Opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Deputy Leader Umar Naseer vowed to take legal action against “government officials and opposition figures who accepted bribes from [Indian infrastructure giant] GMR”, following allegations that surfaced on the Dhivehi Post website last week.
Speaking at a joint opposition rally on Thursday night at artificial beach, Naseer told opposition supporters that “those in the government and those among us who took bribes” would receive “just punishment” we will give just punishment.”
That morning the GMR-Malaysia Airports Holding Berhad (MAHB) consortium took over management of Male’ International Airport.
Naseer’s claims comes a week after local media republished allegations that surfaced in an anti-government tabloid website claiming that DRP Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali and Speaker of Parliament Abdulla Shahid each accepted a bribe of US$1 million from GMR.
Both Thasmeen and Shahid, neither of whom attended Thursday night’s rally, have strongly denied the allegations.
“These allegations originated in an internet site called the Dhivehi Post,” Thasmeen told Minivan News last week. “If you go through it you can make a reasonable guess as to who they support.”
The website today published what it claims to be copies of ticket reservations Shahid and Thasmeen made to travel to India via Colombo, Sri Lanka.
Dhivehi Post claims that the two spent 55 minutes in transit at the Delhi airport on October 30 and returned to the Maldives the same day after meeting GMR officials at the VIP lounge.
Meanwhile, at a party rally in Kaafu Atoll Maafushi last night, DRP Deputy Leaders Ali Waheed and Ibrahim “Mavota” Shareef moved to defend the party leaders, condemning efforts by senior members to “divide the party”.
In an apparent rebuke to the party’s other Deputy Leaders Umar Naseer and Ilham Ahmed, Ali Waheed said that disagreements within the leadership did not mean DRP members should “hold rallies with other presidential candidates”.
“Given the state of the country today, the biggest betrayal to the nation and the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party would be to split up this party,” he said.
Defending the DRP Leader from the bribery allegations, Shareef pointed out that “if Thasmeen wanted US$1 million, he would not have had to take an indebted party onto his shoulders.”
In July, four opposition parties in parliament – DRP, People’s Alliance (PA), Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) and Jumhooree Party – signed an agreement to form a united opposition front against the airport privatisation deal.
Speaking to Minivan News last week, Managing Director of GMR Male International Airport Limited P Sripathy described the allegations of bribery as “totally false and baseless, and very disappointing and damaging to our reputation. We have never met any members of the opposition to date.”
“The GMR Group is in Male’ on serious business – to build a world class, benchmark airport that people of Male’ and the Group will be very proud of,” he added.
Addressing supporters at the sparsely attended rally on Thursday night, PA Leader Abdulla Yameen asserted that “auctioning off the airport below price” would bring no economic benefits to citizens.
Referring to the November 3 coup attempt in 1988, Yameen said that the Maldivian people were now experiencing “a second enslavement” in the month of November as handing over airport management to GMR amounted to “economic enslavement”.
Yameen contended that foreign parties were not needed to develop the airport as it made annual profits exceeding Rf200 million (US$15.5 million) and that it did not make “economic sense” to lease a state asset during difficult economic times.
“We built the airport at a time when we spent less than Rf50 million a year from our budget,” he said. “We should be ashamed today.”
He added that local businesses “could easily develop” new duty free shops, and that “it won’t take more than Rf2 or Rf3 million” to build a new terminal.
While building a new runway and alternative landing strip would have been “challenging”, he conceded, “replacing concrete walls of the terminal with glass” does not amount to modernising the airport.
Yameen pledged to take back the airport by moving legislation through parliament to declare “legal status” for the airport.
Other opposition figures who spoke at the rally launched vitriolic attacks on the government, lamenting the loss of “an airport built with the blood and sweat of the Maldivian people”.
Most speakers at the rally alleged corruption in the airport and accused the government of “selling off state assets one by one”.
While DRP MP Ali Arif said that President Mohamed Nasheed “deserves every obscene word in the Dhivehi language,” MP Ahmed Mahlouf alleged that “GMR gave large amounts of money in bribes to the MDP campaign” to secure the deal.
The government has meanwhile flatly denied accusations of any wrongdoing, pointing out that the transaction was overseen by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the financial arm of the World Bank.
Moreover, the government has alleged that opposition to the airport deal stems from the “vested interests” of certain MPs, several of whom it arrested following the resignation of cabinet on June 29 in protest against the “scorched earth politics” of the opposition-majority parliament.
The fuel trade is the most immediately lucrative part of the airport deal, Minivan News understands, and is a key reason behind both GMR’s interest and the government’s decision to award the contract to the Indian infrastructure giant. GMR has told Minivan News it will amalgamate the trade under one umbrella, a decision that will likely affect current third party suppliers.
