Good Afternoon the Ambassador, the UN Representative present here, Ministers and all the dignitaries present here especially from the University;
Last year some time back, I had a conversation with the German chancellor. She was wondering what our main challenges were as we embarked on our new era of democratic governance.
Justice has always been, a cornerstone of all our cries. The whole essence of democracy and people wanting democracy is also fundamentally because of a need to have justice. Things were very often being done much more unfairly and far more vigorously and very, very harshly.
That was a situation that a fair amount of us Maldivians wanted to overcome and to that we thought the building blocks first should be peaceful political activity. Building political parties and galvanizing people to political activism.
It took us a fair amount of years to do that but finally we all came to realize that we wanted democracy and we wanted to build political parties. If we take our mind back to even to a few years, a number of people even in this room did not believe that political pluralism was appropriate for this society. The aim is that we all had an idea that there was a monotheistic singular, more better form through which we might be able to dispense justice and as well as governance. But a few among us found it very difficult to reinvent the view and start thinking on society again.
We kept on asking for political pluralism and more importantly for political parties. … before the constitution we were allowed political parties and we have since then been building very important institutions of democracy. After we were able to amend the constitution and have our first, free and fair elections, and also I must add, very smoothly transfer power, the main challenges that we then started seeing, and we always knew this was going to happen, was the judiciary and justice. I must confess that while we were engaged in amending the constitution, we gave very little thought to how the whole judiciary should be arranged.
I must say that lawyers among us, especially Mari insisted and went on and on, on trying to define the judiciary more in the constitution, so that we may hopefully have less difficulties.
But when the powers were separated and I became the executive, or the MDP started ruling the executive we came into a situation where the legislature was still under the opposition or majority of the Parliament, which meant the previous government or the previous regime had a majority in the Parliament.
In many minds the situation in the judiciary was far more worrying. Nothing changed there. We had exactly the same people. We had exactly the same judges, the same manner of thinking about justice; the same manner of dispensing justice. The Constitution did not ask us to overhaul it. The Constitution asked the government or the executive to formulate a Supreme Court bench. While going towards formulating that bench we of course had a number of difficulties.
First the interim bench at that time decided or thought they were a permanent bench. That created all sorts of issues finally to the extent that the executive had to step in and say no, we are going to have a new bench and we are not going to open the Supreme Court without a new bench. It was all very risky and it was of course all very challenging and difficult but we were finally able to come up with a Supreme Court with every single MP in the Parliament supporting that bench, and I thank the Parliament for having come up with that bench.
So we were able to start up the Supreme Court. The Judicial Services Commission is supposed to regulate the Judiciary as a whole. Again the composition of the Judicial Services Commission was very, very politically imbalanced and it’s been a difficult task to reform the Judiciary and create the Judicial Service Commission. Again we have to step in. Because of that, we will change the composition of the Judicial Services Commission and we will reform the judiciary through the Judicial Services Commission. Not outside the framework of the Constitution that we have formulated, but within the framework of the Constitution.
So it’s very timely that we are now able to work more vigorously towards judicial reform and capacity building in the judiciary. I thank the German government for the conversation we had on the vast experience that the Germans have had in Islamic Shariah.
Throughout the middle ages, Germany was perhaps the first country to translate the Quran into a European language. I have yet to know that if it was first done in Latin and through Latin we saw the first translation of the Quran, the first German translation of the Quran. And even besides that Germans’ experience in Shariah is very, very vast and I’m sure that many of us who are even slightly aware of Islamic Shariah and history would understand this and would agree with me.
We firmly believe that German lecturers and German lawyers will be able to work with our own lawyers, with our own experts and we will be able to come up with a better syllabus for the Bachelors Course in our new University.
Everything here is new. The University is new. The Judiciary is new. The Judicial Services Commission is new. And again we embark on a new project to strengthen the Judiciary.
We are going through a number of changes, not just simply the Judiciary. We’ve brought a number of changes to our political and governance system. We brought a number of changes to our judiciary. We are now in the process of changing our financial and economic systems. Mind you, when you think about it, the extent of the change that we are proposing is far, far bigger than the extent of the change that we called for in governance. Financial system changes are far, far radical than political pluralism in fact, or the introduction of political pluralism in the kind of semi-liberal society that we have.
So again the reactions, again the antagonism, the anger, the frustrations, the uncertainties and of course the dynamism to continue and move forward will be very, very visible and we are seeing them now. But we will continue with our work. We feel that we are doing the right thing and we are only doing this simply to do the right thing and nothing else.
We … that we have slipped a little bit in the Transparency Index or Anti-Corruption Index. But I would like to think that this is not necessarily because we are more corrupt than we were yesterday. But rather, we’ve come to understand the extent of our corruption because of the newfound freedom of expression. And because of the newfound freedom of peaceful political engagement we are able to measure it; we are able to point fingers more rapidly and more quickly. Therefore the information available on corruption is far higher now than it has ever been before.
Partly, we have 27 Auditor General Reports on embezzlement and misuse of funds that we have not done anything with. That’s again partly, because we need to strengthen our judiciary before we embarked on that. We don’t want to go into a witch-hunt. We don’t want to use strong government law. We want to use rationale and we want to use reason. And we want to be able to prosecute. We want to be able to dispense and bring justice.
Again thank you very much, and I must, Ambassador, please thank the Chancellor and please tell her that we are quite happy with the contribution that she is making, not just directly to our development, but also in climate change. In Copenhagen, I was mainly able to have a voice because of her. Very early on she decided that she will take me on and lead me or rather, show me a path to do what we have been able to, in the sense minutely to in raising awareness on climate change. She is not a ruler who has not been to the Maldives; she has been here before she was a Chancellor and before that she was the Environment Minister which all point to her interest in the Maldives. I will continue to admire her all the time; she’s been excellent in giving me all sorts of advice especially on the economy. On how I will be able to move forward with the difficulties and that we have seen. Ambassador we thank the German government as we have never thanked before and I think this is a new leap of more solid German engagement with the Maldives.
And again, I would like to thank the Faculty of Shariah and Law who would be the recipient or who would rather run the program in the main and we would like to see the new syllabus adhered to as quickly as possible. I understand that your building is falling on your head, I am aware of that and I have the letters sent to me and the Ambassador was talking about big buildings for justice. I was a little afraid there Ambassador. We will take a few more years before we go into fancier infrastructure. We want to develop our human capacity, our capability within ourselves first and then hopefully we will have the buildings. We will develop ourselves. One of the things by changing or going into the financial and economic reforms, we have decided to fend for ourselves. We have enough money, we have enough funds, we can use it and we can rapidly have the buildings that we like and that we want.
And again thank you very much.