Full transcript of MP Nihan's leaked audio clip

  • Nihan says the island was given to the Saudi Crown Prince during ex-President Waheed's tenure
  • He said that the amendment to the foreign land ownership bill was brought to allow Saudi Royal family's descendants to inherit an area of Faafu Atoll
  • Nihan claims that it is King Salman's heir, Crown Prince Mohammad who is interested in purchasing Faafu Himithi

K. Male' | Aishath Shaany | 18-March-2017 | Saturday 05:45 | Shaaknee | Report | 65,628

Villimalé constituency MP Ahmed Nihan Hussain Manik -- Photo by: Mohamed Sharuhaan

On Thursday, RaajjeTV acquired an audio clip, in which Ahmed Nihan Hussain Manik, Parliamentary Group leader of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) talks about how and when a deal to sell an island in Faafu Atoll to the Saudi Royal family was arranged, just so that their heirs can inherit the island.

In addition to this, Nihan said that a number of parties were interested in purchasing land in the country, and that they would not sell to a country like Russia, who has “dirtier money,” than the Saudis.

He also speaks about what China is doing in the China Sea, why India is so concerned about the foreign ownership bill, and why they chose the Saudi Royal family, even going on to say that if the royal family had allowed it, that their names would be specified in the amendment brought to the Constitution, allowing foreigners to own land in the Maldives.

This is the full transcript of the leaked audio clip.

 

[STARTS]

This is basically something starting with 2012. Around December, he had hired an air taxi to take an aerial view of the Maldives, and he saw an island that would have been of no use to the Maldivian people.

The island is actually in this geographic location, I also realized after checking later. There is 54 kilometers between the island and the closest inhabited island, the rest is the Indian Ocean. Meaning no Maldivians will encircle the area even when traveling. I’m talking about Faafu Atoll Himithi.

Faafu Himithi is located on the very edge of the west line, meaning that travelers will not go through the area to go to those [atolls] above Himithi- Dhaalu, Alifu Atoll, they will travel from within. This means that Maldivians do not travel through this area, under any circumstance. This is why the people were relocated, like Makunudhoo. No one will travel to the west of Makunudhoo, as they will get lost in the Indian Ocean. People will travel to the east from Makunudhoo, to go in the direction of Kulhudhuffushi. He has chosen such a geographic location, so this person is smart, thinking of a way it will not be bothersome to the Maldivian people.

So, he wanted to develop the island, according to my internal information, but he does not want the island for 99 years, as per the Constitution, after making such a fine investment. He knows he won’t be there. If we look at the normal human’s mortality at 70, he won’t be able to stay on the island for the 99 years. So, he requested an ownership that will allow him to pass on the island to his next of kin, heirs. We couldn’t have changed it to 99 plus one, we weren’t able to give that 24 hours, which is how we got here. This is the reason the change was brought to the Constitution, because we wanted him to own the land. Just under that ownership, the land can be purchased for 500 years, but it will be kept within the [rouyal] family, we are sure of this, but the public won’t understand.

The public will only know on the day they find out who this is. When they see that this person is the Saudi Crown Prince, then they will know what the pretext of this. Mohammed had since then [2012] paid the acquisition fee, the island was owned by some Maldivians, Anni [ex-President Nasheed] had given the island to not just one person but three.

Adeeb was the tourism minister, Dr. Waheed the President, and Waheed really wanted to seal the deal, and they gave the island to him in a rush. After making the deal, he said that 99 years was not enough for him and spoke of terminating the project. If so, the government would have had to pay him back, and spoke to all those connected to him in the deal. However, he never lost interest.

He then came to One and Only again in 2013 with his father King Salman, not too long after Yameen assumed office. He hadn’t ascended to the throne then, [Salman] was the crown prince. The current King was then crown prince, and as luck panned out, after King Abdulla passing, he became the King. And with that, all the power would go to their family, right? Until he passes, then Mohammed will be King, that’s the likeliest person.

However, since they didn’t have the guarantee, they hadn’t commenced the investment. We even tried to penetrate this into SEZ, but even the SEZ can’t cross the Constitution, unless…until we bring the change, which would have created the open window, right. The reason for creating the window is because, this is a much designed, proper and planned [project] that will not cause any harm to us, whether religious wise or any other way.

