Police honour retired Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz ahead of his move into politics

The Maldives Police Services held an event on Monday night honouring retired Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz.

“If the police are once again made to do political work, the leadership will doubtless fail again. The police institution must be larger than the government or any other entity,” Riyaz advised the hundreds of serving officers in attendance.

Riyaz – appointed after the controversial transfer of power in February 2012 – stated that his plans to move into a political career are in order to build trust in this area too.

“The police must not be seen to be an institution that just protects the government. The police is an institution that serves all citizens and implements lawful orders and norms. We have to be answerable to the government. We have to be accountable to the parliament”.

Riyaz stated that, when he had assumed responsibilities of the police commissioner on the night of February 8, 2012, the police leadership of the time had “failed and hence, people’s perceptions of the police had completely changed”.

He asserted that one of his first objectives after assuming the post was to ensure that the police was freed from all external influences and went back to working independently and professionally.

Riyaz further stated that police had remained steadfast in the face of wrongful allegations and perceptions of their work, while emphasizing that during his time as commissioner he had “never made a decision or issued an order with the intention of inflicting harm or harassment to any specific individual”.

“When Amnesty International released a report with false statements against us, I personally made a phone call to their president. In response to every one of these statements, we sent a statement clarifying the truth of the matter.”

“When I first took up the post, I was reluctant to even claim my pay as there was so much murder being committed. However, due to the work done unitedly, god willing we haven’t seen a major death this year,” Riyaz said.

February, 2012

Riyaz spoke in detail about his role in the controversial transfer of power on February 7, 2012.

The retired commissioner – who had at the time been relieved of his duties as a police officer – stated on Monday night that he had gone there on the day with “good intentions because [he] could not bear to sit home and watch the situation the police and soldiers were in”.

He added that he had contacted both the current Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim and former Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Mohamed Fayaz via phone prior to going there.

Stating that he had prioritized national interest above all, Riyaz claimed that he had accepted the post of police commissioner because his country needed him.

“Police were desiring a leadership that would not issue unlawful orders. Many asked me why I was going back to this institution, including my wife. But I decided that I cannot turn my back to the nation at the time it needed me most.”

Riyaz ended his speech by “seeking forgiveness from any police officer of citizen I may have inconvenienced during my time as commissioner of police”.

“Although I am leaving behind life as a police officer and entering politics, I will always defend this institution. There is no institution I can love as much as I do the police.”

He added that Vice Presidentv Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed had been the first to advise him to enter the political arena.

Appreciation from the state

“The happiest day that I have come across so far is the day when a new president was elected on November 16, the second round of the presidential election. What made me happiest about it is that we were assured that a government has been established which will not undermine or disrespect important state institutions like the police, the military, the judiciary and other entities,” he said.

“And that this is a government which will protect the religious unity of this nation and ensure that expensive state assets are not sold out to foreign companies,” he continued.

“The fact that Maldivian citizens voted in a Jumhooree Party and Progressive Party of Maldives government proves that the events that happened on February 7 [2012] was not a coup d’etat,” he stated.

Other speakers at the event, including Vice President Jameel, Home Minister Umar Naseer and current Police Commissioner Hussain Waheed commended Riyaz for his work.

Home Minister Umar described Riyaz as an assertive and sharp-minded officer who had brought commendable development to the institution.

Current Commissioner of Police Hussain Waheed stated that Riyaz had stood up to defend the police institution even when faced with “immense pressure, criticism and threats against [police officers’] families”.

“Even as police were referred to with various hateful names, and even some officers’ lives were taken, our brother Riyaz was working tirelessly in our defence.”


Police begin recruitment for “special constabulary” reserve force

The Maldives Police Service (MPS) made an announcement on Sunday seeking recruits for the “special constabulary” reserve force to be established this year.

Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz informed press last week that President Dr Mohamed Waheed has formally authorised the creation of the reserve force, which was provided for in the Police Act enacted in 2008.

“All persons recruited for the police reserve force would have to complete the police basic training course. And all who pass the training and are awarded certificates upon completion would have to take the oath of a police officer,” according to police media.

Applicants must be aged 18 to 35 and should have completed secondary education, it added, while male applicants must be taller than 5 feet 3 inches and female applicants taller than 5 feet.

Application forms along with regulations on the special constabulary are available from the police website. The deadline for submission is May 16.

A reserve force of part-time officers is used in a number of countries as an auxiliary force to be called upon to assist the regular police force.

Commissioner Riyaz meanwhile told local media that the reserve force would create “employment opportunities for youth.” Reserve officers could take other jobs, he explained, but would be subject to police codes of conduct and ethics.

Reserve officers would have the same privileges and powers and receive the same benefits as regular officers, he added.

According to the regulations (Dhivehi) governing the special constabulary, employees of the reserve force would be paid 85 percent of the salary of a regular police officer of the same rank. Reserve officers would be required to work at least 192 hours a month.

Recurrent expenditure

Following the controversial transfer of presidential power on February 7, 2012 in the wake of a police mutiny, more than 1,000 officers were given promotions and double promotions while plans were announced to recruit 200 new officers.

In July 2012, a batch of 110 newly-recruited officers took their oaths while housing schemes and other benefits were rolled out for police officers.

During the parliamentary debate on the state budget proposed for 2013, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs criticised budgeted salary increases for military and police officers as well as plans to hire 800 new officers for the security services.

The government’s wage bill was projected to increase by 37 percent in 2013 as a result of hiring more employees.

MDP MP Eva Abdulla claimed during the budget debate that the police and army hired 250 and 350 new staff respectively in 2012.

Consequently, the institutions spent more than MVR 75 million (US$4.8 million) in addition to the approved budgets for 2012, she claimed.

Meanwhile, in its professional opinion on the budget submitted to parliament, the Auditor General’s Office observed that compared to 2012, the number of state employees was set to rise from 32,868 to 40,333 – resulting in MVR 1.3 billion (US$84.3 million) of additional expenditure in 2013.

This anticipated increase included 864 new staff to be hired by the security services, a report by the Auditor General’s Office noted.

In light of “existing inefficiencies” in the state, the Auditor General contended that hiring more staff for various independent institutions would be “a waste of public funds” as it would divert resources from service provision and development projects.

Finance Minister Abdulla Jihad meanwhile sought authorisation from parliament last month to divert MVR 650 million (US$42 million) allocated for infrastructure projects in the budget to cover recurrent expenditure.

More than 70 percent of the state budget is allocated for recurrent expenditures, including salaries, allowances and administrative costs. Of the MVR 12 billion (US$778 million) in recurrent expenditure, 59 percent – 42 percent of the total budget – was to be spent on state employees.