Rising migrant worker population threat to “Maldivianness, culture and nationhood”: President Waheed

President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik has warned the Maldives will face difficulties in seeking foreign assistance should it descend to Tier 3 of the US State Department’s human-trafficking watch list.

Speaking at a ceremony to celebrate National Day, Waheed stated the Maldives is now “forced” to take measures against changes to the “national character” due to the rising number of migrant workers in the country.

The Maldives has been listed on the tier 2 watch list for human trafficking for three years in a row. Waheed stated that if the country descends to Tier 3, “it would face difficulties, among other issues, in seeking foreign assistance”.

In 2012, the Maldives only narrowly avoided a descent to Tier 3 – the worst category – after presenting a written plan that, “if implemented, would constitute making significant efforts to meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.”

In his speech today (January 13), Waheed said the government was taking measures to prevent the country from falling into Tier 3 category of human trafficking, by initiating an awareness campaign underway and a draft bill on anti-trafficking submitted to the People’s Majlis.

Foreign influence threatens “Maldivianness”: President Waheed

In his National Day speech, Waheed also warned that the Maldivian population risks being overtaken by the migrant population in just six years if immigration continues to grow at its current rate.

Waheed stated that this was something “no Maldivian can and will, want to accept”.

“If the number of migrant workers continues to increase, [Maldivian] national character will be lost,” the President was reported as saying on the island of Fonadhoo in Laamu Atoll.

“If the influence of foreigners grows, [the] threat of negative impacts on Maldivianness, culture and nationhood is not unrealistic,” he added.

Border control system crucial in addressing human-trafficking

At the National Day speech, the President was reported as saying that an effective border control system was crucial for addressing trafficking.

Last month, parliament voted unanimously to instruct the government to terminate the border control project agreement with Malaysia-based IT group Nexbis, over allegations of corruption.

Speaking about the BSC project last month, Majlis Finance Committee member Ahmed Hamza told Minivan News at the time there was a “worry” within the immigration department that their own border control system would not be sufficient.

Furthermore, Hamza stated there was a “possibility” that human trafficking could increase should the Nexbis contract be cancelled, and to combat this parliament will need to provide a “sufficient solution to deal with these problems”.

Speaking at National Day, President Waheed claimed there were approximately 111,000 migrant workers using work visas and over 40,000 illegal migrant workers in the Maldives.

‘Blue Ribbon Campaign Against Human Trafficking’

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently inaugurated an initiative targeted at raising awareness of the human trafficking issue in the Maldives.

The strategy, entitled ‘Blue Ribbon Campaign Against Human Trafficking’ is expected to include activities to try and raise awareness among students and the business community.

The Foreign Ministry announced that it had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with multiple local media outlets in the country as part of the campaign’s aim to raising awareness of human trafficking and other related issues.

The MOU states that the media outlets will produce and broadcast programmes aimed at disseminating information on the issue of human trafficking.

Nasheed’s National Day statement

Meanwhile, former President Mohamed Nasheed gave his own National Day statement calling for a security force that is “impartial and honest” to help build the nation.

“The nationalism that had defended [our] freedom [in the past] should be beneficial to the people and their progress.

“The true guardians of this system are the people. Today, due to an uninvited interference by the security forces to the people’s rightfully elected government and their interference to the progress of the nation has resulted in re-emergence of the old political culture,” Nasheed said, in a statement.


30 thoughts on “Rising migrant worker population threat to “Maldivianness, culture and nationhood”: President Waheed”

  1. Waheed must realise that time has already run out to save Maldives. It is no longer Maldives, but Maldesh. Time has truly run out. Passing legislation in Majlis will do absolutely nothing to stop the traffic of Bangladeshis into this country. If there are 110,000 foreigners here legally already, with that figure rising daily, then how does legislation help control that?

