Category Archives: Society

Male’ – the capital of Maldives, one of the most scariest dwellings on Earth

Yesterday evening my wife, daughter and her aunt and I were standing in the opposite corner of TV Maldives main gate waiting to flag down a taxi after a visit to the clinic – Imperial Medical Center, nearby.

As we were there hoping to flag down one of the taxi passing by, after several unsuccessful attempts, I finally saw one that was coming our way without a passenger in it. As I raised my hand to flag down the taxi, a motorbike came and stopped right in front of me. At that moment, a young man in his twenties came staggering just next to us. He was accompanied by two other friends of his.

There was a hurried exchange between the two friends of the young man and the person on the motorbike, and the young man climbed on the back of the motorbike. It was at that moment he stared at me and my daughter, less than two meters away, pointed his fingers at us and asked what we were staring at. He then said that he would cut us up for staring at  him.

At that moment his two friends said something and the guy driving the motorbike hurried and backed to the street and went with the young man. He was heavily drunk. His two friends stayed.

I looked backed to look at my wife who was just behind us, who had touched my shoulder and was asking me to go to the other side of the road to take a taxi. It was then that I saw what had saved us from a life and death moment. There were about eight policeman in dark blue who had stopped in a vehicle and were unloading some road barriers from it. They did not notice or did not take note of the events unfolding in front of them.

It was a very scary moment. Any thought that the young people who rule the streets feel threatening to them can end up in very dire consequences to the victim. Those who break the law have full rights accorded to them under the Constitution and legal protection. They have the best of lawyers to protect them, and the system is geared to give them maximum freedom to practice their desires of life in anyway they wish.

The streets are safe to a certain extent in the day. But on most occasions in the evening just being in the wrong place at the wrong time, for a wrong reason to one of the young men who rule the streets of Male’ can be a moment of life and death. Three consecutive governments since the August Constitution in 2008, has failed to combat the horror in the streets of Male’, because it is in their favor to maintain the fear thereof. It will continue to be so.


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Posted by on May 11, 2012 in Society


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Maldivian Attitude to Safety

This afternoon I was on a speedboat to a nearby island for breaking fast. Several invitees boarded the speed launch that was taking us to our destination island. As we boarded the boat, I took a life jacket and put it on, and indicated to others that it was necessary. They said that the boat crew would distribute them to put on, when it was time to depart.

We departed and the crew did not distribute the life jackets, nor did anyone bother to take a life jacket and put it on. That is the typical attitude to safety in our midst. Our safety and security is the responsibility of the crew!

Fortunately for us, and as in 99.99% of the cases, we reached our destination without incident and same was true for our trip back to Male’. Fortunately for us, we were not in the 0.01% of the cases which resulted in a disaster.

I was most struck by the attitude!

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Posted by on August 20, 2011 in Society


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One Man in a Dark Hole…

Day before yesterday, I was having a late lunch at Baazaaru Hotaa and as I finished lunch a person I know walked into the hotaa. He saw me and came towards me. He said that he was hoping to meet me, walked over and sat in a chair beside me.

He is a person I know from an island I have been on often and am familiar with. This person (let’s call him Ahmed) told me that he wanted my help to find a way to send a younger brother to Guraidhoo, where the Center for the Disabled is. I told him the best would be to visit the Ministry of Health and Family. And that they would be the best party to help, as they are the party responsible for social security.

Ahmed asked me where this Ministry is. I gave him directions and explained to him that it is the office without a nameboard in front of Food Bank on Sosun Magu. He told me that he has been there and that they said the center is full and there is nothing they can do. He said he’s been going there for the last eight months. And the ministry responsible for social security tells him there’s nothing they can do!

I suggested that he speak with the MP for his constituency, in that case. He said that he spoke to the MP face to face prior to the recently held local council elections. According to Ahmed, the MP told him that he had spoken to the relevant authorities and the needful would be done. That was just after the elections. Ahmed has been waiting for that to happen, till now.

He said that he brought his brother to Male’ this time and was going from place to place to find away to put him in a shelter where he could be taken care of. The thing is that there is only one such place in the country and they are refusing to take him in. He is out of options!

