PPM seeks to limit elected councils to populous islands

Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) MP Abdulla Khaleel has proposed changes to the decentralisation law to not elect local councils in islands with a population lower than 500 people.

Presenting the amendment bill at today’s sitting of parliament, Khaleel said the Local Government Authority (LGA) in consultation with the atoll council will make administrative arrangements to provide municipal services in islands without elected councillors.

The administrative arrangements can be made in accordance with the wishes of the community, Khaleel said.

“So I don’t believe it will cause too many problems for populations lower than 500,” he said.

During the ensuing debate, opposition MPs argued that the proposed change amounted to discrimination against small island communities.

If the amendments are passed, Jumhooree Party MP Moosa Nizar Ibrahim said small communities would become marginalised, neglected and deprived of basic services.

Several pro-government MPs meanwhile said that the old system of island and atoll chiefs directly appointed by the president during the 30-year reign of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom was much better suited to the Maldives.

PPM MP Saudhulla Hilmy said the local government system introduced in 2011 has been a “bitter” experience and suggested removing the decentralisation provision from the constitution.


Khaleel also proposed extensive changes to the composition of local councils. The amendments state that a four-member council will be elected in islands with a population between 500 and 5,000 people and a six-member council for islands with a population between 5,000 and 10,000.

Apart from the president and vice president of island, atoll, and city councils, Khaleel proposed making other councillors part-time members who would not be involved in day-to-day activities.

The part-time councillors will only attend meetings to finalise decisions.

Atoll councils will meanwhile be comprised of two elected members and a councillor from each island in the atoll. If the revisions are passed, Khaleel said the government would save MVR100 million a year.

Khaleel’s amendments represent a major overhaul of the law and comes after the pro-government majority in parliament passed a third and fourth amendment to the Decentralisation Act last month.

President Abdulla Yameen ratified the fourth amendment today.

The amendments passed by parliament on June 29 state that by-elections will not be held if an island, atoll, or city councillor resigns one year after the local council elections.

Local councils are elected for a three-year term. The resignation of councillors have triggered several by-elections since the local government system was introduced in February 2011.

However, by-elections must still be held for vacant seats if a council does not have a quorum to hold meetings or if a councillor resigns within the first year.

In late June, President Yameen also ratified a third amendment to the decentralisation law that authorised the president to determine the public services to be provided by the opposition-majority Malé and Addu city councils.

The amendments state that municipal services the president decides not to assign to the council will be transferred to government ministries.

During the parliamentary debate last month, MPs of the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) heavily criticised the proposed changes, contending that it would “destroy” the decentralisation system and reduce the city council to an “administrative desk at the president’s office.”


The current model of more than 1,000 elected councillors approved in 2010 by the then-opposition majority parliament was branded “economic sabotage” by the MDP government, which had proposed limiting the number of councillors to “no more than 220.”

The new layer of government introduced with the first local council elections in February 2011 cost the state US$12 million a year with a wage bill of US$220,000 a month.

Under the 2010 decentralisation law, a five-member council is elected in islands with a population of less than 3,000, a seven-member council for islands with a population between 3,000 and 10,000, and a nine-member council for islands with a population of more than 10,000.

City councils comprise of “an elected member from every electoral constituency of the city”, and atoll councils comprises of “elected members from the electoral constituencies within the administrative division.”

The presidents of island councils currently receive a monthly salary and allowance of MVR15,000 (US$973) while council members receive MVR11,000 (US$713). The mayor of Malé is paid MVR45,000 (US$2,918) a month.

Other changes proposed by Khaleel meanwhile include providing a seat on island councils for the chair of the island’s women’s development committee and forming advisory committees on economic, social, and environmental affairs.

The LGA – the oversight body tasked with coordinating with local councils – will be comprised of five members, including a cabinet minister, the chief executive for local government, and three members selected by parliament with experience in gender issues, business, and governance or public administration.


PPM candidates win six council by-elections by default

Candidates from the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) have won six out of nine council by-elections scheduled for August 1 after no other candidates stood for the vacant island and atoll council seats.

The six seats include the Meemu Dhiggaru constituency atoll council seat, and one seat from the Kaafu Maafushi, Vaavu Felidhoo, Haa Alif Muraidhoo, Thaa Madifushi, and Shaviyani Kanditheemu island councils.

