Geo-mapped visualization of political party member distribution in Male'

Here is a quick mashup I cooked up today, displaying the geographic distribution of political party membership on the map of Male' on Google Maps. To view the distribution for a party, open the link for the visualization, select the name of the political party from the drop-down menu at the top right. The addresses of members of that party will then be flagged with a little red marker. You will be able to zoom in-out, pan and do all those other things typically seen in Google Maps. Click a red marker to see more details about that address, like the number of people belonging to the selected party that are registered under that address.

The party membership information used for this is a snapshot of the data (taken 7 February 2009) published on the Members of Political Parties web portal by the Elections Commission. There were a total of 4,447 people belonging to 2,711 addresses in Male' listed in the Elections Commission data. Each party had membership numbers (given in brackets) in Male' as follows: Adhaalathu Party (175), Dhivehi Qaumee Party (261), Dhivehi Rahjeyn Fageerukan Nahthaalumah Masahkaikuraa Party (650), Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party (243), Gaumee Ih'thihaadh (592), Islamic Democratic Party (89), Jumhooree Party (246), Maldivian Democratic Party (507), Maldivian National Congress (386), Maldivian Social Democratic Party (25), Peoples Party (476), Peoples' Alliance (422) and Social Liberal Party (375). The maximum number of persons listed on a single address for a party was 12 and the average was 1 person per address (per party).

The geo-location information for the addresses was derived from the excellent services at and A total of 1,928 addresses were successfully mapped using these services, leaving a difference of 783 addresses which were then discarded. It is worth noting that of these addresses left out, 478 were just Dhaftharu numbers.

Please note that I neither claim nor guarantee the correctness or the completeness of any of the information used. That said, I did my best to ensure data integrity throughout the whole process of generating the visualizations.

- Click here to view the visualization

Adhaalathu Party
Snapshot: Adhaalathu Party

Dhivehi Qaumee Party
Snapshot: Dhivehi Qaumee Party

Dhivehi Rahjeyn Fageerukan Nahthaalumah Masahkaikuraa Party
Snapshot: Dhivehi Rahjeyn Fageerukan
Nahthaalumah Masahkaikuraa Party

Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party
Snapshot: Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party

Gaumee Ih'thihaadh
Snapshot: Gaumee Ih'thihaadh

Islamic Democratic Party
Snapshot: Islamic Democratic Party

Jumhooree Party
Snapshot: Jumhooree Party

Maldivian Democratic Party
Snapshot: Maldivian Democratic Party

Maldivian National Congress
Snapshot: Maldivian National Congress

Maldivian Social Democratic Party
Snapshot: Maldivian Social Democratic Party

Peoples' Alliance
Snapshot: Peoples' Alliance

Peoples Party
Snapshot: Peoples Party

Social Liberal Party
Snapshot: Social Liberal Party

I am voting for change

Thanks to the recent arrangements to have a polling station here in the UK, I too now have the opportunity to have my say in the Maldivian Presidential Elections - for the very first time in my life. And for me, deciding on who to vote for in this round is a very very trivial matter - I am voting for change.

As a matter of fact, I've known I would not vote for Gayyoom ever since the two years I spent working at the President's Office (PO) six years ago. Being fresh out of school, much of the environment at PO - the cult-like demands for "loyalty" and regular "office meetings" where employees are made to sing songs praising the man (with lyrics written specifically for the occasion) - came on as a total shocker to me. By the time I left PO, having witnessed the various practices and policies enforced and encouraged, I was totally disillusioned by Gayyoom and Maldivian politics.

I am voting for change because I want to see an end to the growing national debt, care-free spending and wasteful expenditures and because I can't bear to see the growing disparity between the rich and the poor, the elite and the unprivileged and Male' and the atolls. I am voting for change because I've had it with the gangs, the drugs and the violence and because I want everyone to be able to live in peace with the rule of law upheld. I am voting for change because I believe in democratic values and because I support a free press. I am voting for change because I question the sincerity and the competence of Gayyoom to do these things and because 30 years of rule is 20 years longer than I can accept.

