MNDF officers sign appeal not to obey government’s orders following expiry of presidential term

Additional Reporting by Zaheena Rasheed

Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) officers have circulated an appeal calling on their fellow soldiers not to obey “unlawful” orders issued by President Waheed or his political appointees, following the expiry of his presidential term at midnight on November 10.

The five-page document, signed by 73 officers including many mid-ranking officers, is titled “An appeal to soldiers to maintain their oath to be professional and apolitical.”

Given that the Article 107 of the Constitution limits the presidential term to five years,
And given that Article 108 of the constitution mandates the election of a president through a secret and direct vote of the people,
And given the current presidential term ends on 11 November 2013,
We do not believe there will be a president and a Commander in Chief on 11 November 2013 if there is no president elect,
And we believe the positions of President, the cabinet and all individuals  in political posts will expire at 12:00 midnight on 10 November 2013. With reference to the aforementioned constitutional articles, we believe any order they make in the name of any institution on the army and police is unlawful. We call your attention to Article 245 of the Constitution which states that we do not have to obey such orders.
In order to maintain the oath we took in the name of Allah, we have to protect the Constitution.
We swore to sacrifice our bodies and life to [protect the constitution], hence, we know the fundamental aspects of the constitutions. Neither the Attorney General nor other party have to interpret [the constitution] to us.
Hence, we call on all soldiers to respect the Constitution.

MNDF Spokesperson Colonel Abdul Raheem said he could not verify the petition as he has not seen the petition or received any information regarding the petition.

Colonel Raheem confirmed that the MNDF had promoted over 300 officers on Friday, the last working day before the expiry of President Mohamed Waheed’s term.

Colonel Abdul Raheem said the promotions had been awarded “as per usual procedures”, but said he did not know the specific reason for the promotion of such a large block of soldiers at this time.

An MNDF source meanwhile told Minivan News that the soldiers who had signed today’s appeal “are the backbone of the military, because they physically work out the operational plans. Earlier we saw the leadership’s message, and now the backbone of the military are taking the same stand to uphold the constitution.”

The appeal follows a “letter of concern” sent on Monday (October 3) by senior officers in the MNDF to Chief of Defence Force Major-General Ahmed Shiyam, following the failure of the country to hold scheduled elections on September 28.

An officer who signed that letter told Minivan News on condition of anonymity: “This is not a petition. It is a letter of concern over the Supreme Court’s order to delay elections, the failure of state institutions, and the possible politicisation of the military, and asking that unconstitutional orders not be issued.”

The MNDF reacted by firing, suspending, transferring and demoting many of the officers who had signed the letter, and then introduced new regulation banning officers from inciting “upheaval and chaos [through] speech, writing, action or gesture amongst members of the military.”


Habitual protests “hindering Maldives development as a modern democracy”: CNI Advisers

International advisors to the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) – Judicial Advisor Sir Bruce Robertson and Legal Advisor Professor John Packer – have defended the commission’s independence and professionalism in the wake of criticism from the MDP’s representative.

Ahmed ‘Gahaa’ Saeed resigned from the commission the evening prior to report’s publication, expressing concern that the CNI had experienced the withholding of evidence, non-cooperation from crucial witnesses, non-examination of witnesses, witnesses being intimidated or obstructed, testimonies and evidence that was not reviewed, and misleading translations.

“Four of the five members acted at all times with independence and integrity in carrying out the important task for the future of the nation,” stated Robertson and Packer, in an appendix to the report. “The other member was not at all times willing or able to act independently and resigned the evening before the report was submitted and published.”

Saeed’s resignation created “discord and mistrust” in a community “in desperate need of reconciliation”, the pair claimed, defending the professionalism of the CNI’s methods.

“We have seen nothing but objective and independent professionalism in the institution. The Commission has sensibly and sensitively heard all who wanted to make a contribution. It has firmly and fairly held participants to telling what they had heard and seen for themselves and deflected them from conjecture and speculation without facts.”

“The nation has been well served by the Commissioners and any assertions of bias or lack of objectivity levelled against those remaining have no justification. They reflect badly on those making unfounded allegations,” Packer and Robertson stated.

