Maldives opposition in new bid to take control of parliament

Maldives former president Mohamed Nasheed speaks during an interview with Reuters in Colombo, Sri Lanka March 29, 2017. REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte
Updated 11 April 2017
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Maldives opposition in new bid to take control of parliament

COLOMBO: Maldives opposition parties said Monday they would launch a fresh bid to seize control of parliament by impeaching the speaker, weeks after their first attempt failed when the president called in troops to evict lawmakers.
A coalition of opposition parties said it had submitted a no-confidence motion on Sunday with the support of 31 MPs — enough to force a vote in the 85-member majlis, or parliament.
But after the motion was submitted the government increased the number of signatures required for such a motion to 42, leaving it unclear whether a vote would go ahead.
The coalition, led by exiled opposition leader and former Maldives leader Mohamed Nasheed, is trying to undermine President Abdulla Yameen before elections next year.
It faces an uphill struggle, with all opposition leaders now in exile or in jail after a years-long crackdown on dissent under Yameen’s leadership.
The clampdown has raised fears over the country’s stability and dented its image as a tourist paradise
On Monday the coalition led by Nasheed’s Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) accused the government of making “abrupt and arbitrary changes to the parliamentary standing orders, designed to derail the second no confidence motion submitted against the speaker.”
Last month’s motion ended in chaos when Yameen ordered troops to eject some lawmakers from parliament, leading the opposition to boycott the vote and prompting Washington to urge the Maldives to restore faith in democracy.
Nasheed has said that taking control of the legislature is crucial to ensuring a free and fair presidential election in 2018.
The government said the second impeachment bid was a “deliberate attack on the administration” and accused the opposition of trying to stoke political unrest.
The latest move comes days after Yameen locked up the last opposition leader still at liberty in the honeymoon island nation of just 340,000 people.
Qasim Ibrahim, who ran for president in 2013 and heads the Jumhooree Party, was one of four signatories of an opposition unity deal aimed at toppling the president.
Nasheed became the country’s first democratically elected president in 2008, but was narrowly defeated by Yameen in a controversial 2013 election run-off.
In 2015 he was sentenced to 13 years in prison on terrorism charges that were widely seen as politically motivated. He now lives in exile in Britain.


Singapore celebrates Ramadan with bazaars and biryani

Updated 23 May 2019
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Singapore celebrates Ramadan with bazaars and biryani

  • The vibrant Kampong Glam neighborhood comes alive during the holy month
  • Sultan Mosque was designated a national monument in 1975

KUALA LUMPUR: Singapore’s Sultan Mosque is a focal point for Muslims in the cosmopolitan city-state and the vibrant Kampong Glam neighborhood comes alive during the holy month of Ramadan when people from all walks of life flock to its bustling bazaars.

Kampong Glam is Singapore’s “Muslim Quarter” with a mix of Malay, South Asian and Middle Eastern elements. Around 14 percent of Singapore’s 5.6 million population is Muslim, according to the latest official data.

Arab Street — an area that includes Bussorah Street, Haji and Bali Lanes and Muscat Street — is a hub for hipsters, vivid murals, Persian rug stores, shisha bars, perfumeries and textile shops, as well as being home to the distinctive golden domes of the Sultan Mosque. There is even an ornate archway welcoming people to explore the neighborhood and its distinctive shophouses, buildings that were used for working and living in. 

“We are more like brothers and sisters, rather than businesses. I know most of the customers and they know me too,” a 36-year-old biryani hawker who gave his name as Nareza told Arab News as he served a line of hungry clients.

Nareza said his stall’s signature dish was mutton biryani, made from a family recipe handed down through generations from his late grandmother. 

FASTFACT

Around 14 percent of Singapore’s 5.6 million population is Muslim

“Dum biryani is a process of mixing meat and rice together in one pot, so the rice has a bit of the masala taste while the meat has a bit of the basmati rice fragrance,” he said, adding that he sold more than 300 portions of biryani a day. “I learned to make biryani from my father, who used to do charity work in the mosque. We make our own spices, we do not buy them from outside vendors. That is why the taste is different.”

The bazaar is packed with places selling food, drinks, decorations and homeware. The fare reflects Singapore’s international status, with eateries and stores selling kebabs, sushi and local Malay goodies.

But Singapore has a reputation for being one of the most expensive cities in the world and having a fast-paced lifestyle, leading some to focus on preserving culture and heritage for future generations.

“We want to create awareness about the significance of Sultan Mosque to the Muslim community,” juice stall owner Riduan told Arab News, saying all sale proceeds were donated to the Sultan Mosque. “Arab Street is unique because you see a lot of different races coming here and it is also a tourist attraction. This is where we demonstrate we are Singapore society. Singapore is not just limited to skyscrapers such as Marina Bay Sands.”