Ahmed said that his brother has beaten up a family member and has also been creating trouble with the neighbors. The neighbors then take up issue with Ahmed’s family. Ahmed says he understands the anger of the neighbors. According to Ahmed, his brother has at times put lighted cigarette butts into dresses of his children too. The women folk at home are not able to look after him.

According to Ahmed his brother is psychiatric patient. There is no way for him to earn a living when he has to look after his brother by his side every minute of the day. He cannot go to work because he will not be able to chain up the brother. Ahmed says, if the brother is put in a room and locked he will break up everything inside. So he is completely helpless and running out of ends and means.

Ahmed expects me to help him find a way. What do I tell him!

I tried to explain to Ahmed that this was not something that an individual like I can help. Also, to explain to him that I was not in a position to influence the decisions of the government agencies who were responsible for this.

The case of Ahmed is a case of many. Yet, there is a lack of personnel in the health sector to cater for psychiatric patients and those suffering from mental health issues, in the form or doctors and social workers. We seem to be waiting for the situation to explode or for God to take care of it! The rising counts of domestic violence and self-inflicted harm and even suicides and attempted suicides, do not seem to alarm those who have taken responsibility for it.

Perhaps, it is the collective Maldivian psyche that God High and Above will take care of us without an effort, just like He saved us with an explosion that went sour.

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Posted by on June 22, 2011 in Society


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Maldives: Tourists visiting the paradise not safe on secluded resort hotels anymore, with the law and order situation deteriorating rapidly

Local media reports have featured three very distressing reports, in the paradise island nation of Maldives.

The first is the news of a man found dead in a holiday resort in the Maldives, after the resort staff apprehended three of the four people who got on the island in the early morning hours after midnight. A group of seven people had come to the resort allegedly to rob from the resort, and four got onto the island. The other three who remained in the speed boat they came in, had escaped. The fourth man who got on the island was reported to have been found dead on the beach.

This is the second such incident in the recent months, which has been reported in the local media. The first incident was of a group of people who were caught trying to snatch the resort safe in the mid of the night.

The first is the news of a young woman who got into a taxi to go home for lunch and was taken to the truck area of the Maldives Ports, where the taxi driver attempted to sexually molest and rape the young woman. The taxi had dark tinted glass which meant that the woman’s struggling could not be seen from the outside.

This is also the second such incident that has been reported in taxis in the past several months. The other incident was of a mad taxi driver who attempted to physically abuse and torment a woman who went to the hospital.

It is unlikely that anyone will be convicted or even face charges in either of the incidents, as suspects use their right to remain silent and the evidence presented in courts are usually flowed to convince the judges of any wrongdoing by the suspects. The constitution that was brought into force in August 2007 in a bid to introduce multiparty democracy and the separation of powers have left the country in a legal limbo. The delays in introducing the necessary laws to ensure the safety and security of law abiding citizens have meant that legal loopholes, an overburdened police force, an incompetent prosecution and the judiciary (which you are prohibited by law to criticize) has made the Maldives into a paradise for the criminals.

Perhaps it will not be long before tourists will be kidnapped or held for ransom in one of the island hideaways which are isolated and do not have any police or national security arrangements to keep them safe from pirates or criminals for whom these are prize targets.

Related Links:  Haveeru: resort intruder found dead Haveeru: taxi driver sexually abuse customer

Related random post: Unfit and Out of Place

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Posted by on March 23, 2011 in Society


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Affordable Housing and the HRCM Report

I just finished watching a TVM Live Show on Housing issues in the country in connection with the release of the Report on the Assessment of the Housing Situation in the Maldives. I made several attempts to place a call to raise a point to Hon. Aslam Shakir, the Minister of State for Housing, and Mr. Zahid, the deputy chief of the Human Rights Commission.

I wanted to ask what the 12,000 families who are subject to “hell-holes” in the country should expect within the short term and within the full five-year mandate of the current government. How many of these families should expect to have decent and affordable housing within the first two years and how many within the full five years? What regions would be the beneficiaries of these housing projects and how many units would the respective regions expect to get within the short-term and the full-term?

