Honourable Prime Minister; Ministers and Distinguished Guests.
This is, of course, a very historic day our government and for the people of the Maldives. The Maldives and Singapore have had very good relations for a very long time. Long before both our countries became independent, our people have been trading amicably and strongly between the Malacca Straits and all the way to the Maldives.
Just yesterday I met a third generation trader who has been trading with the Maldives for the last 70 years. Fortunately, I have also met her father and also her grandfather. This is how we like it. We want to maintain it that way and we want to continue our trade with Singapore.
The Maldives has very modest means. We import about a billion dollars of goods every year. And the bulk of it is imported, bought from Singapore and we would like to continue it in that manner.
We are not a producing country especially in so many goods, and therefore, if we are going to buy anything from anywhere, it is our choice that we buy it from Singapore. Singapore products, Singapore services have done us good. They have been our development partners.
Just to mention one, the Prime Minister mentioned water issue – reverse osmosis plants. Desalinated water became common in the Maldives through Singapore technology and it started in 1980s. All the resorts now have what we call sweet water or fresh water and we now have to build these plants in the inhabited islands as well.
So, we will continue to partner ourselves with Singapore companies and we will continue this trade and we will continue our very close relationship.
The Prime Minister has had very kind words for me. Thank you very much.
But I must tell people that, during Copenhagen, I got encouragement from the Prime Minister. After every other minute, I always came back to the Prime Minister and I always explained to the Prime Minister that this was what they are talking about, so what do we do.
For me, your Prime Minister, Singapore Prime Minister was a strength – a tower of strength – for me when I was very early in my diplomatic work. So I had a very good for me to be taught how I should go about in Copenhagen. I remember very well coming to the Prime Minister three four times and explaining to the Prime Minister how the issue was moving.
I would like again to keep it that way. I would like to be able to consult Singapore on big issues that we are faced with, not just simply international issues but also our local issues. We have so many challenges. We are a small nation. Our means as I say are very modest. But we want to do good and we have good intentions in our heart. I believe we can have a very strong and a very healthy relationship with Singapore.
Singapore investments in the Maldives are plenty and I believe the returns from these investments are also very handsome. Therefore, we will be protecting them and we will be inviting more Singapore companies to invest in the Maldives.
Again, I thank you very much Prime Minister and I thank the people of Singapore for being our friends for so long, and not just now, for so many years.
I like, I am sure many Maldivians – all Maldivians – would love to be Singaporeans. They would love to have a Singapore in the Maldives and we therefore, are having to rise up to this standard and it is a challenge. We hope to be able to do that. We will follow what Singapore has done, we will learn from Singapore’s experience and hopefully we will also be deliver to our people the good life the Singapore government is delivering to their people.
Again, Prime Minister, thank you very much.