DQP delegation returns from PR tour of UK

Leader of the minority opposition Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) Dr Hassan Saeed has returned to the Maldives, after visiting the UK to meet MPs and journalists, and call on the international community to pressure the government to respect the country’s constitution.

DQP Secretary General Abdulla Ameen said the visit was “very successful”, and that Saeed had met with former Labour Party Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott “and other prominent opposition MPs.”

“Dr Saeed presented in such a way as to ask the government [of the Maldives] to follow the rule of law and to respect and uphold the constitution,” Ameen said.

Dr Saeed also met with journalists from outlets including Al Jazeera and the Independent, and was printed in the Guardian newspaper, Ameen said.

“Although it was DQP members who travelled to the UK, they represented the opposition coalition,” Ameen added.

The trip was “collectively funded by the opposition parties”, he noted.

DQP enlists UK PR firm

Minivan News has meanwhile obtained an email sent by a Peter Craske representing a UK-based public relations firm ‘The Campaign Company’, in which Craske solicits a meeting between the recipient and the DQP, “which is formed of an alliance between the DRP and MDP parties”.

From: Peter Craske [[email protected]]
Sent: [removed]
To: [removed]
Subject: Possible meeting with MPs from the Maldives

Dear [removed],

I am contacting you on behalf of The Campaign Company, a communciations agency, which represents the DQP political party from the Maldives, which is formed of an alliance between the DRP and MDP parties.

Two of their representatives, Hassan Saeed, a former Attorney General and Presidential candidate and Mohammed Jameel Ahmed, a former Minister of Justice, are visiting the UK next week, and would like, if possible to meet up with you given your longstanding interest in the country, for no other reason than to brief you on the current political issues in the country, where there has been some unrest and some Parliamentarians have been arrested.

The meeting would solely be for them to discus the issues in confidence, while they are in the UK.

I realise it is short notice, but would be grateful if you would be able to let me know whether or not this was possible, depending on your diary.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Peter Craske
The Campaign Company

The DQP is a minor opposition party in coalition with Abdulla Yameen’s People’s Alliance (PA), Gasim Ibrahim’s Jumhoree Party (JP), and the major opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), but not the ruling MDP.

The DQP confirmed that Dr Saeed’s delegation included two other senior members of the party, Mohamed Jameel Ahmed and Abdul Matheen, neither of whom are MPs as Craske appears to suggest.

Minivan News was unable to find any mention of Craske on the Campaign Company’s list of employees, however a receptionist at the Campaign Company confirmed the PR firm was “definitely working with political parties in the Maldives”, and referred Minivan News to the company’s director for enquiries regarding Craske.

Instead, Minivan News contacted Craske directly through the included phone number, who confirmed he was employed by the Campaign Company on a freelance basis to set up meetings last week with his contacts in the UK parliament.

“I don’t work for the Campaign Company, I was just employed to set up meetings,” he said. ‘I was just using the information [the Campaign Company] gave me.”

Ameen said he did not know whether the delegation had contracted a PR firm for the trip, but said that Saeed was “still well-connected in the UK.”

“Dr Hassan and Dr Jameel are in contact with a number of MPs. They know MPs from before 2008 and they have still have contacts in the UK.”

He added that he could “not say anything about an email you might have received, only specifically what Dr Hassan Saeed said.”

Meanwhile, Craske’s contact at the Campaign Company, Debbie Coulter, confirmed the company had set up meetings on Dr Saeed’s behalf and denied he had ever been introduced as an MP – “I haven’t seen the email,” she said, suggesting it might have been a mistake – “the brief [given to Craske] was quite clear.”

Regarding Craske’s introduction of the DQP as “an alliance between the DRP and MDP parties”, Coulter said the agency had recognised and introduced the DQP “as an independent party.”

She confirmed she was aware that Dr Saeed was currently the legal representation of opposition MPs Yameen and Gasim in court against allegations from the government of corruption and treason, following the release of incriminating phone taps leaked to the media.

“The bulk of the people he met were in the legal profession and people who knew of him and his background,” Coulter explained, adding that she “personally attended” every meeting.

