Parliament appoints local business tycoon to judicial watchdog

Parliament has narrowly voted MP for Maamigili Gasim Ibrahim as its representative on the Judicial Services Commission (JSC), the commission tasked with overseeing the country’s judiciary.

38 members of of the 77 member parliament voted in favour of Gasim, while 36 voted against him. The other candidate for the position, former Chairperson of the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Mariya Ahmed Didi, narrowly missed the required votes with 36 MPs in favour of her appointment and 37 against.

Gasim is a well-known business tycoon, media owner and leader of the opposition-aligned Jumhoree Party (JP). He was last year accused by the government of treason and bribery after phone calls of his conversations with People’s Alliance MP and the former President’s half-brother Abdulla Yameen were leaked to the media.

Gasim will replace DRP MP Dr Afrashim Ali on the JSC, after Afrashim was dismissed by parliament 38-34 in favour earlier this week amid claims of misconduct and corruption.

Former President’s Member of the Judicial Services Commission (JSC) Aishath Velezinee described Gasim’s appointment to the JSC as “the worst thing that could possibly have happened. It means nothing will be looked at, and I expect [the JSC] will become worse than ever. I can already hear the judges celebrating.”

Gasim, Velezinee said, “is a man of wealth, and every seat he has ever sat on has benefited him. We can expect the same from the JSC. I don’t think anyone is under any other impression – there is no comparison between Mariya and Gasim in terms of legal knowledge and integrity. The people’s representatives have sold out to the devil, and this is a very sad day.”

DRP Deputy Leader Ibrahim Shareef said he felt that Gasim “has the experience, wisdom and the capacity face the challenges.”

“What is required is sincerity. We need to build a judiciary that is competent, efficient and capable of delivering justice,” Shareef said.

Asked whether Gasim’s extensive business interests could prove a potential conflict of interest when overseeing the Maldivian justice system, Shareef said “that is a real possibility. I think the judiciary must be totally free from political influence. We have to see how this unfolds – this is a small country and it is hard to have complete impartiality.”

Gayoom thanks MPs

Following Afrashim’s removal from the JSC on Monday, former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom publicly thanked DRP MPs for voting in Afrashim’s favour.

“Afrashim was the front man for what went on in JSC. It wasn’t him alone, but he was the front man,” said Velezinee, who contends that the opposition had used its parliamentary majority to control the JSC, subvert Article 285 of the Constitution and reappoint the judges handpicked by the former administration.

One result of this, Velezinee said, was the impossibility of prosecuting any instance of serious drug crime in the Criminal Court. She referred to a decision made yesterday by Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed to throw out charges of drug trafficking against two businessmen for lack of evidence, after more than a kilogram of narcotics was found in the trunk of one of their cars.

“The evidence that the JSC has hidden away suggests that Abdulla Mohamed is under the influence of senior politicians and businessmen alleged to be involved in serious crime, and the decisions of the criminal court gives every reason to believe this is true. The JSC is acting unlawfully by not forwarding this to the relevant authority,” she claimed.

Afrashim had sat on the committee charged with investigating Chief Judge Abdulla Mohamed, formed on December 30, 2009.

“Until the day I left the JSC we had no reports on the progress of the investigation,” Velezinee said, “despite the fact that the JSC Act states that a written report must be submitted every 30 days for every investigation.”

Velezinee observed that the opposition’s factional battle was laid aside in its efforts to save Afrashim during Monday’s vote.

“The factionalisation of the DRP was forgotten. They all joined together. In my mind there is now no doubt that there was a silent coup, and Gayoom’s coming out and thanking the MPs is as much a confession to being the leader. I cannot imagine this happening in any developed country, there would have been riots.”

Velezinee’s concerns about the independence of the JSC appeared vindicated with the publication of a report on the Maldivian judiciary by the International Committee of Jurists (ICJ).

“How often do ordinary Maldivians look to the courts for justice? Is there a sense that ‘We [Maldivians] have an independent judiciary that is capable of resolving problems?’ I think the answer is no,” surmised Roger Normand, Director of the ICJ’s Asia Pacific operations at the time of the report’s publication.

Velezinee claimed the JSC had routinely doctored information given to international groups such as the ICJ who were unable to interpret the original Dhivehi documents.

“No international organisation or authority would believe that such an institution would be handing out doctored documents and changing their minutes. I have seen shocking things. But when I speak of them, I am the one labelled a fool. I have a different view to rest of the country because I sat in a seat not accessible to anyone else, and witnessed this happening.”