I also wanted to ask whether the government would execute the projects through the provincial municipalities that are to be established or through the Finance Ministry via international competitive bidding? Would the government outsource the projects on BOT basis or as provincial municipality managed and operated projects?

Was there an estimate of a budget for the cost of providing adequate housing to the 12,000 families who lived in the gutters.

There is no doubt that affordable housing is one of the most attractive pledges of the MDP government. Timely action in a focused manner would be required to ensure efficienty and effectiveness of achieving the pledge within the five-year term of the first MDP government. The project seems to be still at a conceptual level. There is a need for speedy action.


Posted by on November 26, 2008 in Society



Election Promises and Housing Policies

The day before August 12, MDP presidential candidate Anni announced his housing policy, addressing an audience gathered at the site of the temporary shelters for tsunami victims, in Gaaf Alif Villingili. On the 12th, he briefed the media on his housing policy which seeks to provide adequate permanent housing to to over 5000 persons displayed by the 2004 tsunami who still live in temporary shelters.

The day after, on August 13, Hulhumaale Development Corporation announced that it would open applications for 488 flats to be completed in February next year. The government has announced that it would roll out 1500 flats in the next three years. This would cater to over 12,000 families who live in either slum conditions or “unaffordable” rent in Male’.

Dr. Hassan Saeed’s housing policy states that (social) security depends on (affordable) housing. He has said that his housing policy would seek to establish a mechanism that would provide affordable housing to all Maldivians and facilitate a housing finance scheme for new home owners. He has proposed to build 5000 – 8000 flats in selected islands, and that the schemes would not seek to make a profit and that having children or being married would not be made an eligibility criteria for housing.

The government has no clear housing policy that is adequate to cater for the needs of the people, and the DRP presidential campaign has not announced a housing policy that they would implement should the people elect their candidate to lead the next government.

Anni in his press conference to brief the media on his housing policy, said that; a government of his would seek to provide affordable decent housing to all Maldivians and also to provide construction materials for social housing at an affordable rate, and provide soft loans through housing finance. Anni also said that he would develop a land use plan in consultation with the people.

The majority of the Maldivian people – tsunami victims and the rest alike; continue to live in slum conditions and will continue to do so until there is sincerity in delivery of the noble policies that are being promised and would be promised by presidential hopefuls. Such sincerity in action is hard to come by, as it would badly affect the house-owners (nearly 20% of Male’ population) who live a luxurious life on income from rented properties.

Jumhooree Party who has announced that it would compete in the upcoming presidential elections is yet to announce its candidate in the race or its housing policy.


Posted by on August 15, 2008 in Society


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French Cinema at Athena Thursday Night

Organized by AFM (Association Franco Maldivienne) this is the third is a series of French movies organized at Athena Cinema. This time (Thursday, June 19,2008) the film is “Les Poupees Russes” [The Russian Dolls] by a French Writer/Director who scored enormous success amongst those who enjoy the artistic style of movies.

The film is screened with subtitles for those who love French but cannot speak it (like myself). The film will begin at 2100hrs. And tickets are available on arrival for 20.00 Maldivian Rufiyaa.

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Posted by on June 18, 2008 in Society


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A School Bus Service: Now

Day before yesterday, I was at Thaajuddeen School to attend my daughter’s Parent Teacher Meeting. After the meeting, I brought her to the ferry terminal and called her mother to fetch her from the Villingili ferry terminal.

After the ferry left, I tried to get a taxi to come back to the STO Trade Centre. I struggled with quite a few others including several school children who were waiting to catch a cab to go to school in the scorching sun.

Taxis are not regular and reliable as would have been experienced by any frequent traveller from Hulhumale, Hulhule or Villingili to Male’. They are the only means of transport available to those who are not fortunate enough to own a car or a motorcycle. Taxi availability depends on the drivers’ mood, whether their children are going to school that day, whether there was a riot which they have to be up for, rain, and so many other things.

The relevant government authorities will tell us that this cannot be done because the roads of Male’ are too congested. But the funny thing is, there is more than enough room for several hundred mortobikes and cars every month. When a bus service is to be given to the public, the congestion comes in.

