Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Saif, Kareena go for a holiday to Maldives

Just before the release of their film Tashan, Bollywood’s very own IT couple ‘Saif-eena’ decided to take a break from the prying eyes of the media and headed off to Maldives for a quick holiday.

Saif and Kareena seem quite relaxed and completely at ease in each other’s company. Wonder what they are looking at and smiling? Is it some cartoon flick or the promo of their latest film Tashan that they are watching as part of the in-flight entertainment?

Source: http://sify.com/movies/imagegallery

Cartridge World set to continue Asia expansion

Cartridge World, a US based cartridge refilling franchise, is set to continue its Asian expansion. The company, which already has outlets in India, is aiming to launch stores in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives and Bhutan through franchising.

Naveen Rakhecha, Cartridge World South Asia CEO, said: "We are in advanced talks to open stores in Nepal and gradually we will roll out our Cartridge World stores in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives and Bhutan."

Cartridge World was originally founded in Adelaide, South Australia in 1988. The company has expanded its brand worldwide and currently has over 1300 franchises in over 36 countries.

Source: http://www.franchise-international.net

SAARC, SAFE working towards co-ordination of regional bourses

The South Asian Federation of Exchanges (SAFE) was recently invited to attend a Colloquium organised by the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) on the management of Stock Exchange systems and Regulation of Securities Markets in the South Asian region.

Organized at the SAARC Secretariat in Kathmandu, Nepal the deliberations which spanned over two days (21st-22nd April) aimed at the commencement of dialogue between member states outlining concrete steps for the development of the South Asian capital markets.

In the Second Meeting of SAARC Finance Ministers held in 2007 it was decided that an expert group would be set up specializing in the development of South Asia’s Capital markets which would make specific recommendations in the form of a report for consideration in the Third Meeting of SAARC Finance Secretaries. These recommendations would then be put forth for implementation in the respective SAARC member states.

SAFE, a SAARC recognized body noted as an authority in the field was invited to assist in chalking out the said report which broadly encompassed the following topics: “management of stock exchange systems and the regulation of Securities Markets; regulation and management of involvement of private operators in the Securities Markets; and lastly, improvements in the functioning of banking systems.”

At the meeting Aftab Ahmad Ch. Secretary General SAFE stated, “this meeting will prove ideal in advancing the agenda of the regions securities markets. With the ultimate goal being regional capital market integration we have today taken the first step in achieving these goals through constructive dialogue.”

With representation at the colloquium stemming from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, and Pakistan the final report outlined the short, medium and long term objectives whose adoption would allow for across the board structured capacity building in SAARC member countries, whereby addressing the different levels of development prevailing in the capital markets of South Asia.

The SAFE is a forum which promotes the development of the regions securities markets. SAFE comprises of twenty member entities from eight South Asian countries which include Bombay Stock Exchange, Chittagong Stock Exchange, Colombo Stock Exchange, Dhaka Stock Exchange, Islamabad Stock Exchange, Karachi Stock Exchange, Maldives Stock Exchange (Pvt) Ltd, National Stock Exchange of India, Nepal Stock Exchange, the Stock Exchange of Mauritius Limited, and the Royal Securities Exchange of Bhutan. SAFE is registered as a “Not for Profit” entity, with its permanent Secretariat located in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Source: http://www.dailytimes.com.pk

Monday, April 28, 2008

Maldives president seeks help for 'paradise drowning'

Maldives President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom made an impassioned plea Tuesday for a cut in global greenhouse gas emissions, warning that rising sea levels could submerge his paradise island chain.

He launched a book at the UN-backed Business for the Environment conference to highlight the threat to his South Asian tropical island chain favoured by tourists for its white sandy beaches, clear waters and swaying palm trees.

"My people are blessed with one of the most beautiful settings that nature has to offer... To many people across the world, our shores have indeed become an earthly paradise. This paradise, though, is endangered," he said.

"Each year, the seas that make up 99 percent of the Maldives are rising, and, slowly but surely, engulfing our 1,192 low-lying islands and posing serious risks to the lives and livelihoods of the people."

He said he chose the title "Paradise Drowning" for his book because "it evokes an image fraught with great danger" and "most clearly encapsulates the threat of climate change and sea-level rise to my people."

Speaking to reporters later, Gayoom said the country can only adapt to the problem by relocating citizens to safer islands. Building protective walls on 193 inhabited islands would cost about six billion US dollars, which the government finds too expensive, he said.

Gayoom said the real culprit for rising sea levels is global warming and the solution lies in countries cutting the carbon dioxide emissions which have been blamed for the phenomenon.

He said it was ironic that although the Maldives accounts for only 0.01 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, the country could be "possibly the biggest victim of global warming."

At the rate at which sea levels are rising, the islands would be rendered "uninhabitable in the not-too-distant future," he said.

Achim Steiner, executive director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), said the problem outlined by Gayoom mirrors the fate of other low-lying territories worldwide.

"The challenge they are facing is one of continued existence," Steiner told AFP on the sidelines of the conference.

"In the Maldives, it is possibly losing many of its islands and even one day... losing a whole nation," Steiner said, adding that many other coastal areas are in the same predicament.

"Many of the Asian coastal zones, Africa's coastal zones, are highly vulnerable to sea-level rise," he warned.

Steiner also criticised those who argue the threat is being exaggerated.