By-elections will take place for vacant seats on the Haa Alif Dhidhoo, Haa Dhaal Naivaidhoo, and Noonu Hebadhoo island councils on August 1 between independent candidates and ruling party candidates.

The by-elections were triggered by the resignation of several island and atoll councillors.

In April, the ruling party was accused of vote buying after handing over air-conditioners to a school in Raa Atoll Alifushi, shortly before an island council by-election.

The opposition had also accused  the PPM of vote-buying and bribery in the Dhiggaru constituency parliamentary by-election earlier this month after the donation of x-ray machines and air conditioning units to the constituency.

President Abdulla Yameen had also pledged to provide a 140 kilo-watt power generator for Dhiggaru and urged constituents to vote for Faris to ensure development.


Councilor suspended over tweet

The Local Government Authority (LGA) has suspended a fourth councilor for refusing to participate in the government-organized celebrations to mark fifty years of independence from the British

The president of the Baa Atoll Thulhaadho council, Ahmed Abdul Raheem, was suspended for one month without pay over a tweet in which he opposed the education ministry’s plans to hold a parade for students on May 30.

In a tweet on May 29, Ahmed said the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) will start a door-to-door campaign to discourage students from participating in the parade.

The LGA, headed by home minister Umar Naseer, sent a letter to the council within hours asking why Ahmed had called for students to avoid the parade. The letter also warned the LGA will penalize any councilors who obstruct the parade.

In reply, the council said it was not aware of such a tweet.

The LGA then sent a second letter last week ordering the council to withhold Ahmed’s salary.

“This is a ridiculous move by the government aimed at destroying the decentralization system and this decision was made by Umar Naseer and his special committee,” Ahmed said.

He vowed to contest Naseer’s letter at the court. He also said he had not participated in the door-to-door campaign and was not aware if such a campaign had taken place.

All Thulhadhoo councilors are MDP members.

LGA spokesperson Mohamed Azmeen declined to comment and said that “the decision to suspend councilors are made at the top.”

Naseer was not responding to calls at the time of going to press.

On May 31, the LGA suspended three councilors of the Alif Alif atoll council over a resolution declaring that the council will not participate in the Independence Day activities. All six members of the atoll council belong to the MDP.

The Thulhadhoo council will meet on Wednesday to decide on Naseer’s letter, said vice president Ahmed Rasheed.

In late May, the LGA had asked the Thulhadhoo council to withhold pay of their councilor Ziyau Rasheed, who was suspended for 2 months following his arrest at the opposition’s mass anti-government protest on May 1.

The council had defied orders saying that the authority’s order was contrary to relevant laws and regulations. Unless a court of law rules otherwise, the Thulhaadhoo council said it would be following an “unconstitutional order” if it enforced the decision.

In a letter on June 1, the council told the LGA to stop threatening the council and said the only office authorized to penalize councilors were the police and the courts.

A total of seven councillors were suspended for two months without pay for participating in the May 1 protest. Nearly 20,000 people took to the streets of Malé on May Day demanding the release of Nasheed and ex-defence minister Mohamed Nazim.

In early May, MDP island and atoll councillors in Noonu atoll decided to chip in to pay the salary of suspended Holhudhoo councillor Hussain Habeeb.


LGA suspends seven councilors over May Day protest

The Local Government Authority (LGA) has suspended seven councilors who took part in an anti-government demonstration on May 1.

All seven had been arrested in a police crackdown after protesters attempted to enter Malé’s restricted Republic Square. They were suspended for two months, local media reports.

Councilors are elected for island and atoll councils for three years. There are over 1000 councilors in the Maldives.

According to the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP), some 300 of its 450 island and atoll council members had taken part in the protest. Some 7000 people had traveled to Malé from Maldives’ remote islands for May Day, the opposition has claimed.

Nearly 20,000 protesters took part in the May Day march and demanded the release of imprisoned ex-president Mohamed Nasheed and ex-defence minister Mohamed Nazim.

Home minister and president of the LGA, Umar Naseer, has also asked the anti-corruption watchdog to penalize any councilors who had traveled to the capital on state funds.

According to the opposition coalition, 12 employees of the state were dismissed for participating in the protest.


