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The Phillips Notes on the Maldives    






















Nasir was much misunderstood by the British. He was a patriot but by no means a nationalist in the mould of his contemporaries such as Kenyatta, Nehru or Nasser. Nasir embraced Westernisation and Western political and social ideals. He established full diplomatic relations with Western governments and Western allies. Unlike many other countries in the region, he established diplomatic relations and received ambassadors from the Republic of China (Taiwan) and the State of Israel. The Maldives was the first muslim country to recognise the Jewish State. This recognition was withdrawn by the succeeding regime that was thought to be pro-Western, in 1978


Notes from Phillips, Major W.W.A., 'The Maldivian Tangle',
Journal of the Royal Commonwealth Society,
Vol. 3, (1960), pp.16-18

These are extracted from background material prepared on the Suvadive Islands and the Malè Government by a British officer


  • Owing to climatic conditions, isolation and lack of a varied and stimulating diet, many of the government officials appear to the Westerner to be sadly lacking in drive and despatch in their dealings with official matters.
  • ... time as worshipped by the Westerner scarcely exists in the Maldives.
  • it is a climate that does not call for unnecessary action. as everything happens by the will of Allah, the feeling exists that most problems will solve themselves or, alternatively, action will become unnecessary, if only one waits long enough.”

Amin Didi:

  • Unusual energy, initiative. ideas far in advance of the normal thought in Malé, much too democratic.
  • Many more schools in the atolls, classes for girls, encouraged ball-games, built roads, imported a Medical Officer. giving the Islanders (many of whom were and still are little better than serfs) more say in the affairs of the atolls.
  • his reforms and his rather wild spendings so frightened many of the ruling class that before the first year of his office was over, he had been banished to a nearby islet.

    Mohamed Amin Dorhimeyna Kilegefan (Amin Didi) in military uniform with Ibrahim Faamuladeyri Kilegefan (Ibrahim Ali Didi) expecting the arrival of a foreign dignitary at Male's main jetty circa 1952. The former was Acting Prime Minister and the latter the President of the Council of Regency that ruled in the absence of a Sultan


Ibrahim Ali Didi:

  • Maldivians decided to revert to a Sultanate, with a Prime Minister and Council holding the power, normally delegated to them by an elected House of Representatives or Majlis.
  • Ibrahim Ali Didi formerly Maldivian Government Representative [in Ceylon], new Prime Minister under the Sultan. Wise experienced statesman, great love of his country, deep insight into the needs of the people and their difficulties and problems.


  • moreover, profound respect, abiding loyalty to the British Crown, withstood the undermining influences that were so active in Asian and African countries immediately after the Suez crisis.
  • Reasons for Ibrahim Ali Didi’s support for British in Gan
    • should anything happen to interrupt the regular importations of food and clothing the people are rapidly reduced to a state bordering upon semi-starvation and destitution.  Malnutrition and attendant evils.
    • not a very large surplus balance available to the Government. all suffer and must continue to suffer unless outside aid is forthcoming from somewhere. 
    • One of the biggest problems - communications
    • sailing vessels largely at the mercy of the winds and currents.
    • distant islands conditions are still distinctly primitive.
  • Ibrahim Ali Didi was delighted to enter into negotiations for a new Agreement.. although the terms offered in the draft agreement might not be too generous, financially, or particularly favourable in view of the envisaged occupation of Gan Island for a long period and the consequent disruption of the normal life of the people of Addu atoll, yet the indirect benefits that would accrue to the Maldivians through their closer ties with Great Britain would be so great that the majority of their domestic problems would be solved immediately and a new era of prosperity and happiness would be ushered in.

Maldivian divisions over Gan

  • Ibrahim Ali Didi omitted to consult and to take into his confidence his colleagues in the government or the Majlis.
  • much adverse criticism—he had behaved in a high handed and autocratic manner by initialling the Agreement documents without consulting his Council.  And the terms are far too easy.

Ibrahim Nasir:

A Hero in Time: Ibrahim Nasir Rannabandeyri Kilegefan; N.G.I.V; Prime Minister 1957 - 1968; President of the Republic 1968 -1978
Nasir and his supporters were of very different character and opinions to the courteous Ibrahim Ali Didi. They had listened to too many questionable broadcasts which were loudly advocating Asian and African independence from Western influence and encouraging extreme nationalism to be willing to renew easily agreements with Britain.  This was coupled with their inborn native suspicion and caution.


Nasir and his government try to drive a harder bargain:

  • UK government showing great patience, meet all reasonable demands, but Maldivians apparently finding it difficult to make up their minds as to exactly what they do want and, in keeping with the usual custom, deferring decisions and changing clauses time after time.
  • Construction progressing steadily
  • Malé fearful that people of Addu so well paid, too sophisticated and prosperous to return to the old order of near serfdom.
  • Sent down a senior representative to arrange for the slowing up of the construction work.
  • When informed that working for the British was prohibited, they immediately rioted.  Fearing the consequences of their acts of violence, they declared Addu a separate state.
  • Northern people in Huvadhu and Fua Mulaku considered that they had suffered at the hands of the Malé government they too decided to throw in their lot with the people of Addu.
  • The north has been retaken, but Addu continues to function as an independent State, unrecognised by our government.
  • Suspicion and mistrust appears to pervade the minds of a number of the influential Maldivians—and [removing it] may take a considerable time and much patient effort.

Agreement that gave the Maldives external independence.
Signed on behalf of His Majesty the Sultan by Ibrahim Nasir Rannabandeyri Kilegefan, Prime Minister and on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen by Sir Micheal Walker
British Ambassador designate to the Maldive Islands.
The Ceremony took place at the British High Commissioner's Residence in Colombo on 26 July 1965.
Standing from left to right in the Maldive delegation: Mr Koli Ali Maniku Maldives Trade Representative in Colombo; Mr Kandi Ahmed Maniku, First Secretary Maldive Embassy in Colombo and Abdul Sattar Faamuladeyri Kilegefan Maldive Ambassador designate in Colombo.