The following is an unofficial translation from the president’s office of President Abdulla Yameen’s Independence Day address to the nation.
It is with love and respect that I extend greetings and felicitations on the occasion of our Independence Day.
Independence Day celebrates the end of British Rule over Maldives. It marks the end of an era when we paid taxes for our “protection” and existence. As we celebrate our independence, I would like to observe a moment in remembrance of Summuwul Ameer Ibrahim Nasir Rannabandeyri Kilegefaanu, the champion who secured our independence, and all other heroes, who contributed in various ways through out our history, to ensure our independence. I pray to Allah to bless their souls and grant them Jannath. I also include those who strive every day to ensure our independence and protect our sovereignty in my prayers.
Today, we have moved our national strive beyond our boundaries, into the international arena to compete with professionals and experts of international stature. Today the national debate should be about whether we as a nation, have what it takes to strive and win the international race. While Maldivian athletes have risen to compete in regional finals our students are contesting in the highest recognised global academic awards. This is the time for us to dedicate all our energy and resources to win in the race for excellence.
It is my mandate to prioritise our resources and organise our troops to optimise our national output and achieve our full potential as a people. It is my duty to eliminate disparities and minimise discord; existing and created with intent, within the people.
In the past four years, we have undertaken developmental work, unparalleled to any other developmental era. Initiatives which were badly needed yet side lined. Developmental goals that should have been attained. Had these goals been realised we would have achieved milestones in development and increased the standard of living for Maldivians.
Development projects such as,
- Expansion of Velana International Airport to cater for modern day aircraft and the required services, to cater for its expectations as the symbol of Maldivian national pride.
- Expansion of health services at IGMH, including the opening of the new 25 storey building, along with the new developments in Hithadhoo and Kulhudhuffushi Regional Hospitals enabling advanced services, which will bring an end to inconveniences faced by Maldivians who have to seek treatment abroad, away from families for major illnesses.
- Development of Hulhumalé and the new housing development projects will enable blissful family lives.
- The Malé-Hulhulé Bridge will bring an end to the era of logistical obstacles faced by Maldivians who live in separate islands.
- 30 new resorts that are expected to open by the end of next year will create 18,000 job opportunities.
- Current projects underway to provide water and sewerage systems to 75 percent of the population, 33 completed ports and 39 ongoing ports projects, along with the current road development projects in 13 islands, will pave the way to solve most of the logistical obstacles faced by island residents in their everyday lives.
Each and every one of these projects is a milestone of its own, will create job opportunities and enhance the quality of life for the people.
Peace and tranquillity are the Maldivian brand name. Maldives is “paradise on earth”. Maldivians are the icons for hospitality and friendly hospitability. The endless stretches of white sandy beaches are a safe haven, even for the most vulnerable of small birds.
Yet, today we are forced to acknowledge that this peace and harmony is facing the threat of extinction. We hear alarm bells, reminding us that the days of peace and tranquillity might be waving adieu to the beaches of the Maldives. Drums of anger and disruption are being beaten. The spotless white beaches without footsteps which we once roamed about are now tainted with acts of selfishness, self-interest and the blood of Maldivians wounded and murdered in crimes which were once alien to this nation.
The battle to keep influential colonial powers at bay now emerges with fuel from within the Maldives. Words of mockery, harassment and anger have replaced the laughter of the children, and the fond stories of the aged, once heard in our living rooms and Holhuashi [seafront seating and recreational areas of the island] in every island. Jealousy seems to have paved its way into the national arena. Undisguised, self-centred efforts to deter national development aimed to benefit people en masse are carried without hesitation.
Today we see politicians pursuing their own interests under the guise of citizens’ rights. Yet, the reality remains that supporting these politically motivated calls will neither pay our healthcare or electricity bills, nor will it help us obtain educational opportunities for our students who achieve academic excellence. We also need to recognise that time spent on answering these questions and combatting these efforts, divert time, energy and financial resources away from ports, hospitals, housing projects and other similar initiatives aimed towards the betterment of life.
The Maldivian Constitution was drafted and crafted on a Presidential System. This was a decision made by Maldivians via a referendum held in 2007. The very basis of a Presidential System is that a person is directly elected by the people to serve as the Head of State and Government during a specified presidential term, upon a presented Manifesto. That one single person remains as the Head of State and Government responsible for the whole nation.
