The Maldives National Defense Forces (MNDF) will establish a TV channel and a day-care centre as well as providing public access to the military hospital within 100 days of government.
Recently reappointed Defense Minister Mohamed Nazim unveiled the raft of new initiatives during a ceremony held to reveal the MNDF’s new strategic action plan on Monday.
The Addana TV (Shield TV) will first be established solely for the MNDF, but will later be registered and broadcast for public viewing, MNDF Spokesperson Major Hussein Ali told Minivan News.
The military hospital Senahiya will be upgraded to provide MRI and CT scan services and will enlist specialised doctors. The 25 bed hospital currently caters to security forces and civil aviation staff but will be open for the public, Hussein said.
The day care center is an initiative of the Military Family Association and will ensure “soldier’s children are looked after in a compassionate and loving environment when their parents are at work,” Hussein said.
A new building with 72 new flats is also to be built in Bandeyri Koshi in Malé and the MNDF will build additional housing for soldiers in the MNDF headquarters.
Defense Minister Nazim said the key policies of the new Strategic Action Plan are strengthening of the national security framework, establishing a welfare system that does not rely on the state budget, developing infrastructure to enhance soldier’s living and working conditions and expanding education and training facilities to further professionalize the army.
Speaking to Channel News Maldives today, Nazim said the development of Senahiya will be sourced from foreign aid and not through the state budget.
The military will also buy a new hovercraft and a helicopter within 100 days of government, Nazim said.
Within 100 days of government, the MNDF will also submit a military discipline bill to parliament and establish military courts to ensure equality and justice within the military, he said.
The MNDF had established a joint venture “MNDF welfare company” in August 2012 to invest in various businesses, including the tourism industry.
The company is 10 percent government owned and 90 percent owned by Sifco, the MNDF’s cooperative society.
Soon afterwards, the MNDF said it would develop the military training island Thamburudhoo as a “boutique surf resort” in order to generate income to fund welfare services and training facilities
The move has garnered opposition from Maldivian surfers who started a campaign called “Save Thamburudhoo” claiming the resort will kill surf tourism in the Malé atoll.
The new initiatives come in the wake of dissent within the military ranks following the cancellation, delay and annulment of 2013 presidential polls.
A letter signed by 17 high ranking soldiers expressing concern over politicization of the military and possible repercussions should a president-elect not be determined by the end of the presidential term.
In November, an appeal signed by 73 mid-ranking soldiers, calling on fellow soldiers not to obey any “unlawful” orders issues by former President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan was leaked on social media.
The MNDF has also amended its regulations to punish officers who promoted “upheaval and chaos” in the military.
Six soldiers including Brigadier General Ahmed Nilam were dismissed from service on Monday.