MDP Unity, Solih Stabbing, Stranded Platform

Thursday, August 25

The Islamic ministry denied instructing mosques to turn off outdoor speakers after the call to prayer in order to ensure that recitations during the prayer are not heard outside. Contrary to media reports, no such circular or directive was issued, the ministry insisted in response to public outrage. However, five mosques in Malé were advised to lower the volume as the prayer could be heard in nearby mosques. Complaints were also made by households with young children.

Thursday, August 25

Following an evaluation mission to the Maldives, the International Federation of Journalists highlighted obstacles to press freedom and media development, including the widespread lack of employment contracts, shell media companies set up for political influence, and the practice of docking salaries of journalists for purported underperformance.

The IFJ welcomed the bid by its affiliate Maldives Journalists Association to become a member of the Maldives Trade Union Congress.

UK marine research institute Nekton announced plans to “undertake the first systematic survey and sampling of the Maldives from the surface to 1000 metre depths.” 

Human occupied submersibles alongside robotic and autonomous systems will be deployed for the mission, which is due to begin on 4 September with a team of international and local scientists.

Awards and certificates were presented to the top achievers of the 2020–2021 higher secondary and secondary examinations, including 37 Maldivian students who won first place in their subjects internationally.

A record 757 students made the national top 10 in the secondary examinations, of whom 13 were in the world’s top 10 for individual subject achievements. In the higher secondary examinations, 348 students earned places in the national top 10, of whom 41 students won places in the world’s top 10 for individual subject achievements.

Some 5,955 students sat the Secondary School Certificate exams and 2,641 students took the Higher Secondary Certificate exams.

Suhail Ahmed, the long-serving managing director of the Housing Development Corporation, retired from the state-owned company.

Ahmed Thasmeen Ali, a former lawmaker and minister, was appointed as the new High Commissioner to Singapore.

Wednesday, August 24

More than a year and a half after he was suspended, parliament’s sergeant-at-arms Mohamed Haleem was sacked for undisclosed reasons. The decision came after a closed-door inquiry by the general affairs committee.

According to media reports, he was accused of failing to properly respond to an attempt to bug the offices of the speaker and deputy speaker. Haleem continued to be paid after his suspension in January 2021.

Wednesday, August 24

Miuvaan Mohamed, a former journalist who was serving as the director of communications at the foreign ministry, was appointed as the new spokesman of the president’s office, following the resignation of former spokesman Mabrook Azeez.

The police warned of action against vigilantism after recent cases in which suspects were beaten up. In the latest incident, a teacher accused of showing pornography to a student was dragged out of his apartment in Hulhumalé and assaulted on Tuesday night. A video circulating on social media shows the man confess to sexually abusing the boy.

The 29-year-old teacher was suspended earlier this month after the alleged abuse was reported to the education ministry.

In the face of criticism, the education ministry defended its decision to change to the Cambridge International AS and A’Level examinations from the Edexcel A’Levels. Students were facing difficulties in transitioning from the Cambridge O’Levels to the higher secondary examinations, according to the ministry. The Cambridge syllabus will be introduced for grade 11 students next year.

Tuesday, August 23

A British forensic expert testified in former president Abdulla Yameen’s bribery and money laundering trial.

The opposition leader is accused of accepting and laundering a US$1 million bribe from former lawmaker Yousuf Naeem for the no-bid lease of Vaavu Aarah for resort development. The charges stem from a corruption scandal in which US$90 million was stolen through the Maldives Marketing and Public Relations Corporation during his administration. 

Mark Rigby, technical director of Faraday Forensics, answered questions via video conference from the Maldives embassy in London. He told the court about extracting information from three phones used by former vice president Ahmed Adeeb, which formed the basis of an Al Jazeera corruption exposé about the embezzlement of acquisition fees from the lease of islands and lagoons for resort development.

Tuesday, August 23

In a bid to improve transparency and accountability, prison officers in the frontline started using body-worn cameras.

A Nigerian doctor at the Hoarafushi health centre was suspended over alleged delays in treating an infant with a fever. After the child’s father complained on social media, others shared photos of the doctor asleep at his desk on different occasions.

The Maldives Correctional Service concluded the first prison-based drug rehabilitation programme, which offered detoxification, treatment and aftercare for addicts. The four-stage programme began with 40 prisoners serving drug-related sentences, of whom 32 completed the process.

The taxi regulation was amended to mandate the installation of dash cameras in all cabs. The new requirement will come into force in six months. The camera must record during trips and footage must be kept for seven days.

Speaker Mohamed Nasheed backed Jumhooree Party leader Qasim Ibrahim’s proposal to cap the number of MPs at 87.

The number of lawmakers increased from 77 in 2009 to 87 in the present term to reflect the increase in population.

The constitution requires the election of two members “for the first five thousand residents registered for each administrative division or two members for administrative divisions with less than five thousand residents”. For larger electoral districts such as Malé, an additional member is elected for each group of 5,000 residents in excess of the first 5,000.

The bullying and assault of an autistic student at the atoll education centre in Thinadhoo is under investigation, the education ministry assured, after a video of the incident was widely shared on social media.

Monday, August 22

Ali Solih, state minister for environment, climate change and technology, was attacked with a boxcutter in Hulhumalé. Video on social media shows a man stab him on his left arm while Solih was on his motorcycle, leaving a wound two to three inches deep.

The assailant was previously arrested after he climbed on the Salman mosque’s minbar and yelled during the Friday prayer sermon on on 1 July. He was reportedly released after his family submitted documents to establish that he suffers from a mental illness. A video from two days before the stabbing showed the man, who is reportedly from Madduvari, threaten to kill traffic police officers.

Monday, August 22

A week after a platform used for the Thilamalé bridge construction ran aground on the Vilimalé southeastern reef, NGOs based in the capital’s suburb island expressed concern about the failure to re-float the structure. “The continuous impact on the reef can be felt and heard from inside the island,” according to the joint statement by Save the Beach and Villijoali, which also called for the assessment of damages to the coral reef to be made public.

On Friday, the bridge developer Afcons Infrastructure told the press that rough seas forced its workers to abandon efforts to dig out metal pillars sunk into the reef. The planning ministry previously relayed the Indian company’s assurance that the platform would be removed by the end of the week.

The platform was used to drill bore holes for the geotechnical survey. An anchor cut loose and unmoored the platform. It was set adrift on strong currents and crashed into the reef on the island’s windward side. Three workers sustained minor injuries.

(Update: the platform was re-floated on Saturday morning.)

A foreign employee of Steel Hardware was struck on the head with an axe during an attempted robbery from a construction site of the company in Malé. The victim is undergoing treatment at the intensive care unit of the Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital.

Photo Credit: Mihaaru

Three people were injured when a police car rolled over on the Hulhumalé bridge highway in the early hours of the morning. Police officers in the car survived with minor injuries.

A fish factory under development in Hoadendhoo by Horizon Fisheries – a subsidiary of Jumhooree Party leader Qasim Ibrahim’s Villa Group – has not been brought into operation because the business is no longer viable, Fisheries Minister Dr Hussain Rasheed Hassan told the constituency’s ruling party lawmaker.

The minister – who is also the JP’s deputy leader – explained in parliament that US$6.5 million was needed to complete the factory but the investment could not be recovered if the company buys fish at current prices. The price of MVR17 (US$1) per kilo offered by the state-owned Maldives Industrial Fisheries Company would not be profitable, he said.

Horizon began work on the fish processing plant and cold storage facility in 2005.

Sunday, August 21

Former president Mohamed Nasheed withdrew a proposal for the Maldivian Democratic Party’s national congress to endorse a transition to a parliamentary system. Nasheed – also MDP president and speaker of parliament – proposed a public referendum to amend the constitution before the 2023 presidential election. 

But President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, senior ministers and coalition partners declared support for the presidential system and favoured contesting next year’s election with the incumbent as the MDP’s candidate.

The system change debate worsened the ruling party’s divide between rival factions loyal to Nasheed and Solih. Media reports suggested the president’s faction commanded a clear majority of the 1,000-plus delegates from across the country. After negotiations between the leaders on the sidelines of the tense three-day congress, Nasheed announced the withdrawal of his proposal in the interest of further deliberations within the party, shortly before it was due to be put to a vote. His apparent reconciliation with Solih drew rapturous applause from the party faithful.

A united MDP could “stay in power for ages,” Nasheed told the congress, as Solih urged the party to set its sights on winning re-election in 2023. The MDP has displayed “maturity” in resolving its internal conflicts and co-existing with differences of opinion, the president said.

Photo Credit: @shabin_ir for Adhadhu

Sunday, August 21

A man captured on security camera vandalising a guesthouse restaurant in Himmafushi was arrested, police told the media. But the island’s magistrate court released the suspect with conditions when he was taken for extension of detention.

Four other men were also arrested from Himmafushi in connection with disturbances on Friday, two of whom were released with others remanded for five days.

A 55-year-old woman who sustained severe burns in a gas cylinder explosion on Rathafandhoo passed away after she was brought for treatment in Malé.

The Maldives Bar Council met with lawyers due to sit for the country’s first bar exam on 19 November. A reduced fee of MVR6,500 (US$422) was announced along with exam standards and assessments rules.

Previous plans to charge MVR10,000 (US$648) drew criticism from new graduates and lawyers practising under a temporary license. 

The garbage dump of guesthouse island Maafushi was completely cleared for the first time in a joint effort between the environment ministry and the Waste Management Corporation. More than 900 tonnes were transported to the Thilafushi waste facility.