Weekend Recap: Feb 18th - 24th

  • PPM drama heats up over the week
  • Faafu Atoll sale dominates buzz for the week
  • Saudi Arabia's attempted "bribery" of journalists came in with mixed results

K. Male' | Rushdha Rasheed | 25-February-2017 | Saturday 17:55 | rushdhar | Report | 1,723

Faafu Atoll: the rumored sale of the atoll to Saudi Arabia had dominated press for the week -- Photo by: google

Last week in local politics was bizarre, if nothing to say the least. In between rumors of selling an entire atoll to the Saudi Royal family and Fisheries Minister claiming that both Presidents Maumoon and Nasheed were hatching an “evil plan” to destroy investor confidence in the nation, it was a lot to take in for seven days.

Trust in the President

Perhaps the oddest turn of events was when Defense Minister Adam Shareef Umar and a roundup of Ministers gathered to announce a new initiative to increase religious and national cohesion among the public. Conveniently, the Ministers all seemed to have forgotten that most of the public is glued to the pulse of politics and are quite aware the shenanigans pulled off by the Government.

The funniest thing happened when RaajjeTV journalist questioned over the sale of Faafu Atoll to the Saudi Royal Family. The Minister responded by stating that “whatever the President did, he did it for the betterment of the public”, with the hushed implied undertones of “how dare you question the plans of the President” and “place your faith in the President”.

Defense Minister Adam Shareef Umar

Honestly speaking, by that time I was reminded of Kaa hypnotizing Mowgli in the Jungle Book, singing “Trust in me”.

The Government is basically asking us to place in blind faith. This is the same Government that had been pandering a barren SEZ plan, allowed massive fraud and embezzlement through MMPRC and former Vice President Ahmed Adeeb and constantly and consistently taking loans to make up for the deficit in nation’s bank statement.

And you ask for blind faith. Sure.

Speaking of Saudi Royal family…

Saudi monarch Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud is to embark on a 31-day trip to the region. He will spend about 13 days in the Maldives, out of which mostly he will be vacationing. Three resorts have been booked in preparation of his visit. His contingent includes 1500 aides, Ministers, his personal plane, three additional planes and a chopper. If ever there is a logistical nightmare, it’s this trip. But hey, its money coming in to the country, right?

Saudi monarch Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud

Speaking of money…

It’s no secret that the Saudi Arabia’s ruling elite loves money. Ever since the glut from sale of oil poured into the desert nation, they’ve shown their love in various ways that can make any self-taught Romeo blush. So when Saudi Arabian Embassy in the Maldives “gifted” MVR 500 (roughly US$ 32), I was quite let down. I mean I spend more on cat food in a month than that. Perhaps Saudi Embassy is under the impression that our journalists are quite cheap and can be easily bought over or it heralded more to come.

 

MPs crying wolf over land sale bill

Over the course of the week, I ran into a Member of Parliament, who expressed his regret for voting for the amendment that constitutionalized the sale of land to foreign buyers. Crying over spilt milk or crying wolf? Over the course of the week, MP for Thimarafushi Constituency Mohamed Musthafa claimed that he and many other MPs were coerced into voting for the bill. Admittedly, Maldives’ actual political platform, also known as twitter, was abuzz with criticism.

MP for Thimarafushi Constituency Mohamed Musthafa

Only 10 out of the 85 MPs in the Parliament voted against the move. My MP and I don’t gel well, but I can proudly say that my representative, MP Imthiyaz Fahmy, was one of the few souls who dared to go against the grain.

MDP and other opposition MPs who voted for the bill, shame on you. You had the will to accept the bribe to vote for the motion, have the will to accept public outcry against you, when you bemoan that you were coerced.

 

Indo-China politics heat up

Foreign Ministry officials had quite a week! In the space of this week, both China and India sent over their Ministers (albeit junior ones). Ministry officials and embassies of the two nations remain tight lipped on the behind the scenes action, but we had the opportunity of seeing some nice photo-ops for the visiting delegates. While Chinese Foreign Minister visited on the guise of checking in on the status of bilateral relations and the bridge between Male’ and Hulhumale’, India was less subtle. Insiders report that India came in to solely voice out their grievances of Maldives cozying up to China.

 

Dr. Shainee’s bogeymen

I love how the terms “patriotism”, “religion” and “investor confidence” are used every single time the Government wants to justify their agenda. Fisheries Minister and Government mouthpiece, Dr. Mohamed Shainee stuck to the tried and tested formula over this week, claiming that former Presidents Maumoon Abdul Gayoom and Mohamed Nasheed had an “evil plan” to negate investor confidence in the Maldives.

Forget for a moment that the economy is in shambles and that we have mounting debt. Riddle me this, if the Government, as they claim have full support of the public, international parties and is taking the nation to unprecedented levels of development, why are they worried about two former Presidents? Let me remind you, one of them is a senior citizen and the other is living in exile.

Fisheries Minister and Government mouthpiece, Dr. Mohamed Shainee

 

Ex-President’s round up

Nasheed earned the Geneva Summit’s 2017 Courage Award last week. In the week before, Nasheed, who had pulled a Mean Girls reference, Nasheed announced his intention to come back to the country, even if it meant him going back to jail to serve the remainder of his 13-year jail term. In his speech, Nasheed had said that it was easy to depose a dictator, but the roots of a dictatorship are harder to tackle. I sincerely hope that he does realize that what’s next for the nation is even harder.

Former President Mohamed Nasheed

The Gayooms had an interesting week too. Litigation was the key word for the Gayoom siblings, Dunya, Yumna, Ghassaan and Faris Maumoon. Rasheed Carpentry and Construction took the four to Court over MVR 2 million in unpaid bills for the construction of a property. The siblings claimed the building was subpar and that they did not need to pay for the building.

The Gayoom siblings

Their father, the former President Maumoon, had PPM’s internal squabbles to tackle. His faction it seems is now reduced to just sending out press blurbs.

Interestingly, rumors that his younger half-brother President Yameen had intentions to arrest Maumoon were renewed when detained Male’ City Council member Zaidhul Ameen claimed during his questioning he was “advised” to declaring that Maumoon was plotting against the Government. Ameen claimed that he was arrested to find a pretext on arresting Maumoon.

Looks like PPM drama is just beginning to heating up.



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