I am voting for change because I staunchly champion the celebration of diversity - of people and their thought - which I believe this country desperately needs and which I believe the Watah Edhey Gothah coalition represents. There, ofcourse, is no guarantee that this "change" will be any better but I'd rather give them the benefit of the doubt...

Phone usage (Maumoon, Political Parties, Government and Businesses)

I got curious today after reading an amusing blog post about an unsolicited SMS message someone had supposedly received from a mobile phone number registered to the current President of the Maldives Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. Now, this is a time of intense political competition between the various candidates camps and an originating number on a SMS is pretty easy to spoof, so I'm not sure if it really did originate from the said number. But that's not what really struck me...

What got my attention was the fact that there now was a publicly listed mobile phone number registered to Maumoon. I've never before seen a mobile number registered to him listed on the Dhiraagu e-Directory and a quick search through various old snapshots of e-Directory data that I had confirmed that there indeed had been none - atleast none up until early June which was the last e-Directory snapshot I had. Anyway, I grabbed a fresh snapshot of the e-Directory and spent a little while running some interesting queries on the data.

Here is some of what I found:

Numbers listed on e-Directory:
Landline (Male')24423
Landline (Islands/Resorts)8750
Phones/Customer on Avg2.9

Political parties:
Dhivehi Rayyithunge Party92
Maldivian Democratic Party11
Social Liberal Party6
Adhaalath Party6
Islamic Democratic Party6
Jumhooree Party2
Peoples Party2

Registrants (Top 5):
Dhivehi Raajjeyge Gulhun Pvt. Ltd.833
Maldives Police Services200
State Electric Company Ltd.191
Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital167
Maldives Customs Service164

Most common names (Top 5):
Mohamed Rasheed1273
Ibrahim Rasheed1250
Ahmed Rasheed1089
Ahmed Mohamed1088
Mohamed Ali1087

Government (Top 5):
Maldives Police Services200
Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital167
Maldives Customs Service164
Min. of Defence & National Security141
President's Office139

Ministries (Top 5):
Min. of Defence & National Security141
Min. of Atolls Development114
Min. of Health76
Min. of Finance & Treasury76
Min. of Environment Energy and Water67

Businesses (Top 5):
Villa Shipping & Trading Co. Pvt. Ltd.163
Universal Entp. Pvt. Ltd.156
One And Only Reethirah149
One & Only Kanuhura125
Kurumba Village124

And finally...

Maumoon Abdul Gayoom

Note: The information presented was obtained using the entries on the Dhiraagu e-Directory (as available today).

Maldives: Hell for expatriate workers?

I've watched for the past several years while the expatriate worker population in the Male' grew steadily as the "rich" Maldivians increasingly give up various jobs (going lazy?) and replaced it with imported labour from nearby countries. We have 100-US$-per-month foreign workers to dig up and pave roads, to clean up and maintain the sewerage system, to construct and maintain our buildings, to clean up the mess at home and office, to work as waiters and cooks at food outlets etc. The list goes on and it's not restricted to any particular sort of work or speciality. Heck, even the President's Office employs expats to clean up and water the plants that surround the building. No wonder we now have over 35,000 expatriate workers living amongst the 100,000 Maldivian heads in the 2 square kilometre island of Male'!

Sadly, the presence of such large numbers of expat works in our small communities has lead to a worrying situation on ground. One needs to look no further than the latest news headlines:
- Attacks against expatriates almost a daily occurrence
- Chained Bangladeshi man found inside Male house (see photo)
- Another shackled Bangladeshi expatriate found inside Male’ house
- Ten Maldivians arrested in Adhaaran resort after fight breaks out between locals, Bangladeshi man
- Bangladeshi murdered and mutilated 2 3
- Expatriate security guard in Villi-Male’ ATM booth attacked
- Teacher caught red-handed molesting 8-year-old
- Expatriate worker beat up after being suspected of raping island girl (in Dhivehi)