"If you want to know what the consequences are, take a look at what the tsunami did in a few seconds and you get an idea of what destruction will arise from sea-level rise," he said, referring to the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

The tsunami killed 220,000 people in countries around the region and damaged 10 percent of the Maldives' inhabited islands.

But Gayoom said there was still hope as governments are negotiating a global treaty that will succeed the Kyoto Protocol on climate change aimed at committing countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

"Ultimately, what it (the book) signals is hope -- hope that humankind will find consensus and a clear will to act. I am confident that we, the peoples of the world, will not allow this paradise to drown," he said.

More than 500 business executives, government officials, environmentalists and others from 30 countries have gathered for the two-day conference.

It is organised by the United Nations Environment Programme and the UN's Global Compact, an initiative which brings companies together with UN and other agencies to support environmental and social principles.

Source: http://afp.google.com/article

Friday, April 25, 2008

Maldives wants emissions cuts but not from tourism

By Melanie Lee and Neil Chatterjee

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - The Maldives, worried about rising seas from climate change, wants steeper cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions but is unwilling to curb its tourism industry, which is reliant on polluting international flights.

President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, in Singapore promoting his book "Paradise Drowning" at an environmental business summit, said cutting back on tourism was not the answer even though the country's survival was more important than development.

"I don't think it's a viable option for us to cut down on tourism because it's the mainstay of our economy," Gayoom told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday.

Tourist arrivals grew 12 percent last year to a record in the Maldives, a chain of Indian Ocean islands known for luxury resorts, expensive honeymoons and world-class scuba diving.

Tourism contributes about 5 percent to global emissions of greenhouse gases, but this is expected to rise as more people take international flights.

Scientists say emissions from jet engines have a much greater heat-trapping effect when released high in the atmosphere than when released at ground level.

This irony was not lost on Gayoom, facing the same problem as major developing countries that do not want any global agreement on emissions to constrain economic growth. The United Nations is leading talks to try to agree a new pact to succeed the Kyoto Protocol, whose first phase ends in 2012.

With the United Nations forecasting aviation emissions to rise by two to five times by 2050, the European Union aims to make all airlines buy pollution permits whether they fly into or out of the bloc.


"It's up to the business community, the corporate community, to look at alternatives to air travel as it is now -- to have more efficient fuel, alternative methods of fuel consumption, safer methods, greener methods -- we are the victims," Gayoom said.

"For a country like the Maldives, development comes after survival," he said. "I'm not happy at all, because what the international community has agreed so far is not enough to save our country and other low-lying area countries."

A U.N. climate panel has forecast world sea levels are likely to rise by up to 59 cm by 2100 due to global warming.

Gayoom said some of his people could be moved to islands with higher ground but adaptation was not enough and it would cost $6 billion to build sea defences around the tiny Indian Ocean islands -- more than the Maldives could afford.

He said the country was not planning a levy on international tourists to help fund such a scheme, but was considering a trust fund combining government revenues and money from international donors.

The economy, which Gayoom said would grow between 6 and 7 percent in 2008, derives about 30 percent of revenues from tourism. Officials previously forecast 9.5 percent growth this year after 6.6 percent last year and a 19.1 percent post-tsunami boom in 2006.

Gayoom, 70, who has led the Maldives for three decades, said he planned to run in October presidential elections and was confident of adding to his tenure as Asia's longest-serving ruler.

"The introduction of a multi-party liberal democracy in the Maldives is going to be my legacy."

Source: http://in.reuters.com/article/southAsiaNews

Maldives: “Paradise Drowning”, partly due to tourism?

The Maldives has a dilemma — it fears that rising seas caused by global warming could wipe the country off the map but it doesn’t want to restrict tourists who visit the Indian Ocean coral islands in aircraft whose emissions are a cause of climate change.

Read Melanie Lee and Neil Chatterjee’s story about the problem faced by President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who is writing a book about ”Paradise Drowning” but wants to keep the tourist-dependent economy going.

What should countries like the Maldives do?

Ending poverty is the overriding goal for developing nations, but how far should they take part in fighting global warming, caused by people in rich nations on the other side of the world?

Would high green taxes on visitors help? Or would that be just a symbolic pinprick in the problem of global warming that could drive holidaymakers to pick another tropical destination?

What do you think?

Source: http://blogs.reuters.com/environment/

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Spas, stars and the two Rs: what's new in the Maldives?

Only about 200 of its 1,196 islands are inhabited – which leaves room for more upmarket resorts, says Simmy Richman

The Maldives is not the place to go if you want to worry about facts and figures. Are there 1,196 islands? It depends on what's considered an island and who's doing the counting. Are these tiny slabs of natural perfection south-west of Sri Lanka really, as Darwin suggested, the result of little spurts from underwater volcanoes? Less beautiful theories suggest not, but you don't come to the Maldives to ponder the evolution of this ever-shifting, sparkling and temporal mass of coral atolls liberally specked with Robinson Crusoe islands.

Let's get facts and figures out of the way then. Of the however many islands, only about 200 are inhabited, and just less than half of these are the kind of places you think about when you think about the Maldives – exclusive and luxurious resort destinations. So popular has the Maldives become with honeymooners and holidaymakers that, last year, the government gave the go-ahead for another 35 resort islands to open for business over the next 25 years. As Japanese investment is pumped in to protect the environment, the Maldives tourist industry (motto: "the sunny side of life") finds itself reaching out beyond newlyweds in an effort to touch the magical 1,000,000 visitors a year mark. (It's currently about 700,000.)