“For the evidence collecting exercise to have value all witnesses had to be questioned and challenged about their recollections of events and the basis for them. Equally they had to be confronted with alternative evidence so they had the opportunity to comment on it. Some found this process unsettling. Many were familiar and only comfortable with making assertions and not being required to justify or explain how they had reached their view,” they noted.

As the evidence unfolded, the advisors said they observed “a national obsession with street demonstrating at an alarming level”.

“Some would want to call [this] an example of the rights of freedom of expression and assembly. In reality it is rather more bully-boy tactics involving actual and threatened intimidation by a violent mob,” they stated.

“This perpetual behaviour is sapping public life and hindering the Maldives’ development as a modern democracy.”

The evidence revealed longstanding tensions in the Constitution as a result of a Presidential system being “grafted” on to a parliamentary system.

“The creation of independent commissions will only be the safety valve intended when they are adequately resourced and fulfil their mandates in a timely and decisive manner,” they observed.

Furthermore, “Fundamental to the operation of a modern democratic society is the existence of an operating and absolutely independent judiciary which has the confidence of the entire community. Radical action is required to breathe utility into much of the state framework, especially to ensure the proper administration of justice. This cannot wait.”

Dunya writes to McKinnon

The comments from the international advisers followed a letter sent to Commonwealth Envoy to the Maldives Sir Donald McKinnon by State Minister for Foreign Affairs Dunya Maumoon., daughter of former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

In the letter, obtained by Minivan News, Dunya advises McKinnon that Saeed had “put the Commission’s work at risk by publicly questioning the credibility of its draft report, three days before its scheduled publication.

“He has also questioned the integrity of the highly respected senior judge from Singapore, Justice Selvam, the Co-Chair of the Commission, who was recruited by the Commonwealth. This is a disturbing development that could inflame the already heated political environment in the Maldives,” Dunya wrote.

She informed McKinnon that it was “time the Commonwealth puts into perspective the pattern of behavior by former President Nasheed since he resigned from the office of President, and ponders the credibility of his accusations and claims.”

“The government is committed to bringing stability into the country and cultivating the values of democracy in the Maldives,” she claimed.

“You may recall that while accepting Mr Saeed’s name to the CNI, the government made it very clear its strong reservations about Mr Saeed’s impartiality and independence because of his close associations with the MDP.

“We request you call upon former President Nasheed and his supporters in the MDP, as well as Mr Saeed, to stop their intimidatory actions and let the work of the CNI proceed to a successful conclusion. The Commonwealth’s valuable role in resolving the political tensions in the maldives is a critical one, and that role should also be seen to be fair as well,” Dunya wrote.

“Otherwise there is a risk that the country’s young democracy might be pushed into a steep decline where only chaos will reign.”

Former President Nasheed on Friday accepted the CNI’s report, subject to Saeed’s reservations, however he observed that the report had effectively set a legal precedent under Maldivian law for the overthrow of an elected government through police or mob action.

This, he said, left the Maldives “in a very awkward, and in many ways, very comical” situation, “where toppling the government by brute force is taken to be a reasonable course of action. All you have to do find is a narrative for that course of action.”

Minivan News is currently waiting for a response from MDP Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor.


Letter on freedom and the Maldives

Dear Maldives,

I would like to share my story with you guys, to reflect on the prospect of freedom in the Malsdives.

In July 2001, as a student of Humanities at Curtin University in Western Australia, I met, fell in love with and married a Maldivian woman, an ‘overseas student’ from my Political Sciences class.

Due to certain painful complications, although pregnant with my first ever child, the Australian government was threatening to send my wife back to the Maldives.

Preparing myself to live and work in the Maldives to be with my wife and baby, I looked up the Maldives on the net. I wanted to learn something about the ‘culture’ of the Maldives so that I had an idea of how to go about fitting in.

Guess what came up.

The Maldives Culture website and its terrifying tales of a nation run by a murderous dictator who brutally imposed a rigid, mental strait jacket on his people through the control of the religious thought of his people enraged me.

Images of murder and torture imposed on any who dared to think with their own minds, or exercise an ounce of independent thought, religious free thinking or existential creativity caused me to tremble with indignation that a people could be so repressed. I felt this with a particularly fierce intensity seems I have always deeply cherished creative religious thought. My own background involved personal rebellion against the church I had been brought up in, so I was an individualistic oddball even by post-modern western standards, you might say.