“During his stay in London, Dr Saeed met with representatives from The Law Society, the Commonwealth Secretariat, Amnesty International, Labour MP Gareth Thomas (Labour), Liberal Democrat MP Simon Hughes, Lord Prescott, Lord Foulkes and Sir Ivan Lawrence,” Coulter said.

Sir Ivan Lawrence notably led a team of international lawyers to the Maldvies in 2005 to determine whether President Nasheed, leader of the then-opposition, was likey to receive a fair trial after being charged with terrorism and sedition by the former government.

He concluded that the Maldivian judicial system lacked “the basic capacity, competency and necessary independence” to deliver a fair trial, as reported by the Asian Centre for Human Rights.

DQP’s UK media statement

A media statement issued in the UK and forwarded to Minivan News by Coulter quoted Dr Saeed:

“President Nasheed came to power carrying the hopes of many people that we could achieve full democracy. However today we see him threatening our democratically elected Parliament, our judiciary and our press freedom in a way that he would have no doubt similarly criticised his predecessor for.

We cannot allow the rule of law to be replaced by mob rule. The streets of our capital have seen violence and opposition politicians are detained and their homes attacked. Our judiciary is now described as corrupt when it upholds the rights of people to be treated properly under the law.

That is why I am in the UK this week to make a wider appeal to the international community that they should tell President Nasheed to behave inside the Maldives in the same way that he does when making the case for international support over climate change.”

Accompanying biographical information distributed to UK journalists notes that “the Gayoom government spent much time intimidating the ex-Ministers, seeking to ban the New Maldives movement and then registering another organisation under the same name under the control of the ruling party.

“Dr Hassan Saeed has been consistent in his advocacy of reform over the years. This has led him into conflict with the previous government, which he resigned from. He supported the present government in order to achieve reform, but now sees it behaving in a similar way to its predecessor and is thus speaking out in defense of reform and democracy.”

Meeting journalists

A second email obtained by Minivan News was from a journalist seeking further information on claims made by the delegation in the UK, and describing materials distributed on behalf of the DQP which reportedly alleged:

President Nasheed, a former political prisoner who was dubbed the ‘Nelson Mandela of the Maldives’, has become autocratic since being democratically elected and is introducing a number of repressive measures, including:

* plans to close the courts and set up ‘public courts’

* suspending the Constitution, which the UK and certain Commonwealth states helped draft

* Judges have suffered threats and intimidation at the hands of the government and police. Civil Court Judge Mohamed Hilmy and his fiancee were handcuffed, stripped, beaten – and then photographed in a state of undress by the police.

Ameen confirmed that the first claim referred to the vigilante court “[recently inaugrated] by MDP MP ‘Reeko’ Moosa Manik”.

Of the second claim concerning the Constitution, Ameen said “I do not think [Dr Saeed] mentioned suspension of the constitution, I would say he broadly highlighted the need to uphold democracy.”

Concerning the suspension of Civil Court judge Mohamed Hilmy, “I think that was a case a few months back, I cannot specifically tell the detail. It was a very well publicised case.”

Minivan News reported in November last year that the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) had suspended Judge Mohamed Hilmy pending an investigation by police into alleged sexual misconduct, after he was discovered on a beach in Hulhumale’ in a state of undress with a woman.

A police statement claimed “the two had to be taken into custody on suspicion of sexual behaviour in a public place, as they were at the garbage dump in the south of Hulhumale’ with their pants down.”

At the time Hilmy denied the allegations to newspaper Haveeru, claiming he was walking with his fiancé when they were set upon by police, handcuffed, beaten, forcibly undressed and photographed. Police sent the case to the Prosecutor General and the matter was forwarded to the JSC, a police spokesman confirmed.

The last hearing concerning Judge Hilmy was held in January, although he remains suspended and continues to draw a salary due to the JSC’s inaction on the matter, according to commission member Aisthath Velezinee.

According to a report in newspaper Miadhu, Maldivian High Commissioner in the UK, Dr Farahanaz Faisal, claimed the Commission had yet to receive any enquiries from UK officials  following meetings with Dr Saeed, and questioned whether they had occurred at all.


