Two arrested over murder of Bangladeshi waiter

Police have arrested two Maldivians over the murder of a Bangladeshi waiter by masked men last week which began a spate of violence against expatriate workers.

A 24-year-old man was arrested at around 9.30 pm Monday evening under a court warrant, after a 21-year-old was arrested earlier in the evening, a police statement said.

Both are being held in connection with the killing of Bangladeshi national Shaheen Mia, 25, in the early hours of March 22. The police serious and organised crime department continues to investigate.

Police media officials refused to comment on whether there are additional suspects linked to the murder.

Mia was stabbed near his workplace, Lhiyanu Café in Malé’s Western harbour district, at about 4.00am on March 22 by a group of masked men and stabbed in the chest.

The attack followed a series of repeated threats to the cafe the previous day.

Earlier, a violent confrontation had occurred between Lhiyanu Café staff and a group of young men in the early hours of Saturday morning when the expatriate workers refused to serve coffee free of charge. The group vandalized the café before they left, according to local media.

The same group came to the café at 6:00pm on Saturday and allegedly threatened to burn the place down. Staff had reported all threats to the police.

The murder was followed by a spike in violence towards migrant workers, with four expatriate workers stabbed in the following week.

Two days after Mia’s death, a Bangladeshi national identified as Bilal was found dead in Alif Alif Atoll Thoddoo, naked except for a piece of cloth around his neck.

Speaking to Minivan News at the time, Thoddoo Council’s Assistant Director Ali Adam said a suicide was “highly unlikely” as Bilal could not have strangled himself with a piece of cloth.

Following the violence, Bangladeshi workers called for a protest in front of the Bangladeshi High Commission in Malé, but the protest was cancelled after the Department of Immigration threatened to deport protesters and take action against their employers.

The Ministry of Economic Development, citing increasing violence in the capital, has changed the closing times of shops and restaurants to 10.00 pm and 12.00 am respectively.

The Home Ministry meanwhile cancelled earth hour celebrations on March 28, also citing security concerns. Despite the cancellation, a 29 year old man was stabbed in near India Gandhi Memorial Hospital.

Speaking at a ceremony to mark the 82nd anniversary of the Maldives Police Service, Home Minister Umar Naseer said that the government is preparing changes to several laws to increase police powers and remove “loopholes”.


Review: Coffee, coffee everywhere, but not a drop to drink

Almost everywhere you look in Male’ you can see coffee shops. From cosy little places that barely seat 10, to trendy hangouts with sea views and prices quoted in dollars. The one thing that binds all these disparate establishments together, though, is their consistently bad coffee.

The most common outing in Male’ is going out for coffee. Lavazza, Melitta, Danesi, Illy, the names rolls off local tongues as easily as yellow fin or skip jack. On a few occasions, you might be served a good cuppa. But this happens so rarely you might be forgiven for thinking it a freak accident, in which the barista was distracted by a shooting star and forgot to burn the coffee beans.

Are Maldivians addicted to burnt coffee, or is the lack of entertainment so severe, that sipping bad coffee in good company is better then sitting cooped up in your room?  The latter seems most probable; coffee shop regulars complain non-stop about poor food and drink. However, like the English, we Maldivians are loath to return bad drinks, meaning eateries continue to serve rubbish and get away with it.

When Maldivians visit resorts or travel to foreign countries, we are generally discerning customers, able to tell the difference between a good cup of coffee and a burnt one. Alas! The dearth of good Male’ cafés has condemned local denizens to make do with what is on offer.

Here we offer a few examples of Male’s consistently bad coffee drinking experience:

You might assume that a café called Shell Beans would know how to make coffee. You would be mistaken. The trendy water front café frequented by Male’s ‘it crowd’ use expensive imported coffee machines for their brews. When we order cappuccino, though, they arrive as a brown soupy liquid with a scum of discoloured bubbles on top. The coffee is burnt and foul.

Next we try Shell Bean’s namesake, a new establishment called Coffee House. The café is more akin to London or San Francisco than Male’. Floor to ceiling glass windows, comfy chairs and cool wallpaper give this place a fresh, funky feel. The interior might lift the spirits but the coffee dispirits the soul. Those that inhabit the house know not how to make coffee.  Our cappuccino arrives burnt, revolting and utterly undrinkable.

One of the most visible cafes in the capital is Panini, in the lobby of Male’s swanky Trader’s Hotel. In Trader’s previous incarnation as Holiday Inn, Panini was an oasis of a café, where you were always guaranteed a well-rounded, good coffee.

When Holiday Inn sold the hotel to Shangri-La’s Trader’s brand, we rejoiced. After all Shangri-La is a leading luxury hotel brand in Asia, renowned for its gastronomy. But reputation does not match reality. Nowadays, Panini’s coffee is hit and miss. Our filter coffee arrives looking as black as the devil, and strong enough to fill your week’s caffeine quota in one cup.

Our latte, by contrast, looks almost angelic in its pale, milky appearance. It’s a perfect drink for those craving a warm glass of milk, but café latte it is not. Panini is a good example of how different people can make wildly different coffee from the same machine.

