non-Muslims who consume it.
    So, its simple.. let them bring their own Boozes here along with them. Problem solved ...lengthy debates on this issue is senseless.

  14. Callodus, would that we could bring bottles of wine in, but customs prevents this at airport due to liquids in 100ml bottle rule. There is not much we can do to alleviate poverty, or share culture with islanders as association with resorts is declined by law. Rent to Government provides a good control against any malpractice if any.
    Resorts are resorts for fun and sensible drinking should be promoted.

  15. adhaalath and the likes should be banned instead.....getting tired of this...
    ban music, ban healthcare, ban banking, ban proper education,.. ..banning of democracy would be the ultimate goal..we are witnesing THE RISE OF THE FUNDIES...


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