Yet, still believing that for love, the sacrifice of self was noble, I decided I would be conformed to whatever I had to be to make sure I could be with my wife and child-to-be. I would allow this Maumoon to control my mind if it meant I was given a visa to be with my family in the Maldives, as it seemed at that stage they had to go back to Maldives. I felt I had no choice.

The next set of complications started when it became difficult to get our marriage registered in the Maldives. Although one particularly kind Maldivian gentleman tried hard to submit our marriage registration papers to Maldivian authorities and get our marriage validated so that I could get a visa, we kept on getting feedback such as, how can I prove my conversion to Islam was not just for marriage purposes? I received letters from the Imam to verify my revert status, certificates, yet the Maldivian Government still was not satisfied that I was genuine.

I began to panic.

I had nightmares of my wife being whipped for adultery and my son being brought up as a half-caste, illegitimate, ostracised nobody in the Maldives, a “bastard’ to use the term in its technical sense. I was told that this was a particularly grave shame in the Maldives. My hatred of Maumoon, who I believed would do this to my family, my fear of him became so intense, that I nearly had a nervous breakdown.

For the sake of my wife’s health, I put on a brave face as though nothing was wrong. When my son was finally born, my wife fell unconscious. I held my newborn baby son in my arms, loving him, so protective. Not knowing if I would keep him or lose him, I clung to him like a desperate madman. In front of everyone, I broke down and wept all over him, I loved him so much; I could not hold my pain inside me any longer. He was so beautiful, and here was I, his Daddy, who loved him so much, yet felt so completely helpless and afraid, so utterly powerless, and the grief was tearing my soul apart.

It took another six difficult years to have this issue resolved. I was in hell, not knowing whether Australian immigration or Maldivian immigration were going to come through. These were years of panic and immense stress. In that time, we had another child, and my interest in Maldivian politics became deep and personal.

The problem became harder when Abdullah Yameen Abdul-Gayoom came to Perth for a week to settle his son into studies. Trying all I could to get things done in the Maldives, I met up with him and tried to patronise him to use him to get some help for me. Sadly, that plan backfired on me viciously.

During these years, I found myself inspired and encouraged by reading about one particularly brave hero, Mohammed ‘Anni’ Nasheed, and the sufferings and the torture he went through fighting a non-violent struggle against this ruthless dictator Maumoon. This Nasheed character was embedded into my imagination as the archetype of courage, freedom, strength, justice, compassion and liberty.

Though I had never met him, he became something like a cult figure to me. I believed that he was suffering so that all oppressed Maldivians could be free. I believed that he was suffering for me. In my confused, anxious, distressed mind, I felt a deep spiritual bond with this guy, although, at that time he would not have known that I even existed.

Just as the endurance, the non-violence and the suffering of Mohammed Nasheed became the hope of oppressed Maldivians, he became my hope as well.

When my issue was finally resolved, I went to the Maldives for three months. The first thing I did was march into the MDP office wishing to offer my support. Anni and a host of other high profile MDP characters were there as there was some important MDP conference coming up. It was about a year before Anni became President. So I met Anni, and the most embarrassing thing happened. All my stress and anger at Maumoon and Yameen flew out of my mouth in that second. I exploded with rage, sadness, I was trembling. Years of pent up pressure, fear, confusion and anger was released onto Anni. I have no doubt he thought I was a total mad man, and he would have been right. Before I could explain myself to him calmly and plainly, I was whisked out of that MDP office as I had a sea plane to catch. Though I tried desperately hard to meet with Anni again to explain myself clearly, it was never meant to be.

Although my hero ‘Anni’ no doubt remembers me as a mad man, to this day, I still revere him for the sacrifices he made to oust a dictator.

This is why it is so hard for me to mentally digest it if it seems that Anni may have been involved in shady deals (bribing MP’s for example) even if they were deals done in desperation to secure the common good of the Maldives. My education and rational mind tells me, Ben, you know what politics is, don’t be so damned naïve. My rational mind is screaming, you know the way that reality works Ben, get the hell over it, power corrupts, and the path to power is corrupt.