But enough with the facts and figures. Because what most people do come to the Maldives for is to realise those secret dreams of the high-maintenance castaway; they come seeking that rustic, back-to-nature experience, complete with every luxury the 21st-century can offer. Here, with nothing but our rainforest showers, opulent open-air bathrooms and flatscreen TVs, we come to play out our barefoot-executive fantasies of spas, stars and the two Rs.

No problem. Except, that is, in how you might go about making all of this appeal to those crucial non-honeymooners. Well, for one, there are now two small but highly efficient fleets of air-taxi seaplanes to make hopping between islands reasonably straightforward. And with multi-location potential comes an array of skydivers, surfers and thrill-seekers from across the world. Naturally, as the reasons behind people coming here expand and vary, so do the resorts springing up to accommodate them.

Our first stop is a 35-minute speedboat hop from Malé International Airport (about £65 per person return) to Anantara, a relatively new resort consisting of two islands. The Anantara ethos is very much the "no news, no shoes" idea pioneered by Soneva Fushi in 1995. From £250 per night, you can have an understatedly luxurious beach cabin with fabulous outdoor/ indoor bathroom and secluded terrace with private beachfront. The resort offers picnics on private islands, dolphin safaris, a Padi 5 star diving centre, yoga classes and cooking lessons as well as being a base from which to arrange more adventurous activities.

A few days at Anantara and it's a short flight by seaplane to another of the Maldives' more recent additions: the Four Seasons at Landaa Giraavaru. If Anantara was all boutique-hotel good taste, Landaa Giraavaru is, as you would expect from the Four Seasons, a masterclass in exorbitantly tasteful excellence (from about £350 per cabin per night). Here, Mother Nature is discreetly picked up when she is untidy on land while a marine conservation centre invests in and protects the delicate eco-system all around. Food and cabins – there are some 50 "beach pavilions" and 38 "water bungalows" – are, needless to say, so faultless you'll want to cry when it's time to leave.

But leave we must, because the designerly decadent W brand has also opened in the Maldives recently, throwing clubbing, singles and civil partnerships into the Maldives mix. Once our guide has delicately stressed that this is not really a place for children, I take leave to sit in my private plunge pool and dry off on my round, white day bed as the ocean laps gently underneath. Yeah baby. I am the Austin Powers of the Indian Ocean. I am in pink-pound paradise (from £350 to £5,000 per night). In W world, the gym is called "Sweat"; a bar is named "Wet"; the bathmat says "Step" and rooms are "Retreats". If you're lucky, you might just escape within an inch of your lifestyle.

Meanwhile, the planners plan and the builders build the next wave of island-hotels. (Shangri-La's Villingili, the first luxury resort on the Addu Atoll in the southern Maldives, is next up later this year.) Villingili will be served by Gan airport, now cleared to land international flights, and will boast a "retail and entertainment village", a "water activity focal point" called "The Village" and tree-house villas. Unusually, the Shangri-La group is also using the fact that Villingili is surrounded by inhabited islands which visitors are can explore by bicycle as a selling point: as resorts become evermore Prisoner-like, lack of interaction with Maldivians becomes a common complaint.

Where all this leaves the Maldives, as complex and fragile a paradise as exists, is anyone's guess. It's a good thing, then, that the Maldives is not the place to go if you want to worry about facts and figures.

Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/asia

Maldives to hold multi-party polls before October

The Maldives, pushing ahead with democratic reforms, has decided to hold its first multi-party presidential election before October 10, the first popular test of President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, Asia's longest-serving ruler.

Gayoom, in power since 1978, has said he will stand for re-election, defying opponents who describe the 71-year-old as a dictator who rules the island chain, famed for its luxury tourist resorts and fine scuba diving, like a sultan of old.

The constitutional assembly of the Indian Ocean archipelago voted on Sunday to hold presidential elections before October 10, 2008 and parliamentary elections before March 31, 2009.

"We wanted an election scheduled as soon as possible to renew Gayoom's mandate or to elect someone else. This way there will be a new president in office on 11th November 2008," said Ibrahim Shareef, a constitutional assembly member from Gayoom's Dhivehi Raiyyithunge Party (DRP).

The DRP says Gayoom can stand in the election for a seventh term, although the constitution sets a two-term limit, because this will be the first election under a new constitution.

Opposition parliamentarians say he cannot run again and vow to take the issue to the Supreme Court if necessary.

Gayoom first pledged sweeping democratic reforms in 2004, reacting to harsh criticism of his government's rights record in this nation of 300,000, mostly Sunni Muslims.

Opposition parties were legalised in 2005, but a new constitution for the chain of 1,200 mostly uninhabited islands 800 km off the toe of India is still being drafted.

Critics accuse Gayoom of cracking down on dissent despite his reform promises, and of stifling opposition parties to hold onto power and keep control of lucrative tourist resorts.

Opposition groups, concerned the elections might not be free and fair, formed an alliance last November to press for an interim government.

"We think it will be a relatively free and fair election. But we are still concerned that Gayoom will be head of state and have an unfair advantage in the election process," said Hassan Hussein Rasheed, a constitutional assembly member from the Opposition Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP).

But the government used its strength in the constitutional assembly to pass an article on Sunday allowing the president and cabinet to remain in place until elections are held.

