President’s Special Advisor appeals to Indian PM to terminate GMR contract, warns of “rising extremism”

Special Advisor to President Mohamed Waheed and leader of the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP), Dr Hassan Saeed, has appealed to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urging him to terminate the Maldives’ airport development contract with Indian infrastructure giant GMR.

GMR signed a 25 year concession agreement with the former administration to develop and manage Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA). Saeed’s DQP was vocally opposed to the deal while in opposition.

In a self-described “candid” letter to Singh dated September 19, obtained by Minivan News, Saeed claimed that “GMR and India ‘bashing’ is becoming popular politics”, and warned that “as a result, “the Maldives is becoming fertile ground for nationalistic and extremist politicians.”

“I want to warn you now that there is a real danger that the current situation could create the opportunity for these extremist politicians to be elected to prominent positions, including the Presidency and Parliament on an anti-GMR and anti-India platform,” Saeed informed Singh.

“That would not be in the interests of either the Maldives or India. You are well aware of the growing religious extremism in our country,” Saeed stated, in an apparent turnaround from the party’s former position.

Months prior to the downfall of Nasheed’s government in February, Saeed’s DQP published a pamphlet entitled ‘President Nasheed’s devious plot to destroy the Islamic faith of Maldivians’, which accused Nasheed of “working ceaselessly to weaken the Islamic faith of Maldivians, allow space for other religions, and make irreligious and sinful behaviour common.”

Specific allegations in the pamphlet against Nasheed’s administration included “fostering ties with Jews”, “holding discos”, “dancing”, permitting the consumption of alcohol, fraternising with “Christian priests”, characterising the Maldives as “a nest of terrorists and Maldivian scholars as terrorists”, failing to condemn comments by UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay opposing “Shariah punishments like flogging fornicators”, permitting senior female diplomats and party officials to wear skirts, and attending the Miss France 2011 Beauty Queen pageant on the night of the Holy Hajj.

“Nationalism and extremism in India’s backyard is not good for India or our small country,” Saeed informed Prime Minister Singh, in his letter.

Saeed went on to accuse GMR of extensive bribery, including the payment of “millions of dollars to buy MPs to get a parliamentary majority for the then ruling Maldivian Democratic Party”.

He claimed that “politicians and MPs who end up in GMR’s pocket keep silent but no one – with the exception of former President Nasheed and his key associates – have defended the indefensible GMR deal in public.”

“When politicians and legislators are unable to debate openly such important national issues and address them in an appropriate manner the public starts to look for alternative voices,” Saeed claimed.

“I fear that the only viable alternative for them appears to be nationalist and religious leaders, which could turn a bad situation ugly.”

Saeed advised Prime Minister Singh that “due to the negative connotations of the GMR issue, many positive elements of our relationship such as the vast amounts of grants and loans by India to the Maldives go unnoticed.”

Maldivian Finance Minister Abdulla Jihad in late October warned that the Maldives would be unable to pay state salaries for the rest of the year without a further US$25 million loan from the Indian government.

The US$25 million was agreed upon in September 2012 as part of a US$100 million standby credit facility signed with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in November 2011.

“Indians and the Indian government may find it difficult to understand the growing anti-Indian sentiments here in the Maldives in spite of the vast amount of aid and loans we receive from you,” Saeed informed Prime Minister Singh, and complained that all bilateral talks with India now “start with and end up on the subject of the GMR issue.”

“As a result many other crucial discussions are delayed or are tied up with GMR. Normally straightforward issues such as simplifying the Indian visa for Maldivians end up being tied into the GMR issue,” Saeed said.

Longstanding opposition

A second pamphlet produced by Saeed’s DQP while it was in opposition criticised GMR as “paving the way for the enslavement of Maldivians in our beloved land”, and warned that “Indian people are especially devious”.

“Maldivians feel our respect is taken for granted, our sovereignty infringed and that India is developing a ‘big brother’ approach to relations with us,” Saeed wrote to Singh on September 19.

“The Indian Foreign Secretary’s visit to our country in February [2012] failed to resolve the political crisis largely because India is no longer seen as a friendly and fair neighbour who could broker an honest and fair deal. It cannot help India’s international reputation to be seen as unable to resolve a crisis in its own backyard.”

Saeed furthermore informed Prime Minister Singh that “the Indian diplomatic corps in the Maldives appears to be so passionate in protecting GMR interests that one often gets confused as to whether they are GMR employees or diplomats representing the Indian government.”

The remarks echoed controversial comments by President’s Office Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza at an anti-GMR rally on Friday – during which Riza accused Indian High Commissioner D M Mulay of protecting GMR’s interests and being “a traitor and enemy of Maldives and Maldivian people”.

