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News in Brief

Civil servants receive annual bonus for the first time

Civil servants have received annual bonuses after appraisal of the work conducted by individual civil servants between January 2013 and the end of January 2014.

The bonus was given to staff with attendance of over 80 percent in the defined period, with zero unexplained absences and with no disciplinary actions being taken against them.

Those who received 95 percent and above in the appraisal received a bonus equivalent to a month’s pay. Those who received between 85 and 95 percent received two thirds of their basic salary, while those between 84.9 and 75 percent received one third of their basic monthly salary.

Should any persons have issues regarding the bonuses, the Civil Service Commission has announced that complaints can be lodged during a period of one month, which ends at the end of August.

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Tourism Ministry reports 14 percent increase in tourist arrivals in July

Ministry of Tourism has reported on a statement published on their website that tourist arrivals during the month of July have shown a 14 percent increase when compared with figures from the same month last year.

It reports that total number of tourists who visited the Maldives in July 2014 amount to 100,191.

While Europe has traditionally been the area from which the Maldives gets the most number of visitors, the statement reports that in July, visitors from Asia and the Pacific exceeded those from Europe.

Countrywise, the most number of tourists arrived to the Maldives in July from China, reaching 30.6 percent of the total number of arrivals.

The ministry further reports that by the end of July 2014, the total number of registered tourist establishments are 474, with 30,732 beds. However, only 291 of these establishments – with 26,894 – beds were operational within January and July this year.

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MNDF corporal arrested for rape

A corporal at the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) was arrested on charges of rape on Wednesday (August 27), reports CNM.

According to the online news outlet, the 27-year-old corporal was arrested on suspicion of raping a woman at a guest house in Malé.

Police have confirmed that two men were taken into custody in connection with the case. The second suspect was aged 23, police said.

CNM reported yesterday that the 23-year-old was arrested from Laamu atoll. His remand detention was extended to seven days by the Fonadhoo magistrate court.

The remand detention of the MNDF corporal was reportedly extended to 10 days by the Criminal Court.

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Araam Travels asks government to reconsider cancellation of Farukolhu airport deal

Araam Travels has asked the government to reconsider its decision to cancel an agreement made with the company to develop an airport on the uninhabited island of Farukolhu in Shaviyani atoll.

Former Health Minister Mariyam Shakeela’s husband Mohamed Ibrahim Didi’s Simdi Company reportedly has a major stake in Araam Travels.

An official from Araam told newspaper Haveeru that the government breached the terms of the contract by terminating the agreement on the grounds that the island was an environmentally sensitive area.

He added that the tourism ministry has not responded to a letter from the company seeking renewal of the agreement. If the agreement is not renewed within 60 days, the official said Araam would sue the government.

He noted that the company won a bid to develop an airport on the island and that the cancellation came after an investor was secured.

The agreement was signed in June 2013 by the administration of former President Dr Mohamed Waheed.

In June this year, Environment Protection Agency Director General Ibrahim Naeem told Minivan News that the island’s ecosystem would be damaged by the airport development.

Farukolhu has extensive mangroves and is a nesting ground for several species of birds. Sharks and rays frequent the island’s bay for breeding.

Araam was awarded Gaaf Alif Atoll Innahera Island for resort development under a public-private partnership agreement to subsidise the airport venture.

The US$4 million project involved reclaiming 1.8 hectares from the island’s mangrove sites to construct an airport runway. Generators, desalination plants, sewerage, drainage facilities, and a jetty were also planned.

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Assault victim’s leg amputated

The victim of the assault with a sharp object which occurred in Mahchangolhi last Saturday (August 23) has had his right leg amputated as a result of injuries received.

The man, identified in local media as Ahmed Aseel of Blueniyage in Thaa Atoll Thimarafushi, is currently receiving medical treatment at the Intensive Care Unit of Indhira Gandhi Memorial Hospital.

“He was stabbed in six places, and his right leg was severely injured. Therefore we were left with no option but to amputate his right leg from the knee down. His condition is still very critical, he is even breathing with the aid of a ventilator,” local media quoted his family as saying.

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Five member committee appointed to oversee MJA election

A five member committee representative of media outlets have been appointed on Wednesday to organise and hold the election of the leadership of Maldives Journalist Association (MJA).

After disputes within the association over the polls, MJA President Ahmed ‘Hiriga’ Zahir tendered his resignation following the last meeting on Sunday (August 24) which ended with accusations of assault.

The five persons appointed to the committee are Haveeru News Senior Assistant Editor Ahmed Hamdhoon, Sun Online Assistant Editor Ibrahim Zaki, VNews Senior Editor Ahmed Rifau, Raajje TV journalist Mohamed Fazeen, and Editor Azmi Ali.

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Law amended to prevent passports being held without court orders

Parliament has passed an amendment altering the immigration law to prevent the holding of passports without a court order.

The amendment was submitted by ruling Progressive Party of Maldives MP Ibrahim Riza, and was passed by a total of 65 votes.

Under the amendment, Article 5(b) of the Immigration Act has been made void.

Article 5(b) of the current Immigration Act stipulates that a passport can be held for a maximum of seven days on request of the police authorities even without a court order. If passports are to be held for a period extending seven days, it must be done so under a court order.

A police media official stated that the change in law will not present any difficulties to the services as their normal procedure is to obtain court orders before requesting that any passports be held or travel bans imposed.

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Threatening texts were sent via a computer application, say police

Police have said that the recent spate of threatening text messages sent to parliamentarians, journalists, and other individuals were sent using a computer application rather than normal texting via local networks.

At a press conference held on Wednesday (August 27), Cyber Policing Department Head Inspector Ahmed Shifau stated that police are currently seeking assistance from several foreign authorities in their investigation into the matter.

Police expressed confidence that the perpetrators can be identified, though they declined from commenting further on the matter stating that the investigation is currently in progress.

Communications Authority of Maldives Chief Executive Officer Ilyas Ahmed said earlier this week that tracing messages from foreign networks,  or computer software were difficult to trace.

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Gaza fund donations handed over to Qatar Red Crescent

A donation of MVR 29.4 million (US$1.9 million) to help Gaza has been handed over to the Qatar Red Crescent at an event held on Wednesday (August 27) at the Maldives Broadcasting Commission.

The unprecedented donation drive by Maldivians following the conflict in Gaza culminated in a 33 hour telethon aired across multiple participating broadcasters.

The cheque was received by Qatar Red Crescent President Dr Mohamed Bin Ghanim Al Madida.

Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon, Help Gaza association’s Steering Commitee Chairman and MBC Chairman Ibrahim Umar Manik, and Gaza Fund Maldives representative Adhaalath Party leader Sheikh Imran Abdulla handed the check over on behalf of the Maldivian people.

The donation is intended to be used to supply food and water and to help Gaza recover from damage sustained after the Israeli Defense Force launched an offensive in retaliation to rocket fire from within the territory.

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Torture victims in the Maldives tell their stories