My rational mind knows that the MDP is not entirely a bunch of humanitarian martyrs. I know that MDP has the support of both the liberal thinkers and the previously disgruntled businessmen whose motives may not be national interest. Yet my imagination, my creative mind says NO, not Anni, not he, my hero. It hurts me to digest the truth, but, I am a man, so I am digesting the truth, as unsettling as it is. I went through this same painful loss of faith when I left my church, and I am doing it again. I will be less naïve with my comments from now on.

However, if ever I met Anni again, I would like to remind him, that he is still the hope of many Maldivians for freedom and justice.

President Mohammed Anni Nasheed, I would like to remind you, that for many painful years, you were the hope of the freedom of the people of the Maldives. Your people were lead to believe, through Sandhaanu, through the Maldives Culture website, through Dhivehi Observer website and through Minivan Daily and later through Minivan News, that you would free the people of the Maldives from fear.

This includes the freedom from the fear of being used by corrupt politicians, freedom from the fear of gangsters, freedom from the fear of homelessness, freedom from the fear of hunger and want, freedom from the fear of mind control, and freedom from the fear of the loss of freedom of speech.

For the liberties that you have already given, I am deeply grateful, thank you very much. I am appreciative for all that you have done, and I am sure many of your people are as well.

Again, thank you.

But please keep in mind dear President, that many Maldivians still live in a state of fear, and that it seems that when you made the people believe there would be no more fear of the type they experience, you still have a lot of work to do to fulfill what you have allowed people to believe you would do.

It is less painful to have not hoped, than to have hoped and to have been disappointed, dear President. It seems you have been the source of that hope, you will also be targeted as the source of the pain should the people’s hopes remain unfulfilled. I am sure that you are aware of what that means. You will be punished by the electorate, and in how you will go down in memory, if the hopes of the people are betrayed.

So please, from now on, do everything in your power, to realise your people’s hope, dear President. Put all unnecessary things aside; waste no money on non-essentials, and just GO FOR IT!

Despite the recent disappointments, we still believe in you. Our love and our prayers will help you.

Your Sincerely,

Ben Plewright

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


Gayoom condemns Thasmeen’s leadership of opposition in 12-page letter

A letter from former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom denouncing the current leader of the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (DRP) reflects the concerns of a wide number of members over the party’s opposition of government policies, such as the privatisation of Male’ International Airport, MP Ahmed Nihan has said.

The letter was linked to on Haveeru in Dhivehi. Minivan News is currently working on an English translation.

In the letter, Gayoom accuses Thasmeen of “dictatorial” characteristics and claimed he was writing the letter “in order to protect the Islamic faith of the Maldivian people and the sovereignty of the Maldives.”

Following his retirement from politics in February 2010, Gayoom endorsed Thasmeen as his successor to the leadership of the opposition. Thasmeen was then appointed to the leadership unopposed during the party’s congress.

However, after months of infighting between two factions – one loyal to Thasmeen and the other to dismissed Deputy Leader Umar Naseer – and speculation as to which side the party’s ‘Honorary Leader’ would back, Gayoom’s letter finally puts the former President’s card on the table.

“Disputes and conflicts always arise within the party, as you are leading the party against the democratic manners, and in a dictatorial way,” Haveeru translated Gayoom as saying.

Gayoom’s particular point of contention with Thasmeen was his “taking decisions without the advice of the party’s council and against the council’s decisions” – namely, an apparently unanimous decision made by 21 council members in an urgent meeting in on June 24, 2010, to fight the government’s leasing of Male’ International Airport to Indian infrastructure giant GMR.

“Decisions are being taken on force and on your influence on several organs of the party, outside the system of the party. This should not be the case in a party that is being run on values of democracy and transparency,” Gayoom said.

The former President criticises Thasmeen for the party’s dismissal of Umar Naseer, accusing his of having “a personal grudge” against Naseer. Gayoom said he had requested Thasmeen resolve his difficulties with Naseer outside the Council, and retract his request with the Elections Commission to remove Naseer from the party.

“I was given the short answer of ‘out of the question’. Your answer proved to me that you have a personal grudge towards this particular Deputy Leader, Umar Naseer, as you have not taken an action against the other Deputy Leader Ilham Ahmed, who was involved in the matter to the same extent as Umar Naseer,” Gayoom stated.