Saeed claimed in his letter that “increasingly Maldivians believe that the unfair treatment of the Maldives by the Commonwealth is connected with GMR and India.”

“It appears to many Maldivians that Indian officials are using international leverage and contacts to influence Commonwealth governments and forcing the way the Maldives is governed, thus impinging on our sovereignty. Some Indian diplomats continuously remind our senior government officials that the Maldives would be removed from the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) agenda the moment the GMR issue is resolved,” Saeed claimed.

Growing tensions

For its part, GMR has downplayed its confrontation with the new government. However it admitted last month to India’s Business Standard publication that “public statements and press conferences of some government ministers and coalition party leaders are clearly aimed at arousing public sentiments against GMR and creating undue challenges for us.

“To gain political advantage, some elements of the government itself have started hampering the smooth functioning and development of the airport,” the company added.

The most recent surge of tension follows the company’s forwarding of a US$2.2 million bill to the government’s side of the contract – the Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL).

The negative balance was the result a civil court case filed by Saeed’s DQP during the Nasheed administration, which blocked the company from levying an airport development charge (ADC) as stipulated in its concession agreement.

The Civil Court ruled in the DQP’s favour. Opting to honour the contract, the Nasheed administration instructed the company to deduct the ADC from its concession fees while it sought to appeal the matter.

The new government – which included the DQP – inherited the problem following the downfall of Nasheed’s government on February 7. In the first quarter of 2012 the government received US$525,355 of an expected US$8.7 million, after the deduction of the ADC. That was followed by a US$1.5 million bill for the second quarter, after the ADC payable eclipsed the revenue due the government.

Combined with the third quarter payment due, the government now owes the airport developer US$3.7 million.

“The net result of this is that the Maldivian government now has to pay GMR for running the airport. On this basis it is likely that the Maldivian government will end up paying about MVR 8 billion (US$519 million) to GMR for the duration of the contract,” Saeed wrote.

Saeed concluded his letter to Prime Minister Singh by suggesting that India “assist us in terminating the GMR contract as soon as possible, well before the 2013 presidential election.”

Download the complete letter (English)


36 thoughts on “President’s Special Advisor appeals to Indian PM to terminate GMR contract, warns of “rising extremism””

  1. "Some Indian diplomats continuously remind our senior government officials that the Maldives would be removed from the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) agenda the moment the GMR issue is resolved,” Saeed claimed.

    Concerning allegations!!big corporations have a lot of influence and power

  2. haha is Dr Hassan Saeed an idiot? Do you expect the Indian Government to interfere with the trade and service contract of a multibillion dollar private company? Such idiocy, Hassan Saeed better put something hard into your mouth and keep quiet. India is not a dictatorship,

    It would be better for hassan Saeed to ask for a Ministerial post for his brother from BMW Waheed.

  3. So we are in this mess because of DQP and Hassan Saeed! What is wrong with an ADC when 99% of it is to be paid by non-Maldivians?
    Hassan Saeed, Mr. Manmohan Singh is Prime Minister of India and is not a party to the Contract between the Government of Maldives and GMR.
    You should draft a notice to GMR, terminating the Contract, and get your President to instruct the Board of MACL to sign and deliver it.
    You are not in a position to intimidate or fool the Indian Government as you are neither powerful enough or smart enough.
    Please immediately cease these actions as it is embarrassing some of us.

  4. Wasn't it Dr Hassan Saeed who short-changed state revenue from INIA after geting a court order to stop the development tax?

    And wasn't it just recently that Dr Waheed claimed there was NO extremism in the Maldives?

    And we all know who supports Hassan Saeed. The brotherhood of the Sosun-Villa group lead by Champa Afeef.

    Who it appears is very interested in investing in airports.

  5. Hasn't this government maintained there is no extremism in the Maldives?

    And now Hassan Saeed warns extremists may win the next presidential election?

    What's the next step? Dr Waheed 'dissociating' himself from his Special Advisor?

  6. I hope that Dr Singh has copies of the various propaganda pamphlets that Saeed's party has issued over the past several months.

    The "issue" with Saeed is that he think he is smart, whilst reality is entirely different. A little knowledge is a very dangerous thing indeed.

  7. Better if he had mentioned how many members registered with his party as well.

  8. Dear Mr Singh,
    We cannot ontrol the monster we have created. Please help!

  9. Good bye $25 million to prop up GOM expenditure and Civil Servant salaries. Time to worry Maldives, broke before Christmas!

  10. What does a contract mean?? If the gov. wants to terminte the contract, pay them the compensation as per the terms and condition. If not GMR must stay.