We can say this much, that we believe that this investor is... for sure not China, not India, not the UK, or America or Russia. They are rattled thinking we are trying to sell land to China. The real geopolitical interest is this, China is playing this game in the South China Sea, reclaiming lagoons, taking islands from the Philippines, Philippines wont dare to mess with the mighty China, all their radar will be on standby.

So, India is curious whether we are making any such deals, and India’s data releases prove what [MP] Eva said, that the Chinese submarine had crossed the Maldivian waters. Actually, it did not cross our waters, it crossed international waters, 70 miles from the Maldivian shore is considered as international waters, which is a small passage line, half of it is taken by the Indian Ocean, Minicoy is there, Malik ]Minicoy[ is there. Between Maldives and Malik ]Minicoy[ there is 72 miles, hence it is hard to measure this, to say that this is our territorial waters, we’d have to create borders like India and Pakistan, but we do not have the resources, to keep one of our vessels there 24/7, to say that this is within our waters. We can’t do that. After Minicoy ends, [Malik] is in the same continental shelf as Maldives. Malik is at the very end of the [underwater] volcano that erupted to form Maldives, then there are the Laccadive islands, which is a different pattern to the Maldives.

However, there are similar patterns in Minicoy, which means that this is one continental shelf until Addu Atoll, with the same patterns in Diego Garcia, which is again 72 miles away. So, we have lost some of our [islands] within this shell. Like what the President said about Addu and Malik the other day, meaning Malik actually belongs to us, but that we lost it because we did not have that much power then, and because those in power could not do anything. No one knows how long it remained with us. What we know is they speak in our language, which is the reason they made Anni declare that our language is part India, just so as to play this game. The dialect used in Minicoy has officially been declared an Indian language, which has around 53 or 54 dialects. In September 2011, they declared that the dialect used in Minicoy is the 53rd language in India. During the 2011 SAARC Summit, they had played this game and now we have lost it. This language is unique, and dedicated only to the Maldivian people. There is no room to add this as a dialect of the Indian language, its true it does have Sanskrit, Singhalese, Tamil, but this is our own language.

So, if we look at what he [Prince Mohamed] has selected, he has made a very calculated decision. The closest will be Kuda Huvadhoo, which is 54 kilometers up. There will be no reason for anyone to travel around the area without a purpose. To the east is a reef, a small island is in the middle, and then there is a 21-kilometer long reef. We expect them to reclaim the portions at their expense, which means that we will create a new land surface without spending anything, and 30 percent of the said land surface will be given to the Maldivians, meaning some locals should make investments there, right, right next to them.

I estimate that right next to it will be their holiday homes, which they will create in different patterns. This is not something that’s happening for the first time, all countries do this. It might be an issue to us because of the way the Constitution is.

In another example, when tourism was introduced in the Maldives is 1972, if the government had declared that alcohol was prohibited in the Maldives, and if we tried to do that now, the parliament would be torched. Religious scholars will come, saying that we are selling something that’s forbidden, and the Maldivian people will come torch the parliament, or those parliamentarians who dared to talked about it. But it has been 40 years since, and [alcohol] is being sold, but in the resorts. But if we tried to pass that now, the situation would’ve been much worse.

[Listener: So casinos would've been be okay then?] would still be open. Who cares? For example, we are talking about the China’s interest market, there are other island nations which are exactly the same as Maldives, they only lack one thing. They don’t have this much visibility.

There’s sand like this in other places too, crystal sands, they have beaches and palm trees just like these so why should someone give us part of the billions they have, we are talking about a total of 16 billion dollars here, this guy is going to dump 16 billion US dollars.

[Listener’s question: is it all going to be in this location or in various locations?] No this is the location, specifically this is the location as far as I was [being] told, understand? It is not authentic information and not one that is shared, that is why I am sharing this off the record for your…information, to gauge what might happen, just scenarios. Why? Why can’t they just go to Mo’orea, there is plenty of fish near Mo’orea, there is so much more fauna[s] there, in Bora Bora, near Tahiti, all over the French Polynesia, prettier, more colourful fish. So even if that is what you want to see, Maldives would not be your first option. So why here? He is only interested because we follow Islam – it is because we are Muslim that he believes he can tolerate us and that there will be no pressure towards him.