LGA recommends making councillors part-time

The Local Government Authority (LGA) has recommended making councillors part-time with the exception of council presidents and vice presidents.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, Defence Minister Colonel (Retired) Mohamed Nazim – who chairs the institution tasked with monitoring councils and coordinating with the government – said the LGA has proposed amending the Decentralisation Act to pay part-time councillors an allowance for attending council meetings.

“For example, a teacher or a headmaster level person or someone with higher educational qualifications, they will have the opportunity to contest [council elections]; or for example if it’s a skilled person, a boat builder, they will only have to come for meetings and they’re done after giving their advice and opinion,” Nazim explained.

“The president and vice president will operate the council. Instead, now they have to leave their profession – the teacher, headmaster or boat builder has to give up his job.”

As a consequence, Nazim contended, the councillors’ time was not put to productive use.

“The benefit of [the changes] is that the councillor has to work a very short amount of time and be free to work productively for the island’s development,” he added.

Wage bill

The president of island councils currently receive a monthly salary and allowance of MVR15,000 (US$973) while council members receive MVR11,000 (US$713). The mayor of Malé is paid MVR45,000 (US$2,918) a month.

The president and vice president of councils are elected from among the members by secret ballot.

A total of MVR717 million (US$46 million) was allocated in the 2011 national budget to pay salaries and allowances for local councils, which accounted for 17 percent of the annual wage bill.

Under article 25 of the Decentralisation Act, a five-member council is elected in islands with a population of less than 3,000, a seven-member council for islands with a population between 3,000 and 10,000, and a nine-member council for islands with a population of more than 10,000.

City councils comprise of “an elected member from every electoral constituency of the city” and atoll councils comprises of “elected members from the electoral constituencies within the administrative division.”

The current model of more than 1,000 elected councillors approved in 2010 by the then-opposition majority parliament was branded “economic sabotage” by the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) government, which had proposed limiting the number of councillors to “no more than 220.”

The new layer of government introduced with the first local council elections in February 2011 cost the state US$12 million a year with a wage bill of US$220,000 a month.

Finance Minister Abdulla Jihad told parliament’s Budget Review Committee last year that President Abdulla Yameen favoured revising the local government framework to reduce the number of island and atoll councillors.

In November 2013, the incoming administration proposed merging island and atoll councils, with the latter to be composed of a representative from each island of the atoll.

President’s Office Spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz said at the time that “the president’s thinking is not to cut down on the number of councillors. But to elect councilors based on the population of the islands. This is a move to curb state expenditure.”

However, parliament did not move to amend the Decentralisation Act ahead of the local council elections on January 18, which saw 1,100 councillors elected for  three-year terms.

Three-year terms

Nazim meanwhile told the press yesterday that the LGA’s recommendations have been shared with the government and the legislature.

While the proposals were intended to reduce the state’s recurrent expenditure – which accounts for over 70 percent of the budget – Nazim said the LGA does not support changing the council’s term from three to five years.

Contending that the legal responsibility of local councils was implementing the government’s policies, Nazim said voters should have the opportunity to change their elected representatives during an ongoing five-year presidential term.

“Citizens get an opportunity to see what kind of results the council produced and the extent to which they upheld the government’s policies,” he said.

Nazim said that LGA Deputy Chair Ahmed Faisal’s public remarks concerning combining the local council and parliamentary elections represented his personal opinion.

The defence minister noted that the Elections Commission has yet to announce official results of the local council elections – held eleven days ago – and that conducting the polls simultaneously would create present difficulties for the commission.

In December, the World Bank warned in a report that the Maldivian economy was at risk due to excessive government spending, with an already excessive wage bill ballooned by 55 percent in 2013.


Government undermining decentralised administration, claims LGA vice chair

Vice Chair of the Local Government Authority (LGA) Shujau Hussain has warned that the government’s alleged non-cooperation and failure to provide funds for local councils could “bring the system of decentralised administration to a halt.”

Speaking at a press conference yesterday (April 17), Shujau claimed that the Finance Ministry was withholding funds to atoll and island councils.

“The system coming to a halt will have a big impact on the country’s stability. Politicians should know this. It is not just squabbling among political parties that threatens stability. The day this system comes to a halt is the day this country is plunged into a deep pit,” he said.