“I believe that every political leader should be free-minded and patient in order to be able to live with people of different ideas. It is democracy. I believe that the severe action taken by you against the Deputy Leader [Umar Naseer] proves the small scope of your political views,” Gayoom said, in Haveeru’s article.

Gayoom also attacks Thasmeen for contributing only Rf300,000 (US$23,300) to his campaign for the 2008 Presidential election – a campaign Gayoom said cost Rf33 million (US$2.6 million), and criticised him for not accompanying Gayoom’s son Ghassan on his campaign trip to Thaa Atoll during his bid for the Thimarafushi constituency in the 2009 parliamentary election.

Gayoom further accused Thasmeen of trying to damage his reputation by following the recommendations of a British public relations firm, The Campaign Company (TCC). The same firm was used by Hassan Saeed, leader of the minority opposition and now coalition partner Dhivehi Quamee Party (DQP), during a PR trip to the UK last year in a bid to gain international support for the opposition. The firm employed an individual named Peter Craske to arrange meetings with politicians and journalists, who falsely presented the DQP as “an alliance between the DRP and MDP parties.” Craske later acknowledged the error in an email letter to Minivan News.

Gayoom claimed that TCC’s cofounder, Jonathan Upton, visited the Maldives and recommended that Thasmeen sideline him.

“[Upton] did not have any idea of the views of the Maldivian people and the political situation of the Maldives. His recommendation to keep me aside, without knowing the support of the majority of the Maldivian people as they have seen the development and changes during my presidency, was not a politically mature recommendation,” Gayoom said. “You are showing characteristics that cannot be prevented after being deceived by the words of people who are unaware of the political scenario of this country.”

The letter puts the writing on the wall for Thasmeen and is likely to split the opposition’s membership. There was heightened speculation this week that the party would actually split into two parties and potential names were reportedly being circulated among MPs through SMS – however the fight for the right to keep the DRP’s name is likely only beginning.  Thasmeen is showing no sign of bowing to the wishes of the former President, and has already told local media that he considers the letter “slanderous” and dared Gayoom to make it public.

Thasmeen’s ability to use his democratic mandate – though unopposed, he was still elected – to survive the  factional struggle within the opposition will serve as a bellweather both for the extent Gayoom’s continuing influence in the Maldives and the potential for Maldivian parties to mature beyond personality politics.  However if Thasmeen remains, the split opposition could mean an easy re-election for the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) in 2013, given the party preferences in the recent local council elections.

DRP MP Nihan, who said he is yet to fully read the leader sent by Gayoom, believes Gayoom’s correspondence reflects dissatisfaction among a number of “ordinary members” during the last ten to eleven months concerning the leadership of his successor.

Thasmeen was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press concerning the letter.  However in response he has written his own letter stating that he will “stand firm and with full confidence” of winning the presidential election 2013.

“In my trips to more than 100 islands during the local council election campaign, members of the party, heads of the party’s wings and supporters have assured me of giving their full cooperation and have asked me to continue with this work,” Thasmeen said in a letter, translated by Haveeru.

Earlier this week, DRP MPs from both sides of the spat said they believed a split within the party appeared imminent; with some members even considering potential names for new political bodies as internal divisions and infighting between factions has continued to escalate.

These factions relate in part to a war of words between the supporters of Thasmeen and dismissed Deputy Leader Umar Naseer that has continued to escalate, at times, into violent confrontations over the legitimacy of decisions taken by the party’s council, such as the latter’s removal.

In light of these divides, Nihan said he believed the letter, without having read it in detail, was not so much part of a vendetta against Thasmeen from factional rivals in the party, but a reflection of complaints that Gayoom has received from party members dating back almost a year.

“There have been reports received by Mr Gayoom as to what has been seen as mismanagement on the part of Thasmeen,” he said. “Ordinary members of the party are very unsatisfied with party leadership and they have complained to Maumoon [Gayoom] about this.”

One of the key issues Nihan stressed that was behind the complaints levelled against Thasmeen had been in the work of the party to hold the government accountable for its actions, particularly in terms of deals such as the decision to allow Indian infrastructure giant GMR to manage and devlope a new terminal building at Male’ International Airport.