In a referendum last year, the Maldives voted to adopt a U.S.-style presidential system, a victory for Gayoom and a defeat for the main opposition Maldivian Democratic Party which wanted a British-style parliamentary system of government.

Gayoom, in power for 29 years, said after the referendum that he would run for re-election in the multi-party poll for one more five-year term.

Source: http://in.reuters.com

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Maldives participated in the Marine Dive fair

Maldives participated in the Marine Dive Fair which took place at the Sunshine City Convention Center Hall in Tokyo, Japan from April 4th to 6th 2008. Marine Dive Fair is an important exhibition targeted to the Japanese dive enthusiasts. Eleven companies exhibited together with Maldives Tourism Promotion Board.

During the fair destination Maldives won three important awards by successfully challenging competing destinations. The awards included 1st prize in the Best Diving Area Overseas, 1st prize in the Best Resort Area Overseas and 1st prize in the Dreaming Area categories. Also the Maldives resorts and Liveaboard vessels won several other awards. The awards were based on the voting from the readers of Marine Dive Magazine. These awards were received by the Deputy Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation of Maldives, Dr. Abdulla Mausoom and Ambassador of Maldives to Japan Hon. Abdul Hameed Zakariyya.

This year’s Marine Dive Fair attracted over 50,000 visitors. The Maldives attracted a total of 41,121 Japanese visitors during 2007 which constitute 6.1 percent of the market share. Japan is the leading market for the Maldives from Asian region.

Source: http://www.visitmaldives.com

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Underwater world in Maldives

Photos taken in Ari Atoll under water by China View photographer Liu Yongqiu.

Two double saddled butterflyfish are seen underwater at North Ari Atoll of Maldives on April 11, 2008. (Xinhua/Liu Yongqiu)

A blue lined surgeonfish is seen underwater at North Ari Atoll of Maldives on April 11, 2008. (Xinhua/Liu Yongqiu)

Source: http://rss.xinhuanet.com

Monday, April 14, 2008

Three Maldivians, one Malaysian arrested in Rf3.5 million credit card fraud case

Three Maldivians and one Malaysian man has been arrested by the Maldives Police Service on charges of using fake credit cards to purchase Rf3.5 million worth of goods from shops, Police have said.

At a news conference held at the Maldives Police Service building, the Head Inspector of the Criminal Investigative Department’s Commercial Crime Unit, Ismail Athif, said that it was the biggest credit card fraud case in Maldivian history and that the four men had been arrested on the 25th of last month. The investigation had been launched during September last year.

Police identified those they had arrested as Mohamed Shafraz, 28, of H. Nooranmaage; Mohamed Thamdheen, 21, of Olhuthereyge in Gaafu Dhaalu atoll Thinadhoo; Ahmed Saad, 22, of H. Senaa and the Malaysian man named Thakuyiddin bin Hashim, 33.

Police said that they were still looking for three other Malaysians living in Malaysia and two Sri Lankan men in connection to the case. Police did not reveal any additional information regarding them.

“This is a fraud case unlike any that has happened in Maldives before,” Athif said. “They had used the fake credit cards to buy a lot of goods from different shops. The total cost is estimated at Rf3.5 million.”

Athif said that it was believed that they had used around 80 fake credit cards to purchase the goods from Male’ shops. Each transaction made using the fake credit cards had been for around Rf100,000 to Rf200,000, Athif said, and added that all types and kinds of expensive goods had been bought using the fake cards.

The Head Inspector said that the lead role in committing the crimes had been played by the Malaysian man who had formerly worked as a technician for a credit card company. The three Maldivian men had acted as accomplices to Hashim, Athif said. Hashim had been arrested while he was in Male’ on a tourist visa.

“We believe that the Maldivians were following Hashim’s instructions,” Athif said. He said that they had found a lot of expensive goods, such as electronic equipment and jewelry, in the possession of each of the Maldivians who were involved in the crime. He said that the stuff were gifts that had been given to them for their part in the crime.

Police said that they had received invaluable help from Bank of Maldives and Cyprea Private Limited during the case. They had also requested assistance from the Malaysian Police and the Visa Card Centre in Singapore, Athif said. He also said that several shops in Male’ had already reported the crimes to the Police through the Bank of Maldives.

Source: http://www.haveeru.com.mv

World Bank's development efforts hailed

Finance Minister Shaikh Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Khalifa lauded progress in implementing the World Bank's development strategies. He hailed the intensified efforts being exerted to carry out the bank's strategy towards management, fighting corruption, providing further interaction with countries with medium revenues and concentrating on international and regional commodities.

He also hailed the post-conference blueprint on climate change organised by the UN in Bali, Indonesia, in December, and the formation of a stronger and more diversified executive management team for the bank.

This came in a statement read out by the Finance Minister on behalf of Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, the Maldives, Oman, Qatar, Syria, the UAE and Yemen during the 77th session of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund's development committee held at the bank's headquarters in Washington.

Shaikh Ahmed also expressed in his speech the Arab countries' aspirations for further consultations and co-operation with the World Bank to crystallise goals regarding the whole region and adapting them to the countries' different needs.

Shaikh Ahmed also underlined the need to fathom the efficiency of the general structure of international aids and enhance statistic capabilities of developing countries.

Successful economic policies, positive investment climate and good management are a boost to sustainable development, the minister pointed out.

Source: http://www.gulf-daily-news.com

Saturday, April 12, 2008

CPC delegation leaves for Vietnam, Maldives

A delegation of the Communist Party of China (CPC) left Kunming, capital city of southwest China's Yunnan Province, on Thursday for friendly visits to Vietnam and Maldives.

