Details of President’s trips to Singapore a public right, says Nasheed

Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) leader and former President Mohamed Nasheed has stated that Maldivian citizens have the right to information regarding President Abdulla Yameen’s frequent trips abroad.

In a statement, followed by a tweet in Dhivehi regarding the issue, Nasheed stated that under the Information Act the public has the right to know details of all Yameen’s expenses.

“Revealing information regarding the expenses of the president from funds raised by public taxation is something that must be done in a transparent, democratic society,” said the MDP party president.

Responding to the statement, President’s Office spokesman Ibrahim Muaz told Minivan News that the president’s health was not an issue.

“You can see him actively working day and night. He is in good health, Alhamdulillahi,” said Muaz.

He added that the government does not believe that the details about such trips have to be made public.

“Details of president’s personal trips do not have to revealed, nowhere in the world does that happen,” said Muaz.

Further, he assured that the government will uphold the spirit of the Information Act and would  therefore welcome any information sought within the boundaries of the act, “even if president Nasheed’s travel expenses and information on how many foreigners he employed, paid by the state, was requested”.

In his statement today, Nasheed said that during MDP’s tenure details of all government expenses were revealed by the Ministry of Finance and Treasury on a systematic basis, noting that the practice has been put to an end after the new government stepped in.

In a letter to Vice President Dr Mohamed Jameel Ahmed yesterday (January 11), MDP Deputy Chairperson Ali Shiyam asked the President’s Office to make public details of the number of official and unofficial visits Yameen had undertaken to Singapore since he assumed office in November 2013.

The MDP also asked for details on the number of days Yameen spent in Singapore, the number of individuals who accompanied him, the amount of money spent from the state budget, and details of the president’s health.

Yameen has travelled to Singapore at least five times between July 29 and the end of November last year. This includes two stop-overs in Singapore – one in August and one in November – on the way to China and Nepal, respectively.

Nasheed first raised concerns over the president’s health in October.

During Malé’s water crisis in December, the MDP passed a resolution claiming the government had failed to perform its duties and declaring support for Jumhooree Party leader Gasim Ibrahim to assume power.

Yameen had been in Singapore, but cut short his unofficial trip and returned to Malé as the water crisis continued. The capital’s 130,000 residents had been left without running water due to a fire at the water plant.

Article 123 of the Constitution states that if the president believes himself temporarily unable to perform the duties and responsibilities of office, he should inform the speaker of the People’s Majlis in writing and handover duties and responsibilities to the vice president.

Related to this story

MDP requests details on President Yameen’s health, visits to Singapore

Public should be informed about president’s health, says Nasheed

Palm trees used by MDP to curse President Yameen, alleges senior government official


Public should be informed about president’s health, says Nasheed

The Maldivian public should be duly informed about President Abdulla Yameen’s health to allay fears and prevent speculation, former President Mohamed Nasheed has said.

Speaking to reporters last night (October 24) upon returning from a visit to Abu Dhabi and Japan, the opposition leader referred to the President’s Office denying rumours last week of President Yameen undergoing brain surgery in Singapore.

“If the president is unwell, I am certain that all of us would be worried. In my view, giving clear information about it to the public is absolutely essential,” Nasheed said.

President Yameen and First Lady Fathmath Ibrahim departed on an unofficial visit to Singapore on October 15.

“Rumours being spread about the president’s health are false,” President’s Office Spokesperson Ibrahim Muaz Ali tweeted on Thursday (October 23).

Since assuming office in November, Yameen has made numerous unofficial trips to Singapore. The President’s Office has not revealed when the president is expected to return.

Nasheed meanwhile questioned Yameen spending weeks overseas, noting that there were rules for government employees to take leave.

In the absence of answers, Nasheed said “doubt and fear” were increasing.

“We keep hearing that another coup d’etat is developing again in the Maldives. While we keep hearing that, we are seeing the president not fulfilling the responsibilities of his office,” Nasheed claimed.

The Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) as the main opposition party was very concerned about the president’s absence, Nasheed continued, adding that the president should be working at his office to perform his duties to the public.

The MDP’s role as an opposition party was bringing issues to the public’s attention and holding the government accountable through parliament, Nasheed said.

“We are a party that holds peaceful political activities,” he said.

After serving on the panel of judges of the Zayed Future Energy at Abu Dhabi last week, Nasheed delivered the keynote address at the International Bar Association ‘annual conference showcase session on climate change and human rights’ in Tokyo on Wednesday.