    If the government was serious about handling this issue, they can close the border to further labourers and low paid workers with immediate effect. With the border closed, then repatriation of illegals as well as sending back those whose visas run out can be the only solution to the problem. However, we all know that this is not going to happen, since vested interests will not allow that.

    It will take a miracle to stop the rising foreign population and in less that a decade, Bangladeshis and other nationals will outnumber the locals. If people think that the current political climate is hostile, wait till the expected 200,000 Bangladeshis take to the streets demanding their own rights.

  2. the only party who can successfully do something about things like this is Adhaalath. They are not tainted by corruption and they have shown courage to stand up to what they believe.

  3. Since the dollar rush from tourism in 80s, lots of Maldivains have lived or married abroad and as a result a 'HYBRID MALDIVAIN' has evolved. As a small poor country the foreign exposed hybrids are a very educated and relatively an affluent group. But some of the kids of the fist generation tourism wealth has nothing Maldivian in them except their genes or some of their genes. Thus Maldivainness has been under attack for some time.

    However, we are seeing a revival of 'Maldivianness' after the deportation of GMR. But still there is no law protecting Maldivianness, even though Maldives as a very tiny place with a distinct culture that is continuously being bombarded by foreign influences.

    Laws are enacted in places to protect cultural resilience from outside forces. Turkishness, for example is protected in Turkey. Under 301 of penal code, a person who denigrades Turkishness can be imprisoned from 6 months to 3 years.

    Global human rights movement (which is quite prominent in Maldives since democracy), do not usually encourage nationalism, even in cases like Maldives, which derives its identity from its culture and Islam - the only feature that differentiates a Maldivain from a Srilankan and Indian.

  4. @ Ahmed Bin Addu Bin S

    Your views are xenophobic and misguided as usual. Maldivians should welcome foreigners and Maldives would be nothing without expatriates.

    The debate should be about protecting local culture and identity. That is done through education and good policy. Not by closing the border..

  5. Equal rights for all humans, regardless of nationality, yes.

    But flooding of over a hundred thousand people, into a country where most of the population is in a very small area (mostly in male, hulhumale and a few other islands in the south), is a problem

    We do not have resources, and these places are already over crowded enough. And most of the foreign workers here themselves are living under extremely poor conditions and the conditions for them will become worse as well if the foreign worker population increases.

  6. Hey what's wrong with having more Bangladeshi migrants......don't they follow the same hate filled and intolerant 'behead everyone who disagrees with you' sunni faith as yourselves?
    Please don't compare yourselves to us Indians......we are democratic and secular......something that you primitive islanders have no concept of.

  7. luke powell! post my comment, do not side with these primitive undemocratic idiots

  8. @luke, freedom of expression means, it should be allowed regardless of the platform,

  9. There are too many foreign workers, I agree on that part, but don't see things too black and white and ask yourself some questions. Don't forget expat workers bring a lot of good things to The Maldives as well. If expats would only be "bad", then they wouldn't have been here in the first place.

    Which expats do your remove? Out of experience I can say most Bangladeshi workers do work hard (much harder than many Maldivians) and it's usually underpaid and jobs Maldivians don't want to do. If you remove them, will Maldivians start to do those jobs themselves? Personally I don't think so.

    Those cultural arguments are bullshit. The expat workers do change the "looks", but have little influence on the lifestyle and habits of Maldivians. If it makes any difference, it's because Maldivians choose to implement it into their lives, which is a good thing. "Culture" is not a closed entity, everything is part of the actual culture, culture changes the whole time. There is no reason to want to keep the same culture in place and to fight for it would be plain stupid. Globalism is a fact, internet and fast travel options will have its influence unless The Maldives becomes like North Korea.

    So I can only hope the majority of The Maldivians will not choose for a radicalization, but for an efficient and balanced selection of expats, which obviously means a decrease in numbers.

  10. Why are they here?

    Maldives is not wealthy unlike our muslim brothers in Middle East where oil wealth enabled their population to lay back as the migrant workers physically built their empires.