The delegation, led by Lu Hao, secretary of the CPC Gansu Provincial Committee, was invited by the Communist Party of Vietnam and the Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party of Maldives

Source: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english

Balance of power: West v East

World dominant is in question. West, namely, US, EU, and Canada are on one side, East-namely, Russia, and China, are on the other front, where India is increasingly aligning itself with Russia.

The breakup of USSR was one of the US's major foreign policy achievements. Now, the lone Russia with Chechnya, is not much of a threat. Tibet, and Xinjiang can give long term headache to China, but breaking up Russia and China is very difficult. But India.

Powerful India is a growing trouble for the West, and the solution is breaking up India.

India is very similar to Yugoslavia; the 30% of the Hindi speaking are dominating the rest of India.

Let it be clear: India was never a friend of the USA. India and the Indians are opportunists. When USSR was in downturn, India opened its economy (supposedly), and the West fell for it; started to invest in India heavily. India's economy started wheeling. As soon India realizes that it can stand on its legs, and the re-emergence of Russia, it renewed its existing tie with Russia.

Without divulging in detail, any-one can see the trouble India is in: Kashmir, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, not to mention Nagaland, Maoist rebels, etc. The new trouble for the India is the West-created hub of India's Silicon Valley (Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka). I prefer to call this new dimension, a Dravidian Federation. These four states have much to gain from siding with the West than sticking with North India.

NSC- National Security Council, should plant the seed now. The US should support separatism in the Indian Sub-continent. There is a long running civil war in Sri Lanka. North-East of Sri Lanka is only 18-miles from India. A new Tamil Eelam will fuel the existing separatism in India. West should take this opportunity to support the creation of Tamil Eelam.

India will never allow a separate independent state for Tamils to be carved out from Sri Lanka. India knows well that the new state behind its backyard is the beginning of the end of India. India will do all it can to prevent a threat from the Tamils of Sri Lanka. It will provide all necessary supports to Sri Lankan state. In 2000, when Tamil Tigers were about to drive out the Sri Lankan Army out of Jaffna peninsula, India offered its Navy. Currently, the military ties between India and Sri Lanka are growing. Sri Lanka is fighting India's war in the North-East.

India wanted to dominate South Asia. After the war with Pakistan over Bangladesh, India determined to have Sri Lanka, and Maldives under its control, so it would deny Pakistani access to Sri Lankan bases. It started training Tamil-militants of Sri Lanka in the 1980s, and that let to the 1987 Indo-Lanka peace accord. India sent 125,000+ strong army to Sri Lanka under the cover of IPKF (Indian Peace Keeping Force). Indians were able to capture 95% of the Tamil-homeland. IPKF could have eliminated LTTE's leadership long time ago, but still was "fighting", so it can stay in forever.

While India was in Sri Lanka, its next move was hatching: Maldives. Indian army trained 60 Tamil mercenaries belonging to the left-wing People's Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE), one of the five major Sri Lankan Tamil guerrilla groups of that time. These Indian backed mercenaries were sent to Maldives, and they attempted to overthrow the President Gayoom regime on November 3, 1988. Waiting Indian Paratroopers "intervened in time" to help Maldives.

India was successful in establishing a permanent base in the Maldives, but in Sri Lanka. India thought it could have a permanent base, but with the help of then Sri Lankan President Premadasa, LTTE denied a base too. India lost the war to the LTTE, and finally withdrew in 1990.

India's Southern Naval Command (SNC), headquartered in Cochin (Kochi) is ready to cross Palk Strait to Sri Lanka with a moment notice. This was evident how ready Indian Navy was, when Tsunami stuck Sri Lanka in December, 2004.

Here is the Indian version of the mission:

"INS Sandhayak, a survey ship, and INS Sukanya, an Offshore Patrol Vessel, arrived at Trincomalee on 27 Dec. Three truck loads of dry provisions and medical supplies were handed over to the district government agent and the Sri Lankan Navy. One Medical Officer was deputed to the Trincomalee civil hospital. The balance of the medical team, along with Sri Lankan Navy, set up medical camps at outlying areas around Trincomalee."

"INS Sharda, an Offshore Patrol Vessel, arrived on 27 Dec 04 off Galle harbour. The ship established contact with the Sri Lankan Navy Detachment and launched an inflatable boat with divers and helicopter for reconnaissance. The ship undertook setting up of medical camps ashore in consultation with the local authorities. Barges were arranged by the Sri Lankan Navy for offloading relief supplies supplies from Sharda."

"INS Sutlej, a survey ship, arrived off Galle on 28 Dec 04. The ship carried out sounding (measuring of depth) of the channel using the ship's boats and providing assistance for salvage and clearance/survey of channel to render it safe for navigation."

"One naval Dornier will medical teams and medical supplies landed at Colombo at 1917 h on 26 Dec 04. The medical teams have been deputed to the District Hospital at Hambantota and are attending to the casualties."

"A second naval Dornier sortie was launched from Kochi on 27 Dec 04 with 400 kg of medical supplies and 300 litres of water embarked onboard. The aircraft landed at Colombo (Ratmalana Airbase) at 1900 h. The aircraft returned to Kochi after disembarking relief supplies."