Parliament’s dismissal of Afrashim on Monday on grounds of misconduct had raised the possibility that Article 285 could be revisited, Velezinee said.

“The JSC Act states that if any member of the JSC has acted outside conduct in any decision making, that decision must be revisited – but that’s for the JSC to decide,” she said.

“But in this case I suspect we are in an an area not covered by the act. Parliament has found out about this, not the JSC, and the complaint has been there since February 2010.

“When parliament took the decision [to remove Afrashim], it clearly stated that Dr Afrashim acted unconstitutionally and breached trust. In that case there is good reason to demand Article 285 be readdressed. Just because a certain period has passed does not mean [the reappointments] are valid. The obligations under the Article were not fulfilled.”

It was, she said, a matter of “laying the foundation for an independent judiciary that will uphold this constitution.”

The judges reappointed by the former Ministry of Justice had been guided in passing judgements, Velezinee said – “It is clearly evident from documents we have. Many of the judges were handpicked by different ministers, who are now complaining to the press that the President is interfering in the judiciary. Their lawyers want to keep the existing bench.”

The JSC’s actions had, however, closed the bench for the next 40 years, “and that is really scary.”


42 thoughts on “Parliament appoints local business tycoon to judicial watchdog”

  1. Velezinee who supports Gasim for 2008 presidential election. what is she talking about Gasim? its rubbish. she who cant talk about Gasims integrity.

  2. Wow... bad news as this is for the country, I cant help but reflect on Gasim.. a man born to poor parents from an outer island, without an education, becoming one of the biggest capitalists in the country, moving on to become a politician (minister in two different governments), and now simaltaneously representing himself in the parliament, judiciary and media! Gross abuse of power, but still admirable for beating so many odds.

  3. Disaster! At least the while country will now see that all the opposition do is block for their self indulgent interests. Disgusting! Corruption at the highest level. Justice is an impossible dream now. Physically sickening

  4. "Parliament appoints local business tycoon to judicial watchdog"

    JJ, looks like you've learnt the ropes of the trade in this country!

  5. this isnt a good move. Everyone who knows Gasim ought to know that. But why are some ppl saying gasim lacks education. What benefit has Mariya's education given to the poor people of this country. All that she did after mdps govt came to power is to give political posts to her sisters and got business contracts to her family and friends.

    And Velezinee...ha ha someone has said above Velezinee was all head over heals about Gasim in the last presidential election. And now what happened? ha ha...

    So all three (Gasim, Maria, Velezinee) gets ZERO from me. I have to admit im still willing to give some bonus points to Gasim for all his philanthorpic works. Definitely theres no one who can even come close to Gasim in that area.

  6. Comon guys. all parliamentarians are politicians whether Gasim or Maria. Had Maria was appointed today by the Parliament, isnt she gonna defend Mega Maldives, an airline established by her family members. where did they get all that money. what happened to FPID case. where did that money go? These are few but simple questions of the integrity of the well educated Maria against the uneducated business tycoon Gasim. So I guess there is no one to blame but us for all what we are seeing in this country. But u know what? Gasim is at least does something for the Maldivians. What did Maria or her family do for this country?

  7. Alas! How sincere are our, parliamentarians? They have shown a classic Maldivian example by electing and appointing a local business tycoon to judicial services commission who is supposed to be a watchdog.
    It’s common knowledge that Maldivian parliamentarians take favors from him.
    A few months back they were a leaked telephone conversation for instance that a certain member of the parliament requesting financial help from him.
    “I need some cash”
    My question is that a person like Honorable Gasim Ibrahim can be appropriate to be in judicial services commission and do a fair job! I believe that he has got appointed to this important post is to protect his interest and to do unjust to Maldives and its people.

  8. Maria stood up to tyranny and evil. She fought hard for the independence and freedoms of expression everyone so thoughtlessly uses today. She gave up an appointed seat by Gayyoom to win a seat in parliament for herself.

  9. In my opinion MDP should have nominated Hamza instead of Mariya. I know this is a big IF but I think it would have worked in favour of MDP.

  10. Money talks!

    As far as I am concerned no matter who ever sits on the Judicial Services Commission (the way the present set up is) it will not be able to reform the Judiciary of this country.

    Why? Because corruption is so rampant amongst the Judiciary, it is mistake to give the current judiciary carte blanche independence to sell judgements to those who can afford to pay.