And the taxi drivers will protest! Is it the welfare of the taxi drivers or the greater welfare of the general public that the authorities are interested in. The thing is that the people who have to make these decisions are not faced with the consquences of the neglect or the delays (in years) in decisions that affect the public.

Even if not a formal public transport system, a school-bus service would solve several social issues that we are faced with now. Firstly, the cost of transport to school by children will be less, children going to school in the rain and in the scorching sun will be saved from the related health issues, less school children roaming the streets, several parents would not have to skip work everyday to take and fetch children from school.

If the people who ran the government were the ordinary folk, they would have dealt with issues that were important for the ordinary folk. But the fthing is, that in Maldives the government is run by people who could care less about the general public.

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Posted by on September 5, 2007 in Society


Maldives … living a Lie!

Maldives … the Sunny Side of life:
Maldives has been branded the "Sunny Side of Life" for visitors from affluent countries. The visitors can enjoy the white sandy beaches, pristine clear blue lagoons, the refreshing breeze of fresh air and complete peace and serenity in this country; that is if you are prepared to pay for the package. The degree of a taste of heaven depends on how much you are willing to pay.

A taste of paradise is a reality for those who can afford it. Yet there are only a handful of people in the country where this paradise exist, who can afford the same. The majority who live in the periphery are told that they have the blessing of Allah the Almighty. That they are fortunate to have the blessing of the Creator. And finally the other day, the President told us that we have to be proud of to be Maldivian.

The result of this type of conditioning is that we as Maldivians have become accustomed to living a lie. And the biggest lie of all is going to be continued again shortly in the constitutional amendments that is going to happen shortly (it can take a few more years if the MPs do not find someone who can buy them for millions of dollars each!).

The lie is: that all Maldivians are and must be Muslims. What this practically means is that you must believe in Islam. The clause was put in the Constitution when the Maldivians were subservient to a Monarch; rather subjects of a King.

Maldives … living a Lie:
As a nation of people conditioned to lead a life that is pegged to a set of lies; the so called "reform process" that has been plagueing the country for nearly seven years now has also chosen to follow the conditioning.

The pillars of the reform process have told that they will give up their lives to protect and safeguard the lie. Almost all political leaders and political parties have personally pledged to fight to keep the lie as the pillar of the new Constution; if it can be called new.

It is not a surprise that new things forged by old minds and old allies will only protect the lies that have brought them riches and prosperity, wouldn’t they?

The truth is that the so called "opposition reformists" claim that they will not accept any formula for the future of Maldives that has Maumoon in its inception, design or implementation. They don’t understand that some Maldivians have minds of their own; free from the clutches of those who were our masters and want to continue to be. What they are saying is true! But the semantics is wrong.

The future of Maldives can belong to the people only if the formula of reform will not have "the former Masters of the People" in the inception, design and implementation of the reform formula.

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Posted by on September 1, 2007 in Society


How civilized are Maldivians as a People?

This morning I got onto the eight ten ferry from Villingili to Male’. Villingili is a satellite island of Male’, eight minutes by ferry from the capital mainland. As I boarded the ferry I had to walk down the walkway in between the two rows of benches; one to each side of the dhoni.
It is common practise that when passengers board the ferry they sit on the aisle side of the bench. The beches are kept in rows with hardly enough space in between for someone to move into the window side of the bench if someone is sitting on the aisle side. However, those boarding the ferry first are so focused on the ease of getting down the ferry as it touches the terminal, that they prefer to sit on the aisle. Some people who board the ferry later prefer to stand somewhere to avoid inconveniencing those sitting on the aisle side of benches, even when there is space in between people sitting on the benches.
I took up the subject with another friend of mine who boarded the ferry with me this morning. Both of us were sitting in the last row of benches. Half the ferry was empty then, but the aisle seats were full on all rows. My friend recalled that when he visited the US for a tour of twenty one days this year what struck him most was how concerned people were about NOT inconveniencing others; aware of their existence in relation to others. This he said was not a part of our culture.
We never thought that our actions or inactions could inconvenience others. That sense of respect was non-existent in our society. We thought: was it a fault of the education system, or that we were simply not a civilized society yet.
In my opinion, recent manifestations of our society show that we are tribal in nature.

Posted by on August 27, 2007 in Society

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