India was busy securing Sri Lankan harbors with more than five Navy ships and Aircraft carriers, and the only international airport with its Air Force, while its own people from Tamil Nadu was to get any sort of relieve from its government.

India went one step further in Trinco. It not only prevented the US Navy from entering Trinco harbor first, but also made it off-limit to all other foreign militaries by blocking the entrance to the harbor. The West's anger was first felt, when Italian Navy, a G7 member, and an US ally, made direct contact with the LTTE. Sri Lankan government was irked. The Government has reportedly rebuked the Italian Embassy in Colombo for sending humanitarian relief directly to the affected Tamils and has made it clear that all governmental assistance from other countries should be routed to the Tamils through it.

Then, the US and India were dating, a sort. It was also the post 911, where all the insurgencies were wrongly labeled as terrorists. India used this opportunity to have its agenda advanced in Sri Lanka. India wanted to suppress the insurgency and separatism on the Island. After the fall of well fortified Elephant-Pass Sri Lankan Army garrison to the LTTE, India was convinced, if no intervention, LTTE would achieve its goal, Tamil Eelam soon. It hurriedly crafted, now infamous, Cease Fire Agreement – CFA, between the LTTE and Sri Lankan Government. India skillfully netted the West to agree to the "United Sri Lanka" concept, and to the CFA. You might still hear the "United Sri Lanka" song from the West, time to time… it was the Indian lyrics.

The CIA equivalent of the Indian agency called, Research and Analytical Wing, RAW, started carrying out its plan, before and after the CFA was singed in 2002. First victim was the Col. Shankar, head of Tamil Tiger Air Force. This was achieved by its Tamil mercenaries now working with the Lankan Army. RAW also played a crucial role in splitting the then Eastern commander, Col. Karuna from the mainstream Tamils.

RAW systematically almost got Tamil Tigers under its wrap. About 12 Tamil ships were intercepted by the Navy. In some cases, the US willingly or unwillingly supported Indian goal, and supported the Lankan Navy. This was the worst-time for the Tamil Tigers. Most of the weapon smuggling rings were dismantled. At least one of the Tiger Aircrafts which was carrying weapons, was shot down, probably by Indian Navy off Mannar. Mean time, East was re-captured by the Army after 14 years. The US, France, UK, and Canada started arresting Tamil-Tiger sympathizers in mass. Every single Tamil, living in the West, was in the danger of stamped as Terrorist. No just, but politics that governed Tamil issue. Many innocent Tamils were also arrested, and their community TV-Networks was shutdown in Europe. Everything was going the way, RAW wanted.

Tamil Tigers maintains its power by strategically withdrawn from the East, so its man-power is not lost. Tigers are now more powerful than they were ever before. Arms they stockpiled are enough to sustain major battles. Tigers may lack modern weaponry to deal with the growing threat from the Russian made MIGs, and the Navies. This doesn't deter its power. Tamils are currently defending the Wanni stronghold fiercely. India is patrolling both countries' coasts, and waiting Delhi's order to land in Mannar, Trinco, Kankesanthurai, and Point Pedro.

This is where the current Sri Lankan conflict is, a stalemate a sort. This would go either way, West or East. It all depends on Tamil Eelam. If the West is succeed in creating a nation at the backyard of India, then, it can weaken India, and still dominate the world.

To prevent India from militarily intervene, during the next stage of battles, the voice of Tamils in India should be encouraged towards the grievances of Tamils of Lanka. There is a silent majority of LTTE sympathizers in Tamil Nadu. These people should speak up, protest against the military intervention, and aids to the genocidal Lankan State. All Tamil Nadu Politians must come together for the Tamils. All actors, movie directors, and other public figures take the cause to the streets all over Tamil Nadu, and beyond. DMK must pressure the central government. Failing to do so, must result in the next new front in Tamil Nadu politics. The new party must be supporting the Tamil Eelam. DMK has a final chance to do something while in power. It is time to get rid of Brahmins from Tamil Nadu politics altogether. All the anti-Tamil figures in Tamil Nadu are Brahmins.

Most of the Indian politians are corrupt, and rich nations should use this weakness as well. Here are some anti-Tamils from the South: Jayalalithaa Jayaram, Subramaniam Swamy, Cho Ramasamy, Narasimhan Ram, B. Raman, S. Gopal, Dr. S. Chandrasekharan, C.S. Kuppuswamy, M K Narayanan, to name a few.

The West should increase clandestine ties with the Tamil Tigers further, keeping in mind India is watching. Kosovo type solution is time consuming, and India won't let it happen.

The West should provide military and political assistance to Tamil Tigers. All Tamil political prisoners should be released from the US, Canada, and the EU confinements. West should start de-proscribing the LTTE, and elevate them as Freedom Fighters. West should create a conduit for the creation of Tamil Eelam. West should recognize Tamil Eelam within a year. It is a signal to India that it should fall in line with the West, or else…

There is no doubt that the US policy makers are also busy drafting policies for ever changing world. South Indian industries can also be used to weaken the Central, in many ways. Not all ideas and plans can be spelled out for general public, how India can be broken.

Source: http://globalpolitician.com

Thursday, April 10, 2008

China helps Maldives develop housing project

Officials from China on Wednesday handed over to the Maldivian government a housing project aimed at accommodating residents moving from surrounding small environment-vulnerable islands.

Jiang Yiman, Executive Vice President of the Red Cross Society of China, said at the handing over ceremony that the tsunami-rebuilding project not only provided new houses for 66 families, it also created new opportunities for the development of the Funadhoo island, some 200 km north of the capital Male.