    Even today we are reading the news about one of the biggest drug lords of this country - Abdul Latheef walking free after being caught for smuggling in over 1kg of drugs. If this happened in a country like Singapore the guy would have been hanged.

    So, whatever you may say, I don't believe that our judiciary (with the kind of people in it and the system that is currently in place) should be given absolute independence. The Judicial Services Commission would be a failure if it doesn't have the teeth necessary to reform the Judiciary. The only way this can be ensured is for the Executive Branch to have a stronger presence within the JSC or alternatively the President as Head of State must use his special powers to ensure that corruption is rooted out and stamped out of the Judiciary by 'alternative' means.

    President Nasheed must take up the matter more seriously if the JSC cannot be reformed to undertake its constitutionally mandated duties. As the elected Head of State he has 'unique' powers which must be exercised when the times require it.

    Of course corruption exists within the criminal justice system in other branches as well. And this must be tackled with equal determination.

    Sending Gasim to JSC is a huge mistake. But let us wait and see how things move. After 3 months, the Government must make its move if things start going in the wrong direction.

  11. Mariya will now be appointed by the President to fill the position made vacant by Velezinee's dismissal. She did not resign as chairperson of MDP for no reason.

  12. Mariya did NOT stand up to tyranny and evil. She made a clever calculation between serving a government in the post of the head of public prosecutions and heading a reform movement which would ensure her financial gains.

    Judicial reform is just another word for wresting control. Mariya or Gasim or Richard Pearl, it does not matter - as long as the current composition of the JSC remains in place, the institution will always be heavily politicized and effectively controlled by the political majority in parliament.

  13. Whats wrong a business tycoon to be in JSC, Balsconi is a also a business tycoon.

  14. Where on earth did Gasim learn anything about law. The guy owes millions to MMA. Let him cough the money out first before he opens his mouth. It is not fair these crooks use our money and play politics.

  15. god, sounds like jj has been the editor for too long now... we need soem fresh young blood

  16. Money talks. Too true. Even in our saintly little nation solidly based on Islamic principles.

  17. Gasim would have not been the success he is today if he did study! think about that you shallow Maldivians! before you open your mouths!

    And he can be better than you in everything! Including women! any day!

    Good luck!

  18. some ppl here who claim come from mdp have very short memory, and minvan news seems very upset for qasim's election by making a rubbish headline. for instance if maria was elected, the headline wud not be former FPID, former public prosecutor, MDP hardliner, or Mega airline stake holder got elected to JSC. for some ppl information here are Marias records.
    - who was wife of FPID case suspect Sato, during this time Sato send her for studies (its alleged she studied with this public money stolen by Sato)
    - she was Director at Atorney General Office, and called called as her own brother. (as bebe) to get close to gayoom.
    - When then Atorney General Munavvar refused Anni's case to be sent to Court for prosecution, it was Maria who send it to court by claiming that Anni is convict-able. she did it on orders of Gayoom.
    - After dismiss of Munavvar she was hoping to get AG post. and personaly asked gayoom family members for this. but Gayoom gave the post to dr. hassan saeed. and Maria cud not digest that Hassan saeed former her subordinate became her boss all of sudden. and with this anger she resigned.
    - when she campaigned for Male Atoll Special Majlice Seat, all reformists campaigned her hoping she wud be on their side, but upon election she refused to become MDP member and instead stayed for long time as independent member. and sometimes voted in favor of DRP.
    -she joined MDP and soon got up with ladder to become MDP chairperson without much competition.
    -Now when MDP as goverment, she is one of the biggest abuser of the system like she abused gayoom. she has give many posts to her family and infact have 100s of positions given to her family alone. she have secretly diverted many investors to her family making good ventures like MEGA and etc.

    so mdp boys please get your fact right. Maria is self interest person, who is good for nothing. she is among many virus infecting the core value of MDP. and MDP is now full of these virus and it has lost what it was made in 2005. today its a new name for same style like gayoom's rule, nepotism, one gang rule, corruption is everywhere, and they only talk long rule. for them 30 years is nothing, they want 500 years.