Subsequent to the publication of this article, Peter Craske sent Minivan News an email in which he accepted responsibility for “factual inaccuracies” in his communication with UK MPs concerning the DQP.

“Just to clarify the situation, as a member of the Conservative Party, I was recently asked by the Campaign Company (TCC) if I could arrange a small number of meetings with Conservative MP’s during a visit to the UK by Dr Hassan Saeed,” Craske wrote.

“Unfortunately, despite receiving a clear written brief from TCC, there were three factual inaccuracies in the email I sent to these MPs:

  1. The reference to a “Possible meeting with MPs from the Maldives” in the subject line, though this was not repeated in the text of the email;
  2. The reference to an alliance between the MDP and DQP, which clearly does not reflect the current political situation, nor the information with which I was provided;
  3. The suggestion in my email signature that I was an employee of the Campaign Company.

“This was one email to a small number of Conservative MPs which in fact did not result in any meetings,” he added.

“Having had this drawn to my attention, I would like to express my deep regret for any misunderstanding this email will have caused. I have apologised to the Campaign Company and to Dr Hassan Saeed for this.”


62 thoughts on “DQP delegation returns from PR tour of UK”

  1. Hi Heck,

    I've been following your comments. I'm from Addu and I won't vote for Hassan Saeed, ever.

    You seem a little "racist" in accusing others of "racism". You seem to vote on clan lines. This precedence of who the person is rather than policies is the reason why the will of the people can be ignored by MPs and other politicians.

    This is not a horse race. The reason Hassan Saeed can go to UK and talk crap is because his because he knows that you and his other supporters will continue to stand behind him no matter what.

    Every Maldivian knows who Yameen is and what he's capable of much better than any UK firm or UK Conservative politician.

    Granted some Maldivians do not realize the gravity of their decisions, however Hassan Saeed is not one of them. He is an educated man. He knows exactly what kind of a kleptocracy can result from a a sociopath like Yameen being in power. Hassan Saeed himself spoke of Yameen during the presidential elections.

    Policies on Dengue fever is not enough to support him, a functioning Public Health Services will take care of that, but this is only possible if we allow the government to function. If the government is aways struggling to hold its head above water how can it function?

    Think about it my friend, you are a citizen of this country just like I am. Your actions affect my welfare and vice versa.

  2. @peasant

    "You seem a little “racist” in accusing others of “racism”"

    Experiment to show that Male' is a racist city.
    Keep a model of Male' and a model of any other island of Maldives in front of you and observe.

    You will see little Sowetos next to a crazy Pretoria. Then you will come to understand what racism means!

  3. @gman

    "what you mean by racism? we only have one race in this country for your info"

    That's what you were forced to believe from racist poets of Maldives who went by the names of various flowers!

    How can anyone ever forget that beautiful piece of advice to the Maldivian government from one of those poets.

    I can see the very children and grand children of those beautiful poets still COLLECTING!

  4. @ heck

    Anni was not interested in becoming the president when he said he wasn't. If you know the facts, you would know that Anni being the presidential candidate from MDP was what MDP supporters and party members wanted. Anni was the most popular leader among the then opposition (as you know from the first round of elections) and so it increased the chance of overthrowing the tyranny. Therefore, it is wrong to call him a hypocrite based on your pointless point.

    You lied when you said you respected Anni like Gandhi before he decided to run for presidency. If you respected Anni like Gandhi, you wouldn't suddenly despise him just because he wanted to be your leader. If you had such sincere respect for him, you will be happy to have a leader you respected like Gandhi.

    There is no point in lying when you are anonymous. Unless, ofcourse, you are a big hypocrite.

    "Just look at the percentage of people who supported him in the first round of elections! That too based on the firm belief of people who were hoodwinked by ANNI to believe that he would hold MID TERM elections!!"

    Hehe. It was AFTER the first round of elections that Anni mentioned the mid-term elections. So you lied there as well.

    The parliament. How many members represent Hassan's party again?

