Maldives film wins bronze medal at regional film festival

A Maldives feature film has won a bronze award at a SAARC film festival held in Sri Lanka in May.

The film titled, Insaanaa (Human), was directed by veteran actor Ali Seezan. It won the bronze medal against 18 other films from the region.

A second Maldivian film, Hulhudhaan, was also featured in the festival.

Maldives also won the bronze medal the previous year for Ravee Faroog’s Ingili (Finger).


Actor Ali Seezan newest addition to government’s list of political appointees

Local Actor Ali Seezan has been appointed as technical advisor to Minister of Tourism Arts and Culture Ahmed Adheeb, reports local media.

According to the President’s Office, Seezan was appointed to the position last Thursday with a salary of MVR 15,000 (US$ 972.76) and an additional allowance of MVR 10,000 (US$ 648.50), a total monthly income of MVR 25,000 (US$1,621.27).

Seezan – who is the nephew of opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) Chairperson MP Moosa ‘Reeko’ Manik – has won National Film Awards and Maldives Film Association Award twice and is a member of business tycoon and MP Gasim Ibrahim’s Jumhoree Party (JP).

He has recently been seen attending President Mohamed Waheed’s Gaumee Iththihaadh Party (GIP) rallies.

Minister Adheeb – who was recently pictured in the media with an infamous pair of Armenian brothers linked with drug trafficking, money laundering, raids on media outlets and other serious crimes in Kenya – told local newspaper Haveeru that he had no role in the appointment of Seezan.

According to statistics obtained by local media outlet Sun Online, the government is spending MVR 5 million (US$325,000) a month on 136 political appointees, approximately US$4 million a year.

The monthly spend includes 19 Minister-level posts at MVR 57,500 (US$3730), 42 State Ministers (MVR 40,000-45,000, US$2600-2900), 58 Deputy Ministers (MVR 35,000, US$2250), five Deputy Under-Secretaries (MVR 30,000, US$1950) and 10 advisors to ministers (MVR 25,000, US$1620).

President Mohamed Waheed is officially paid (MVR 100,000, US$6500) a month, Vice President Waheed Deen (MVR 75,000, US$4850).

Waheed’s Special Advisor Hassan Saeed, the Chancellor of the National University and the Controller of Immigration are paid at ministerial level.

The country’s 77 MPs are meanwhile paid a base salary of MVR 42,500 (US$2,750) per month, a further MVR 20,000 (US$1,300) per month in allowances for phone, travel, and living expenses, and a further MVR 20,000 in committee allowances.

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has meanwhile criticised President Mohamed Waheed for appointing family members and activists “who took part in the coup that ousted the democratically elected president.”

President Waheed’s Gaumee Iththihaadh Party (GIP) was earlier accused of offering illegitimate inducements to join his party to people ranging from youths to employees of government companies, in a bid to shore up the party’s membership base ahead of parliament’s dissolution of parties with less than 10,000 members.

In October 2012, a number of young people came forward and alleged to Minivan News that they were offered government positions, promotions, jobs with salaries of more than MVR 10,000 (US$650) a month, music equipment and even hosted parties, if they joined GIP.

GIP Secretary General Ahmed Mushrif dismissed the allegations at the time as an “outright lie”, and said that the party from its formation had never attempted to add members illegally.

A young Maldivian working in the tourism sector told Minivan News on condition of anonymity that a parliament member and prominent figure in the industry had called him and asked him to sign with GIP “as a favor”.

“He told me that in return for me joining the party, I would be rewarded with a position in the current government that I could never have even imagined. He further tried to convince me that all I needed to do was join the party – I could vote for anybody I wanted,” he said.

Another person who has worked in the civil service for the last 15 years told Minivan News that he was contacted by GIP with a promise that he would “easily be promoted” to a supervisor level job if he joined the party.

“A GIP member called me and told me that I could easily get promoted to supervisor level if I left my current party and joined GIP. Even though I am not an active MDP member I said I would think about it, but later did not respond to his calls,” the civil servant said.

A third person – aged 20 – claimed that he and his group of friends aged around 18 to 22 were approached by GIP through a friend and were invited to the party’s office where they were received by the party’s Deputy Leader  and the former Maldives High Commissioner to Malaysia, Mohamed ‘Nazaki’ Zaki.

“When we arrived we were received by ‘Nazaki’ Zaki and treated with pizza. He said that in return for joining GIP, he would offer each of us a job with a salary not less than MVR 10,000, but asked us not to question where the jobs would be allocated from,” the youngster claimed.

Apart from the job, the source alleged that Zaki had offered him and his friends “music equipment and a place to play for free” to those among them who wished to play music. He added that the group were also promised various entertainment activities such as “hosted shows and parties”.

“They asked us to join the party and work in the party’s youth wing,” the source said.

When they asked what they were supposed to do as members of the party’s youth wing, the source said Zaki had told them that their main task would be to increase the party’s membership as it was “currently very low”.

At the end of the meeting, the high commissioner reportedly suggested the holding of a party event that would be fully funded by GIP.

“They said we should all party sometime. Maybe they said that because we had long hair and looked stylish,” the source suggested.

Download a ‘Who’s Who’ spreadsheet of Dr Waheed’s ministerial appointees (English)