22 thoughts on “Umar Naseer vows to take legal action against “government and opposition figures who took bribes from GMR””
can you really build a new terminal for 3 million rufiyaa in this day and age?
Where is my share?
President Nasheed and Umar Naseer seems to be two shoots of the same tree. One boasting of legal action against is own party members and the other boasting of arresting opposition MPs. We seem to be in a real mess from which it will be hard to get out.
"can you really build a new terminal for 3 million rufiyaa in this day and age?"
With 'tinu' and 'fanfuraalhu'
And the game has begun.
Let's play with Maldives' politics like we did earlier. It's easy.
You are building an airport terminal? Where?
@umar and yet you are giving a nonrealistic promise. I don't see any difference.
The cost of the current Departure terminal plus the refurbishment of the then Arrival/Departure terminal as only an arrival terminal amounted to about US$ 10 million in 1994 dollars.
It was built by a Kuwait Fund loan with a Danish (I think) consultancy.
Anyone who thinks an airport terminal can be built with Rf 3 million is high on "something"
Yes the drp leadership got money from gmr. Unfortunately PA lost it's share. Yaameen is behind all this rumor. Good for him. We will ask Gasim to kick his ass
Not rufiyaa 3 to 4 million. Said USD 3 to 4 million. Good work minivan.
hehe.. There are other victims of this SOB, who has vowed revenge and justice. But is it EVER gonna happen here? I dont think so.
Umar Naseer is worse than a cartoon character.
Why does Minivan even care to publish what he says.
You make a lot os sense.
Looks like we are all barking the wrong tree.
Umar Naseer? Really?
in a related news, Umar naseer is begging an 80+ year old dude to come and help DRP. oh, the irony...
Obviously Minivan news has got some information wrong. All these political accusations only hurt investments in Maldives. Especially after they have signed a deal and got the contract. Doesnt Maldivians know of the Malaysian airport? Do they not trust the same company that handles Malaysian KLIA to handle Maldives airport?
If an investment is good for the country and if the country does not have to spend so much of its own money, than where is the problem. I could understand if some private company who has one or two staff comes and tells us that they want to invest a few million in Maldives. But has anyone actually done any background search on this company?
Do people really think that these kind of news is good for Maldives in the long run. Who would want to invest in Maldives when political accusations are so disgraceful that it brings a bad reputation to the foreign investor just for trying to invest money.
Naamagu Says, "Cats and Rats have joined in Matrimony." What did they do during honeymoon. hahha hahha.
Muaz, I have to disagree.
You can't compare Malaysian KLIA with the sad prospect of our airport for the next 25 years.
I think what we will get by this deal is a little expansion of the terminal and some glass here and there.
Maldivians would love the glass, I am sure. But is that real development?
What we do need is a second or even third runway. That, I would call is real development.
What we also need to make sure is that whether the airport will be developed to cater for larger air crafts like the A380 and many more that are on the pipeline in the very near future.
If we dream to be a top market for the posh people around the world, then how come these points are not highlighted in the GMR agreement?
Rich people love to travel in bigger and grandiose aircraft - but I am sure they are not coming to Male'.
What will we get in 25 years? What will our airport look like after 25 years? We are talking quarter of a century here!
I have strong suspicion that the deal is full of corruption.
Did you listen to what the two disqualified parties for the airport deal, had to say?
Not just that. There are many more valid points that concerns me.
Umar Naseer, good work!
Hammer the correct size nails to the coffins of the people who took bribes from these investors, and also find the people who had been buggering us for the last 3 decades and hammer similar nails to them also. You were said to be very good at investigations as a cop!
I am most interested to see Umar Nasser's progress with nailing down culprits of corruption! Umar Naseer is an angel in disguise!
I am sure that with his experience of "Whale Submarine" expertise, he will be able to sink deep down into all unanswered mysteries of the past; perhaps the 1.6 tons of drugs found in a lagoon, placed in Security Custody that is said to have vanished into thin air!
@ Maud MZ
So right. We should not see conspiracy in every thing. GMR guys have modernized Istanbul, Hyderabad and Delhi airports. Besides, if for some reasons they are shunted out, no other company will come forward for the same project. Our reputation at stake here.
the clown barks again.
This is not the first time that Umar has attacked Thasmeen. It looks that party lacks discipline where deputy leader(s) miss no opportunity to attack party president. But, who is backing Umar - thats the mystery. May be Gayoom wants to come back.
This half brother is the biggest threat to Maldives. a cunning fox n power-hungry. idiots will believe them.
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