Then when the Saudi princes come here on their jets and spend a weekend and leave, all the waiters and everyone will get more than what they make in months, they will not have to work for a year. It is their own actions that make us say this. We have seen their actions, we know what they are spending, there is no shortage of countries begging for a Saudi prince to visit them, with their hands out, what does Maldives have to show?

The honest answer is the reef [around Faafu atoll] that is just going to stay like this and die, I mean it is not a place someone would even go to collect shells, his place has been for over 3,000, 4,000 years – no one wants to go there. [Listeners: In Faafu atoll? …even near Nilandhoo?] No, Himithi is here, NIlandhoo is much farther, there is no space near here, this is what they are talking about, I have the point ready too, this is the location..this is Alif Alif Dhekunuburi, a person from Alif Alif Atoll is not going come this way, they are going to go through this space, Himithi is here, this tiny island here, there is a small island near there [referring to Minimasgali] this is the reef, the reef they are preparing to develop. There are no populated islands near here, and the next closest populated island is Nilandhoo 5.2 km away. So, there is no reason someone should come here, they would go this way, it is the furthest atoll in the region, no one is going to travel by there, people used to live there, people lived there until ’88. So in reality, the government or yet President Yameen has said he that he would create 94,000 jobs there – I mean he is someone to stay up at night wondering how he can device a way to create even that one more job for a Maldivian, in order to fulfill his pledges to the youth, even a SEZ was created. [Listener: You mean 100,000 annually or monthly?] Annually, but no one would have to work for that long. According to a research I conducted, studying their tips and their expectation of people’s salaries - they spend 1.5 billion in resorts a year, way more than the average Maldivian's salary. And each would just stay here for one or two weeks. And he is not going to be coming back for a while. And it is not like his next of kin, or brother, is going to come here. He would just go to his own holiday home. But then, later again he is going to come back again with his usual travel crowd…[Listener: is it a full buyout or is the payment year-by-year]…it’s going to be upfront payment, from the 15 billion, three billion has already entered the Maldives, now it is going to continue as a private venture…

There are people, a lot of people, but we can’t give land to them. A Russian billionaire might want it immediately, they will have much dirtier money than this. But we won’t give it to them. Though even this is created…the fear is what those who might come after with this.

Anyone can buy land. These people, the family we are negotiating with, does not want to bring their name up abruptly. Otherwise, the amendment will include their names. But we couldn’t have done that, as he also wouldn’t want to be involved in such a joke, this is a country’s Constitution, meaning don’t confirm or deny if it is the Saudi Royal family, im just telling you this for your information, I’m telling you the pros and cons.

There are seven Emirates in the Gulf, Dubai, Al-Ain, Sharjah, whatever. Oil is in Abu Dhabi. They were developing what’s in Dubai, whatever under Rashid in phases. The Burj Dubai was the original one. This is why I’m mentioning this story. This was a pet project of Rashid and Ibrahim. They sold off the hotel to Armani. Then came the financial crisis of 2009. They suffered immense losses and requested the senior Sheikhs for a loan. He agreed, on the condition that the Burj should be renamed to Burj Khalifa. That name will be there. This shows that if we cannot offer him something, then they would not invest. We’re talking about neighboring brothers. Dubai lends to Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi lends to Dubai, its working superbly. In spite of this, he wanted his name on it. Mohamed Rashid wanted to ensure at whatever cost, that the Burj should remain as Burj Dubai. But that will never be the case ever again. No one will call it Burj Dubai. It will be called Burj Khalifa.

This is the technique used. They can say if the name is not there, then they will not invest. This is how we will invest. Pride is an Arab thing. Then it’s over, then we can put a padlock on it if we want to. More likely I will be happy when I can say that from this moment it will be over. I can put a padlock on it. I will jump on that very much.

I’m someone who talks about the country’s geography, language, culture frequently. I came on when President Yameen gave me 100 percent confidence. He said Nihan this project is like this, I want you and PPM to push this bill to the Parliament. From that moment on I took on the project. I knew people will criticize me on this. When this deal falls through successfully, then there will be some who will thank me for it, for daring to do something like this.