“Like with the GMR issues, there is a sense that Thasmeen hasn’t done enough to oppose this,” he said. “The divided thinking in the party has really been seen in the last six months from around when the airport was handed over [to GMR] in November.”

DRP Leader Ahmed Thasmeen Ali told Minivan News in November that a coalition of political parties formed in opposition to the GMR airport deal remained committed to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) focusing on legal recourse to try and prevent the privatisation agreement.

“We simply believe the deal is not in our national or security interests,” Thasmeen said. “With the privatisation of other [existing or soon to be] international airports in the north and south of the country, the state will not have an airport under its control.”

Thasmeen soon came under fire amidst allegations that both himself and fellow party member and Parliamentary Speaker Abdulla Shahid has taken bribes from GMR to hinder opposition to the deal. Both politicians and GMR have denied the allegations, which they claimed were a complete “fabrication” by political opponents.


Letter on airport cronyism

When I arrived today (February 16, 2011) at the GRM Male’ International Airport on flight IC 966, I saw Mr Hareef wearing a ‘Customer Service’ uniform and it was the first time I saw such a high level staff at the apron to welcome the arrivals. I took it as a positive sign and as a proof of GMR’s commitment to improve customer service at the airport.

From the flight we went direct to the Immigration Counter. When the Immigration Officer signaled for our turn, Mr Hareef intervened and handed over five Maldivian passports to him. He instructed not to take our passports but to process passports of his friends who were behind the queue. Those friends included Mr Ilyas Ibrahim, a man who has squeezed Maldivian blood for 30 years.

When the airport was handed over to the GMR, we celebrated it with great pride because it was the day airport got ‘freedom’ from the cronies and thugs of the 30-year dictatorship. As you may be aware, Mr Ilyas is the brother in-law of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, one of the world’s most brutal dictators and Ilyas’s influence at the airport is a proof that our beloved airport is still not free from the cronies of the dictator.

Ilyas’ close ally Hareef is an official who played a key role in deals at the Male’ international airport during Gayoom’s 30-year rule. It is a shame on GMR to employ such thugs and destroy the reputation of our international airport.

As a customer I expect you to take appropriate action against Hareef because discrimination is a crime in our constitution and he continues to practice his power similar to the years of the dictator.

-GMR Customer

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


Gayoom sends letter to British PM alleging intimidation by Maldivian government

Former President of the Maldives, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, has sent a letter to UK Prime Minister David Cameron appealing for pressure to be placed on President Mohamed Nasheed following “the escalation of attempts to harass and intimidate me and my family.”

In the letter, dated October 17 and obtained by Minivan News, Gayoom states that “Since I stepped down from presidential office in November 2008, the present government has, under various guises and by unlawfully utilising the powers at the government’s disposal, attempted to incarcerate me on false accusations of murder, rights violations and corruption.”

Gayoom explained to the British Prime Minister that the strategy deployed by the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party during the presidential election campaign – which was actively supported by the Cameron’s party, the UK Conservatives – “was based predominately on attempting to smear my reputation, spreading disinformation, and baselessly accusing me of corruption and misappropriation of State funds.”

“All such allegations of corruption, mismanagement and misappropriation of funds and property are basedless and completely untrue, as are those of torture, repression, and unlawful detention during my presidency,” Gayoom wrote.

“Nearly two years after the MDP government assumed presidency, Nasheed and his government have failed to uncover a single shred of evidence to substantiate any of these allegations,” Gayoom added.

The latest episode, he wrote, involved “unsubstantiated allegations by an elderly man by the name of Ahmed Shafeeq that I had, during my tenure as President, ordered the murder of 111 dissidents.”

“In a book authored by this Shafeeq, which was ceremoniously released [on October 10] by Mohamed Nasheed himself, it is accused that I also ordered the man’s arrest and supposed torture in prison. In a country of just over 300,000, it is safe to assume that even one ‘missing person’ would not go unnoticed, let alone 111.”

Gayoom expressed concern to the British PM that Nasheed would attempt to have him arrested “despite my innocence”, and despite praise from election observers at the “smooth handover of power” and assurances of safety and privileges in the Constitution.

Instead, the former President claimed Nasheed’s government had “escalated its attempts to harass me” in the run up to the local council elections, despite his retirement from politics earlier in 2010.

