Comment: The man behind the sneer

One thing that has always struck me about Abdulla Yameen is that he never smiles. I can hardly remember him ever smiling. I think he smiled once, after being acquitted in some court case, but that was the only time. Sure, on his official campaign posters he sports a fake smile – a sort of upside-down scowl. But he never looks happy.

His eyes betray an angry glint, a contemptuousness of the ordinary man. If he has a trademark look, it is surely that sneer, which he seems to wear at almost every interaction with the general public.

If his second round campaign could be summed up in a facial expression, it too would be a sneer, or perhaps a snarl. Since last Saturday, Yameen has launched a vicious and full scale attack against Nasheed, accusing him of being irreligious and a threat to national sovereignty. Apart from trying to bribe the police and military with free housing and healthcare, Yameen hasn’t had a single positive word to say about what he would do if elected president.

Is Nasheed really that bad? Or is Yameen trying to draw everyone’s attention to Anni because he doesn’t want people focusing too closely on himself? Because when you dig a little into Yameen’s past, and the nature of his character, you tend to end up in a very dark place.

Some of the most shocking revelations come from the people Yameen is now desperately trying to woo onto his side: the Jumhoree Party.

According to JP official Ahmed “Maaz” Saleem, such was the rampant corruption that existed under Yameen’s watch when Trade Minister that major foreign investors quit the country, including Shell Oil and German investors who wanted to build ‘Maldives Media City’.

Gasim’s running mate, Hassan Saeed, said if he came to power he would put Yameen on trial over his involvement in the alleged theft of $800 million dollars worth of oil, money that should have gone into building schools, hospitals and harbours.

The scale of this alleged theft is staggering: the entire annual government budget is only US $1 billion. Yameen is accused of stealing 80 percent of it!

Nasheed’s government hired international experts Grant Thornton to investigate the chares and recover the money. What they uncovered is shocking.

When he was head of STO, responsible for the country’s oil shipments, Yameen allegedly set up a shell company in Singapore called Mocom Trading. Shady characters were involved, such as the former head of Malaysian military intelligence. Mocom would buy oil using STO’s money but instead of bringing it to Maldives, they sold it to the military junta in Burma, which was then under international sanctions because of its human rights abuses.

The huge profits generated from this illegal trade were stashed in secret bank accounts in Singapore. According to revelations published in the Indian media, Yameen was the “kingpin” of this vast criminal operation.

Most concerning, the oil was sold to people in Burma who were involved in the heroin trade. One such person was Tun Myint Naing, otherwise known as Steven Law. The United States calls Law’s father, Lo Hsing Han, the “Golden Triangle Heroin Baron”. Both Law and his dad are banned from traveling to America because of their links to drug dealing.

Yameen’s STO oil racket happened in the mid 1990s – the exact time when Maldives was flooded with ‘brown sugar’ heroin. This raises the question: did Yameen sell the Maldives’ oil to Steven Law for dollars, or did the son of the “Golden Triangle Heroin Baron” give something else in exchange for the oil? And was that something else shipped to Maldives, sold on Male’s streets, and did it end up harming so many of our young people?

Certainly, Yameen’s rival in the PPM primary race, Umar Naseer, seems to think so. Umar – who claims Yameen rigged the contest to become PPM’s presidential candidate – says Yameen “is involved in drug trafficking and commissioning gangs to cut down political opponents.”

The alleged links to Male’s violent street gangs hangs around Yameen like a bad and persistent smell. Along with the allegations of corruption and drug dealing, they point to a dark and sinister man: more of a mafiosi than a politician; a don rather than a democrat.

And then we have Yameen’s role in the abuse of the Sheikhs. Religious conservatives were brutally suppressed under Gayoom’s rule. Many were jailed, beaten and tortured. Gayoom’s security forces would forcibly shave off people’s beards and rub chili powder into their faces. Yameen served in his brother’s cabinet for years. But he never once lifted a finger to stop the abuse or utter a single word of condemnation. His current attack on Nasheed’s Islamic credentials has the distinct ring of hypocrisy.