Shujau claimed that employees of pre-schools in certain atolls have not been paid salaries for past three months, adding that a solution had not been found after months of meetings with the Finance Ministry and an exchange of official letters.

“The government says they want the system of decentralised administration to function very well. [But] what the finance minister is doing is withholding everything owed to councils,” he claimed.

“This government wants to keep the centralised system in place to govern. So I do not believe that President Waheed’s government is providing any cooperation at all for the system to function.”

Moreover, said Shujau, a number of island council offices have been closed due to lack of funds in the budget to pay utility bills.

Minivan News was awaiting a response from Finance Minister Abdulla Jihad at time of press.

Shujau meanwhile went on to question the government’s “sincerity” in providing support for local government.

The LGA was set up by the landmark Decentralisation Act of 2010 as a parent body tasked with overseeing local councils and coordinating with the government.

Last week, Shujau criticised the Attorney General’s Office for failing to approve 2,000 LGA municipal regulations. He suggested that the lack of approvals demonstrated an unwillingness among the government and President Dr Mohamed Waheed’s cabinet to allow local government mechanisms to function.

In January this year, the government asked the LGA to dissolve the Male’ City Council (MCC), which has an opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) majority.

The MCC has been involved in a number of disputes with the government during 2012 following February’s controversial transfer of power.

LGA member Ahmed Faisal told local media at the time that the Home Ministry requested the MCC be dissolved following deliberations by the cabinet.

“We have received a letter signed by the Home Minister. But we have not tabled the issue in the agenda yet. And I don’t even believe that the Home Minister could order a council to be dissolved like that. Because there are a lot of things the LGA has to complete before that,” Faisal was quoted as saying.

Faisal accused Home Minister Jameel of requesting the city council be dissolved for “political purposes.”

Faisal also criticised Jameel for allegedly being unaware of the difficulties faced by councils in his role as chair of the LGA. The LGA member stressed that dissolving councils was a long process and that the LGA has not made any decision yet, adding that dissolving the council without addressing difficulties it faced would be “unjust.”

Meanwhile, speaking at a rally last week, former President Mohamed Nasheed claimed that a host of public services has been either disrupted or discontinued following the transfer of presidential power last year.

“Every island that I go to, I see commenced projects unfinished. Harbours have come to stop. Sewerage systems have come to a stop. The change of school sessions to a single session have come to a stop. Aasandha [health insurance] has become a Baisandha [halved]. Transport [networks] have come to halt, everything has stopped. So I think Waheed’s campaign slogan is ‘halted’,” he was quoted as saying.

“President Waheed has neglected the most prosperous one and a half years of this nation. Since my government was changed through a coup, I can only perceive this coup [government] as something that has come to halt.”


Civil society criticises Home Ministry for decision to dissolve 70 percent of NGOs

Additional reporting by Mohamed Naahii

The Ministry of Home Affairs is facing criticism for publically announcing the dissolution of nearly 1300 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) without notification or supportive mechanisms.

State Minister for Home Affairs Abdulla Mohamed announced Tuesday (March 18) that the ministry will dissolve approximately 1300 of 1843 nationally registered NGOs – 70 percent – because they failed to submit annual reports or elect executive committees, local media reported.

Mohamed said that only around 200 NGOs had submitted the required documents and are functioning in accordance with the law.

He added that the announcement was made to the media and published in the government gazette.

“We had to make this decision because for ages the tradition was to register as many NGOs as possible. There is no tradition to dissolve or abolish NGOs.

“On average, four to five NGOs are registered on a weekly basis. But NGOs do not function as they should. If that is happening then NGOs need to be dissolved,” stated Mohamed.

The Maldives NGO Federation told Minivan News they have received complaints from NGOs that they were not informed prior to Minister Mohamed making this public announcement via the media.

“The Home Ministry should have informed these organisations directly and given them an opportunity to resolve their issues within a certain time period,” stated NGO Federation Vice President Imad Mohamed.

“These island-based associations are not aware of what is happening, some do not have access to the media – internet or television. Additionally, some atoll and island councils did not inform NGOs based on the islands.

“I am not able to comment on legal issues at the moment, but any NGO should be dissolved according to the law and due process should be followed. We will discuss this issue with the Registrar and will voice the NGOs’ concerns,” Imad added.