“After the government’s defeat in last year’s parliamentary elections, the popularity ratings of the ruling MDP have fallen further in recent months as a result of the government’s failure to deliver on its campaign promises and its lack of respect for the law.”

“On the other hand,” Gayoom told the British PM, “I continue to enjoy the strong support, love and affection of the people, and have been voted by the public as ‘Personality of the Year’ in both years since stepping down from the presidency.”

Gayoom went on to state that Nasheed had not provided him with adequate security and that “for almost two years now, I have not been able to go to the mosque to perform my prayers on Fridays. My movement remains severely restricted.”

He appealed to the Prime Minister to “urge Nasheed to respect the country’s Constitution and governing laws, and ensure that the march towards modern democracy I set in motion in 2004 is not impeded in any way.”

Minivan News attempted to determine the veracity of the (unsigned) letter with Spokesperson for the Former President, Mohamed Hussain ‘Mundhu’ Shareef, but had not received a response at time of press.

However, the UK High Commission in Colombo confirmed that the letter from the Former President was received in London, and a reply issued.

“The UK government follows events in Maldives closely. We believe that effective cross-party dialogue is essential to overcome the key challenges facing Maldives. We have expressed this view to both the government and the opposition,” the High Commission stated.

Press Secretary for President Mohamed Nasheed, Mohamed Zuhair, had not responded at time of press.

Download the full letter (English)

Letter on Islamic education

Dear fellow Maldivian brothers and sisters,

Assalaamu alaikum Wrh. Wbr.

Let me express my concern over our school system. I invite all to comment on this, be it negative or positive, I would be pleased to hear your comments.

Maldivians believe their schools must develop a Muslim generation capable of analytical and critical thinking, who become Muslims by conviction and who will strive to fulfill their role as Allah’s vicegerents on Earth.

Maldivians believe their schools must develop strong and highly-educated Muslim persons for whom Islam is a complete way of life. This can only be achieved by developing a balanced and wholesome Islamic personality whereby one’s behavior and attitude are guided through training of the spirit, intellect and emotion as well as developing a sound and healthy body.

Maldivians believe their schools must develop educated Muslims who are capable of making good judgments that enable them to lead a life of ‘happiness’ through fulfilling their roles as the servants and vicegerents of Allah SWT.

Our schools must be Islamic schools because we are a 100 percent Muslim society. An Islamic school must emphasise an integrated and balanced human development – intellectual, physical, spiritual, moral, emotional and social – based on the Islamic World View anchored on Tawhid (the unity of Allah).

This means spiritual and character education is regarded as equally important as intellectual education.

Our schools must arouse curiosity and wonder in our students, inculcate important values such as sincerity, honesty, trustworthiness, self-reliance, excellence and responsibility.

Our schools must enhance our students’ spirituality through wonders of the natural phenomena, congregational prayers, Qur’an recitation and memorisation, Qur’an studies, halaqah (study circle), and observe Islamic adhab.

If you like to know about such a school, you can visit

This school being international, English is the medium of instruction and the school adopts the University of Cambridge International Examinations Curriculum. Being Islamic, means Arabic Language and the Qur’an are equally or even more important.

International recognition and achievements of the above school: Top 5th Cambridge Centre in Malaysia 2004, ISO certification since 2003.

In a public gathering at Hulhumale’, Dr Hassan Saeed expressed that the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) was ready to setup an International Islamic School in the Maldives but the problem was they could not get land to build the school. Since the school I am talking about is also a subsidiary of IIUM, why not the Education Ministry try to obtain such assistance from the IIUM?

Wassalaamu alaikum Wrh. Wbr.


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


Letter on Hulhumale’s rubbish

Dear Editor,

I spoke to the Municipal Section In-charge of the Hulhumale Development Corporation (HDC) regarding the waste dumped at various wastelands (unused goathi) of Hulhumale’, and also the waste dumped at the bottom of the beautiful bushes beside brand-new pavements.

I understand that the authority tried to solve this problem by keeping waste bins at various locations but failed to solve the problem because people started dumping household waste and waste from the shops, so that they stopped keeping the bins.

