بسـم اللَّه الرّحـمٰـن الـرّحيـم
All praise and gratitude be to Allah (S.W.T) for all His blessings upon us. Peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W), and his family and companions.
President Mohamed Waheed & Mrs. Waheed, Vice President, Chief Justice of the Maldives, Speaker of the Parliament, Cabinet Ministers, Heads of Institutions, Honourable Members of the Parliament, beloved Maldivians;
السّلام عليــكم ورحـمــة اللّـه وبـركاتـه.
The Maldives, since earliest recorded history, has always been a unique and independent nation. Over the years we have consistently resisted changes which were forced upon us, and have always been able to assert our independence; fighting against those outside influences who would violate the sovereignty of this nation.
As we reminisce on our independence, joyous under the shade of an independent flag, I applaud over and over again, the invaluable services of our great patriots in protection of this nation, and pray to Allah Almighty that their souls be blessed. I also express my deepest appreciation especially to the Maldives Police Service and Maldives National Defence Force, for their hard work and dedication in safeguarding the peace and security of this nation.
Today, the numbers of those who view the Maldives’ 100% Islamic status in envy are growing. Every day, the administration faces continuous reprisals and pressure calling for freedom of religion in the Maldives. We are constantly threatened with sanctions because we choose to adopt the Islamic sharia; because Islam is taught in our schools. There are spiteful subversives relentlessly trying to rob this nation of our peace, our beauty and our advancements.
It was such a group of Maldivians who, on 3rd November 1988, laid the country bare to Tamil insurgents by guaranteeing the terrorists warring in Sri Lanka a home in the Maldives.
This is why brilliant thinkers agree that history repeats itself. Even today a few Maldivians, voluntarily seeking foreign asylum, attempt to accomplish this around the clock; to bring a halt to the country’s tourism; to prevent foreign investments & aid from coming in; to impose sanctions on the Maldivian people; inviting external influence to interfere with the sovereignty and independence of the Maldives; to prevent our choice to implement Islamic laws in this nation.
We remember all that has happened in the Maldives for the past 16 years, since the year 2000.
The country’s development was all but halted 10 years prior to my administration coming into office. No fresh economic endeavours were being undertaken. The national reserve was stagnating. Protests were breaking out on the streets – nothing was bringing an ease to the people’s heartaches. The nation’s development had taken a U-turn. Without proper upkeep, old monuments were on the verge of ruin.
Thus my aim, during the 2013 presidential election, was to rebuild the nation. To plan and shape the nation’s affairs in such a way that the sacrifices of the martyrs who spilt their blood in honour of our land, was not wasted.
I have always said that this administration will not engage in mere political rivalry. We are not here to harass people on the streets – we are here to overcome the challenges faced by this nation. As the Head of State my aim is to facilitate, for the Maldivian people, joy, prosperity, wealth, peace and an independent nation.
Political advocates often talk of defending the country’s independence, and being grateful for the sacrifices of our forefathers, and safeguarding our country. And with each national celebration, like today, their voices grow louder. But, how many are sincere in their words? How frequent are those words? These are relevant questions for today.
Didn’t the toddy tapper and Ali Rasgefaanu sacrifice their lives in defence of principles? Wasn’t that the point of the Utheem brothers and Dhandehelu’s fight? Is there any other reason for Dhon Bandaarain’s sacrifice? Did Ibrahim Nasir free the Maldives and its economy from the clutches of British colonialism, and the sway of bora merchants, so we would fall to colonial influence once again in the 21st century?
These are questions we must ask ourselves as we are gathered here on our Independence Day, at the very spot where Corporal Hussain Adam, the hero of November 3rd 1988, gave his life in defence of this nation. Each and every one of us must ask themselves these questions. I believe that if we had properly safeguarded this bounty that was entrusted upon us, the blood of 19 Maldivians would not have been spilt on this land on November 3rd.
Today we must regretfully accept that our streets are not safe for our women and children; nor even for grown men. Arguments among 14 or 15-year-old friends turn into battles with machetes and swords. This has to stop.
Even though the Maldives has been a sovereign state now for a number of years, it is hard to say we embody all the hallmarks of a sovereign state. It has just been 51 years since we gained full independence. And 84 years since the adoption of constitutional rule.
As part of my efforts towards rebuilding this nation, a masterplan on the administration of the nation’s affairs is currently being compiled. We are working with international academics towards building this Nation and this State. Of note is that while more developed nations have adopted democracy upon properly establishing the required state institutions, the Maldives has established our democracy before properly developing such capacities.
The truth we must accept is that during the last 12 years, since 2004, we have lost a lot of time without development.
One of the major issues the Government is criticized for, both internally and externally, is the implementation of death penalty – each critique is due to a different reason.
Some countries condemn the Government’s decision to “resume” implementing the death penalty, while others are concerns on the issue with regard to their distrust of the Maldives’ judiciary. And yet others voice concerns over the fact that in one specific case, the victim’s heirs have requested a delay of execution.
According to Islamic Sharia, the Maldivian Constitution, and the Maldivian legal system, none of these lie in the hands of the Head of State. In Islam, murder is punishable by death. This is stated clearly in the Holy Quran. So it is necessary to implement the legal guidelines and then proceed with the implementation of the death penalty.
We, as a people who respect the sovereignty of other nations, must be afforded the same respect and by allowing external forces to interfere with our domestic affairs we are unwittingly allowing them unwarranted influence in our internal affairs.
Maldivians traveling to Syria, even if in small numbers, and contributing to global terrorism are eroding our defences. By crossing over and taking part in major criminal activities they are inviting others to interfere with the state of our nation.