Perhaps I am being unfair. Perhaps all these rumours and allegations are just that: rumours. Perhaps Yameen is as gentle as a doting grandpa. On 28 September, the people will give their verdict. We will find out if we are willing to place our families’ future in the hands of the man behind the sneer.

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17 thoughts on “Comment: The man behind the sneer”

  1. You are not being unfair. You are spot on! This man and his brother has really no love for the country! When they were in power, they used the state coffers to do what they liked! That is of course on top of torturing any one who opposed them.
    Now they are also trying to save themselves from such allegations as you have outlined. So on top of having no feeling for the nation and being cruel and nasty, they now want to escape justice.
    I keep thinking. Surely the people have grown up enough to see them for what they are! But have they? And even if they have, would their voices be heard?
    I can't see them accepting the real voices of the people. They have never cared about what people thought, except when they are asking for something- like votes!
    Incidently, people have to have feelings to smile. It is the most obvious of human emotions, apart from crying. That is why children learn to smile well before they talk, walk, grasp, or direct something into their mouths.
    It is said that in the kubtzs of Israel, where children were brought up in groups by paid caretakers, the children did not start smiling till they were about nine, ten months old.

    Well, a smile is a good way of judging people. What does a lack of it say about Yameen?

  2. For once it looks like Yameen has a point. His critics have zilch to say about his policies. They only have allegations, which he has always requested to be proven in a court.

    Did not know people vote on the facial expression and how come a clown is not contesting ? Write something of substance please and be more realistic. This is a good subject to write about

  3. Anyone and everyone will use the State coffers to do what they like unless the reform we want is institutional, principled and structural rather than just a mere regime change.

    The allegations the blogger has tried to pin on Yameen do not hold any water unless those accusations are leveled at a group of people as well. How can one man manipulate the State machinery to do what the writer suggests?

    The finger of blame that rival candidates pointed at Yameen was also pointed at MDP bigwig Ahmed "Kerafaa" Naseem who was also accused of being involved in the alleged corruption that led to a foreign party opting out of plans to establish a "multimedia city" in Laamu. While these accusations were based on a couple of correspondences that lend no direct weight to the claim, are we then to hate and incite hatred against Mr. Naseem as well?

    Yameen never had a soft spot for Islamic fundamentalists because they were actively campaigning to bring down a regime that Yameen was part of. Also being Western-educated and raised in the Maldives that ridiculed and hated beard-sporting religious-conservatives Yameen is bound to have a natural hatred and contempt for the agents of Arab-colonialism. I sincerely believe that other leading figures in the political spectrum would share Yameen's sentiments.

    As for the alleged links to the drug trade, I don't know about Yameen but I know that just about half the shopowners and businesspeople in this country has "links" to the drug trade - insofar as they use the lucrative black market of drugs as a means to raise capital to shore up their finances and keep their businesses running. Whether this is right or wrong is another matter entirely. The use of street gangs and mobs to threaten and intimidate rivals has been part of Maldivian culture since time immemorial and every political party in this country has used and continues to employ this tactic to this very day.

    I know this publication is openly pro-Nasheed but I think this level of comment should be reserved for other more tabloid fare. Yet once again, all's fair in love and war I guess.

  4. Yameens campaign is indeed one focussed on negative elements, mainly the MDP. The only constructive elements in his campaign are very vague. Better Youth, better economy.. Very easy to say that, but where are the detailed and realistic plans to achieve this?

    And about his negative campaign. We are looking for a president, not for a new imam. If being irreligious is the main thing you use against Nasheed, the MDP supporters don't need to be worried. Although I think Nasheed is just as devout as the average Maldivian, it doesn't really matter. A good president doesn't have to be a devout muslim, he has to make the right choices for the country.

    Nasheed not having too many nationalistic values is actually a good thing, we really don't need this nationalistic (protectionistic and xenophobic) bullshit here. A country thriving on tourism, import products, foreign investments and expat labor need someone with an open mind, someone who sees the global picture instead of isolating our country more from the outside world.

  5. well one thing we can be sure of, under a Yameen presidency those beards are gonna come off and chilli sauce is going to take its place, in some cases.