Similarly, I have seen very old sick people, with the family members’ support, boarding on MTCC Ferries and looking for a seat when there are seats reserved for them. Neither the captain nor the crew is able to help our beloved senior citizens or the sick, by letting them have their reserved seats on the ferry.

Since the authority for the Municipal Section of HDC is also the chairperson for Hulhumale’ Crime Prevention Committee working together with Hulhumale’ Police, I feel sorry that they had no solution other than to stop keeping the bins in public areas. I also feel sorry that the captains keep quiet, watching such inhuman scenarios, while he has the authority to question passengers who disobey rules like not purchasing a ticket before boarding the ferry and so on.

I think what’s actually happening is that the hospital has no concern over the issue because at the moment this waste has not caused an epidemic. Police have no concern over the issue because they feel people would not like them for interfering in their freedom to do whatever they want.

HDC has no worries over the issue because they get monthly rent from these wastelands, and they get no complaints from the public who believe they can do anything they want and it’s their freedom to do so.

I think all the government and non-governmental agencies must work together to strengthen the monitoring mechanism and action taking so that those who are responsible do their job in order to keep Hulhumale’ clean and attractive. A country can never afford to watch such scenario and wait until the issue becomes a difficult and expensive problem like drugs, murder and so on. As we all know, drugs and murder was not an issue here before but can we say it’s not an issue today?

So, why can’t we all join together to stop such crimes in our society before it’s too late?


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Journalist reports DhiFM to police, claiming management leaked source’s identity

Former DhiFM journalist Qufthag Ajeer has reported the private radio station to police, alleging senior management deliberately leaked the source of his story concerning mistreated employees at the Hulhule’ Island Hotel (HIH).

Ajeel, who recently resigned over the issue,  has sent a letter to Commissioner of Police Ahmed Faseeh requesting a “fair investigation” of the case.

“The Hulhule Island Hotel threatened to take legal action against DhiFM if the source of the report was not revealed,” said Ajeer. “DhiFM then revealed the hidden source to the Hulhule Island Hotel without my knowledge.”

Ajeer alleged that DhiFM management searched through his personal folder at work to obtain the source’s identity before revealing it to HIH without his consent, or that of the source.

Article 28 of the constitution guarantees absolute protection of journalists from being forced to reveal sources: “No person shall be compelled to disclose the source of any information that is espoused, disseminated or published by that person.”

Such so-called ‘shield laws’ are intended to increase the accountability of businesses, organisations and governments by promoting ‘whistle-blowing’, ensuring protection of sources if a media organisation is taken to court and preventing journalists from being held in contempt of court for refusing to reveal them. They do not protect against the pursuit of defamation cases.

As a consequence of DhiFM’s action, Ajeer said that the Hulhule Island Hotel has now warned the source that he will be dismissed for disclosing the information.

Editor of DhiFM Masoodh Hilmy told Minivan News that Ajeer was “misled”.

“I can confidentially say that no person at DhiFM revealed the source of the article,” said Hilmy. “But the Hulhule Island Hotel did request us to reveal the source and said they take would legal action against us.”

Hilmy said DhiFM replied to the Hulhule Island Hotel saying that the source would only be revealed if the court ordered the news organisation to do so.

“The Hulhule Island Hotel did not threaten us, but demanded an apology claiming the article contained false allegations,” he added.

President of the Maldives Journalist Association (MJA) Ahmed Hiriga Zahir, compared the matter to Watergate and told Minivan News that journalists had a responsibility to confide sources with their editors.

However if the institution then revealed the identity of a source to a third party, “I don’t think this is ethical.”

“They should respect sources. Even the constitution guarantees the protection of sources for a journalist.”

Hiriga suggested that some senior journalists and editorial leadership in the country did not have this background in the principles of journalism- “it may be they don’t know what they are doing,” he said.

Ajeer was among six DhiFM journalists who launched a protest outside the media company’s offices yesterday, alleging unfair dismissal and claiming editorial pressure to produce negative coverage of the government.

The Media Council of the Maldives meanwhile issued a statement claiming that the protesting DhiFM journalists were a “serious obstacle” to the press freedom in the country, and that disagreements among reporters about newsroom policy should be resolved internally.

Ajeer pointed out that the Media Council consisted of “two senior DhiFM officials trying to defend DhiFM.”