There are contemporary examples. Skyscrapers of some nations are not public property. Even in Singapore. But Singapore did something right. In Singapore, the building is theirs [investors] but the land is the nations. In places like London, Greater London, even including Tokyo, it’s extremely difficult to get land, London, Paris, New York. In the three places, they had bought the land. They’re buying it. And the value remains constant, remains same.

An apartment in New York, America, the one Donald Trump sold last week, for US$ 21 million, when he was about to contest for Presidency. He had some cash shortage sold it off. It immediately snapped up for US$ 21 million. A three bedroom one, with a large sitting room. Not that huge. Donald Trump bought it for a very low amount US$ 500,000. He paid US$ 500,000 on it in 1986, when he was at the peak of his career, thriving.

Maldivians live there. I was stunned when I knew that former Health Minister Dr. Shakeela had an apartment in Dubai. I was stunned. It’s in Dubai Crown, Emirates Crown on the 52nd floor, the whole east side, bought for 10 million. I went there twice. You don’t know when the rooms begin and end. But that belongs to a Maldivian. A Maldivian who had lived with us, owns an apartment there bought from own money. So then why can’t we buy?

The opposition figures will criticize over this. The people who’re on social media over this, are not really right in their heads. This is their example. Leaching off of their parents, stay awake all night, sleep all day, then go to coffees, restaurants, then what [right] do they have to talk about the nation? Those who are like this are crazy people. They have nothing else to do in their lives. They’re writing all this just to get attention. That’s why I don’t respond to them. If there’s anyone who is even a little bit upstanding among them, among MDP, is Ibu Jaleel. He’s a project manager at Dhiraagu. Brother of Defense Minister Moosa Ali Jaleel. But he’s a hardcore member of MDP. There is no one else in MDP who is even close to that level. Then there are people like Mezzo Mohamed, the next guy and so on. [John Prescott] is Ismail Sodiq. Exactly.

Bro is the only one who doing this much even. I talked to him about this today too. If he says something, then even the MDP goes silent. From what he said yesterday, MDP went quiet. I called him, I said that it was quite impressive what you did. They don’t believe it when President Yameen says anything. They don’t believe when our Parliamentarians say anything. But the moment you say it, it’s OK.

When you move ahead with this, find some time to combat comments on papers like Haveeru. President is very concerned over this. There’s Asurumaa, other groups, but there is no uniform action on this. This is very sad.

Last night even someone tweeted something like this. I saw one thing has been tweeted over and over again by three, four, ten, twelve, fake accounts. It’s a confusion who owns this? One thing is repeated over and over again. From various accounts. That’s what I saw. They’re not real people.

Something Adeeb said, multiple accounts in twitter had sent out direct tweets on it. Same wordings, same type, same pattern, so we know that this is done by one person. It’s a copy paste. First one was made by Shumba (Ashraf). It’s followed by a series of twitter accounts, tweeting the same thing.

If [a tweet] is good, I will post it. I will not follow one group, or exclude the other. If its good, I will follow it.

They’re not many who have the guts. We have a bunch of MPs who put on ties, are very loud, hang out with the President. I told one of them, you were the person who had refused to stay at the last rally, saying that your wife needed you at home. [I told him] you’re not ashamed now. When we were trying to form PPM from DRP and during the 21 nights of protests, we had to force some MPs to the field. Only Mahey [MP Mahloof], who is no longer with us [PPM], Ali Arif, Ilham, I and Riyaz Rasheed will be there. Others won’t come. Then we have to beg them to come. If we succeed in bringing them, after a while they will be at the back, MPs like Ali Saleem. Now they’re very pro-PPM, pro-President Yameen.

I manage to hold this together. I don’t respond to twitter that much now. I don’t care that much now. Even today they are, MDP is, saying this is Thanksgiving Day for me or something like that. What happened in the morning was that I had spoken on the terrorism act. I made some comments on them. Then they went up against me. Not so anymore. the‎y’re marking 3rd August as the day they give thanks to me. They even made a hashtag. They stopped after a while, when it did not pick up. Eva tweeted something, saying that I said it. I searched for it later on, but I couldn’t find it. Probably, [might have deleted it] I couldn’t find it. It’s not there anymore. Who’s tweeting as Sikka Mohoree?

[ENDS]

 



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