Leaked voice clips may be ‘conversations between friends helping each other’: Yameen

Three recordings of discussions between Majlis members referring to other members and officials, including a plan to cease work on the Tax bills in the Majlis, have appeared on the Internet.

The People’s Alliances party (PA) leader Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom told Minivan news this afternoon that a voice in the sound clips might be his, but the conversations were ”not to borrow money to bribe MPs… [rather] As friends, we might help each other,” he said.

Yameen said the discussions ”would be a recording of a telephone call”, and were potentially taped by either the Police or by the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF). ”We have sent a letter to the telecommunications authority to clarify whether they gave permission to record any of their telephone calls,” he said. ”It is unlawful to record private phone calls.”

However, the Police denied Yameen’s claims. ”The Police will never record anyone’s phone calls,” said sub-Inspector Ahmed Shiyam. The police had no connection with the leaked voice recordings, he said.

The People’s Alliance party secretary-general Ibrahim Shareef said that he could not say whether the voice in the clips was Yameen’s. ”Personal calls should not be recorded,” Shareef said. ”We do not have anything to say regarding this. Yameen himself will be the best person to ask. This is a personal issue.”

Jumhooree party leader MP Gasim Ibrahim did not respond to Minivan News’ calls at the time of publication.

The second recording below is between the South Kulhudufushi MP Mohamed ‘Kutti’ Nasheed and MP Gasim Ibrahim, according to ‘Kutti’ Nasheed’s personal blog. Nasheed says that the request for cash from Gasim was made months ago. In his blog, Nasheed denies that the cash had anything to do with voting in the Majlis.

Recording:1 Transcript below | Audio in Dhivehi – mp3 file

Voice1: We have the original now.

Voice2: So if we put this through the ACC [Anti-Corruption Commission] tomorrow morning, how soon will the ACC release a statement?

Voice1: It should be released tomorrow. They are coming tonight. Two ACC commissioners are in Malaysia. The President [of ACC] is here. Our friend Hoara Waheed is there. I have directly given all warnings through him… in prelude to this… that this is a must. I have also passed the number to Gasim. Seems Gasim will maintain connection.

Voice2: Have we been able to get anything from Gasim yet?

Voice1: He said Rose matter is sealed. He worked very hard. He took Rose to Paradise yesterday evening at 6. And he came to that meeting at around 9.30 -10 and said “final”. That it’s done.

Voice2: So that means?

Voice1: It’s the one million matter. Isn’t it?

Voice2: Yeah.

Voice1: He tried a funny story with me. After Friday prayers yesterday, I went to Gasim’s house…

Voice2: So Rose is joining Jumhooree Party now?

Voice1: No it’s not that… It is just for these matters…

Voice2: In that case, Nazim, why don’t we take Rose, with this million?

Voice1: Yeah. Rose knows now. And I have asked Maniku to complete the deal. With one million given there is still two million… So what happens now is… I mentioned everything that there was doubt about. I wasn’t able to talk to Gasim later. He has said everything will be Ok…100% and not to worry.

Voice2: What are you telling Maniku?

Voice1: I went to Maniku… Gasim is going to see Hassan Saeed at 2.30.

Recording:2 Transcript below | Audio in Dhivehi –mp3 file

MP ‘Kutti’ Nasheed: And again, it is three months since I have been trying to get myself out of that.

MP Gasim Ibrahim: Finishing it now.

MP ‘Kutti’ Nasheed: Are you still in the office, … mean … in the Majlis?

MP Gasim Ibrahim: I came at six o’clock and since then, now finishing and leaving now. Continuing tomorrow.

MP ‘Kutti’ Nasheed: Yeah, OK.

MP Gasim Ibrahim: What happened?

MP ‘Kutti’ Nasheed: I contacted, this is just… how is your situation in relation to flow?

MP Gasim Ibrahim: Why?

MP ‘Kutti’ Nasheed: I need some cash.

MP Gasim Ibrahim: Yeah, ok… How much?

MP ‘Kutti’ Nasheed: I need it very much.

MP Gasim Ibrahim: Have you got someone to come over here?

MP ‘Kutti’ Nasheed: Here, at this time, there’s no one.

