بســم اللّـه الرّحمـن الرّحيــم
First of all let me congratulate those winners for doing an excellent job. Thank you very much.
Before I continue my speech, I would like to remember the day I walked in here when I was in the Ministry of Atolls. Unfortunately Andrew was not here. But I was greeted with appreciation, with support. And I was trying to establish the local governance system in the Maldives.
I just want to highlight that the UN Office in the Maldives had worked with the Ministry of Atolls for two years, teaching them the system of local governance. And when I joined, I must admit, it was not my doing but it began in the UN. The UN had worked with the Ministry of Atolls. But they were waiting, they were looking for a crazy guy like me to walk in and say “let’s establish these local governance systems”.
So I was the fortunate or unfortunate guy. When the Maldives was changing to a democracy, I realized and I accepted that unless you give all the power to the people, a true democratic system may never be established. And to do that they have a system called the local governance system, and the decentralization method through that system.
So I would like to thank the UN for accepting me that day. I gave a presentation when I came here. They told me that they would go to our Ministry and I said “No, I’m going to go to your office”. And we held the presentation and that’s how I would like to do it.
Resident Representative to the Maldives, Andrew Cox, a dear friend; the very efficient UN staff; Invitees;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
As salaam Alaikum and a very good evening to you.
UN is definitely not a stranger to the Republic of Maldives. The UN’s association with the Maldives began since the Maldives joined the United Nations on 21 September 1965. I believe UN has played the role of a friend, an advisor, and many times a rescuer.
With sincere appreciation I acknowledge the endless support and the coordination delivered urgently, during the assistance in 2004 Tsunami. This was a major task handled very professionally by UN and its staff. Very fortunately I have witnessed this when I was working in the Ministry of Atolls - the work carried on by the UN when we were in a very bad situation.
UN’s support and assistance in national development goals is remarkable. The areas of social protection, substance abuse, HIV prevention, poverty reduction, environment, good governance, and human rights and eliminating gender disparity, are many areas that UN has heavily supported the country and its people.
In the area of decentralization and local governance, UN’s role is very important. And its contributions are immense. Most importantly with today’s turbulent voters in the Maldives, UN’s role as a facilitator in political dialogue with the parties is certainly a remarkable achievement. The government of Maldives wholeheartedly appreciate UN’s role in converting Maldives to a true democratic nation. While UN’s role is evident and very supportive, the political actors and democratic institutions need to engage themselves in sincere and honest dialogue and discussions, in order to ensure political future for the beautiful paradise.
The country’s achievements on millennium goals are certainly not without the support of UN. The Maldives achieved five out of eight goals before the 2015 deadline of millennium development goals. But we certainly realize and understand the challenges in achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment, also ensuring environment sustainability.
The government is determined to achieve these goals within the expected time frame. The government fully recognizes the increasing income disparities, youth unemployment, maternal mortality, malnutrition of children, gang violence and increasing drug addiction.
We are in need to develop strategies and policies, most importantly the determination to address the above issues, and honest views, and honest politicians. This can only be achieved with the participation of all stakeholders including independent bodies, institutions, NGOs, parliament members, political parties, civil society, general public and most importantly, the government’s will and determination to achieve these goals.
Today the world is gearing towards a post-2015 agenda for development. It’s time for us in the Maldives to start this dialogue, as Andrew said just now, and decide on a common vision for the future of this country.
Quite unfortunately, our visions are controlled by political desires - the desires to stay in power, the desires to win the elections, the desires to beat the other guy. What is important? The nation? Or my own interest? I’m sure you’ll all agree that the interest of an individual person is a very sad thing. And it’s not something that these individuals should pursue. But sometimes this happens. And I’m sure people or organizations like the UN, and with Andrew’s participation, these things should be brought to attention. And we could teach them to behave well. Sometimes we have to do that.
I certainly agree that there are many differences. No two minds are alike. Parties have different agendas. But we all must realize that this beautiful nation should not be fragmented, or come into pieces. Our common goal must be to walk in line with the global world. No country can live in isolation in this globalized world. We should learn to forgive and forget our personal differences.
It’s time we started believing in the development and the success of simply human race. We all look different. We all have different ideas. We all have different beliefs. But we are from one race: the human race. We should also learn to respect each other in our religious beliefs, in our political understandings. We must realize our tastes will always differ. But we must remember one God created all of us.
The UN is the only partner in the world community that can work together to build a peaceful world, where all human beings can live in harmony respecting each other.
Thank you very much to all of you for listening to my speech. May God bless our beautiful Maldives.