We (supposedly) once were a tolerant country, welcoming all sorts of people and treated them with due respect. But things have changed and for the worse. Notions of equality and humanity has been devalued to such an extent that xenophobia seems almost universal in the country and racism is building up like never before. As such, mistreatment of and disrespect for expats is a truth many are well aware of. People often treat the many unskilled/semi-skilled workers as "subhuman". I might be tempted to go as far as summarising the prevalent attitude as being a combination of viewing workers as non-tiring machines, incapable and devoid of emotion and feelings and their lives worth no more than a pet cat! They are given accommodation in tiny enclosures made of tin roofing and little ventilation with more workers packed into such places than sardines in a box. They are harassed on the streets and harassed at work. Too many a time do you see workers beg and cry themselves wet over salaries unpaid. Sometimes months would go by without the employer paying the workers their full wage (if at all!) - which the workers often send to their starving families back in their home country. Few regulations keep employers in check - facilitating them to overwork their employers through day and night and give little consideration to the health and safety of the employees. What more, when their "official" work ends, the workers are often made run personal errands and chores for their employer - they really are slaves to the whims and desires of their "master". I was shocked to find the word "owner" used in the popular local newspaper Haveeru, in reference to the employer of the recently murdered Bangladesh worker in Kulhudhuffushi! (Owner? Isn't that slave mentality??)

Such attitudes towards expat workers are often "justified" on the excuse that they come from societies that treat them even worse. They are deemed as too stupid and too gullible to understand the "modern life" Maldivians enjoy. This attitude is further strengthened thanks to miscommunication arising from expat workers not being able to speak neither Dhivehi nor English. But none, absolutely none, of these warrant sanctioning any of the ill-conditions and abuses expat workers are subjected to. I agree that expat workers do ill and do commit crimes. No one would or should deny that. But even that is not an excuse to not extend them some decency and treat them as humans with equal rights!?

Accomodation for expat workers made from tin roofing and about 5 feet high floors

Maldives says it's OK to rape 12 yr old girls post-puberty?!!

I skim through Maldivian news now and then and try sink in the madness going about these days but none, absolutely none, has left me as unsettled and enraged as the news regarding the recent ruling on the case of a 12 year old girl being sexually assaulted by a group of 4 axe-wielding men.

I just cannot imagine how a sane, responsible individual tasked with enforcing law, protecting the weak and upholding moral values in the capacity of a judge arrives at the conclusion: (that) a TWELVE YEAR OLD girl had CONSENSUAL sex with FOUR MEN who BROKE into her room by BREAKING a window with an AXE and proceeding to help themselves to the orifices on a helpless girl most probably scared shitless towards being deaf, mute and dumb and thus conclude that the men were INNOCENT of rape. What is perhaps even more frustrating is that the reasons cited for the ruling are pure nonsense that’d drive any rational, sensible person to the edges of sanity. One of the more disturbing reasons stated by the judge is that the girl had reached puberty - a statement that carries implicit consequences that she is to be considered adult and thus responsible for what happens. This argument, which supposedly is drawn from Islamic Sharia, declares a girl as adult when she reaches puberty irrespective of her age. The other reasons stated by the judge are no less fallacious – all of them more or less state that the girl did not object at any time during or after the event. Fortunately though, rape and abuse have been pretty well studied (elsewhere in the more educated, civilised world) and there are well documented typical reactions as shock, denial and shame that explain and may well be the real reason behind the girl’s actions.

What more, I found the english version of the (original) dhivehi news at Haveeru what seems to be an intentional deception in that it carefully avoided mentioning the details of the event - is this a purely a conspiracy conjecture or is this a just accusation? This is particularly worrying after all Haveeru claims honest reporting these days. The report at Minivan News fared better I guess...

Anyway, this ruling marks another sad day in our history... and life goes on.


Well, most of the fellow country men/women seem to be too engrossed these days in the political brawl that?s spread throughout the entire Maldives but I think it is an excellent time for us to set aside and recall what happened on these couple of days in the month of November in 1988.

Nov 3/4, 1988 saw all of us waking up to a new, frightening drama playing out in the otherwise peaceful roads in the capital island Male'. Despite being very young then, I still remember snapping out of slumber early morning to find my parents in frenzy. My dad had recognized the sound very much alien to most of us - the sound of gunfire. He was disturbed. I was told to remain indoors and not to go out - not even to the veranda. I remember hearing and seeing an Indian army helicopter land right next to our home at the time. I remember climbing onto the windows to peek out onto the road which was abandoned and not a person to be seen. I remember hearing a car passing by just as I jumped back down. I remember an increase of chatter in the neighborhood as people reconnected to each other, recounted the event, offered support and probably just let it all out. I remember watching telly afterwards - of people on a ship, of people in handcuffs, of blood, of damaged buildings with bullet holes and particularly of the Maldivian flag being raised high, being laid on those coffins of the martyrs and murdered hostages.

Innocent people died that day, in going about their simple life, in attempting to defend themselves and in standing up to defend the nation against a handsomely armed and equipped enemy. Peruse the book detailing the accounts of the day if you haven't already had the chance to. It will certainly leave you with questions and doubts - not of the obvious exaggerations of valour of certain people but of the omissions and the simplicity...

Almost two decades gone and thanks to governmental and social neglect, people now have no heroes to enshrine and idolize. Heroes, especially on a national level, play a great role in promoting unity, strength and purpose. It promotes a common identity - a culture. That is one thing important we can learn from the Americans, even if there is nothing else we'd take from them...


Maldives is probably on an all time high on prostitution these days. That, or there simply is more acceptance of the presence of this wider social phenomenon...

Much of this year, media coverage and casual gossip OD'ed on the "Fable of the Massage Parlours and Spas". Folklore has it that this started out when word spread around town that the tsunami that brought much destruction in December 2004 was the result of disobedience to God. The abundance of sinful sexual activity was soon attributed to as being the culprit and somehow massage parlours veered into the limelight. An operation was soon concocted by the religious core who considered the more intimate male to female interaction that occurs in a massage session as acts of utter sin. The operation became much easier when a large chunk of the populace, the all too powerful housewives, sided with them. These house-bound women had been burning with fury and oozing green goo with jealous stares in seeing their husbands transcending the long held taboo of inter-gender physical touch. Of course it helped that they were totally ignorant of what a massage parlour actually is and had no freaking clue as to what a spa is. Ask any odd random housewife even now and one can be assured that their answer will begin with a few strong words as to how "bad" those places are. The whole fiasco turned into the real carnival it was after stories of sexual favours (in return for monetary compensation of course) taking place at some massage parlours moved from gossip and spread into the hands of the newly liberated journalists of the country. They dutifully reported the story, confident of it becoming top story on publication - afterall, the mere presence of the yucky words "sex", "prostitution" and man/woman together in one sentence would stir up a commotion. Massage parlours became the scape goat for the growing promiscuousity seen nation-wide!

However, most importantly, for most people the massage parlour event failed to acknowledge the larger truth. The *cough* brilliant, sane and logical *cough* decision by the government to make massage parlours and spas ILLEGAL in the country from August 2006 onwards managed to garner critical political support and successfully plastered the outrage. The fact that this was a single manifestation of a bigger problem - prostitution and its root causes ? was hushed into silence. Society still resists in fully accepting the reality of the situation. People give a blind eye to the alarming frequency of child molestation. It remains an unspoken topic driving its many victims full on into the psychological trauma that ensues. People also give a blind eye to the growing number of school leavers, many in teens, who turn to prostitution with its lure of better pay than the meager salary in any job in the country ? a fact that the new Minister of Gender and Family recently acknowledged and raised concerns over.

Isn?t it time that society wakes up from its delusional dream and start owning up to its failures? Quite a few people would be quick to blame the President and rant on and on about how he is named after a crustacean but reality is that by squaring the blame on a single person we are encouraging people to believe in the superiority of their own beliefs and actions and thus never participating the common man in the massive failure that left society the way it is now. It is time that sex, child abuse and everything taboo be explored for all the resultant issues stemming from such stifling and indiscriminantly labeling everything as taboo. Everyone can keep hold of their beliefs intact and dandy while addressing the more complex issues that arise as a developing identity-less society. It is time that the shamans of the society be discarded to make way for educated, rational approaches to life and not bask in the glory of ignorance and self-deceit. Then, and only then, might we have a chance of doing more than band-aid fixes?

Enough. I tune out...