President Abdulla Yameen and First Lady Fathmath Ibrahim departed on a four-day official visit to Malaysia Sunday night to participate in the ‘Permata International Conference: Children Beyond Tomorrow.’
According to the president’s office, Yameen will be meeting with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak whilst the first lady is scheduled to deliver a lecture titled ‘Education for the Development of the Country’ at the three-day conference.
First Lady Fathimath Ibrahim will be participating in the conference on the invitation of the Malaysian Prime Minister’s wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, who leads the private NGO Permata, the organiser of the conference.
However, Fathmath was not listed among speakers and moderators listed on the conference’s website.
The first couple are due back on June 2.
Yameen had visited Malaysia in late March on his first official overseas trip since the September 28 blast on the presidential speedboat.
The president sought Malaysia’s help for the Maldives to avoid “unfair punishment” by the Commonwealth over widely condemned human rights abuses, including the imprisonment of former President Mohamed Nasheed and other opposition leaders.
Malaysia sits on the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, a watchdog body comprised of foreign ministers that monitor member states’ observance of democracy and human rights.
Following a review of the Maldives’ progress in resolving a year-long political crisis sparked by the jailing of opposition politicians, the CMAG called for “clear, measurable progress” by September, when it will “assess progress, take stock, and take decisions accordingly.”
Yameen’s maiden official visit to Malaysia also came at a time when both leaders were embroiled in massive corruption scandals.
The Malaysian prime minister is accused of embezzling more than a billion dollars from a struggling state fund. Yameen’s former deputy is meanwhile on trial in connection with the theft of nearly US$80 million from the state-owned tourism promotion company – a corruption scandal of unprecedented scale in Maldivian history.
Both men have dismissed allegations of wrongdoing.
At a joint press conference with Yameen, Najib had also announced that the Malaysian government is considering selling refined oil products to the Maldives from the state-owned Petronas company.
Najib said Yameen had expressed interest in resuscitating a contract to buy petroleum products from the Malaysian oil and gas giant.
Najib, who is also finance minister, said the discussions also focused on “opportunities for Malaysian companies to continue participating in the development of Maldives.”
Malaysian property developer, WZR Group of Companies, was recently awarded a US$122 million contract to build a 25-storey office tower in Malé.
In August last year, Malaysian conglomerate Sime Darby Bhd was enlisted to manage a multi-specialty tertiary hospital under construction in the capital’s suburb Hulhumalé.