Friday, June 24, 2011

The Increasing Trouble in Maldives for expatriates in general.

1. This is a news clipping from the leading online newspaper from Maldives:

MALE, May 12 (HNS) – The cabinet has decided to impose a limit on the amount of money that can be sent abroad by expatriate workers in the Maldives.

The government gazette said the cabinet, in its discussions on the ways to minimize the amount of money transferred abroad, decided to limit the amount that can be sent abroad by expatriate workers from their salaries and to prevent illegal expatriate workers from sending money abroad.

The cabinet further decided to fine expatriate workers who exceed the limit and the parties that provide the money transfer service.

The cabinet’s decisions on minimizing the amount of money sent abroad include drafting a regulation on transferring money abroad.

The regulation is to be drafted after discussions between Finance Ministry, Economic Ministry, Attorney General’s (AG) Office, Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA), and other relevant authorities.

Some expatriate workers, however, reported facing difficulties in transferring money abroad following the dollar revaluation, as some banks are said to have imposed a ban on the amount of money than can be transferred abroad by expatriate workers.

“Earlier the Indian bank [State Bank of India] would transfer any amount when we pay it in Maldivian rufiyaa. But now a person can send US$500 per month,” an expatriate nurse working at Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital (IGMH) said. 

2. Another thing which is increasingly troubling the expatriate Doctors & Nurses now a days:

Now the situation in Maldives has become very difficult for expatriate workers. Be it a laborer or a doctor. For an average Maldivian, anyway  these both entities are same. They treat them alike. There are increasing instances of theft attempts, successful or unsuccessful ones, at the residences of expatriates living here.  Virtually there is not enough policing (there is virtually no policing here except in Male’) on the islands, some of them being totally devoid of any kind of policeman, to maintain the law and order situation. You can forget about any result of these so called police investigations anyway. All people over an island are brothers and sisters or relatives to each other. They will do everything to protect them only.

Suppose any theft occurs at your residence, the first question anyone will ask is ‘did they take your laptop and money?’.  You can clearly see a smirk over their face while asking this question. Hoping that they (the thieves) actually got these things from you. If you answer in negative like ‘No, luckily only little cash was left at home because you carry all your valuables with yourself on duty’, immediately their face hangs down. By words they will show sympathy towards you. But eventually they will spread words among the community that this fellow is carrying all his valuables with him or her on duty all the time. And guess what, one day you will be hassled in a dark corner somewhere when you are going from or coming to duty. Duty changing time is very strange here. 8am to 4pm is an ok one. But the second shift is from 4pm to midnight and the third shift is from midnight to 8am. During both these shifts, you need to walk at dark hours. There is rain or drizzle around. Nobody is outside except these outlaws. They can rob you without much trouble.

Staff Nurses are walking in herds all the time to save themselves from this kind of situation. But being a doctor, you need to walk alone as duty changing time is variable. And then there are on call situations. If you are going out on call at 2am in night, it is well understood that you may be leaving your laptop or valuables at your residence only. The very relative of the patient  for whom you have been called in emergency can be watching your movement and barge inside your room with his friends behind you. By the time you finish your work, which can take half an hour to a few hours, you can return back home to see the aftermath of this robbery. Now you try to call your manager up and do whatever, the authorities may even stop attending to your calls. They will listen to you in the morning when the so called police will come with a big bag full of equipments (again donated from some other developed country), will show as if they are collecting evidences and all, the statement will be recorded. And what will happen afterwards??? Nothing. In 2-4 days you will receive an intimation that they could not find the culprit as there were not enough clues at the site of robbery.

How difficult it is to take fingerprints of a population of even 3000 (usually islands are having population within 1000 – 1500 in case of a well populated island. There are places where a total of only 500-600 people live.), where only 150-200 young boys may be present? It is virtually possible. And moreover there are known drug offenders and doubtful characters over the island. Everybody knows them. Only they deny in front of us, but they themselves know that their son or brother is taking drugs or alcohol. Alcohol dependence is quite common among the men who are working in resorts. So, it is not very difficult to find out who has taken your belongings. But they will never do this. They actually protect the thieves.

Your salary, your current behavior, everything is told to everybody over the island. They simply call hospital about the person on duty and if that fellow is on duty, they will pay a visit to his room, try to open windows etc if there is some loose lock (days are not far away when they will break the window without any hesitation.

There is a staff nurse in an Atoll hospital who lives in a house with other 5 staff nurses. That house is having 3 rooms and a kitchen etc. One day she was on call for 2 hours only (from 1am to 3am in night) and by chance all other housemates were on duty together. She saw her land lord’s son trying to peek inside her room’s window with a steel rod in hand. No need to say that the boy was informed that then the only occupant, the sister who was on call, was out of the house for a few hours and he could go inside by opening the window lock of her room. The information about this loose window lock was given by the sister herself to the land lord 2 days back so that it could get repaired. That boy used these information to plan the robbery. Luckily the sister saw him from a distance where there was darkness on road due to which that boy could not see her. Around houses usually there is a light bulb on to illuminate the area. The aforementioned sister simply showed as if she is not seeing him (he could have beaten her if he would have thought that she will tell others and testify against him. They both knew each other as he was the only son of the land lord and collecting rent as well) and entered her house and the boy went away. This is a story for us to think upon.

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