    MDP not holding majority in parliament is clear proof that there's widespread corruption in the country. Hassan's client, as you know, is very fond of buying things that should not be bought with money.

    Hassan Saeed's manifesto is a children's book compared to MDP's. I recommend you read it.

    May God make your heart as attractive as your 5'8" height.

  5. @girlie

    Hey! I am not a lier, okay?

    The point is not the first or second round. I slipped there. It's a mistake not a lie. Still he lied about mid term elections. It's called hoodwinking! That's the point.

    Once again, I am NOT a lier!

  6. @girlie

    I don't give a damn about how many party members there are in the parliament from DQP,DRP or MDP.

    You missed the whole point.

    I said I supported Hassan. I did not say I was a die hard fan.

    I once said that I don't even want this government to fall now, because there is no way of guaranteeing the next president will survive with "bangaalhu" style strikes in Maldives.

    But how can you forgive a hoodwinking president?

    The bitterness will always remain, isn't it? That's only human nature.

  7. So it looks like DQP had a fun trip to the Uk and had it paid for by Gasim and Yameen? It is obvious from your article DQP were not able to meet a single MP from the Conservative Party! There was not a single TV appearance that resulted from the trip; there was only one question raised in parliament, which could have been done without traveling to London! They would have done better going to London as "The Kingston Trio" and singing, "Wise Men Say, Only Fools Rush In".

  8. @heck on Tue, 27th Jul 2010 5:07 PM
    Says: "I was a Hassan Saeed supporter in the campaign and I seriously don’t think ANNI could have come anywhere near presidency without Hassan and Qasim’s support!"

    In fact I was a supporter of him sometime back.

    But, Hack... honestly, don't you think they both didn't had any other choice but to support Anni or face the consequences of getting "grilled" by Maumoon/Yamin. That's all Allah's will.

    I can still recall H.Saeed's first interview just after the first round results "pres' elec' '08" ... announcing "unconditional support to MDP & Anni"... but guess what? that "unconditional" wasn't so "unconditional" at all...

    Now, don't get mad at me... I like your attitude and how you defend your views...but this time I think you need to reconsider this view. just "reconsider". I'm not asking to change it right away... 😉

    We all make mistakes and that's normal ...isn't it?

    Let's revisit the history:
    Analysis: Is the opposition honestly supporting Anni? Monday, October 27, 2008 By Poorna Rodrigo

    Just the last paragraph of the article.....
    "With DRP camp confident of President Gayoom wining a fresh term, analysts say an upset victory by Anni would be the beginning of a wave of problems for MDP candidate and also the Maldives people given the motives of his power hungry band of Opposition allies"......

    A very correct conclusive analysis by Poorna Rodrigo... 😉

  9. @Bismuth

    I am not mad at anyone.

    What I am saying is that there is a political MIST.

    When it CLEARS people will inevitably resort back to their personal differences in trying to distinguish what they want to achieve, SOONER rather than LATER!

    Yes. We all make mistakes, but I think we must not start our future with a mistake. The mistake will come rebounding at us someday, somewhere and somehow!

    It's all divine plan, I think.

  10. one proof of hassan saeeds hypocrisy is his teaming up with gasim and yamin....thatz the worst kind of politicians....but anyone who knowz how the good doctor operates wud know that hez just hanging out with the dons and hugging them outside his Raajje Chambers cos he doeznt hv any standing on his own in the political scene of the Raajje...he alwayz needz to borrow a podium or share a microphone with some other hotshot politician to get any attention in the maldives, maybe he wud get a better crowd in a Pakistani madrasa!....

  11. @Bella

    "..he doeznt hv any standing on his own in the political scene.."

    Yep! Anni stood all by himself and won a LANDSLIDE!

    My best regards to your ANALYTICAL mind!

  12. @Bella

    "one proof of hassan saeeds hypocrisy is his teaming up with gasim and yamin….thatz the worst kind of politicians"

    Even Anni/MDP tried to team up with PA/Yaameen in the parliament to get a clear majority!

    What kind of hypocrisy was that??!


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