    We have just Tuna fish as our only economical natural resource. Before the war in Sri Lanka ended, Maldives Tuna was most sort product in Europe and other Asian countries. Not anymore as Sri Lanka opened its fishing industry after the war, the government and private parties invested in developing their fishing industry which now booms and actually taken over our markets all over the world.

    What were we doing? Fighting each other on streets believing that wealth will come from the sky! Little did we know we dug our own graves deeper than the legal depth.

    Greed, corruption, stupidity, idiocity and blind living have put us in hell. Migrant workers have taken over this country while we were busy having coffee, cigarettes, spending our migre wages on mobile phones, Ipads, motorbilkes, and indulged in drugs, sexualism, extreme fanatism, drugs and alcohol.

    Look at our youth. 70% have nothing in their heads. No responsibility, no brains! And we parents? we pray day and night and have failed to bring our children to face realty but rather flourish them with technology which is now the cause of their failures. Internet addiction is more than brown sugar addiction. The boys are have made themselves jobless, hanging around or end up just dropping and picking up their girlfriends/wives from work or school or spending on coffee and cigarettes till wee ours. (Thank you to the new tobacco rule)

    Over 20 million dollars is wired to Bangladesh every month....as wages for basic services that Maldivians can and SHOULD do. I am sorry to say to the higher authorities that, migrant workers never made any mistake. They just too advantage our our own stupidity. We are to blame, we Maldivians are to blame and unfortunately its too late.

    The Maldivian mind set must change or sooner or later, we would serve the same migrants who today are marrying our daughters, screwing our girls and wives and wiping our foreign reserve. No rules will change, no parliament will repair the damage. The minds must change....

    If we can allow our women to be raped nd victims let free, children molested, pedophiles walking free while we pretend to be good muslims....how can anything CHANGE???????

  11. Miss India, please don't cast the Bangladeshsi in the same bucket as the Maldives. At least in Bangladesh they are free to follow any religion they choose and they are not affraid of working for a living unlike a few thousand Maldivians who sit around all day whilst others do their work.

    Besides Bangladesh also kicked Pakistans arse back in 1972 to gain indepenence from their oppressive rule.

    If you visit Bangladesh you will also find they celebrate every religious day with a government holiday, so they aren't the intolerant nation in Asia.

  12. @Maldivianness.. on Sun, 13th Jan 2013 10:30 PM

    "Your views are xenophobic and misguided as usual. Maldivians should welcome foreigners and Maldives would be nothing without expatriates."

    On the contrary! I and other Maldivians have always welcomed foreigners to these shores for centuries. In case you didn't know, fellow Adduans like I, grew up in the most foreign influenced place in the Maldives. In Addu, we lived and grew up with foreigners since the 1940s. So, you have very little to teach us about foreigners.

    For your other argument, Maldives didn't become what it is today due to what you call "expatriates", i.e. cheap labour. The Maldives' backbone, i.e. tourism grew from the 1970s to well into the 21st century without the mass influx of low cost labourers from the Indian subcontinent.

    There's a group of Maldivians who do extremely well out of trading in human trafficking and those Maldivians will be "nothing" if this flow of cheap labourers dries up!

    What I was talking about was the topic that Waheed was addressing today. I am not even talking about the Maldivian "identity" since that concept does not really exists. We are not such a homogeneous society and has never been. There are several racial sub-strains in these islands and have been there for a long time.

    Maldives has neither the natural resources nor the social capacity to absorb the present population of 100,000 Bangladeshis or the expected exponential rise of this number. This is a looming economic and social nightmare. Look at how Australia, United Kingdom (as well as other EU countries), Japan and other developed countries are dealing with this very same problem.

    Right at this very moment, there is a big debate opening up some EU countries regarding how they will get flooded by Romanians and Bulgarians when they are finally free to settle anywhere in the EU in 2014. The governments there are trying to limit access to precious national resources like health and welfare for these would be migrants and deter their mass movement across borders.

