DRP will “categorically” not support withdrawal from Commonwealth: Shareef

President’s Office Spokesperson Abbas Adil Riza has given assurances that the government coalition of President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan remained strong, despite a differing of opinions between pro-government parties regarding the bill proposing the Maldives’ withdrawal from the Commonwealth.

“The coalition is strong, there are no issues with that. It shows that even on issues on which we disagree, we can work together. That’s what being in a coalition is all about,” said Abbas.

“Nasheed’s coalition split within 21 days – we are already passed this date. There are no long term issues,” he added.

A bill to withdraw the Maldives from the Commonwealth was submitted to the Majlis on April 29 and has been labelled in the local media as “not responsible” by the leader of coalition member Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP), Ahmed Thasmeen Ali.

Speaking with local newspaper Haveeru, Thasmeen criticised the decision not to consult with other parties within the coalition. The bill was submitted by Progressive Party of the Maldives (PPM) MP Ahmed Ilham and Dhivehi Qaumee Party, also a part of the coalition, (DQP) MP Riyaz Rasheed.

Deputy leader of the DRP, Ibrahim Shareef, today said that the party was in general support of the government: “But we cannot give in where the party’s core values are at stake.”

“We will try to run the ministries allocated to us and will support the government on matters we agree upon. On matters we disagree we will vote against,” he said.

When asked about the core values that divide the PPM from the DRP, Shareef said that he was unsure of the specific values of the PPM.

He said that the core values of the DRP were an open economic policy, private enterprise, equality and justice, democracy and the protection of law for everyone equally.

Leader of the DQP and Special Advisor to President Waheed, Dr Hassan Saeed, wrote an opinion piece for Haveeru on April 26 entitled: “Voters need to know what the party stands for”.

In the article he wrote: “We need political parties with clear political platforms. But before this we need to understand where those policies come from. What are the values that underpin them?”

He argued that clearer differentiation between parties would enable voters to make informed choices. Otherwise, Dr Saeed argued that voters fall back on reasons such as personality politics.

He argued that this was “the most dangerous because it can lead to a crude populism where big personalities attempt to outbid each other with unkeepable promises.”

The PPM, headed by the former President of thirty years Maumoon Gayoom, was formed in October 2011 following acrimonious divisions within the DRP. Gayoom had previously announced his retirement from politics but has become increasingly active in 2012.

The decision to forward the bill followed comments by Gayoom criticising the recent Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) statement. The statement criticised the government’s apparent failure to establish an impartial body to investigate the events that led to Nasheed’s resignation. It also repeated prior calls for fresh elections to end conjecture over the legitimacy of the current government.

Days before the submission of the withdrawal bill to parliament, Gayoom was reported as having questioned the necessity of the Maldives’ Commonwealth membership.

Gayoom became the Maldives’ third President in 1978 and the country joined the Commonwealth in 1982.

Gayoom was reported by Haveeru, however, to have argued that the nature of the body had changed since that time, resulting in a situation that no longer benefitted smaller nations.

“The actions of the Commonwealth have changed since then, to a point where we now have to have a rethink about the whole situation. That’s how much the world has changed now,” he claimed.

Gayoom’s said his comments were also based on the fact that the country had never itself been a former colony unlike neighbours such as India and Sri Lanka.

Earlier in the month, on the eve of the CMAG meeting, Gayoom warned PPM supporters that the country must be wary of foreign attempts to “intervene in our internal affairs”.

A PPM MP spoke to Minivan News following the announcement of the bill, saying: “From my view it is not something that has been discussed within the PPM yet,” the MP said yesterday.

“I have previously expressed my concern that [leaving the Commonwealth] is not the best way to solve this issue. It is not really a choice we can take,” said the MP who wish to remain unnamed.

The DRP’s Ibrahim Shareef said that DRP’s united stance was, “Categorically, we would not support a withdrawal from the Commonwealth.”


Politicians must seek ”broadest support” rather than dividing country: Dr Hassan Saeed

Since 2008, our country has become even more divided. Politics in the Maldives seems to be pretty polarized with citizens and voters seeing things in very black and white terms, President Waheed’s Special Advisor, Dr Hassan Saeed writes for Haveeru.

Responsible government, and for that matter responsible opposition, should not seek to divide the country but try to gain the broadest support possible by building consensus.

But how do voters make up their minds about how they are going to vote? Do they study the manifestos or policy platforms of respective candidates and parties and then weighing all the options make their minds up in a calm and collected fashion? Are they offered distinct and competing visions of the road down which the Maldives might travel by political parties? How much genuine choice and difference is there in the offer from our politicians and political parties?

In 2008 it was relatively easy. The election was really only about whether voters wanted change or continuity. In 2013 political parties will have the opportunity to come of age and spell out to the voters what they really stand for and why their ideas and policies can take the country forward. At present many voters will cast their vote because of

•    Habit – “I’ve always voted this way”,
•    Family – ‘my family is..’
•    Island loyalty- “this is an X political party island”
•    Personal interest-“what are you going to do for me personally?”
•    Personality-“I like X”

And the last one is the most dangerous because it can lead to a crude populism where big personalities attempt to outbid each other with unkeepable promises and voters compile ever more unachievable and unrealistic shopping lists. That’s how we end up in the financial mess that we are in now with a budget deficit of over US$300 million this year.

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The introduction of unrestricted, universal free healthcare with no agreed regulation or management was an act of folly: Dr Hassan Saeed

The Aasandha health scheme introduced on January 1 this year, “is and will always be completely financially unsustainable in a country such as the Maldives. And in fact would be in any country – however rich- anywhere in the world,” President Waheed’s Special Advisor, Dr Hassan Saeed writes for Haveeru.

Wouldn’t it be great if we could have a sensible and mature debate about the future of social health insurance in the Maldives? And what’s the chance of that? Pretty slim if you read former President Nasheed’s usual mixture of tedious invective and fabrication.

The introduction of unrestricted, universal free healthcare with no agreed regulation or management was an act of folly, recklessness and irresponsible political immaturity that rivals any of the actions of Mr.Nasheed’s administration.

And what’s more he knew this but still went ahead with it. And the consequence is that we now have the IMF breathing down our necks and a budget deficit that threatens to derail all government social programmes.

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Foreign Media should “check the facts” with Nasheed coverage: Dr Hassan Saeed

Writing for Haveeru today, Dr Hassan Saeed, Special Advisor to President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan, has criticised some foreign journalists for failing “to check the facts” when it comes to reporting the claims of former President Mohamed Nasheed.

Many newspapers in the USA and UK rightly pride themselves on their record of investigative journalism.

That is why it is disappointing that Mr Nasheed seems able to get away with feeding journalists so many fantasies, distortions, half truths and – there is no other word for it – lies during his recent visit and charm offensive to the US. They wouldn’t let their own politicians off so lightly!

I’m just going to look at one interview to the UK newspaper The Guardian that appeared this week- but this sad example is not unique.

On the 19th March, Male saw unprecedented scenes of violence, vandalism and arson with eight law enforcement officers injured. Demonstrators, led by the MDP, attacked the local TV station VTV studio, with rocks and iron bars causing damage amounting to approximately 1.5 million Rufiyaa to the building and equipment. The Auction Shop area in Male, with an area about 5000 sq ft. was torched and razed to the ground.

What’s Mr Nasheed’s take on this? Well, talking The Guardian, Mr Nasheed refers with a ‘rueful grin’ to a ‘scuffle’ and then adds (with a truly bizarre reference to the disturbances at this time) “I must say … I think some very good music has come out of this.” I can only imagine how this remark feels to the injured and those whose property was destroyed.

Mr. Nasheed then paints a picture which has at its centre the explicit claim that he had to resign or the generals “would resort to using arms”. We in the Maldives all know that Mr Nasheed has now acknowledged that a previous claim that he was forced to resign “at gunpoint” was fantasy. So why repeat it?

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Maldives “A new kind of coup”, says President’s Special Advisor Dr Hassan Saeed, in leaked audio recording

President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan’s Special Advisor, Dr Hassan Saeed, has said in a second leaked audio clip that given the current situation in the Maldives, the change of government on February 7 was “a new kind of coup”.

In the audio clip, said to be recorded while he was speaking to the Maldivian students in the UK, Saeed states: ʺThis is how we observe coups in practice. So the Maldives [case] has become a new category of coup. You have a coup. Within twenty four hours you have the deposed President campaigning in the media with full protection.”

ʺSo, we have to add another new category of coup to the normal definition. Obviously this is different, different than the [coups] that I know of,” Saeed continues.

“The way the person who assumed power came in after the coup was different in this case. The way we treat a deposed President after a coup has also changed.”

At the end of the clip, Saeed suggests that the events of February 7 was a contribution from the Maldives to political science.

Dr Saeed and Dr Waheed’s Press Secretary, Masood Imad, had not responded to calls at time of press.

However speaking to local newspaper Haveeru, Saeed dismissed the claims that his remarks were an admission that the change of government was a coup.

“If it was a coup that was brought in the Maldives, then it is a new type of coup,” he told Haveeru.

ʺFor an example, after the coup in Pakistan, Bhutto [father of Benazir Bhutto] was hanged. After the Libya revolution, Gaddafi was killed. In Philippines, Marcos [Ferdinand] fled the country. But in the case of Maldives, I said such occurrences did not take place.

“If the change of government happened via a coup, the current president gets the protection of police and the military. Cabinet meetings are held. The President is able to meet the public. The former President gets protection. He is able to live within the people. Therefore if it was a coup, then it’s a whole new type of coup,ʺ  Saeed told Haveeru.

In another leaked audio recording yesterday, Dr Saeed described Dr Waheed as “politically the weakest person in the Maldives” with “a lot of legitimacy issues”.

Following that leak, President Waheed’s Press Secretary told Minivan News  that Dr Saeed has said he “had been played” and that the recording had been “taken out of context”.

Dr Saeed was the former Attorney General during Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom’s administration, before he resigned to contest the presidential election in 2008.

He came third in the race, but joined Mohamed Nasheed in the second round and became his special advisor after Nasheed won the presidency. He subsequently left the government and joined the opposition.

Transcript – Dr Hassan Saeed:

ʺCoup, most recently we saw the Egypt coup, Mubarak was ousted. Tunisia had a coup recently, and after that Gaddafi. If we even go further back, the case of Marcos [Ferdinand Marcos] of Philippines, he fled the country.

This is how we observe coups in practice. So the Maldives [case] has become a new category of coup. You have a coup. Within twenty four hours you have the deposed president campaign in the media with full protection.

When all these things happen, in parallel, the next president came in to power through a constitutional route. This is a unique case, which we have got to study ourselves.

So, we have to add another new category of coup to the normal definition. Obviously this is different, different than the things [coups] that I know of. This is different from the normal examples I know of.

And, the way the person who assumed power came in after the coup was different in this case. The way we treat a deposed president after a coup has also changed.

Actually, a Maldivian contribution to what type of science is this? Political science?

The thing is, this is a new case, this is a case that has to be studied.ʺ


DQP calls on government to stop prostitution

The Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP) led by former Attorney General Dr Hassan Saeed has called on the government to take adequate measures to prevent prostitution in the Maldives.

‘’Prostitution has spread widely across the Maldives in the guise of health clinics and massage centres, to an extent that the citizens should be very concerned,’’ the DQP said in a statement.

‘’There is the chance people will say that prostitution is being conducted with the assistance and support of the government if the government remains silent on the issue instead of taking any action.’’

The DQP claimed the government supported prostitution, referring to video clips allegedly of senior government officials leaked by a blackmail ring prior to their arrest earlier this year.

The party also claimed the government was “keeping its eyes closed” on the issue despite prostitution being haram under Islam, which it claimed showed that the current government was not prioritising Islam in the country.

‘’We call on the government to take immediate measures to stop this and to prevent the society from falling into an illness,’’ the DQP said in its statement. ‘’We condemn statements from the government that these are not issues the government has to investigate.”

The statement also referred to the recent investigation by Sun Online journalists in which the journalists solicited girls in massage parlours.

Police arrested two Maldivian males and two Thai females for involvement in a beauty salon in Addu, for allegedly being involved in prostitution. The Addu Court extended the detention of the four arrested.

Press Secretary for the President’ Office Mohamed Zuhair did not respond to Minivan News at time of press.


Election dream still alive, says Dr Hassan Saeed

The dream of the 2008 presidential campaign is still alive and within reach of the Dhivehi Qaumee Party (DQP), its newly elected leader Dr Hassan Saeed has said.

Speaking at the party’s first congress on Saturday night at Bandos Island Resort, Dr Saeed, who resigned from both the former and current governments, said it was not too late to realise the aspirations of his presidential campaign.

“Our leaders don’t have to always go begging to Europe or the Middle East,” he said. “[Our leaders] won’t have to say with pride that I begged more and secured more money than my predecessor.”

Dr Saeed said Maldivian politicians have never ruled to serve the the people: “They rule to fill their pockets.”

Hard times

Apart from difficult economic circumstances, Saeed continued, islanders were struggling to pay their electricity bills, the cost of living was rising and the government was ruthlessly dismissing elderly security guards.

Dr Saeed said his law firm, Raajje Chambers, was under pressure from banks to take prominent businessmen and resort owners to court to reclaim unpaid loans.

“As a result, it is likely that many resort owners in the country will go bankrupt in the near future,” he said. “Thousands of employees could lose their jobs.”

Meanwhile, development of over 60 resorts was stalled due to failure to secure loans.

While government expenditure increased threefold in the past five years, the quality of life for citizens has not seen any improvement.

“Political posts have increased from 500 to 1,000,” he said. “But has the service from political appointees to the people similarly increased? It has not. The number of police officers has increased by thousands. Crime has not fallen. As the Chief Judge of the Criminal Court in 2003, I earned Rf4,000 (a month). Today the person in that post receives Rf30,500. Has the justice system been strengthened? Has [the judicial process] become faster?”

Moreover, he added, the number of embassies abroad has increased threefold without a corresponding spike in foreign investment.

Looming bankruptcy

The state of affairs today was so dire that local businesses were unable to get foreign loans at an interest rate of even 12 per cent, said Saeed.

“The 65 resorts in the country have not been developed because they couldn’t get loans at even 15 per cent, let alone 12,” he said.

Moreover, he added, the government was giving away assets cheaply and handing over management of schools to foreign parties without considering the benefits to the Maldivian people.

The former special advisor to the president said the government has not given any thought to enriching Maldivian businesses or putting struggling small business back on their feet.

“Maldivians are a talented, educated, young and industrious people,” he said. “All that Maldivians need is just a little opportunity. What Maldivians want is a day when they won’t be forced to fill a form to join the ruling party whenever there is a change of government.”

He added the DQP will not falter in its “national jihad” and would work together with other parties to reach its goals.

“God willing, we will win the upcoming local council elections and the presidential elections after that,” he said.


In his speech, Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed, who was dismissed from his cabinet post last year, said the country was in a state of “despair and hopelessness”.

Those who had claimed not to want power was now trying to stay in power at all costs, he said.

While the former government spent Rf4.8 million a month on political appointees, he said, the figure has climbed to Rf9.1 million a month under the Nasheed administration.

Vilufushi MP Riyaz Rasheed, one of the party’s two MPs, said the party has now matured and was ready to play its part in the political arena.

“We did not come out to topple the government. We will try to hold the government accountable…[Only] the people can change the government,” he said.