MP Gasim Ibrahim: Yeah it is…

MP ‘Kutti’ Nasheed: Yes, tomorrow morning will be fine. It’s not a problem.

MP Gasim Ibrahim: People will see it there, will be watched, won’t it?

MP ‘Kutti’ Nasheed: OK, I will try and arrange someone from there to go to Villa, is that ok?

Recording:3 Transcript below | Audio in Dhivehi – mp3 file file

Voice2: Yes, what is it?

Voice1 (?): Dilute, Thasmeen is working to dilute… Nasheed, could you please tell that story.

MP ‘Kutti’ Nasheed: Yes, I was contacted just then…. You have seen the first draft, haven’t you?

Voice2: I haven’t seen it yet, not yet.

MP ‘Kutti’ Nasheed: OK, the first draft states specific actions that will be taken. I will, for your convenience, read it for you right now, those bits.

Voice2: OK read.

MP ‘Kutti’ Nasheed: It was agreed that to prevent the government from doing what it is trying to do, to take a number of steps all at once.

These steps include meeting with those who submitted the [airport] bids, and clearly explaining to them the common Maldivian view on this, and the view of the political parties.

The Financial Act Amendments Bill, which is in the finishing stages, is to be pushed fast through the Majlis.

Submit a no-confidence motion to the Majlis for a decision regarding the Minister for Finance Ali Hashim and the Minister for Civil Aviation Mahmood Razee who is responsible for the privatisation.

And until all these things are done, to cease all work on the tax bills submitted by the government to the Majlis.


Bids of up to Rf1 billion for airport, while Jumhoory Party announces ”special gathering” to express disapproval

Indian company GMR Infrastructure has said it is confident it will win the bid for Male’ International Airport, after offering US$78 million (Rf1 billion) upfront.

“Considering the offers, we will get the highest marks. We will make the payments and take over the operations of the airport in March,” newspaper Haveeru reported one official as saying.

Finance Minister Ali Hashim disclosed the bids at a function today.

Bids at a glance:

  • GMR-KLIA: US$78 million upfront and one percent of the total profit in the first year (until 2014), and 10 percent of the profit from 2015 to 2035. GMR would also pay 15 percent of fuel trade revenues to the government in the first four years and 27 percent from 2015 to 2035.
  • Turkish TAV Airports Holdings Company and French Airports De Paris: US$7 million (RF89.95 million) upfront payment, with 31 percent of the total profit until 2014 and 29.5 percent from 2015 to 2035. The consortium offered 16.5 percent of the profits from fuel trade.
  • Swiss Flughafen Zurich AG and GVK Airport Developers offered US$27 million (Rf346.95 million), along with 27 percent of the total profit in the first four years and nine percent of the profit from 2015 to 2035. The consortium said it would pay nine percent of fuel revenues to the government.

The Jumhoory Party (JP), led by Gasim ‘Buruma’ Ibrahim, has meanwhile announced that it will conduct a ”special gathering” to express disapproval at the government’s decision to privatise Male’ international airport.

Ali Shareef, secretary general of JP, said the special gathering would be conducted in collaboration with other NGOs and political parties.

”Male’ international airport was built by our forefathers and it is one of the assets of the state,” said Shareef. ”There are many concerns over privatising the airport, and we want to express our opinions during this special gathering.”

Shareef said the transaction could cause disruption and “national security issues”, and would decrease government revenue.

‘There is no transparency in this transaction,” he said. ”We are very concerned over the issue.”

He said that the gathering would be “a peaceful gathering.”

”We want to gather people and make them aware of what’s happening, and tell them the consequences of it,” he said. ”There is the potential for many problems if foreigners control the country’s main entrance.”

He said that the venue, date and time of the gathering was yet to be advised.

”We are in discussion with other parties involved and will decide the venue and date very soon,” he said.

Moosa Rameez, Spokesperson of JP, said members of the party and people of the country were concerned over the issue.

”Male’ international airport is a asset of the state which was built by the people,” said Moosa. ”We do not want it to be given to a foreign party.”

The Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) has also expressed concerned over the issue.