She wished the residents in these new houses a happy and prosperous life.

Maldivian Planning and National Development Minister Hamdun Hameed expressed his gratitude to the Chinese people for their generous help after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami that killed 82 people and devastated many islands in the Maldives.

The program was co-funded by the Red Cross Society of China and China Charity Federation with a total amount of about 3 million U.S. dollars.

The harbor of Funadhoo was partly damaged in the 2004 tsunami, but officials said the small islands near Funadhoo are more vulnerable to natural disasters like tsunami.

The project was carried out by the Sino-Hydro Corporation, a leading construction company in China.

Funadhoo is the capital of Shaviyani Atoll with an area of 87 hectares and a population of about 1,600.

The Maldivian government is planning to build an airport in the island to promote the development of the region.

Source: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Meritus Hotels & Resorts appoints Richard Dusome as General Manager of Marina Mandarin Singapore

Underlining its pursuit of excellence in its portfolio of deluxe hotels and resorts across Asia, Meritus Hotels & Resorts is pleased to announce the appointment of Richard Lawrence Dusome as General Manager of Marina Mandarin Singapore with effect from 1 April 2008.

A graduate in Hotel and Restaurant Management from Niagara College of Applied Arts and Technology in Ontario, Canada; Richard started his hotel career in Food & Beverage with the Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto. He went on to work with other internationally-renowned hotels chains that include the Hilton International Hotels, which he worked with in both UK and Thailand; the Peninsular Group in Hong Kong as well as the Six Senses Resorts & Spas in the Maldives. He was most previously with Sunland Resorts, Maldives as its Group General Manager

Mr Yim Choong Hing, Senior Vice President – Regional Operations, welcomes Richard, “Marina Mandarin is a distinct landmark for our guests as the place to go for choice accommodation, excellent service and select food and beverage offerings. Richard has worked with numerous international hotel chains – with him helming the team at Marina Mandarin, we are confident that he will lead Marina Mandarin from strength to strength to further boost the Meritus brand and our trademark hospitality of Asian grace, warmth and care.”

Armed with almost three decades of international experience in city hotels as well as resorts, Richard brings with him a wealth of knowledge and will undoubtedly bring his team at Marina Mandarin to its next level of premium hospitality.

Source: etravelblackboardasia.com

Monday, April 7, 2008

Exotic retreat

With The Opening up of Aviation Sector, and more and more people showing interest in taking holidays Abroad, Casa Retreat Pvt Ltd, a customised holiday packages company, has introduced an International packages at the following destinations: Singapore, Dubai, Malaysia, Nepal Bangkok, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Mauritius. The domestic destinations are Jaipur, Udaipur, Shimla, Manali and Kerala .

Booking through Casa Retreat helps the traveller make very informed choices. Case in point, a traveller now can compare not only location and price of stay but also ambience and comfort of the place of stay. Additionally, one can check out reviews posted by customers who have already experienced their stay in hotels booked through Casa Retreat.

For more details contact 080-41127527 or visit www.casaretreat.com

Source: deccanherald.com

India, China, Maldives in George Steuart’s sights

When the grandfather’s clock in the boardroom of Sri Lanka’s oldest company, George Steuart and Co, chimed at 11 am amidst the rubble and injured employees minutes after the Central Bank bomb explosion on January 31, 1996, Somasundaram Skandakumar knew ‘time will not stand still, and the company will survive.’

Skandakumar, outgoing chairman of the company and a former Sri Lankan test cricketer, recalled these moments on March 31 at a press briefing where he passed the baton to his sucessor Jayantha Wimalagooneratne who then spoke of the challenges ahead including the setting up of a travel company in the Maldives and trade and investment with India and China.

Skandakumar retired after serving 34 years in the company, eight of which was as the chairman where he saw the group diversify into pharmaceuticals, telecommunications, manpower recruitment, insurance, freight forwarding, financial services and education, and also become Sri Lanka’s largest exporter of value-added tea. The outgoing chairman said the blast at the Central Bank headquarters just across the road from ‘Steuart’ House, and the nationalisation of estates were two events that shook him but saw the company recover from these tought times.

Wimalagooneratne said that the company recently set up a Steuart Centre in Galle and aimed to establish many similar centres in other parts of the country, selling the range of Steuart products.

He said with the establishment of George Steuarts Philippines Inc. in the Philippines, more than a decade ago, the group has became an international company and its focus now is to make it a ‘truly multinational one.’

Wimalagooneratne, who has been associated with the Group for 30 years since 1978, is the 21st chairman of the company. The new Board of Directors includes Group Deputy Chairman Kandiah Neelakandan, the well-known lawyer, and Group Joint Managing Directors Dubsy Kanagaratnam and Duleep Daluwatte.

Source: sundaytimes.lk

Major Risks To Maldives Economy: ADB

Maldives faces a “major risk” from government capital spending and a “crucial” need to address economic inequalities, a new report from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has warned.

The Asian Development Outlook report for 2008 sees Maldives suffering the same perils as other Asian countries –inflation pressures, a skills deficit among a young population, and “bloated” fiscal deficits.

But risks including a “shallow” financial sector, excessive government spending, the falling fish catch and the balance of trade are of particular concern for the country, says the ADB, which also highlights “regional disparities” between Malé and the atolls.

Despite highlighting renewed growth post-tsunami and healthy tourism numbers, the report calls for urgent changes in government policy – or else, it cautions, “rapid economic growth just cannot be maintained”.

Wealth Redistribution

“People in remote islands have been left behind in the distribution of gains,” the report warns, despite the economy having “reached middle-income status”.

Income levels have already become a central issue ahead of the country’s first multi-party elections, expected this year.

President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has cited the increase in per capita income since he took power 30 years ago, but the six declared opposition candidates have all highlighted income inequalities.

Of particular concern are high unemployment rates among young people, with employment ministry statistics showing one in three young people outside Malé is without a job, whilst in the capital, one in five young women and one in six young men is unemployed.

“Vocational and skills training is underdeveloped,” says the ADB, leading to “heavy reliance on expatriate workers”, who according to 2006 census data constitute 45 per cent of the workforce.


But structural factors are also holding back the country’s growth trajectory, the bank says, warning of excessive government expenditure for the second year in a row.

“The government...pushed up current expenditures to raise public sector wages and continue power and water subsidies in the capital, Malé,” says the bank, echoing criticisms that this year’s is an “election budget”.

The 2008 state budget projects government spending of Rf 12.1 billion (US $933 million), only slightly under record-breaking planned figure for 2007.

Social service subsidies need to be “targeted,” the report says, “in order to keep public debt at a sustainable level.”

The International Monetary Fund and World Bank both warned during 2007 that government fiscal policies were unsustainable.

And meanwhile finance minister Gasim Ibrahim had promised in December 2006 that growth would hit 12 per cent in 2007. But the actual figure for the year was 6.6 per cent, significantly below the 8.7 per cent average for “developing Asia”.

However the ADB predicts an 8 per cent growth rate for 2008 – assuming “additional resorts becoming operational” and “a rebound in the fish catch to normal levels”.

Source: minivannews.com

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Maldives: A new nest for tsunami survivors

The British Red Cross has finished constructing 216 houses across four islands in the Maldives after the devastating Boxing Day tsunami.

Ahumad Ali (49) and his family are among 44 families that have recently moved into their new homes in Fonadhoo. He said: 'The house is extremely good, much better than my old house before the tsunami. The house is bigger, stronger and comfortable. And most importantly, if there is another tsunami I am sure there will not be any damage to the structure.'

On the morning of 26 December 2004, after completing some work at the office, Ahumad came home for breakfast. One of his daughters was at the hospital about to give birth to his grandchild and only his son was at home. He came out of the house after he heard a loud noise to see coconut trees swaying and birds flying. 'I thought it was an attack from another country!'


He ran to grab his son before running out of the house. Water was up to his waist at this point and it was getting higher and higher. The wall surrounding his house collapsed. His leg got stuck and by mistake he let go of his son's hand. Water was up to his nose and he could see his son about 40 feet away, being swept away with the waves.

Ahumad managed to pull his leg out and swam to his son. Although he tried to swim towards his relatives' house, the current was too strong and they were pushed again towards his house. By then he saw that his house was completely destroyed.

Ahumad had taken a loan of 15,000 Maldives Rufiyaa (about £590) to construct his house and had kept 4,000 MRF (around £160) in his house that was lost with the waves.


After several years of reconstruction, Ahumad was very pleased to move into his new home. He said: 'I am very grateful to the British Red Cross. Fonadhoo has seen lots of teams come to do surveys and have heard no more. But the British Red Cross actually did a programme and has given my family a new home.'

As well as constructing houses, the British Red Cross is helping communities rebuild their livelihoods and learn how to be prepared for future disasters.

Source: Relief Web

Maldives: Back to fishing after the tsunami

Forty-eight-year-old Mohamed Saeed's life is all about fishing and taking care of his family.

Like so many others, Boxing Day 2004 is a day the father of seven from the Maldives will never forget.

He had just prepared some salty fish and had laid them out to dry under the strong mid-morning sun when he heard a loud noise. Walking out of his house, he saw big boats coming towards him on the waves. Before long he was chest-high in water.

He remembered: "I caught on to a tree nearby and held on to it tight. I was hoping the water would subside so that I could go and look for my family. As soon as I thought it was safe to let go, something big came and hit me in the chest and once again I went under. Then a hand gripped me and lifted me up on to a higher ground."


Mohamed caught sight of his beloved 25-year-old daughter Fathimath, who was in tears and lying on a wall. She shouted: "Dad, I am dying, please help."

Mohamed was lucky; he was able to help all his children. However, he had lost all his fishing equipment.

Soon after the British Red Cross arrived on Buruni island, Mohamed went to a community meeting where he heard about the Red Cross' programme helping people rebuild their livelihoods by giving cash grants. He applied and was happy to receive 25,000 Maldives Rufiyaa (nearly £1,000) for his group.


He explained: "I had received 1,500 MRF (£60) from the government but this was hardly enough to get the business going. Only with the British Red Cross grant did I manage to fully start on the activities."

There were five members in his group and they have been able to make a good living again. In fact, Mohamed makes even more profit now than he did before the tsunami. The group's monthly average income is around 10,000 MRF (£400).

He said: "I am very much appreciative and thankful. The British Red Cross has helped strengthen our livelihoods and we are getting two beautiful houses for my large family of 18."

The British Red Cross livelihoods and disaster management projects in the Maldives have helped more than 1,100 people strengthen their livelihoods.

Source: Relief Web