    Under Nasheed's government beards and full face veils had actually increased, owing to his liberal views on allowing freedom to all.

    Even though i lean towards Nasheed i have to admit its only under a Yameen's presidency that those radical islamists will be crushed and taken out of the forefront of society.

  6. the moment yameen says the magic words 'My vote is for nasheed' these rumors will be forgotten and we'll be cheering him and talking about how that we misinterpreted his smile for a scowl

  7. Ofcourse zaki, Naseem and Jabir etcc are never corrupt !!!!

    No one is less corrupt. At least yamin can control the corrupt whereas Nasheed is under the influence of the corrupt.

  8. If Yameen promises to hunt down and control these rabid mullahs like his brother did, he'll have my vote...

  9. With the perception being irreligious (sula siraz gate) and undef foreign influnce (GMR gate) Nasheed seem to have walked into a trap in a country like Maldives that is fiercely nationalistic

    With only gaining 45% votes, the MDPs support limit is now reached and Nasheed is likely to be beaten in the run off.

    Nasheed needs to discard image as a puppet of India and Brtish conservatives if he hopes to go over the 45% limit

  10. He is a gangster, thief and evil. A criminal in charge of all the criminals. I can not believe he still has a chance to get to power. Frightening.

  11. @ofcourse, you got to be kidding right? Yameen himself is corrupt, millions would disappear from the state coffer before you can blink. Atleast in Nasheed's case he himself is not corrup. Was it Umar Naseer who said not even one coin will be left if Yameen is elected to power.

  12. Defamatory?
    Perhaps unfair?

    Grant and Thronton were ordered to halt their investigation into the allegedly hidden millions.

    I wonder why? Perhaps it wasn't going anywhere and the state couldn't afford to keep paying them?

    Oh wait, Grant and Thornton were actually PAID to stop their investigation? Another blunder by the Nasheed administration by agreeing to such a thing.

    Again, one might wonder how much it would have cost the state to continue with looking for the alleged spoils of this allegedly crooked man, alleged to be a gangster. The answer? Absolutely nothing.

    Now all of the above begs the question - Why on God's green Earth would the Waheed administration pay millions of Rufiya to Grant and Thornton and stop the hunt for Yameen's hidden treasure? It's not like we were swimming in cash. Even if we were, wouldn't it have been better to let Grant and Thornton to conclude the wild goose chase at their own expense.

    Allow me to answer my own question on behalf of tsk tsk aka Yameen's spokesperson and alleged stooge on Minivan comment forums - "Well Waheed is does not represent Yameen and therefore Yameen or anyone else must not be asked to explain the motivations of Waheed to spend millions in halting an investigation against Yameen. The burden of proof must not be on the accused.....btw minivan is a tabloid, one must watch VTV for the real news these days and, omg did you hear of what Reeko Moosa did? Therefore Yameen is as good or bad as Reeko is."

  13. I love it when MDP supporters try to make it look like MDP politicians are honest, incorrupt saints compared to their rivals. MDP is just as corrupt and evil as everyone else, and yes, Yaameen definitely is trying to prolong the Gayoom family's power in the country, but are you saying people like Reeko don't have connections to dangerous gangs or drugs for that matter? I have always said that the Maldivian people are voting for the lesser evil.....Giant Douchebag or Turd Sandwich.

  14. Well said by concubines, dhivehin stil has a very collectivist mindset, once a person identify with a group that means it's see no evil within the group, and families are clumped, usually because they usually follow a family lead. This is the general rule, with exceptions to the rule. Given how the social cultural system developed in the Maldives, I.e isolated inbred mating, one could see how it turned out as such, the smaller the island and the more isolated the greater such tendencies would show.

    Back to the point, Yameen is one if the richest people in Maldives, ofcourse all the Money is offshore and invested offshore. All initially aquired at the expense of the country. He was a great funded of the mob during maumoon era, directly or indirectly that means taking a share drug epidemic in the Maldives.

  15. "The Man behind a sneer!"

    I guess a novel as thick as the thickest one, can be written on this character! And it cannot cover half the deeds, perhaps!


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