The statement by Central Maafannu MP Ibrahim Rasheed (Bonde) that Male’ City residents had the “right” to receive land from suburban Hulhumale’ has sparked a heated debate over discrimination between residents of the capital and residents of outer lying atolls.
Ruling MDP has presented four resolutions to refine the existing decentralization system of governance to the Parliament.
Ibrahim Rasheed, during the debate on the resolutions at the parliamentary sitting on Tuesday, said that his constituents were facing a dire housing crisis.
He said that he had promised his constituents to resolve the housing crisis by facilitating land for them from Hulhumale’, and that it had been based on that promise that he had been elected to represent the Central Maafannu constituency.
“There are families in Central Maafannu who have been waiting for so long. Families who have been waiting for 50 to 60 years. I am unable to predict the future of their children. There’s plenty of land in Hulhumale’ but they have no desire to release it. Some ministers say it isn’t possible. I am saying that I will grab it,” said Ibrahim Rasheed.
He said that residents of Male’ had the “right” to the land in suburban Hulhumale’.
The comments drew widespread criticism from parliamentary representatives of constituencies in the atolls.
Fonadhoo MP Moosa Siraj had immediately rejected the sentiment that Male’ residents were entitled to the land in Hulhumale’.
He said that Hulhumale’ had been reclaimed with tax money from all Maldivian people and that every citizen, therefore, had an equal right to its land.
“I am also opposed releasing land from Hulhumale’ or Gulhifalhu [solely] to Male’ residents. The people in the atolls should also be issued land from Hulhumale’ if they surrender their right to land at their islands. Hulhumale’ was reclaimed with the money of the Maldivian people. If Male’ residents should be released free land from Hulhumale’, then it should also be released to residents of the atolls,” said Siraj.
He said that a simple decision such as installing an air conditioning system at a mosque in his constituency required permission from the central government. He said the practice needed to be stopped, and local residents allowed more autonomy.
He repeatedly condemned the continued discrimination between Male’ and outer lying atolls.
The criticism over Ibrahim Rasheed’s comments dragged on to a second day this Wednesday.
His comments were criticized by Dhaandhoo MP Yaugoob Abdulla who issued an impassioned speech in the Huvadhoo dialect.
He said that at least the Parliament should not allow the culture of discrimination between Male’ and the outer lying atolls.
He said that Male’ residents cannot claim sole rights over Hulhumale’, but that it belonged to the entire Maldivian people.
“Residents of no single island should be given priority allocation for land from there. It should also be released to all citizens of the atolls who reside in Male’,” said Yaugoob.
He said that Ibrahim Rasheed’s comments had been discriminatory and that he, as a citizen of an outer lying island himself, felt it his duty to defend and voice the sentiments of the people of the outer lying atolls.
He said that 75 of the Parliament’s representatives weren’t from Male’, but from the atolls. He said that alone proved that residents of the atolls were far from incapable.
Deputy Speaker, North Galolhu MP Eva Abdulla, who had presided over the parliamentary sitting when Yaugoob voiced his condemnation, provided assurance that the governing officials of the Parliament would not allow for any discrimination among Maldivian people.
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