    None of this has got anything to do with "xenophobia". People like you use the "X" word to sweep the deeper issues of immigration under the carpet!

  13. Make ALL the foreign workers leave with 7 days notice please, and let the country fall apart.

  14. It all comes from Darwinian impulse, this is an evolutionary process, No Waheed and even Allha in that matter can stop this process. Maldivianess is anyway under threat of extinction and this all process is survival instinct. Maldivian know the only solution for their survival is interbreed and diversify their genetic pool so the gene that plays xenophobia will be eliminated so that the Maldivian can be assimilated in to the global community. This is a natural process and if you are going to interfere with natural laws you will anyway be eliminated.

  15. Waheeed I am maldivian and I want to and will accept migration. It's a biological movement. We can't stop it. Bring in diversity, make love, make babies, live and celebrate life.

  16. @human being on Sun, 13th Jan 2013 9:52 PM.
    You are dead wrong about your comment.

    Adhaalath party cannot be corrupt by any means. But the many top ranking officials in the party are infested with corruption but not tainted to the eyes of who believe in their theory and way of life! They are of a different kind! Think!
    Imran, Shaheem and Ilyas are virtually living off other people! Their sweet talk is paying off! Look strait and think deeper!
    They are striving! Yes! But for one thing only! To govern this country "just the way they want"! This is what it appear!

    @Ahmed Bin Addu Bin Suvadheeb on Mon, 14th Jan 2013 6:33 AM.
    Agree with you on the fact that Maldives never become what it is today, due to expatriates and their influence.

    In fact, the over populating of especially the Bangladeshi workforce started with some government officials of the Gayyoom's era profiting by it.
    Back in the 80s, getting Maldivians for unloading and loading of ships and doing what was necessary in the port started getting tighter.
    The then in power politicians could not think of giving the local people a decent payment for their work.
    With the development of new resorts people who used to load and unload ships and attend to port labour turned towards what was better! This is how it started and what I believe is the truth about it.
    However, when officials at the control of immigrant inflow learned to reap out of it, things when hay wire! Fact!
    US$ 100+ per head was too good quick money to be disbursed!
    This was, and is still too good to think about anything else!

    Simply advocating issues is not going to be a solution to these!

  17. There has to be a total change in tourism policy for maldives,high end resorts only benefit the extreme rich,have tourism in inhabited island,the island can get revenues,many island folks can get employed,THIS WILL BRING ABOUT benefits to maldives but maldives have to change it conservative outlook to tourism and interaction with people of other cultures, in male greed and concentration for tourist money by central government doesn't benefit ordinary island folks(other countries are doing it uae,malaysia,oman& bahrain)

  18. Culture and character?.. what a bummer.

    I shop, I eat , I travel, I do what ever I like.

  19. @Facts

    "The Maldivian mind set must change or sooner or later, we would serve the same migrants who today are marrying our daughters, screwing our girls and wives and wiping our foreign reserve. No rules will change, no parliament will repair the damage. The minds must change…."

    A quite populistic thing to say. You could have said "we marry their daughters, screw their girls and wives, ...". It obviously works both ways. And I haven't seen many girls being interested in their underpaid garbage boy, street sweeper or building hand. I'm quite convinced of the fact Maldivians are "scoring" more foreign girls than foreigners scoring Maldivian girls.

  20. @Maldivianness...that is exactly correct..the issue should be about protecting culture and identity...but then again...given the geo-history of Maldives, where does our culture and identity come from? Unless my mind fails me, we don't know for sure! I remember when we were in secondary school in 1990 (Grade 6), the Social Sciences curriculum specified that we Maldivians can trace our history all the way back to Mesopotamia! And that we even belonged to the Caucasian race! Come on!!
    Who are we kidding...Maldivians have always led a life expecting to be waited on hand and foot! Who even laid the damn roads we walk on today!? I presume, with this kind of attitude towards people of other countries, they have better rights take a xenophobic view of Maldivians!

