Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP)'s Chairperson Hassan Latheef, on Tuesday, alleged that former President Abdulla Yameen Abdul Gayoom had attempted to destroy Maldivian culture and heritage through development projects conducted during his tenure.
While debating over the government-lobbied 'Heritage Bill', Henveiru West MP Latheef stated that Yameen sought to destroy pieces of heritage under the guise of certain projects.
If the bill is ratified, it will establish a ‘Cultural Heritage Protection Agency’ which will grade items of value under ‘tiers’, work with administrative offices and advise the Heritage Minister.
Objects and artefacts must be older than 100-years-old or possess significant cultural importance to be graded while buildings must date prior to 1950 or be of cultural relevance.
Additionally, the bill proposes the creation of a heritage trust fund. Details regarding how funds will be utilized are stipulated in the bill.
Submitted to the parliament by Baarah MP and MDP member Ahmed Abdulla, the bill also includes penalties and fines to be imposed on individuals who harm protected objects or sites.
Latheef noted that while Yameen could return to power, the bill was designed to safeguard Maldivian heritage and tradition from such individuals. He added that the current administration was prepared to protect these assets, unlike the previous government.
The efforts are part of President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih's 100-day pledges to establish a heritage list and a framework to legally mandate the protection of heritage sites across the archipelago.