The need for clearer government regulations to protect NGOs from state interference was emphasised in the Comprehensive Study of the Maldivian Civil Society report, issued by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 2011.

The report highlighted the need to “introduce clear procedures specified for the state’s investigation of alleged or suspected cases of illicit or unconstitutional activity and for the de-registration of a civil society organisation (CSO)”.

It also discussed the need to develop clear standards for annual reports and timely (positive and negative) feedback to help improve the quality of reporting.

Key recommendations were to clarify “the powers, responsibilities and the limits of power of the Registrar of Associations [currently the State Minister for Home Affairs], and ensure the post is not politically appointed”.

“[Also] ensure that any allegations against CSOs of unconstitutional or illicit activities by any agency of the state require evidence and are not based on arbitrary state decisions.

“Moreover, the process should follow those of a fair hearing. The [Associations] Act should specify the protections for CSOs from exercise of arbitrary state power,” the report reads.

The Associations Act of 2003 is the current regulatory framework for associations in the Maldives. It states that either two years or repeated faults – including anti-Islamic actions or conducting political activities – are grounds for dissolution by the Registrar of Associations.

However, de-registration can only by conducted “after giving a period to settle debts and properties of the association”.

Civil society politicised

Mohamed also stated that some island council’s complained that actions – political work – by certain NGOs have caused chaos in society.

Imad explained that island-based NGOs are often politically labelled by the island councils who feel their power is threatened, because these organisations often focus on awareness and advocacy activities, as well as fill critical service gaps to meet community needs.

“NGOs play a different role in society, they promote democracy, human rights and good governance. Island councils feel that these NGOs are against them.

“Some island councils are not able to meet the expectations of the public, so NGOs are meeting these needs instead. This creates a conflict,” said Imad.

Imad emphasised that most of the NGOs facing dissolution are objective, island-based and not conducting political activities, however they are in need of capacity building.

Often island-based NGOs are run by all volunteer members who work full time, have extensive family obligations, and may engage in political activities separate from their community development work. However, the distinctions between public, private, and family life are frequently overlooked.

“It is true that some organisations do get involved in political activities and this is a current challenge for the sector to overcome. Additionally, there are inactive NGOs registered for various purposes,” stated Imad.

“However there are also quite active NGOs, but they are not good with internal management.

“The Home Ministry is only regulating and dealing with registration, they are not fulfilling a facilitation role to assist these organizations. The Home Ministry should be playing a facilitation role as well,” he added.

The UNDP study also recognised the challenges NGOs face at the island level.

“CSOs need to be made aware of their role not only as partners of local government but also of their watchdog functions in ensuring that the government is held accountable for the governance of their administrative areas,” reads the report.

Funding shortages

Mohamed said the government budgeted 10 million Maldivian rufiyaa (MVR) for dispersal “depending on the proposals it receives from NGOs to carry on its projects”.

“When we look to support NGOs with financial assistance, we don’t have the funds to give to 1843 NGOs. We face a lot of challenges following that,” Mohamed explained.

“The ministry needs criteria for disbursing funds, then I can discuss this issue,” Imad responded.

The UNDP study found that “ NGOs are not active mainly due to a lack of managerial and project implementation capacity, as well as a lack of legal framework and availability of funds”.

A larger number of NGOs are based in the atoll islands and tend to be “more responsive to a community’s broader and changing set of needs”.

Whereas, Male’ based NGOs are issue specific and have more readily available access to resources.

“The efforts of CSOs to raise their own funds through membership fees and other efforts should be commended,” reads the report.

The Ministry of Home Affairs was not responding to calls at time of press.


Government aims to connect island councils via national computer network

Work has commenced on a computer network project envisaged to link up all the country’s island councils at an anticipated cost of about Rf7,000 per island, Transport and Communication Minister Dr Ahmed Shamheed has said.

Local media has reported that the project, which forms part of an agreement between the Local Government Authority (LGA) and the National Centre for information (NCIT), represents a Rf16 million development over the next few years to eventually provide connectivity between some 209 councils.

However, Shamheed disputed the reported costs, telling Minivan News that work to connect all island councils though a network was “not a huge project” and had been devised to improve communications with other islands and government authorities.

“We are being offered up to 50 percent discounts by groups like Wataniya and Dhiraagu,” he said, anticipating that the project “would cost about Rf7,000 per island.”

According to the Sun Online news service, the government has committed to connect 209 councils to the network over the lifetime of the project.

According to Shamheed, local telecoms providers Dhiraagu and Wataniya are expected to provide technical at discounted rates in order to assist the project.

In a contract signed this week, Dhiraagu committed to assist the NCIT in linking 100 islands to the network. Wataniya is also expected to sign a similar contract in the next week as well, Sun has reported.

An estimated 50 islands are reportedly scheduled to be linked to the network by the end of 2012.

Shamheed added that communication from many local councils around the country was presently being carried out by fax or mail. He claimed that aside from the provisional hardware to help improve connectivity on islands, special software would also be provided to aid councillors in undertaking their work.


Dengue task force to hand control to Health Ministry as outbreak calms

The Ministry of Health is expected to once again take the reins of the national response to a dengue fever outbreak linked to the deaths of eight Maldivians this year, after last week handing control of the focus to a task force appointed to bring island management of the disease under a single body.

A spokesperson for the task force, which has attempted to combine the efforts of the Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF), government ministries and NGOs, said the body expected its work to be “wound down” today, with the Ministry of Health once again taking control of efforts after infection rates were said to have fallen.

The task force had initially been budgeted to operate from within the social centre at Maafanu School in Male’ for seven days. However, despite initial optimism that the outbreak – which has been labelled by the government as an “epidemic” – would be under control in this time, doubts arose later during last week about the likelihood of meeting such a deadline.

Speaking to Minivan News today, a media spokesperson for the task force said it once again expected management of the virus outbreak to revert back to the Health Ministry, after having itself overcome a number of difficulties allegedly including collaborating with recently established local councils.

“We are seeing the number of confirmed cases dropping once again and I expect we will be winding up our work today,” the spokesperson added. The spokesperson claimed that Male’s Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) was itself now returning to normal operations after adapting several wards and surgeries specifically to coping with dengue during the outbreak.

On Thursday (July 7), several Male’-based hospitals including IGMH said that although they were busy continuing to deal with a significant numbers of patients suspected of contracting the virus, the situation was said to be under “control” by some senior management staff.

Deputy Education Minister Dr Abdulla Nazeer, who has spoken on behalf of the taskforce created by President Mohamed Nasheed to combat the outbreak, said he was “glad to say the situation is under control and we are winding up our work and will transfer it to the Health Ministry.”
During its work the taskforce had identified several factors that contributed to the difficulty of managing dengue outbreaks, he noted.
“Number one is a lack of proper communication between the Health Ministry and local councils,” he said. “The second was that they did not have the capacity to resolve the issues.”
“Councillors on some islands thought it was not in their mandate to follow the requests of the task force,” he added. “The MNDF and local authorities had to intervene, and the councillors realised it was a matter of national safety.”

Government view

In addressing the work undertaken as part of a collaborative approach to disease control , Press Secretary for the President Mohamed Zuhair claimed that the initiative’s work in identifying and focusing on regional and island prevention measures would ensure the government was better prepared in the future for similar outbreaks.

“The government’s main focus has remained targeting mosquito breeding grounds, particularly areas such lakes and stagnant water collections,” he said. “However, we have also been working on community focal points where we have focused many types of control measures.”

Zuhair claimed these control measures had been focused specifically on trying to put more emphasis on focusing on island communities to identify possible difficulties with dengue, despite reports from the dengue task force of initial coordination problems in working with the local councillors.

A spokesperson for the opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press over its views of the government’s response in dealing with the dengue epidemic” of recent weeks.

Yet over the course of last week DRP Spokerson Ibrahim ‘Mavota’ Shareef, reiterated his belief to the press that the government had “bungled” their response to trying to control dengue fever. Shareef added that although the DRP welcomed and would cooperate with the government in efforts to try and limit the spread of the virus, he said that authorities had acted too slowly in trying to deal with the outbreak.

“From what we have seen the government is just not doing enough. We don’t believe they have been willfully negligent, but there has been negligence in their approach [to dengue outbreak],” he claimed. “They have not responded fast enough, which could be inexperience on their part. But I think this will be a wake-up call for them to change policy in dealing with these type of situations.”