  19. Parliament's support for Gasim representing our Judiciary means we will never ever get Justice in this beautiful island nation....a poor boy came from Maamigili and got a chance to live at the same house where the world-famous Silent Dictator lived....because he got chance of living with the Dictator, he became the richest...even today he has support of the Dictator to invade our Judiciary so that he can destroy our Judiciary just like he destroyed our Economy...SO SAD! May ALLAH SWT save us from this dirty power-hungry crook, Ameen

  20. OK Gasim is not the sort of character for the role. But how was Maria ever going to make JSC free from politics or make it impartial. The fact that MDP did not put forward a more modest MP means people was always going to lose... we lost to Gasim not to MDP...

  21. @Ahmed, @abdul mohamed
    I believe Velezinee's motive in supporting Gasim was to help remove our beloved dictator from power. If it wasn't Gasim, it would have been Anni or someone else. I don't think she cared who she supported, as long as it wasn't Gayoom. I would believe the integrity of Velezinee, who has done a great job in exposing the illegalities of the JSC eg, who is educated to Masters level and is not aligned with any political party than the integrity of one of the richest men in the country who is not educated. Please share your logic with us. Or is that all you have? And did Gasim not work for the brother-in-law of Gayoom. Was this just a mere co-incidence at the start of his money-making career? Integrity I doubt.

    Exactly, goodbye to any chance of establishing an independent judiciary.

    @abdul mohamed, @Antharees, @help
    What is that annoys you? Is the editor wrong to use the truth and hard facts? How else can you put it, "Parliament appoints local business tycoon to judicial watchdog". The parliament has appointed a business tycoon to the judicial watchdog or am I missing something?

    @abdul mohamed
    "I have to admit im still willing to give some bonus points to Gasim for all his philanthorpic works. Definitely theres no one who can even come close to Gasim in that area."
    That's great, congrats to Mr Gasim for his charitable offerings. But for handing small portions of his riches over to people does not merit a place in both parliament and the JSC who overlook the judiciary. There are good people in the country with a lot more integrity and no conflict of interest that should be taking this position. Does he have an educational background for such a position?

    Love it, very funny.

    Ibrahim Shareef states that Gasim has the experience, wisdom and the capacity to face the challenges and that sincerity is required but meanwhile stating that there is a real possibility that Gasim's appointment could mean a conflict of interest? The JSC's role in the country is to oversee the judiciary, to basically prevent any wrong doings for the good of the people. What credentials does this businessman have to undertake this responsibility, other than knowing how to make a lot of money for himself over someone with integrity and actual education? Can anyone answer that please?

    The JSC needs a complete reform. No good can come of such a person joining the commission. I don't think the JSC has even closed one case of judicial misconduct since it was setup and there are over 100 I believe that haven't even been looked into. That Treasure Island case for example was thrown out because the guy was late for 30minutes, having triued for years to get justice. I mean, blatant corruption or what. And now another guy, a business tycoon added to the pot with blatant conflict of interest. More and more trouble ahead. I hope Gasim will prove me wrong. Maybe he's only interested in helping the poor Maldivian people in this mess we have gotten ourselves into 🙂

  22. Aren’t you surprise to witness when an active leader of political party has elected as Speaker of Majlis. Still the Speaker attends the party meeting, participate the party activities, political rallies and the same time act as the Speaker of Parliament with all immunities, security and benefits.

    Is this the Commonwealth Parliamentary Union standards? Is this Commonwealth what they been preaching here in the Maldives.

  23. I have no idea how a leader of a political party could hold this position. I think Gasim must resign from his party leadership. This guy is a crook of the highest order. He can change anytime. Now that this administration is asking him to pay his dues, he is rubbing with Gayoom. It is a matter of time he turns 180 degrees.

  24. Money talks, that’s for sure, MDP used money to buy 10 MPS including Alhan and Ali Waheed.

    It is good for the people of Maldives that Mariya did not get the seat. Rico Moosa already has started giving warnings and threats to the judges, independent commissions and to the Maldivian people what he might do if MDP gets any power of judiciary.

    Maldives is getting worse day by day. Corruption is spreading so fast from the president, parliament to judiciary. Thugs are ruling the streets. Drugs dealers ruling the politicians. Everybody greedy for money.

  25. Watchdogs are turning the other way around!
    All watchdogs, when given the dose will side-wind! Money talks!
    Its Bilderberg everywhere!
    Today's world order!
    Peples - jalah galhaalaa!!!!!!

  26. I am surprised how DRP diehards had forgotten how Gayoom would have tackled during the last recession. Imagine if we had to send his family for medical treatment in Singapore London and US, and the 700 million rufiyaa Theemugey budget. We would have gone dogs. Thank God we are done with Golhabo and his cronies. Let us also collect the loans Gayoom gave to his cronies.