  21. the govt knows what the problem is and the solution for it.....but has no spunk to carry out the action to fix the problem....they r just suckers!

  22. Let Waheed deport all non-Maldivians.

    Maldivians then would starve to death because of a cooked food shortage; because, well... let's face it. Who cooks the food in the hotaas in Mal'e?

  23. Culture, Mr President wasn't it your own religous bully boys that ransacked the musuem and destroyed your Maldivian cultural Buddiest pieces. These are the people who are destroying your culture, not migrant worker. It is those who claim to represent Allah's will on earth that are trying to wipe out any record of your past and are hell bent on ruining your future with a distorted version of Islam. The tolerant peaceful religion except in the Maldives.

  24. @poppat

    = looks like a typical identity corrupted hybrid who parasites on poor Maldives for income and lives abroad

  25. Shame on you Dr. Waheed why are you tarnishing the good name of your wife’s family.
    Dr. Whaeed it’s a lucrative side business to issue work visas to Bangladeshi workers. Ask your brother in law, the immigration controller about the profitability.

  26. He He He Miss India( probably a Mallu Aunty)...why the hell your BIIIIIIIIG SOOOPER India chase Bangaldesh and Nepal people from Bombay....after all SOOOPER (Inglish for Super) is the No:1 poverty and crime infested country in the world where 60% shit in open air toilet.At least Maldives offer a job for these Banladeshies so that they can feed their family back home.

    What is the score today Mallu Aunty ? ....I mean rapes..in Delhi where Chief Minister is a woman ..he he he ...

  27. Mis India.

    do you know how many millions of homeless people live in India? Do you know how many people income is below USD 1.00 per day?

    Do you know how many children is employed in forced labor in your factories ?

    Do you know how many children is deprived from thier education?

    Do you know how many rape cases is going on daily in India?

    So i guess you don't see your bckaywrd and need to clean it before trying to clearness others.

  28. there are legislation and laws to curb illegal workers since the government cannot enforce the laws and turns a blind eye, more foreigners enter the country on tourist visa and find work.

    Immigration department who officially are required to enforce these turns a blind eye even though reported with evidence.

    the government first should strictly enforce these laws without making additional laws which they cant police.

  29. I will leave a few thoughts on this forum and for this Joker Waheed.

    These are my thoughts having worked in senior managerial positions in Europe / MENA (including Saudi) and Asia and the Maldives.

    Why is there so many migrant workers - both blue and white collar ?

    1. Poor / non -existent work ethic amongst maldivians - in general (eseciall prevalent amongst males).
    2. lack of integrity and purpsoe. even in doing buisness.
    3. lack of education (proper rounded) and willingness to learn from another.
    4. Sense of entiltement sans hard work / no work.
    5. unable to seperate secular / regliou views from embracing change and external influences - ( look at Saudi Arabia / Indonesia etc.. Highly secular and Islam cetric nations. But as an expat they embrace and provide the framework for everythig to flourish in co-existence) . E.g. Saudi (pork / alcohol is banned - expats are allowed to buy under quota in your compounds etc). thats just one example. But they continue to behead and stone people to death.

    Maldives has lost its identity not because of expats but because of Maldivians themselves trying to be something they are not. They try to ape other cultures and replciate religous stances that cannot and are not aligned to the native maldivian.

    This country has lost its appeal as an expat destination to work and is fast loosing its appeal t the wider investor community. Very soon the country will be run by pot smoking, drug infused junkies who ride their bikes around the entire day.

    PLS NOTE THIS IS NOT REFLECTIVE OF THE FRST GENERATION MALDIVIANS / INVESTORS OF 2-3 DECADES AGO. More represnetative or correclty speaking a broader view of te present generation of Maldivianns.

    Cest la vi....


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