بســم اللّـه الرّحمـن الرّحيــم
Very honestly, I think during the last few months or rather if we consider the last year, I think this is one of the most interesting and most productive meeting that I have attended. In my job I have to attend various meetings. Some are very boring, some are very productive, and some I would like to leave as soon as I arrive. But this, I believe is a great occasion.
Honourable Ambassador and our colleagues from Turkey. Our very good friends from the Maldives; specially the honorary consul of Turkey in the Maldives, Mr. Ismail. I think you have done a great job. I would like to congratulate you for organizing the event. I would also like to thank all those delegates who came from Turkey. Our very good colleagues, our businessmen and entrepreneurs are very hardworking, who are here with great difficulty, I would say, these young entrepreneurs from the Maldives.
Very honestly, these guys have come a long way, with a lot of difficulty. But they were determined to be where they are, and that’s why they have achieved that success.
There are few areas that I would like to highlight tonight. Especially the Maldives is going through the process of democracy. Freedom, freedom of speech, independence and the rights of being a human being. Having a great Human Rights Commission in the Maldives. I would like to highlight that the basic principle of freedom and human rights is to give a human being an opportunity to stand up and be independent, be a person who can stand up on your feet and look after your family, send your child for education, proper housing and of course the freedom of speech. But the question is how you achieve this goal.
So tonight, I would say those organisers, who organized this event, are great democracy leaders. Tonight, the partnership between Turkey and the Maldives is staging a venue for the Maldivian businessmen and the rest of the Maldivians, those are associated with businessmen. Because we must understand that every businessman has many families they look after. And tonight, we are laying the foundation for the first time in the Maldives, for the businessmen to interact with International business people.
Therefore, I believe we are taking a step towards a proper democratic system. I have said this many times in different forums. Democracy is not just voicing out what is inside you. Democracy gives the opportunity for you to stand on your own feet and not to go to the rest of the people with a begging bowl. Business creates that venue, that opportunity for people. Maybe, I would not be standing here tonight, if I was not a businessman. And I am very glad I am not a politician, I am a businessman. Because, business create that freedom for people to do what their heart and what their family desire.
And therefore I believe this is a very important event. And I would appreciate all the Maldivians and our Turkish friends, must take this opportunity and create more business partnerships and learn from a country that has been very successful. They have brought their success to this small nation. I am must tell you that Maldives is a very small nation. But we are a very strong and determined nation. We are a nation that wants to be free, independent and without the interference of international community. We want to stand on our own feet. We also want to share the wealth among the less fortunate and we want to it equally with the entire community.
The government is trying to create this venue and this opportunity. But we have a long way to go. It’s not easy. Constitutions must change. Local Governance must be established. Population consolidation must be considered. We cannot live in120 islands and make it economically viable. I would like to see in the Maldives only 7 islands. In each island a population of Seventy to Eighty thousand people. Then we can be economically viable.
Divide and rule has been inexistent in the Maldives for many years. And that will change in the time to come.
I must also emphasize, the government also have a role to play, when our businessmen come and business opportunities come. When these types of opportunities come, the government must be ready to welcome these opportunities and incentives of tax exemption and other opportunities. There must be agreements and Memorandum of Understandings signed between the government and the respective party. So that an environment will be created, with trust between that country and the Maldives. So that the businessmen can freely do business with our people. We must also eliminate bureaucratic methods of visa processing, work permits. Because these types of things create exit paths and frustrate people who come to do business. I fully understand. And while I am in the government, I will do my best to see that these things are changed.
But you must understand that this nation, for the last 70 to 80 so years the Maldives has been a very unique centrally controlled government. But today we are trying our best to learn and teach on decentralized system. And a system where there are different entities, different commissions. But I am sure the most important thing is, what we have achieved politically today, can only be sustained with economic development. Believe me, freedom of speech is a great thing. Democracy is a wonderful thing. But being commercially viable and being able to stand on your own feet and economical empowerment to the people are much great and more important. And we face that today, even in the islands. There are Councils, fortunately Councils are created. But we must economically empower the Councils so they can stand up on their own feet and they can deliver what the islanders want. And we have to teach the islanders that living separately in smaller communities is not going to be economically viable. That will only give, any government, whether it’s Waheed’s Government, Nasheed’s government or Gayoom’s government, for all governments take advantage of the smaller communities and their votes can be controlled.
That is why we have to have a population consolidation. Population consolidation is economically important, politically viable and it could bring development for the people. So, these are the reasons why the people in the community, the business people, are the growths of the society. These business people who are here today, they are the leaders. The business community are the leaders of any nation, you take any nation in the world Business communities are the leaders. Politicians are great they have a wonderful role to play. Constitutions must be made. But, the ones who dynamically lead the nation are the businessmen.
And we are very happy that our Turkish friends have discovered the Maldives, as the ambassador said. And I was just thinking that the Ambassador is reciting poetry when he was describing some of the statements. I understand he writes beautiful poetry.
I would also like to thank you for inviting me here tonight. Turkey is a one country I have always wanted to go. But quite unfortunately, I didn’t have the opportunity and the time wasn’t right. But now I hope the time is right, because we are good friends.
When the Turkish School was established, I think I happen to be in the cabinet or in one of the meetings. We were very happy when they came and from a school, step by step, introductions have happened. And today we are seeing a great change, a wonderful change. A change where people will be economically empowered.
I am very sorry I have taken much longer then I wanted to. But, I felt there are few things that, coming from the government I have to say. The government’s commitment to empower the business community is a very important step. Any government must empower the businessmen, irrespective of what party the businessman belongs to. Any party doesn’t matter. Because the money he brings is the same.
Once again, I would like to thank you for inviting me to this function. I wish you all the success. On behalf of the government I would certainly convey this message to the HEP. We will do our utmost to keep supporting the business people in the Maldives.