بســم اللّـه الرّحمـن الرّحيــم
اَلحَمْـدُ لِلّـهِ رَبّ العَـالَمِـين، وَالصّـلاة وَالسّلام علـى سيدنا محـمَّدٍ، خاتم الأنبياء والمرسلين، وَعلـى آلـه وَصَحْبِـهِ أجمـعـين.
السّلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته.
It is with my deepest affection that I extend to you, warm greetings and felicitations on this occasion of our 53rd Anniversary of the Maldives’ Independence Day. Let me extend my heartfelt gratitude to Almighty Allah, for his benevolence, compassion, and for the preservation of our independence.
I strongly believe that the Maldivian Flag of Red, Green and White, waving restlessly in the breeze this evening, carries with it the collective joy and exuberance of the entire Maldivian consciousness. It is my sincerest hope that the Flag you see here in the Republic Square, in all its magnificence, continues to wave effortlessly into the horizon, thus, symbolizing the supreme independence of these islands.
I would like to express my deepest appreciation and that of the entire nation to the heroes and champions who had fought to preserve the independence of the Maldives throughout our long history. On this solemn day, on behalf of a grateful nation, let us share a moment of remembrance for their sacrifice and devotion. May Almighty Allah bless their souls, and grant them Jannath.
Let me extend my warmest congratulations to all the recipients of the National Awards this evening. Each and every one of you deserves to be recognized for your respective achievements, and for your long standing contributions to our country. Let me also take a moment to thank the members of the National Awards Committee and the Special Awards Committee for their work in preparation for this occasion.
My Dear Citizens,
In the midst of our celebrations into the 53rd Independence Day this evening, it would be prudent to reflect upon our long journey to this day. Throughout our long history of 2500 years of existence on these islands, our ancestors overtime, instilled a sense of national character and purpose of what it means to be Maldivian. If we look at their examples, Maldivians are a few but vigorous people that lived on small low-lying islands. Without an abundance of natural means, Maldivians are a sea-faring and resourceful people, in harmony with their environment, but also ferociously independent. Maldivians are disciplined, respectful and completely devoted to the promotion and preservation of the religion of Islam. Most importantly, Maldivians have passionately stood up to adversity, dotted throughout our history to protect their freedom, independence and their right to self-determination. Today, we have lessons to learn from our ancestors and from our long history. As we sail into the mainstream of the global realm, we as Maldivians must remember who we are, and the journey we have taken thus far.
My Dear Citizens,
As we step out into the globalized world, we have to take into consideration the innumerous challenges that confront us in trade, commerce and other areas, and the means to overcome them. Our efforts to be competitive in a world occupied by large multinationals and other corporate entities require a high level of skill, innovation and adaptability. Despite these obvious challenges and the enormity of the tasks ahead, in keeping with our national character, we have to be determined to stay the course and to overcome what challenges may appear before us. At the same time, we have to be cognizant of the uneven field the wider world has set out for us. Our small population of 400,000 Maldivians, with imperfect but able economic, legal and social systems is set against countries with the rich experience of development culminated throughout thousands of years of historic civilization, supported by populations numbering millions. The economic and scientific opportunities that lay before us cannot be taken without the will and determination to confront the challenges that behold. Therefore, we must hold true to the belief that with determination, those challenges can be overcome.
Citizens of Maldives,
In the present World Order as we know it, the right to self-determination is a universally enshrined norm. Governments elected by their own peoples, must be afforded the right to make sovereign decisions that are in the best interests of the nation and its citizens, without external interference or intrusion.
The end of the First World War saw the establishment of the League of Nations in 1920, likewise, its successor organization the United Nations was established following the end of the Second World War in 1945. Respect for the sovereignty, territorial integrity and the principle of non-interference in the domestic affairs of Member States, while at the same time preserving their right to self-determination are the foundations on which international organizations and other entities are built on.
Today, in terms of Maldives’ own policy on foreign and international affairs, we have already entered a new chapter. We have started to reach out and establish new ties on commerce and trade. However, these new relationships are not designed to replace those existing ones, nor are they intended to change the basic premise of our foreign and domestic policies. On the contrary, the Maldives foray into the wider international and globalized realm compels us to adapt to seek greater opportunities. We will take the initiative to seek out better prospects for our own people, on our own volition.
My Dear Citizens,
As we undertake this journey internationally, we have to be aware that the Maldives will come across different ideologies, creeds and political beliefs. These include; the Arabic and Islamic principles from the Middle East, the independent and democratic ideals from the West, and finally the Great Power rivalry in the world, and the dynamics of regional powers which shape our immediate neighborhood. Likewise, decisions and pronouncements on the Maldives taken by other countries, without taking into account the wider interests of the Maldivian people cannot be considered as rational. We, the Maldives will on the other hand always act in the best interests of the State, and the people which it represents. The Maldives will always work tirelessly to defend the independence of its people, its Islamic identity, and will rise to overcome any challenges posed to it with diligence, energy and strength.
The preservation of a country’s independence is based on the strength and resilience of the State. These two are indivisible and mutually reinforcing. Today, the resilience of the Maldives to external threats and challenges, and our ability to overcome them could be measured fairly by the strength of the Maldivian State Institutions. Our effectiveness in this regard could only be enhanced by ensuring our commitment to further strengthen these institutions to safeguard the interests of the Maldivian people, its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Since early 2000’s, the unfortunate divisions in our society and the subsequent polarization of the population has played a huge part in weakening our state institutions. The biggest unintended consequence of the Government-changing reforms of that time was to the State and its long established institutions – institutions that had a higher calling in protecting the State and safeguarding the security of its citizens. It was especially true that the constitutionally mandated institutions tasked with keeping the peace and enforcing the law were further weakened during this period, which in turn weakened the State as a whole.
During this period, as part of a planned approach to destabilize the State, the Maldives saw a disruptive and destructive side which was never seen before, where actions of certain parts of society outside the rule of law were widespread, the erosion of a Maldivian virtue, of living in peace and harmony was shattered, the institutions tasked with maintaining public order were humiliated in front of the very citizens it was asked to protect, unsubstantiated fabrications and innuendo were deliberately spread amongst the populace to create discontent, anti-establishment sentiments and attacks on law enforcement personnel characterized the chaos that had taken hold. These acts cannot be considered as reasonable anywhere in the world. Even in the most ardently independent and democratic countries, such actions would be deemed as serious crimes.
My Beloved Citizens,
As I speak to you this evening, my first Presidential Term will be coming to a conclusion within the next three months. When I was first sworn into office, our nation was in disarray. The state institutions were in chaos, and the institutions tasked with protecting our citizens and the security of the State, were on the brink of collapse. The economy was showing worrying signs of stagnation and eventual default. The entire country was looking down on the abyss of a civil war!
My first task after being sworn to office was to bring about immediate changes that would alleviate these disturbing conditions and prevent the downward trajectory the country found itself in. I took up the responsibility to heal the divisions within the society, to reinvigorate our belief in Islam, to secure our sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, to jumpstart our economy, and to chart a path for the people to travel to a more harmonious, stable and prosperous future.
As I had said in my first day in office, I took over the responsibility that was entrusted to me wholeheartedly, to pursue and bring to fruition a number of important tasks that remained unfulfilled in the years prior. I was sworn to office to listen to the people’s concerns, and to solve the many problems that plague us. It was my responsibility to provide basic necessities and food staples, universal healthcare, adequate housing for the people, to remain open-minded about our foreign relations and to diversify our economy. Despite the myriad of difficult encounters we have faced along the way, by the Grace of Allah, I am proud to say that a number of endeavours we have sought to achieve has become a reality today.
Male’ and Hulhule (Airport Island) are now connected via a land bridge. With this historic milestone, we can now happily embrace the developmental and economic transformation it will bring, opening a new chapter in the story of our nation. Likewise, long gone are the days in the Atolls and islands where seasonal changes dictated the travel and livelihoods of peoples. Today, 24 hour electricity has been introduced to all the islands, with a reduction of costs per unit to ensure that the utility costs in both Male’ and the islands remain the same. The costs of food have been reduced, and a mechanism to finance higher education for students has been introduced, and most importantly, crime has been reduced by 35 percent.
Modern water supply systems have been installed in 22 islands, and drainage and sewerage systems have been installed in a further 21 islands. Harbours and docks to facilitate safe and secure sea transportation have been established on 88 islands. The new Dharumavantha Hospital will be a transformative catalyst in our healthcare system, ensuring that the level of care we provide to citizens and healthcare services will bear the benchmark of a Maldivian brand all Maldivians will be proud of.
The new runway at Velana International Airport will be completed soon. With the ability to handle the largest of passenger aircrafts, we have thus crossed the threshold of our limitations that has long obstructed our reach for expansion of the international airport. Our entry into the mainstream of global air transport networks to handle increased passenger numbers, will pave the way to further develop our tourism industry and increase its bed capacity.
In addition to the 8.3 billion Rufiyya that was spent on developmental projects in the five years prior to this administration, the four years since this administration took office, has seen 87.6 billion Rufiyya being spent, in addition to the 5.8 billion Rufiyya that was paid to a foreign company as part of a dispute settlement involving the international airport. These past four years also has also seen an increase in the country’s foreign currency reserves – rising from USD 368 million to USD 773 million. The Sovereign Fund now includes more than USD 47 million.
In striving to achieve what I had mentioned earlier, I would like to thank Almighty Allah for the strength and the courage bestowed upon me. Let me take this opportunity to express my most profound appreciation to all my peers and colleagues who worked with me in trying to achieve the tasks we set out to achieve.
Citizens of Maldives,
In considering our developmental achievements, and those tasks soon to be achieved in the Maldives, from the Thiladhunmathi Atoll in the North to the Addu Atoll in the South, I can say with utmost confidence that there remains no citizen who has not experienced the benefits of our collective efforts towards greater development. The ongoing major infrastructure projects dotting the country and the efforts to enhance the standard of living of our citizens have brought about, I’m proud to say, a new era to the Maldives.
We are on course to make every Maldivian, an educated, highly trained and well paid citizen, able to afford housing for themselves and their families, to be able to live within similar comparable standards to other countries.
Therefore, the questions before the Government today in preparation for the near future are; whether sufficient support could be provided to reduce the interest rates for residential housing, whether an international transshipment port could be established, and whether Male’, Villingili, Gulhi Falhu and Thillafushi could be connected via a land bridge, and ways to raise capital for such a landmark project.
My team’s work for the near future would be to formulate policies, to ensure that we have a sufficient number of engineers to oversee the ongoing urban infrastructure projects, to ensure that sufficient doctors, nurses and other skilled practitioners are trained in time to meet the job opportunities that will be available from the upcoming hospital and other developmental initiatives.
It is our responsibility to guarantee that the developmental trajectory we have embarked on and the subsequent jobs it will create will be occupied by capable and trained Maldivians and to make sure that we invest in our next generation for them to be able to contribute substantially through effective economic activity.
Despite these achievements, every disconcerting headline in the news on the on the discrimination, abuse and harassment of vulnerable groups such as women, children and persons with disabilities is alarmingly worrying, and disturbing. It is a thought that has taken me through sleepless nights.
My hope is that Aisha, who lives in Bodu Thiladhunmathi be afforded the same equal opportunities in education and housing as those children who live in Male’. My hope is for Ali, who lives alone with his mother in Hadhunmathi to be able to enjoy his childhood in a safe and secure environment, and to be able to grow up to achieve his dreams. In every sense of the word, and we must make our white sandy beaches and turquoise seas, a peaceful and tranquil place to call home.
My Dear Citizens,
During the course of my term, and in listening to the views of ordinary Maldivians, I have achieved what my citizens had always asked for – a better life for all. Notwithstanding my best efforts, there is one important task that I have yet to fulfill, which I can share with you this evening. That is, to provide adequate and affordable housing to all Maldivian citizens!
During the past five years, every housing unit in the surrounding Male’ area that had been put on the market has attracted an average of 20 applicants. The ongoing housing project in Hulhumale’ is designed to provide adequate housing to over 100,000 citizens, with over 17,000 housing units. Despite these efforts, we recognize that the housing shortages in the country cannot be altogether eliminated and therefore, we believe that further work needs to be done in this area which we are pleased to announce has commenced already.
The housing shortages in Male’, where a third of the population resides in is a result of existing societal conditions according research. This is an issue my administration has attached utmost importance to; it is the key to solving the overarching development of the entire country.
In our insights into the housing situation, we have explored various opportunities and openings to resolve the situation. I am pleased to announce that the two projects in VilliMale’, which had recently concluded its studies, are part and parcel of the “Total Solution” as proposed by my administration.
Under this initiative, built according to the most modern standards, HulhuMale 2 will be able to accommodate a 100,000 inhabitants and VilliMale’ 2 will be able to cater to a further 315,000 inhabitants. Under the “Hiyaa Accomplished” project, every Maldivian above the age of 18 years without a house, and every Maldivian who will turn 18 from this Independence Day until 2030 will get a land allocation of a minimum of 1000 square feet or an apartment unit.
My Dear Citizens,
The realization of major infrastructure projects in the Maldives, from airports to schools and hospitals signifies the higher aspirations which we have aimed for. By concluding the project on the expansion of the international airport in Male’, we can set our sights on the commencement of an international transshipment port. By concluding the project on the Male’-Hulhule’ bridge, we can take a further step on commencing the project on a bridge between Male’, Villingili, Gulhi Falhu and Thillafushi. By the grace of Allah, with the initiatives on HulhuMale’ 2 and VilliMale’ 2, by providing adequate housing for 100,000 and 315,000 inhabitants respectively, we can in all earnest, within the next ten years to achieve all the basic needs of all Maldivian citizens.
I ask that every single citizen of the Maldives to be a participant in the developmental endeavours we have undertaken. Truly united, can we collectively achieve our dreams. We have a dream, let’s live it!
May Allah preserve our independence for eternity! May my beloved people be blessed with happiness and prosperity!
ﻭَﻣَﺎ ﺗَﻮْﻓِﻴﻘِﻲ ﺇِلاَّ ﺑِﺎﻟﻠَّﻪِ ﻋَﻠَﻴْﻪِ ﺗَﻮَﻛَّﻠْﺖُ ﻭَﺇِﻟَﻴْﻪِ ﺃُﻧِﻴﺐُ .
والسّلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته.