Maleeh’s to be prosecuted for deceiving parliament

Former Communication, Science and Technology Minister, Mohamed Maleeh Jamaal speaking at a parliamentary committee meeting | Photo: Majlis

Malé, Maldives – Parliament Committee on Member’s Privileges and Ethics has decided to send the case of Former Communications Minister Maleeh Jamal stating that his accusations of parliament blackmailing Former Gender Minister Shidhaatha Shareef for her resignation at the parliament were baseless.

The decision of the committee to go for Maleeh’s prosecution comes while the committee had decided that his accusations were baseless and to send an advisory letter on March 24. All the members of the Ethics Committee present at the days meeting had unanimously voted that investigation into this matter is unimportant. 

In the committee meeting, Maleeh had stated that no one has a right to question him based on what he had said on the parliament floor. Some committee members had asked repeatedly for Maleeh to answer the questions, which he refused to.

Maleeh stated that not even the parliament nor the Privileges and Conduct Committee has a right to advice him, and that the Parliament has gone against Article 20 (a),(b) and (c) of Parliamentary Privileges Act (05/2013) , and Section (c) of Article 90 of the Maldivian Constitution by sending a letter of advice to Maleeh following his comments aimed at the parliament members, in the parliamentary floor during his no-confidence motion.

However, the committee had reversed its decision and later passed a committee report on March 31, stating that Maleeh had not answered the questions asked by the parliamentarians and that Maleeh has lied and deceived the parliament committee on purpose.

The decision of the committee comes while Maleeh has been heavily criticizing Speaker of Parliament, Mohamed Nasheed, the government and Maldivian Democratic Party as well.

If the parliament votes to go ahead to have Maleeh prosecuted, it would be the first time a cabinet minister would be tried in recent history. According to the Privileges Act, if a person is found guilty of deceiving to the parliament or a parliament committee on purpose, the individual can be fined between MVR 3,000 and MVR 10,000 or jailed for three to six months.

Maleeh, who was removed from his position in a no-confidence vote taken by parliament on March 1, 2021. The no confidence vote against the Maleeh had initially come following his comments aimed at the parliamentary group of MDP on a TV program, in which he said that the parliament members cannot dictate how the government should do it’s job and that no such policy can also be formulated. He had said that the current parliament is trying to gain control over other institutions much like the Supreme Court back in Former President Abdulla Yameen’s presidency.

The motion to remove Maleeh was submitted by the Parliamentary Group leader of MDP Ali Azim. The Parliamentary Group (PG) of the leading governing coalition party, Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) voted in favor of moving forward with a no confidence vote against Minister Maleeh with 14 members signing the motion.

The no confidence motion matter forwarded to the PG with the signatures of ten members read that with the two years that Minister Maleeh has been in office, he has failed to formulate any of the policies mandated in the Telecommunications Act, to be followed by the offices which fall under the Ministry.

It also read that, while the said policies are vital in regulating the telecom industry of the country, each passing day without the policies would result in insurmountable damage caused to the state as well as the public.

Further, it was highlighted that Minister Maleeh extended no assistance to the political appointees and other employees of the Ministry in formulating these policies and that it is evident that the Ministry clearly hindered the process as well.

Former Minister Maleeh also maintained that only a few members have signed the motion and that the no-confidence motion was submitted due to a speech he gave on a TV program and not because he did not implement regulations or the ability to do his job. Maleeh said that there is no constitutional standing for the no-confidence motion which was taken against him. 

The Former Minister of Communication, Science and Technology Mohamed Maleeh Jamaal had defended himself stating that allegations that he had unjustly fired employees who were responsible for creating the guidelines. Instead, he had fired three political appointees under the President Solih’s “Zero Tolerance to Corruption” policy. The fired employees include a State Minister, Deputy Minister and Executive Director. 

Maleeh’s remarks had attracted harsh criticism by MDP parliament members and the general public. One MP had said that in the past two years, Minister Maleeh’s only notable achievement was to grow a variety of chilies on his home terrace and that he had not done any substantial work as a minister.