Six hundred flats awarded to police and military

Government authorities have awarded 600 apartments to Maldives Police Service (MPS) and Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) personnel this week, including to Police Commissioner Abdulla Riyaz and senior police officers.

The housing development projects – providing 300 apartments for MPS, and 300 for MNDF officers – are being jointly managed by the government-owned Housing Development Corporation (HDC) in conjunction with the Police Cooperative Society (POLCO) and the MNDF co-operative SIFCO.

The opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) has described the awards as a continuation of the patronage policies that prevailed under the 30 year autocracy of Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

Under the MPS’s MVR580 million (US$37.6 million) ‘Blue’s Housing Project’ 210 three-bedroom and 90 two-bedroom apartments will be built.

The housing scheme was described as being important for the maintenance of the police force’s welfare by Commissioner Riyaz during the project’s foundation laying ceremony in March. Acting Home Minister Ahmed Shafeeu presented recipients with the official documents yesterday (September 2).

Apartments were awarded to officers with at least 20 years of service and based on a points system used in other housing schemes, Chief Superintendent of Police Abdulla Nawaz told local media.

The awarding of flats marks the beginning of the POLCO project, which is seeking private investment for a further 150 apartments, said Commissioner Riyaz during Monday’s ceremony.

Last month, 50 apartments on Hulhumale’ were handed over to police officers by President Dr Mohamed Waheed, who expressed hope that more housing would be made available exclusively for police and military officers.

Since the controversial transfer of presidential power involving elements of the police force, 1000 officers have been promoted and 110 new officers were hired. More recruits have been sought for a “special constabulary” reserve force, a loan scheme has been established for officers, and arrangements have been made for officers and their families to receive cheap accommodations and medical treatment in Sri Lanka.

The Maldives Police Service had not responded to Minivan News’ enquiries at time of press.

MNDF flats

Meanwhile, the government has re-started construction of 300 housing units on Hulhumale’, specifically for MNDF officers.

President Waheed, Defence Minister Mohamed Nazim, and senior MNDF officials laid the foundation stone for the apartment complex during a ceremony held on Hulhumale’ yesterday.

The apartments will be given to female officers who had not been previously awarded housing units, as well as to retired officers, the MNDF told local media.

Once constructed, the housing units would provide MNDF personnel and their families “adequate accommodation” as many are currently “living under a degree of hardship, having to rent their living spaces,” Waheed said during yesterday’s ceremony. Nazim added that the project would provide facilities such as playgrounds, a swimming pool, and a gym for residents.

President Waheed also awarded 50 apartments to MNDF personnel and their families last month, although seven of these flats had yet to be assigned.

Waheed noted during yesterday’s ceremony that the provision of shelter for military personnel was not an act of kindness, but rather a government obligation.

“The development and welfare of personnel should be improved in accordance with financial capability of the government, and the flats awarded today provides evidence of that fact,” Defence Minister Nazim stated at the time.

In April 2012, MNDF officers were given two years of allowances in a lump sum, which amounted to MVR 150 million (US$10 million) for the institution.

The Maldives National Defence Force was also not responding to enquiries at time of press.

“Patronage” continues: MDP

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) believes the award of 600 housing units to MNDF and MPS officers is a continuation of the patronage system established during former President Maumoon Gayoom’s 30-year autocratic rule.

“In the light of extensive exposes, such ‘patronage’ is familiar to voters from the single party dictatorship of Gayoom and I believe they will simply say to each other ‘I told you so’,” MDP MP and Spokesperson Hamid Abdul Ghafoor told Minivan News today (September 3).

The MDP previously raised concerns about whether the already constructed flats – which it contends forms part of the “Veshi Fahi” Male’ (decongestion) project launched under the previous government in 2011 – were being given to the “needy” and most deserving.

Ghafoor said it was “very concerning” that police should be given flats exclusively, to the detriment of teachers, doctors and other civilians. He also questioned how officers themselves had been selected for the process.

While some of the officers may have deserved the housing, there was concern that some officers involved in last year’s mutiny had been rewarded with flats, claimed Ghafoor.

Last month, President Waheed requested parliament approval to obtain a US$29.4 million loan from the Bank of Ceylon to finance the government’s budget and manage cash flow.

The Ministry of Finance and Treasury was seeking to secure the loan as a way to “enforce” the 2013 budget approved by parliament, stated a letter from the President’s Office read during a parliament session held on August 13.


Police officers find their names included on party registries against their knowledge

The Maldives Police Service have revealed that a number of its officers have had their names unknowingly included in certain political party membership registers.

Police Spokesperson Chief Inspector Hassan Haneef told local media on Thursday (March 14) that an unspecified number of police staff had been registered to political parties without their knowledge.

A tweet posted by Commissioner of Police Abdulla Riyaz on Thursday said that Assistant Commissioner of Police Ali Rasheed’s name was also found to be listed on a parties registry without his knowledge.

Article 69 (c) of the Police Act prohibits policemen from registering to political parties, being directly involved in political activities, and financially contributing to a such parties, local media reported.


Police arrest Chief Superintendent for helping compile Ameen-Aslam ‘coup report’

Additional reporting by Ahmed Naish

Police have arrested former head of police intelligence, Chief Superintendent Mohamed Hameed, following his contribution to the Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)’s report (Dhivehi) into the controversial transfer of power on February 7.

Reports surfaced yesterday that police officers who had cooperated with the report were being rounded up and detained, and their houses searched. A group of protesters had gathered outside police headquarters this morning.

Police initially denied the allegations of a “witch hunt” and issued a statement accusing the media of “circulating baseless and false reports”. However court warrants for the arrest of Hameed and Staff Sergeant Ahmed Naseer were subsequently leaked.

Hameed was taken into custody this morning and transferred to the detention centre on Dhoonidhoo, ahead of a court hearing this afternoon. Naseer and a third, lower-ranking officer are also believed to be in Dhoonidhoo.

During the court hearing the Criminal Court extended Hameed’s detention to five days. The Chief Superintendent was led out the back door of the court away from the crowds of MDP protesters who had gathered outside. Riot police pushed the crowds back to the STO Trading centre.

The Criminal Court arrest warrant stated that Hameed is accused of “misusing” or leaking information acquired through his position for “the political gain of a particular group” and participating in the compilation of the “misleading” Ameen-Aslam report, which undermines “the public’s respect for the security services.”

It justified his detention on the grounds that Hameed might influence witnesses and attempt to get rid of evidence as “others are suspected of involvement in the case.”

The evidence submitted to obtain the court warrant stated that a draft of the report with recommended changes was found in Hameed’s gmail account, and messages were found that suggested Hameed was consulted prior to the release of the report.

The family of Chief Superintendent Hameed expressed concern over his detention and noted that he was widely respected in the force as “a man of principle”. He has been in the service for over 17 years and has a masters in policing, intelligence and counter-terrorism.

Following the raid and extrajudicial dismantling of the MDP’s protest site at Usfasgandu on May 29, Hameed tweeted: ” Called a ‘baaghee’ [traitor] on the road twice today. Rightly so when our own actions are unjustifiable and thuggery like!”

Police issued a statement this afternoon confirming that Hameed had been arrested on charges of leaking “important information collected by the Maldives Police Services intelligence related to national security” as well as providing “untrue and false information” intended to benefit a specific [political] party, which could pose a threat to national security and create “divisions between the police and the public.” Hameed’s actions were in violation of the Police Act, the statement insisted.