    The police and MNDF are ought to protect GMR from the criminals.

    All the best for GMR...

  11. My Gosh! Wasn't this Hassam Saeed man one of our former Attorney General's?? Being a Maldivian, I am ashamed to the marrow, to have idiots like Hassam Saeed advising Hasaniku's government.

    Does this One Mr Hassam Saeed think Dr Manmohan Singh is his grandpa? I tell you one thing, One Mr Hassam Saeed. Go visit Salafiyya in Pakistan, where you studied, once more and learn for yourself how they go about doing business in this FB and twitter age. C'mon they don't call up Dr Manmohan Singh to annul and revoke short derivative contracts to supply contraband to the chaps on the far side of LOC!! Dr Manmohan Singh has NO contractual relationship with the transaction in question. Oh man! I take pity on those guys whom you have presumably taught law!!!

  12. It is not without reason that Hassan Saeed is becoming known as Barbara Cartland of the Maldives.

    Such a prolific author of fiction!

  13. @Dhivehi Sitee No, the Special Advisor 'dissociating' from the author of the letter because it was written in his farudhee haisiyyathu (individual capacity).

  14. The present disagreements is essentially a power/economic battle between the old ruling business elite as represented by the Gayooms, Deens,Qasims and the Champas ,and those represented by Nasheed and his family allies (Universal etc) together with the Rico Moosa and Maryam Didis who are envious of the economic gains of the former. These groups does not represent the people of Maldives in the resolution of these issues but their business interests.
    The discussions on the hottest issues pervading the present Maldivian society is not serving the general populace. One bloc use the issues to broaden appeal to widen mobilization. A semblance of wide support for the bloc (election time)!
    The other bloc utilizes the issues as bait.GMR issue for them is a fishing expedition for India's support while raising the spectre of Islamist fundamentalism is for western nations(CMAG/Commonwealth, Britain and the US)backing.
    All together the ordinary people of the Maldives are the one who bear the brunt of the effect of these political contest (yes! Election 2013). Not until the Maldivians realize that they are being taken for a ride, after the next elections , the same story will continue.

  15. i really find it funny when hassan saeed tries to advice India PM,when his advice rejected by his own government."It cannot help India’s international reputation to be seen as unable to resolve a crisis in its own backyard.”

  16. This letter proves beyond doubt that Hassan Saaed is a brainless Prick !

  17. "Barbara Cartland of Maldives". It does have a nice ring to it. I like it. Kekeke....

  18. Dr Hassan is right, Religious extremism and Islam must depart from our brains. How else can we develop like the Americans and the Britons.

    Whatever means that they chose to develop does not matter here.(meaning; destroying and totally annihilating the Native Americans were just, stealing the wealth from Asians and the middle east, Africa is justifiable if it is concerned with development)

    Religion must go. It means no free sex,no slave like prostitutes, no mind corrupting drugs,no free money through interests, no donkey sex and no drunk driving and bashing up your partners and wives; that would be boring now, wouldn't it?

    The free minded American way(with the highest rates in crime) should be the new law!!!

  19. Spin doctor Hassan Saeed, are you playing peek a boo, One day you saying there in no extremism in Maldives, and next month you saying there is extremism.

    Is that what you learned from in pakistan, to lie, with a stright face. this guy can lie in the name of Islam.

  20. Poo

    On what is your opinion based that the kind of culture you have depicted exists only in secular Western societies that no longer impose puritanical religious values and strict lines of ‘morality’ on their citizens?

    Free sex: Religiously, we flog our women for fornication and adultery. Yet, Health Minister Jamsheed recently warned of rising STDs because we are a promiscuous nation with a high divorce rate with a long-surviving culture of extra-marital affairs.

    Slave like prostitutes: There is news of a brothel being raided and closed in Male' by police on average once a week. Maldives is now on the world alert list as a human trafficking hub. It is very likely that the women arrested in these raids ---almost always foreign---are not just ‘slave like’ prostitutes, but are literally sex slaves. Most of the customers are Maldivian men.

    Mind corrupting drugs: there is not a single family in Male' (and several other islands) where one of their young adults is not hooked on heroin, in rehabilitation, or in jail for being addicted to it or for dealing/trafficking.

    Donkey sex: reports of bestiality are returning to the Maldives with the return of the goat sacrificing ritual until now safely buried in the distant past. Perhaps this suggests that bestiality has been at a low not because we are so religious but because we don’t have any animal life.

    Interestingly, in religious Sudan, authorities ordered a man to marry a goat because he kept insisting on having sex with the animal.

