President Abdulla Yameen’s plans for a “winter corner” in Malé’s main park complete with an ice skating rink has sparked an outcry online, with critics claiming the move is meant to distract the Maldivian public from the government’s failure to address serious social ills.
Announcing the project on Monday, Housing Minister Dr Mohamed Muizz said: “Some may question how one might build a winter area in Maldives. But it has been done in countries like ours. By the will of god, we will build it in a way that resembles a cold country and duplicates the feeling of being in a cold country.”
SULTAN PARK REDEVELOPMENT
Posted by Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure, Maldives on Monday, January 25, 2016
The project, initiated on Yameen’s orders and awarded to state-owned Maldives Transport and Contracting Company, will transform the historical Sultan Park into the most relaxing park in South Asia, he said.
The housing ministry and MTCC were not responding to inquiries over the cost of the project.
MTCC is aiming to complete the project by the end of the year for the “social well-being” of Maldivians, Muizz said.
The government’s plans for the Sultan Park are among a host of measures that are transforming the capital, including a new artificial beach on the city’s western seafront, major change to traffic flows, a new presidential pier, new parks and monuments.
The plans drew criticism especially since it came hours before a massive fire in southern Thinadhoo Island left some 9,000 people without power and water. Some also questioned the need for an ice-skating rink given Malé’s chronic waste disposal and flooding issues.
Signs of Economic Dev: New currency note series, new sophisticated PP, Ice kating at Sultan Park, Artificial beaches, Monuments, fountains..
— #freeraeesnasheed (@iameeru) January 26, 2016
Yes. For Gods sake. We need to experience snow in the midst of Sultan Park. We don't need the govt to fulfill basic necessities for us. ?
— SighPad M™ (@sipadmohd) January 25, 2016
— iththi (@iththi) January 25, 2016
The government is planning to relocate the ancient Kalhuvakaru mosque in Sultan Park to a heritage island to be developed on the capital’s suburb Hulhumalé.
Several plastic trees strung with lights were set up at the Sultan Park during the Golden Jubilee of Independence celebrations last year.