  27. Why is my comment not published?

    Minivan News is unable to publish anonymous comments that place us at risk of defamation under Maldivian law. Please refer to article 6 of our commenting guidelines. -Minivan News team

  28. Gasim is really a big threat to our democracy. He became rich with his bad influence on former president and his government. He betrayed our people and our nation .He became richest person in the Maldives with use of our resources, our lands, our opportunities. In return we (Maldivians) get nothing. Just see! the biggest resort in the Maldives ( Sun Island Resort) is Gasim's property! do you how much goverment get as lease rent? see just USD 200,000 from Paradise Island resort same.. but 60 Beds small resorts use to pay million dollars.. And from Maamigili airport the goverment gets only USD 9,000 per year.. from his influence he has collected lot of goverment and public lands for his business.. Half of Thilafushi is controll by buruma Gasim.. 50% of MTDC ( tourism company) controll by Buruma Gasim... And today he start fight our nation. he is against Tax..

  29. This is where comment supposed to be.

    Many believe in Gasim as a great philanthropist, he sponsored many Maldivians to study etc… Other’s believe in him as simply wanting power, seems he grew up as the Servant Boy of the Father of Nasreena Ibrahim, once an a power broker in old ways and new ways (he was Political yet also a practitioner of Fanditha, both healing and Sihuru, when he sent smoke signals to send British ships away for example). So, Gasim, being from the islands, wants that power.

    This appointment MAY be an opportunity for Gasim to reveal which idea of Buruma is correct.

    Gasim, please serve the JSC with justice, come against evil, reveal to us that you are a man capable of standing up tyranny, even if it hurts yourself to do that, and you Gasim, may rise in popularity?

  30. yes, its unfair to judge Gasim based on his education or english proficiency level. He is living proof that neither is necessary to 'succeed' in Maldives. what matters ultimately is his sincerity and ability to undertake the task in hand. I too, hope that Gasim will use it to the benefit of the common people.

  31. I liked the guy once just because Yameen hated him so much, hehe, very shallow superficial reason to like someone.

    Gasim passed by us once when I was in Male'. Somebody pointed out, "That's our finance minister... (Was finance minister under Maumoon at the time...) I saw this guy, huge dopy smile on his face, eyes looked so bright, so mindless and thoughtless, like one of those glowing pictures of the faces of Hindu God's you see in India. There he was, just all glow and no know! I thought, this guy could not have become rich through intelligence. It looks like he got to where he is through an optimism so exuberant that it can only exist in the most naive of people. I chuckled to myself. I rather liked this character in the same sense I liked Goofy from Disney Land. He is just like a big kid, and you know what Freud said about kids, they are still in the Id or super egotistical stage of development, they would smash everything in their own path to get their own way. Not that they are evil, but that they are too under developed to understand any better. Gasim strikes me as being too childish to be actually evil. He is the way he is because he does not know any better! At least, that is my opinion!

  32. JJ Pobinson - please tell me one person in the opposition who has not been accused of by President Nasheed's regime of bribery. But as soon as opposition MPs switch sides they are considered saints by the government.

  33. Ben - 99.9 percent of the so called "educated Maldivians" in politics are after money and power. Well guess what? Gasim maybe uneducated in your sense of the word "education" but he sure has surpassed almost all of these educated people in amassing, wealth, fame and love of the general public. President Nasheed and MDP will be licking his boots and hugging him just like they did with Ali Waheed if he changes sides.

  34. By any stretch of imagination, neither Mariya nor Velizinee may be considered independent. On top of that Mariya has a lot of serious allegations of corruption leveled against her. While Velizinee faces no such allegations, her fascist inclinations were a significant threat to the establishment of a really independent judiciary. Gasim may not be as selfless as he portrays, but definitely better than those two. What has anyone against Afraasheem other than that he sided with Gayoom and is opposed to the Adhaalat beardies? Even today, if he joins MDP, president Nasheed will welcome him with open arms.

  35. A Great day for Maldivian Judiaciary...Congrats MR.Gasim...We hope that you would stand against the tyranny of MDP and its corrupt cronies inlcuding MEGA RICH, MEGA CORRUPT ,MEGA MARIA and HEAVYILY CORRUPT HEAVY LOAD REECKo....who are actively as we speak miliking our tax money for their benefit ...these people are corrput to the core..and MR.president is singing and dancing to their tune....


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