    Drunk Driving: Similar to bestiality, the reason we don’t have many drunk drivers is, perhaps, not because people don’t drink much, but because drunk people do have not much road to drive on! Drunk people or people intending to drink, bottle in hand, are hauled into the police station almost daily.

    The Maldivian State is not secular, never has been. So how is secularism or religious moderation the cause of all the problems you have mentioned?

    These are modern socio-economic realities all societies---Western, secular or theocratic---have to deal with.

    But, of course, everything can be made into a religious issue if you want---say, for instance, an airport.

  21. Why is everyone so scared of India, the days of Bombay Male' link were long gone. The world has "shrinked" and everyone is others neighbor now. No single big brother! GMR may suffer if it is chased out but that does not mean other Indian companies have to suffer too. Indian government will not take any action that would harm its other business interests like Taj, MM Export, Hari&Co, Monalals, Indian Emporium and many others trading with the Maldives. India will not sacrifice their trade with Maldives just because one of its "investors" had some bad luck. So called politicians are just scaring people as they are paid to do by GMR.

  22. @gahbarey
    Do you have any idea why countries set up embassies and establish diplomatic relation? Amongst Indian Embassy’s objectives………safeguarding the interests of the Indian community and people of Indian origin residing in the host country.
    Like president Nasheed said you have to travel outside your islands shoreline or think outside the box to understand these things. Why would the Indian government abandon a Billion dollar Indian company (GMR)?
    The Indian Government said it will take measures against the Anti-Indian rants by Maldives Government Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza. Wait till The next time BMW Waheed gets cozy, touchy feely with China, India will start unleashing its hasher face not so friendly India. See what happens then?

  23. It seems that Hassan Saeed has driven the last nail to his coffin.
    A complete failure and a political misfit.

  24. This Salafiyyage Sithifulhu is going to bring the whole of Indian rage upon us all!! Idiot!!

  25. Is funny how these beadies worship and follow India invented Salafist Islam yet they hate indian investments in the maldives

  26. I am amazed and baffled to see the comments made here. I sometimes wonder whether these people are honest, nation-loving Maldivians. If these people ever have a slightest inkling of nationalism in their blood, they wouldn't dare make such malicious remarks. See I have studied in places like Malaysia and even in Australia, where my elder Brother is a professor in the Melbourne University. So I don't think anybody can level such lowly criticisms against me, especially when I have very passionately written a candid letter to the honourable Prime Minister of our closest neighbour who has extended generous assistance to us from time immemorial. What I have simply requested from the Indian PM was just to cancel the GMR contract, because I know for a fact that, he has the authority to do so. He can simply call Mr Rao, Chairman of GMR and request him to disinvest from Maldives, citing that it jeopardizes the fraternal relationship between India and Maldives. I am also of the view that, under our new constitution any body can write to any body in the world, so long as it does not tantamount to a breach of our Constitution. Can anybody show me any article in the Constitution precluding a Maldivian individual or Party leader, for that matter, writing to any leader in the world? No one can show me that, because I am well-versed with the Constitution like the back of my palm. I am thorough with basically almost all the provisions in the Constitution. As I said in the letter, next Presidential election will basically be a referendum on the GMR issue, nothing else! As such it is important for the current coalition partners to hype up as much public sentiments as possible over the issue in the run up to next year's elections. I strongly feel that if the coalition partners cannot put the former President behind bars, it is of utmost importance that we get rid of GMR from the Maldivian soil well before the 2013 elections. We can deal with the consequences later on. Failure of which would result again the former President coming into power, that is my assessment and what I have told my boss as well. However, I am highly doubtful because of his lackluster leadership skills whether he would be able to pull us through.

  27. And in future I request that Minivannews does not publish slanderous allegations against me made by cowardly commentators who hide behind anonymity. I am one of the most intelligent and best educated people in the entire country, if not the entire world, and I think I deserve some dignity being associated with my name.


  29. @dhivehi sitee

    You are one hypocrite. Nice way of reasoning out to justify your opinions. Does that mean the west follows part of religion(what happened to the claim religion was all made up, why follow something made up??) but when it comes to giving up some of their inner greed, they can change it in what ever way possible??

    your stand is all split here!!

  30. Islam is not extremism. The extremists in the country are the gangsters who pillage and cause terror. Not to mention the politically extreme people who will kill, lie and steal for power. That is extremism.

  31. How is Indian PM a party to this deal? If this deal needs cancelling it is the duty of Maldivian govt. not Indian. GMR is not state owned. BTW why has Indians become a punching bag for local politicians. Why are not they picking UK, US or Lanka to settle the scores?


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