However, accountability mechanisms are also an inherent feature of the Presidential system, such that government officials will be held answerable and accountable, should they breach their duty to conserve the interests of the State and its citizens. Such mechanisms are established to ensure the smooth functioning of the State and delivery of services to the people.
Another significant feature of the presidential system is that the State and the Government will continue to function through the Head of State and Government, even without commanding the majority of the legislature.
Constitutional frameworks are designed in this manner to ensure that the interests of the State reign supreme. National security is not threatened and services provided to the people, continue without disruption. Disruption threatens the stability and security of the country, resulting in costly and unquantifiable loss of opportunities.
Constitutional experts who have researched the Maldivian Constitutional and legal system, have opined that the system is designed for a deadlock. They have stated that it provides opportunities for the President to be presented to the public with one hand tied behind his back. The system is riddled with loopholes which allow enemies of the State to meddle in government and State affairs. The Maldivian Constitution has been found to be too complicated and costly for a country with such limited resources and manpower. The Constitutional framework, newly introduced in 2008 is too burdensome and complicated for a country, which cannot boast a lifestyle of democratic history. One of the basic tenets of democracy is for peoples’ affairs to be handled by elected public officials. The Maldives’ elections framework and that of its elected officials is the perfect example of the complexity of the Maldivian Constitutional frame work.
Nine years have passed since the ratification of the Constitution, during which seven national elections have been held. Based on the number of days allocated for elections in the legislation, almost 40 percent of that time has been spent on direct election activities. Every 466th person is a salaried public official elected at a National Election. Up until March 2017, the figure stood at 292.
If all the elected and salaried public officials are working in the best interests of the people, the question arises as to who benefits from safer streets and safer communities. Who would benefit when students are able to concentrate on their exams and the children and the elderly are able to sleep peacefully. Would the country as a whole not benefit if peace and stability prevailed? Should not the primary responsibility of the elected officials be to protect the interest of the people whom they are representing? Is their obligation not one of a trust?
Simultaneously, we should also pose the question of whether, elected public officials can abuse power granted by the Constitution and the laws, to halt the development projects and provision of services merely to further their own political motives and ambition? The question of whether this would be a legitimate use of their constitutional powers?
As I have stated on many occasions, I took on the responsibility of governing this country to combat the challenges faced by our nation. Solving the age old problems, battled yet unsolved by previous administrations. Problems whose solutions will enable a better future for our children and their children.
Hence, my work to combat efforts to propagate religious beliefs other than Islam and to ensure that Maldives remains as a 100% Muslim nation; to prevent apostasy amongst the youth; to ensure safety of lives of the people and their property; to combat terrorism, radicalism and extremism; to fight against drug and related offences and to enhance the system of children and women’s protection; to repay the government debt and stabilise the weakened economy; to create more job opportunities for our youth.
These were, are and will remain as my battle and war for this beloved nation of ours.
These issues were not born in the past 4 years. In fact, they are problems inherited from previous administrations. Nonetheless, the fact remains, that efforts to obstruct and halt the untiring work of this Government and its employees, can never amount to serving the interest of the State or its people.
Despite the constant challenges, betrayals and disruptions I face, in implementing the above Agenda, I have remained un-relented and steadfast because I believe in the potential of our country. Because I have hopes and dreams for this nation. Because I have a certain faith in our people.
My goals are to increase the income and sufficiency of Maldivians to ensure happiness and prosperity; rehabilitate and reintegrate victims of drug abuse and crime, back into the society and provide them with job opportunities and accept their place in families and the society; divert funds spent on correctional and rehabilitation facilities towards housing, health and wages; ensure that marginalised children with disabilities and learning difficulties are given an opportunity for a bright future; make Velana International Airport and IGMH regionally acclaimed establishments; train our sports players and athletes to become invincible; build our professionals to be the absolute best in their fields.
Although we are comparatively small in population, size and resources, I believe that we as a nation have the capability and commitment to achieve these goals and attain excellence.
Fellow Maldivians, it is you, who have entrusted me with this mandate. I urge you to join me in this venture and earn the honour of contributing towards the prosperity of Maldivians. Let us seize this opportunity to make the glimmer of hope shining in our children’s eyes a reality. Let us join hands without prejudice, to deliver the Maldivian dream.
Glory of your nation can only be built upon the glorification of your service to the nation.
We triumph as a nation and we fall as people.
It is Almighty Allah and him alone that I seek help in carrying out the trust the people tasked me with! May Allah preserve our independence and sovereignty for eternity. May my beloved people be blessed with happiness and prosperity.