What happened to the money given to the victims of the tsunami? Tiny references have been made to the slowness of reconstruction and to the infighting among governments and NGOs over how the money should be spent. Here in an example that might make one not want to contribute at the next natural disaster in the Muslim world.
The government ordered an indoor marketplace in Haa Dhaal, Kulhudhuffushi to be dismantled last week because the building was donated by “people in opposition to the government” and “Christians.”
The $70,000 marketplace was built by Tracy Structures, a UK construction company, and facilitated by Maldives Aid, a UK-based tsunami charity.
The building, part of Maldives Aid’s tsunami relief work, is designed to allow locals to buy and sell fish and other produce. It was finished in March and was due to be handed over to the island community in an opening ceremony this month.
The largest post-tsunami construction project in the atoll looks in jeopardy, though, after the Minister for Fisheries, Abdullah Kamaluddeen, ordered the Kulhudhuffushi Island Chief to destroy the building for political reasons.
“AK visited the island a few weeks ago. He told the Island Chief ‘this building has to come down.’ When the Island Chief asked why, AK said ‘this was built by people opposed to the government… they cause trouble… and the building is not good for this purpose,’” Maldives Aid coordinator Mariyam Seena told Minivan News.
The Kulhudhuffushi Island Chief, Moosa Ali, added that central government sees the steel building as a ploy to “spread evil principles in Maldives.”
Maldives Aid is the sister organization of UK-based Friends of Maldives (FOM), a pressure group that campaigns against human rights abuses in Maldives.
Although the two organizations are officially separate, the government has bent over backwards to make Maldives Aid’s work difficult - impounding tsunami aid, obstructing projects and refusing the NGO registration.
At the end of the article is another interesting tidbit of information:
Although dead-set against the Kulhudhuffushi marketplace, Abdullah Kamaluddeen is more relaxed about receiving money for his own personal use.
The minister was shamed in January following revelations in Adduvas magazine that he embezzled over Rf.1 million of public funds in the ‘soft loans’ scandal.
Imagine that. I wonder how much of the donated money is lining someone's pocket rather than being used for the purpose the money was donated.
Even though he has taken bribes, Kamaluddeen claims he is "humble man" who is being bullied by the press.
Minister for Fisheries and Agriculture Abdullah Kamaluddeen (AK) has admitted accepting over one million Ruffiya of public funds from President Gayoom over the last five years. AK denied doing anything wrong, though, and claimed he was “a humble man."
In a scandal that has gripped the country, a number of cabinet ministers and other regime loyalists stand accused of accepting huge payments from the president, payments the opposition say are tantamount to bribes.
In an interview with Minivan on Tuesday, AK confessed to receiving large payments through the Maldives Monetary Authority. “First I took Rf 500,000… even then I told the government that it would not be sufficient, that I would need more… upon request again I was given Rf 750,000.”
Bribery is how things are done in most of the world...uh, sometimes even in Washington, D.C. and other Western capitals. It is refreshing to note that the Maldivans are "outraged" that their officials have been found to take bribes. The issue here isn't that they make and take bribes in other parts of the world. The issue is that monies offered for charity should not be used for that purpose.