Vice President and Spokesman for the opposition Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) Ibrahim Shareef said the party will not honour “shady deals made according to vested interests” if the party comes to power in 2013, referring to the government’s privatising of the country’s airports.

Shareef also expressed concern that the government’s efforts to privatise state assets, such as the airport, were not occurring with parliament approval.

Shareef said the airport was currently “making the government money”, and the asking price it had set “is so low. [The deal] is riddled with corruption,” he alleged. “If the government has nothing to hide, it has nothing to lose from asking parliament.”

Minister for Civil Aviation and Chairman of the Privatisation Committee Mahmoud Razee recently told Minivan News that ”as far as I understand we are proceeding according to the public finance act which is currently in force. Parliament legislates but actual delivery is up to the executive.”

It is the opposition’s “prerogative to say what they wish, but the reason why experienced and reliable companies are involved in this bid is because they believe that this is a viable project.”

The Male’ airport privatisation deal would be for 25 years, extendable by another 10 years, and would require a minimum level of investment towards upgrading the airport in the first three years to meet a certain level of service.

This week government shortlisted three parties to run Male’ International airport and has it would select one by the end of the week.

The parties include Aéroports de Paris Management Company of France (ADP) and Turkish company TAV Airports Holding Company, Indian company GVK Airport Developers in partnership with Swiss Flughafen Zurich AG, and GMR-KLIA.

Press secretary for the president, Mohamed Zuhair did not respond to Minivan News at time of press.


Dhigufarufinolhu “destroyed” to construct harbor, claims government

Dhigufarufinolhu, a sandbank in Baa Atoll, has been “destroyed” to construct a harbour for the Royal Island Resort,  claims Mohamed Zuhair, Press Secretary of the President’s Office.

The resort is owned by Republican Party Leader and Maamigili MP Gasim Ibrahim.

While the harbour was being constructed for docking speedboats, Zuhair said the sandbank and the resort were not in the same landmass.

“The sandbank has a massive lagoon. In between the resort and sandbank there is deep blue sea,” he said.

Zuhair said that the destruction of the sandbank would have dire consequences for the ecosystem as its lagoon was home to a plethora of marine life.

“All the plankton, fish, bait, sea turtles who come ashore to lay eggs, corals in the area and many seabirds fled after the sandbank was destroyed,” he explained.

Zuhair added that the government has received a numerous complaints about the environmental impact of the construction.

“All the bait the [fishermen] caught there is gone, all the seabirds, which they used to locate fish, are gone after the harbor was constructed,” Zuhair said.

He further claimed that all living coral in the areas was now dying because of the spread of silt produced during the construction.

However, he added, the government could only take any action when the case was reported officially.

”The former government awarded that sandbank in the 1970s,” he said.

Environmental impact

According to Google Earth, the distance between the sandbank and the resort is approximately 1,065 feet.

The lagoon of the sandbank was approximately 2.9 kilometers in length and 1.3 kilometers in width.

Ibrahim Naeem, director of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said sandbanks were an essential part of the ecosystem.

”Birds and turtles go there, fish in the area die if there are no rocks,” Naeem said. “The plankton and corals in the area will also die if a sandbank is destroyed.”

Naeem stressed that silt was a very dangerous substance.

”If it gets inside the respiratory system of a fish, they will have difficulty breathing,” he said. ”If it reaches the eye they will suffer from poor eyesight.”

He added that “whether Gasim or Hassan” was responsible was immaterial as the environmental impact would be the same.

Moreover, he said, construction of harbours was generally very harmful to the environment.

Gasim said he was out of the country and could not comment on the matter.


DRP-PA coalition still strong, says Yameen

Leader of the People’s Alliance (PA), Abdulla Yameen, has said that recent statements by Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) members that the PA walked out on the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP)-PA coalition agreement is not true, reports Miadhu.

Yameen said the rumours were started to make MDP supporters happy, and to cause friction between himself and Qasim Ibrahim, founder and leader of Jumhoory Party, who recently joined the coalition.

The PA said the party could only back out of the coalition if the council decided to, and said the council had not considered the option.

Qasim later said he will accept any party’s work as long it is being done to improve people’s lives.