President Abdulla Yameen lauded the success of his four years in office in a whirlwind speech at the opening session of parliament, with no mention of the state of emergency or the controversy surrounding it.
His speech, which is required by the constitution to explain the status of the country and the president’s plans for the year, clocked in at just 18 minutes. His 2017 speech lasted one hour and 13 minutes.
He said it was his government’s policy to safeguard and protect the interests of the state and ensure the serenity of the Maldives, even as people protested in the capital against his administration.
“In the past four years this government has proven its dedication and commitment to serve the Maldivian people,” he said Wednesday night.
“Looking to the future, the aim of the government is to work for the development and progress of the Maldivian nation, with the belief that the truest measure of national development is the citizen’s happiness and contentment.”
There was a low lawmaker turnout for his speech, after the opposition boycotted the session. Just 36 MPs attended – all from the ruling party – compared to 53 MPs in 2017, 57 in 2016 and 77 in 2015.
The opening session of parliament was initially scheduled for February 5 but was delayed over unspecified security reasons.
Key points from the address:
- 76,000 new jobs created
- New “Dharumavantha” hospital to start service this year with diagnostics centre
- Domestic airports in Kulhudhuffushi, Maafaru, Funadhoo and Maavarulu to be completed this year
- In the last four years crime rates went down 35 percent
- US$24 million “King Salman” mosque will be completed this year
- 100,000 people to get housing under “Hiyaa” project by 2019
- Saudi aid of US$160 million to be spent on fisheries sector
- Schools modernization project will start using tablets by second term
- 85 percent of sports arenas completed, includes 380 sports fields
- Football training school in Hulhumalé
- 45 kilometres of road completed in nine islands
- 12 more islands to get roads this year
- 30 islands will get new harbours this year