There is one member of Panini’s staff – a hangover from the Holiday Inn days – who makes perfect coffee. So to get a decent cup, you must stalk the lobby and wait for this lady’s shift to start. It seems she is the only server who knows her way around the Nuova Simonelli coffee machine.

In our quest for a drinkable coffee, we splash out on a meal at Sala Italia, one of the city’s most expensive restaurants.  We order cappuccino. What arrives borders on the bizarre: an espresso cup with a shot of espresso and another of milk, with about a dozen bubbles on top.

“What on earth is this?” we ask.

“Espresso-Cappuccino,” says the waiter.

A lack of training, or maybe the right cup, has spawned a new breed of coffee. We send it back in exchange for (perfectly prepared) filter coffee. It seems even in an Italian restaurant, few know much about coffee.

The problem of Male’s poor coffee does not lie in the expensive machines or the well-sourced beans most cafes seem to have. It is the know-how that is missing. The essence of making a good cup seems an anathema to most cafes: clean the coffee machine regularly; don’t re-heat the same water over and over again; heat the milk only when an order is placed; use fresh milk not powdered; and above all make sure the water is heated to the right temperature so the coffee isn’t bitter.

In a desperate, last ditch attempt to find good coffee, we head off to one of the Maldives’ most exclusive resorts. We are sitting on the beach at Soneva Gili, sipping the perfect cappuccino; well-roasted Arabica beans, blended perfectly, with a good half inch of creamy foam on top. At US$8 the coffee is pretty good value but to do this again, we would have to stump up US$1,200 per night for the room charge. At US$1,208 per cup, this is an expensive cappuccino.

After three months touring the capital in the quest for the perfect cup of coffee we have drawn a blank. The only way to guarantee good coffee is to head off to a resort. A cheaper option might be to go to the travel agents and book a flight to Rome.

All review pieces are the sole view of the author/s and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to write an opinion piece, please send proposals to [email protected]


Man stabbed in Sea House cafe

A 24-year-old man sitting by himself in Sea House Cafe, a popular venue for both locals and tourists above the Hulhumale ferry terminal, was stabbed at midnight on Monday.

Police Sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam told newspaper Haveeru that a group of men came to the cafe at around 1.23am and stabbed the man in two places.

Haveeru reported an eyewitness as claiming that a group of men followed the man into the cafe and chased him outside.

“Presumably they had some sort of quarrel,” the witness told Haveeru.

Restaurant staff saw the  bleeding and sent the man to the hospital, the witness added.

Shiyam confirmed the man was discharged from ADK Hospital after treatment.


Letter on treatment of visitors

Dear Sir

Wake up – this is no way to treat your visitors! As a regular visitor to your beautiful country, I feel it’s time to let you know what many international visitors to the Maldives feel about your poor airport service.

Should foreign visitors to the Maldives be treated to such poor service at the important time of arriving and leaving the country – especially when there are many other equally beautiful island countries around the world where they can spend their holidays?

Passport Control – here there are often long and unpleasant delays and queues on arrival. To make matters worse the guest has to go through the gauntlet of the impolite passport control staff. How difficult is it for them to offer a greeting to the guest as they arrive at the passport counter? “Good afternoon” – “thank you” – “goodbye…” It’s so easy and so simple. The passport control staff need a lesson in basic manners and why it is important for the benefit of their country that guests are treated with basic courtesy.

Food – There is a self-service cafeteria at the International Terminal – (apparently owned by a Maldivian – Mr Hassan Bagir), where there are no pricing notices and where a cup of coffee will cost the same as the most expensive cities in the world, London or Paris.

The service in this cafe is poor and unpleasant, and one has to ask for change! No wonder there were no Maldivians eating or drinking at the tables of this cafeteria – it’s only the ignorant foreigner who is foolish enough to order food and drinks here.

Souvenir shop – where the Hindi Film is so loud you cannot think clearly and the staff have no other interest than to watch the Hindi film. The badly displayed stock includes Sharks Heads (I thought Shark Fishing in Maldives is meant to be banned?)

Customs and immigration – It’s still unbelievable that visitors coming to the Maldives from somewhere like Sri Lanka or Thailand will have any Buddhist statues in their possession confiscated. This is crazy when you have an excellent museum in Male’ displaying Buddhist statues – representing a period of Maldives history!

I would like to suggest to the Airport Authorities and the Ministry of Tourism: Wake up, this is no way to treat your visitors!

I hear a new airport is going to be built in the Maldives – there is little point unless there is an understanding why customer service and basic manners are important in the competitive business of tourism.

Concerned Visitor

All letters are the sole view of the author and do not reflect the editorial policy of Minivan News. If you would like to submit a letter, please send it to [email protected]


Carnival cafes swamped with bids

More than a hundred parties are vying for the four cafes up for bid in the Alimas Carnival area.

According to the Male’ municipality, 130 different parties have shown interest.

All bids must be made before the start of February said president of the municipality, Sarangu Adam Maniku.

He also said that the winners of the bid would be decided based on four criteria: price, plans to develop the cafe, number of Maldivian employees and business concept.