Madam President, Distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, A very good afternoon to you all.
I thank you for the extraordinary welcome that you have given to my delegation and I today, and I thank you for your gracious hospitality. It is a great honor to be in this beautiful country. The hallmark of any great friendship is kindness, and today Fazna and I are humbled by the kindness the Singaporean people have shown us.
Of course, Singaporean hospitality should not surprise anyone - least of all Maldivians. For decades, Maldivians have been frequenting this island of yours for travel, education, healthcare and commerce. Singapore is one of our largest trading partners, and as Maldivians are fond of saying, for decades it has been our gateway to the rest of the world. These connections have made Singapore a dear friend and an important partner to the Maldives.
Our two countries share many common challenges, and we work together on a range of issues. From trade and commerce, security cooperation for the sustained peace and prosperity of the Indian ocean region, to combating terrorism, to fighting climate change and championing the cause of small islands.
This visit of mine, has afforded us an opportunity to reaffirm these ties and continue our conversation on these important subjects. I am also confident that the MOU on Cooperation between our two foreign ministries will prove a boon to our respective foreign services, and will be of great help in nurturing the next generation of young Maldivian diplomats.
Singapore is a country for which my fellow Maldivians and I have great admiration and affection. Your story is nothing short of remarkable. Having emerged from the wreckage of the Second World war, the Singapore of today is a high-tech metropolis and an economic powerhouse that sets the standard for the rest of the world in successful governance.
I am reminded of the wisdom of former Prime Minster Lee Kwan Yew who once said that “A nation is great not by its size alone. It is the will, the cohesion, the stamina, the discipline of its people and the quality of their leaders which ensure it an honourable place in history.”
Mr Lee’s words hold special resonance for Maldivians. Maldives, may be small in size, but we too are determined to find our honourable place in history. Which is why, last September, hundreds of thousands of my fellow citizens went to the polls - to revive the democratic journey we began nearly a decade ago. What they asked for is an honest government - one that will work in the interest of the people and the country. It is this idea of an honorable place that compels us to re-engage with the rest of the world. It is this promise to afford Maldivians better opportunities in life that will consolidate our place in history.
Of course, we need a little help from our friends to get there. To ensure good governance, to realize our development goals, to battle terrorism, to educate our youth, to fight climate change, to embrace the digital future. We need all the help we can get.
I’m confident that Singapore will share its knowledge, experience and expertise to help us achieve our goals. An occasion such as this allows us to take stock of our relationship, and the outlook is bright. I am optimistic, that the warm ties of friendship that have existed between our two countries will continue to grow.
Before, I conclude, may I also extend an open invitation to Your Excellency to undertake a State Visit to the Maldives at a mutually agreeable time. May I also ask you to please convey the best wishes of the Maldivian people to the people of Singapore.
May both our countries continue to prosper.
Thank you very much.