Vice President calls for a concerted effort to curb street violence : Miadhu News

Referring to the recent incidents of gang fights and street violence in Malé, Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed has called for a concerted effort to curb street violence and make Malé and other islands safe for all.

He made the call in his remarks at a ceremony held at Hulhumalé Hospital this afternoon to inaugurate the new intensive care unit (ICU) established at the hospital.

Dr Waheed noted that a number of patients who require intensive critical care were those injured in street violence and other gang-linked fights.

Speaking on the government’s efforts to contain and reduce violence on the streets, he highlighted the work he was doing in his capacity as the Vice President and in the cabinet sub committee on the issue.

In this regard, he underscored the need to keep criminals and convicts in detention to reduce violence and gang fights, and said significant improvements have been made to prisons to increase security and space.

ICU at Hulhumalé Hospital was established with the assistance from the government of Pakistan.

In his remarks, the Vice President also highlighted the need to provide essential and emergency care for critically ill patients and said the service would reduce the number patients who were referred to Malé from Hulhumalé for critical care.

Reference: Miadhu News

Democracy consolidation must be guided by the vision of the society we desire for our children – Vice President Dr Waheed

Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed has said upholding democracy could not be left only to the forces of economic and political interests.

But rather, he said, consolidation of democracy in the Maldives “must be guided by the vision of the society we desire for our children.”

He made the remarks speaking at the seminar on “Democracy, Enterprise Building, Strengthening of Civil Society and Contributions of Expatriate Bangladeshi Workers in the Maldives” organised by the High Commission of Bangladesh in the Maldives.

Noting that democracy was not same in every society, the Vice President said:

“The kind of democracy we will have depends on the quality of our engagement in the democratic process.”

Speaking in this regard, Dr Waheed underscored the importance of civil society engagement in the democratic process to balance competition and profit maximisation with values of caring and peaceful coexistence in the society.

He said the contribution of civil society organisations to the democratic process is important to inform and enrich the formation of democratic structures with social development and humanistic values.

However, the Dr Waheed noted “our civil society organizations are weak…Their ability to influence public policy is weak, if not nonexistent.

“NGOs do not lobby for positions to change legislations or to influence public policy”, added the Vice President.

He said the government and international development partners should assist Maldivian civil society organisations to build capacity and become independent.

He further said “lessons from Bangladesh will be most helpful in this regard.”

In addition to Vice President Dr Waheed, Special Envoy of the President Ibrahim Hussain Zaki also spoke at the seminar.

Special Envoy Zaki said the Maldives and Bangladesh share a historical, cultural and strong bilateral relations and similar ideological outlook.

He emphasized the immense contributions made by the Bangladesh to the socioeconomic development of the Maldives.

Mr Zaki said the expatriate workers including a large number of Bangladeshi workers in the Maldives play a vital role in the successful delivery of government’s pledges.

The Special Envoy of the President noted the need to strengthen labour laws and protect the rights of expatriate workers in the Maldives, not only in the workplace, but also outside.

Number of local NGOs and government authorities participated in the Seminar held at Holiday Inn, Male’ this morning.

Vice President says Bangladeshi’s working in the Maldives can strengthen cultural links between both countries

Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed has said Bangladeshi’s working in the Maldives could play an important role in strengthening the cultural links between the Maldives and Bangladesh.

Speaking at a forum on ‘Historical Links between Bangladesh and the Maldives’ organised by the Bangladesh High Commission in the Maldives, Vice President Dr Waheed said the Maldives have many Bangladeshi workers and until now we have been focusing on their input to the economy. But, he said, both the countries should use them to appreciate the cultural and human dimensions of Bangladesh’s rich culture.

In his remarks, the Vice President noted the historic economic and trade relations between the Maldives and Bangladesh. He said it was important for both countries to re-establish the trade links as well as widen the relationship into new areas.

In this regard, he said that the Maldives could benefit from Bangladeshi expertise in developing and strengthening civil society. He noted that Bangladesh had one of the most developed civil society movements.

Today’s forum marked the beginning of the cultural exchange programmes organised by Bangladesh High Commission in the Maldives.

Swiss Ambassador says Farewell

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Swiss Ambassador to the Maldives Mrs. Ruth Flint paid her farewell call on the President and Vice President Waheed today.

During the call, which took place at the President’s Office this afternoon, the President expressed his appreciation for the Ambassador’s contribution to strengthen the friendly ties that exist between the Maldives and Switzerland.

The President and the Ambassador also discussed regional issues, human rights as well as bilateral ties.

Visit to South Huvadhoo Atoll (April 2010)

By Dr. Waheed

I visited 5 islands on 16th and 17th to meet the people on those islands and to listen to their concerns. The main official purpose of the visit to Thinadhoo was to officiate at the 42nd Anniversary of the Mohammed Mahir Preschool.

It’s been about 18 months after the change of government, and the people have not started to realize the benefits of this transition. Expectations have been high including, expectations for immediate improvements the basic standard of living. This hasn’t happened largely due to the economic crisis faced by the country. Although the prices of goods have remained stable, there are fears that cost of living will increase due to the rise in fuel prices and the hikes in electricity rates. Fishing is generally slow and many families rely on the support of a family member working in Male or in a resort. Surprisingly, the 2000 Rufia old age pension given by this government to people over 65 years has become a major source of family support for many in these islands.

Those few who have stable government employment on the islands are now afraid that they will lose their jobs. People have heard that civil service will be reduced. There is also some concern that unless one belongs to the main ruling MDP, that person has no chance of getting a new job or remaining in the current job. Therefore, lack of job opportunities and the fear of losing a job are major concerns of the people.

Young men and women who have completed their Grade 10 education are helpless in finding work. Most young women are simply staying at home and continue to be dependent on their aging parents. Unemployment is likely to increase in the short term and add to the already worsening state of poverty in the country.

It was refreshing to see that NGO’s are becoming more active in development programmes. I was happy to inaugurate a youth camp organized by the Hoadedhdhoo development association. They had invited youth from neighboring islands for a workshop on youth development and drugs awareness and education. Support to these types of local NGOs is very important to reach out to the young people, especially in the remote islands.

I was really pleased that I was able to visit Rathafandhoo. When my grandfather was forced to leave Thinadhoo after it was destroyed in 1962, he and his family migrated to this island. I was able to meet some remarkable elderly people, two of them in their nineties, and one who was my grandfather’s first cousin. It looked like literally everyone on that island is related to me.

It’s a beautiful island, but many people have left it in search of education. As a result, the population has dwindled and many houses remain vacant and decaying. Those who have come to Male for education have done very well. The island can be proud of its children many of whom have achieved higher education both in Male’ and abroad.

On the island of Nadalla, I was struck by the number of young people and children. Their biggest concern was understandably education and employment. All by coincidence, I came across a group of young men who are employed in Kooddoo fish factory. They were all worried because they were under the impression that the factory was about to lay them off following a mandatory two weeks leave. They were also concerned because  their fellow employees from Thinadhoo were allowed greater benefits than they were in that they were given leave to visit their families every week while the young men from this island could only visit their island once in two weeks. This is apparently because the MDP MP from Thinadhoo was able to make a special provision for their employees.  I was able to call the manager at the factory and clarify the issues for them. But in spite of my attempt to ease their concerns, I learned that most of the employees who were in Kooddoo went on strike the following day. I lament that such disparities have resulted as a result of political maneuverings.

Madaveli was a real surprise and further accentuated political maneuverings in this region. I was met by a small hostile group calling the government to fulfill the pledges. Most of the placards were against the Provincial officers and the MP. One placard was calling me to leave the government and join the opposition. I spoke to them and explained the status of various development projects planned for the island. This whole event was a reflection of the local politics, all orchestrated for my attention. It was also a surprise in other more pleasant ways. I was able to discover some old friends and make some new ones. Like many other islands they wanted to know what was happening with harbor development and sewerage projects.

This is not meant to be an exhaustive account of my trip. It’s only some reflections and a record of the experience. Clearly, I was especially impressed by the young people and their plight in the rural areas. They need vocational and technical education and jobs. They also need sports and recreational activities desperately. Unfortunately, I don’t see this as a priority in the ongoing development programmes. I hope that we will be able to pay more attention to these in the near future.

April 2010.