Even though a few may say that it is an individual’s personal choice, this affects the whole Maldivian population. This is why we have set up a distinct organisation to proactively challenge any and all threats of terrorism and extremism. We have now initiated efforts to combat this global scourge; collaborating with our neighbours, and other international partners. These issues are further being debated in parliament, at the request of this administration, with recommendations soon to follow.
One of the key issues to consider on our Independence Day is the nation’s economic freedom; and our level of self-sufficiency. Independence cannot be enjoyed fully if we are forever dependent on others.
In this 21st century, our whole economy is based on tourism. The power of the industry is not in our hands.
We must also ponder the fragility of our nation’s urban resources. We must continuously work for the expansion of our economy, investments and other enterprises. And today Maldivians have to be at the helm of the country’s economy; via increased employment opportunities. We must work tirelessly for this. We need to work continuously in order to guarantee our own prosperity considering our geography and our place in the world. I call upon all young people and all those in the nation’s workforce to roll up your sleeves in achieving this. I invite you to join us. And we will facilitate opportunities for every child to attain higher education; to get employment.
Currently we have 24-hour electricity in every populated island in the Maldives. This administration has assured water and sanitation services to 75% of the country’s population by the end of the year 2018. We have further committed to a waste management project worth more than a billion rufiyaa to solve the waste disposal issues faced in the islands and in the Malé area.
A number of steps have been taken to improve the quality of health services in the Maldives. Pharmacies covered under the Aasandha health insurance initiative are present on every inhabited island. There are active doctors in every island. The sea ambulance service is available nationwide to assist patients with major health problems and during emergencies. We are providing means for modern healthcare in the country’s hospitals, as a way of improving quality of service. Several serious health problems are now treatable in the Maldives without having to go abroad.
Around 2,000 flats have been completed in the 12 years since the first settlement in Hulhumalé. In the first five years of this administration, God willing, plans are underway for more than 16,000 housing units to be built in Hulhumalé. This guarantees housing for a large number of families.
The Maldives’ tourism is reaching a whole new level. The number of guesthouses in the islands is growing thus positively impacting incomes. Most of the leading international companies in the hospitality industry are investing in the Maldives. With the latest amendments to the tourism act, the administration is confident that the number of resorts will continue to grow.
The expansion and upgrading of Ibrahim Nasir International Airport and the Malé-Hulhumalé bridge project are collectively worth around 1.2 billion dollars – almost the same amount will be spent on the development of the Hulhumalé Youth City Project within these five years.
We are currently working with strategic partners, on a regional level, to develop an abundant port in the industrial island of Thilafushi, to resolve the congestion problems being faced at the Malé commercial harbour. All the necessary resources and facilities for a port of this level will be established at Thilafushi under this project, and with the expansion in storage, logistics and efficient distribution network, cost of goods and services will improve, and God willing, the entire nation will benefit.
Apart from transhipment facilities, free zone, and value addition, the development at Gulhifalhu Industrial Island will also be incorporated under this project.
With the commencement of each of these projects, employment opportunities will increase, new jobs will be created, and self-sufficiency will improve.
With God’s will, today is not a bleak day for the Maldives’ economic future or the self-sufficiency of our people. But we cannot just talk of our economic progress and stop there. The true benefit of achievements and wealth wrought by the nation can only be seen by treating the social ailments attacking our society; by building a community on mutual respect, good conduct and social etiquette.
One of the measures being taken by this administration towards achieving this goal is the implementation of law without discrimination. The judiciary is now a completely separate and independent institution from the executive branch. The administration’s policy for the development of the judiciary includes providing any assistance and resources required to perfect it; establishing a legal framework to protect enterprises and investments; introducing arbitration processes into the judicial system; speeding up trials and facilitating the contribution and assistance of international judges and legal professionals.
In the two and a half years this administration has brought reform to strengthen the judicial and legal systems of the Maldives. A modern penal code has been adopted. The Criminal Procedure Act has been ratified. Two branches of the High Court have been established in the north and the south of the country, in order to bring the judicial system closer to the people.
Independence and freedom does not translate to recklessness of individual actions. When a nation’s laws and societal harmony is disrupted it would soon face economic and developmental challenges, regardless of previous advances. In such cases a small nation like the Maldives will likely see greater negative impact.
This awareness must be instilled into in our hearts if we wish to build a civilised society while maintaining the current economic thrust of the Maldives. To build a disciplined and virtuous generation, this administration gives the highest priority to the teaching of the Holy Quran and Islamic Studies.
During this administration the Holy Quran has been included in the national curriculum as a compulsory subject for primary grades. Starting next year, 2017, one of the most important aims of this administration is for every student to complete the reading of the Quran by the time they finish primary school.
One of the steps that I have taken to promote the Holy Quran and Islamic Studies in Maldivian society is to establish an Islamic University in the country. With God’s will, doctorate level courses will soon be taught at the university.
If we are able to lay the foundations for development and advancement our administration has envisioned, with God’s blessings, this country will be the most beautiful, the most stunning country within the region; one that is the most prosperous. We will be the country that most wish to visit; a most beloved destination – one where happiness is a way of life; one with the best services. This will be our beloved Maldives.
The aim of this administration is to increase everyone’s wealth, and facilitate employment and business opportunities.
Valuing independence is easier as a self-sufficient and harmonious people.
Prosperity makes it easier for us to defend our independence and sovereignty.
Friendship and unity among individuals help maintain the nation’s peace and harmony.
May Allah Almighty grant us the wisdom to work together in bringing joyous days to our nation and children! May our home be always protected from treacherous plots, conflict, and all ills! May the Maldivian flag forever fly independently; with honour and dignity! Aameen!
والسّلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته.