بســم اللّـه الرّحمـن الرّحيــم
Thanks and praise to the Creator, the Almighty Allah, for blessing the Maldives and her people with the joy of Independence!
Distinguished invitees, dignitaries from abroad, beloved people of the Maldives;
A’salaamu alaikum wa’rahmathullahi wabarakaathuhu.
It gives me great pleasure to extend warm greetings and sincere good wishes to all distinguished invitees and beloved people of the Maldives on the historic and august occasion of the Golden Jubilee of full political Independence for the Maldives from British protectorateship. The Maldivian people join me in remembering with sincere gratitude the outstanding national services of Late Former President Ibrahim Nasir and Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, who received the Shield of Honour by the State on the occasion of this Golden Jubilee. I pray to the Almighty Allah to grant the blessing of Eternal Heaven upon Late President Ibrahim Nasir.
The presence here tonight of so many high level dignitaries from so many of our diplomatic partners is a testament to the high priority attached by the leaderships and people of those countries toward further enhancing existing friendly ties with the Maldives. The Government and people of the Maldives join me in expressing our sincere gratitude to His Excellency Maithripala Sirisena, President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, our immediate neighbour and first post-Independence diplomatic partner. To each and every friend from abroad, who made time to travel to the Maldives on our invitation to join us in this historic celebration, we say “thank you” and “welcome”!
As we celebrate our Golden Jubilee of Independence today, we are deeply encouraged and take much comfort in the fact that we are today a responsible, active and respected member of the international community. The Maldives is especially proud of the fact that, over 2300 of the 2500 year-long history of these beautiful islands were spent in self-rule and self-determination.
The long history of the Maldives shows that Maliku or Minicoy was once part of the Maldives and that, at one point, the atoll of Bodu Thiladhunmathi was also separated from us, and that some of our darkest hours were spent under slavery and subjugation, and in bloody efforts at emancipation.
We are proud to state that, since the beacon of Islam first radiated the country 862 years ago, barring the periods spent under Portuguese and Malabari invasion and British protectorateship, the people of the Maldives has enjoyed independence, sovereignty and self-determination. Of the 200 odd nation states in the world today, we are among a select few with such a long history of independence and self-rule.
The strategic geographic location of the Maldives on the Indian Ocean had meant that trade links and friendly relations with the East, the West, and with the Arabian Peninsula had flourished over the centuries, and that no country had attempted to unilaterally invade the Maldives speaks volumes of our age-old skills of diplomacy and strong ties with friends and neighbours. It is regrettable that every occasion that we were subjugated by foreign powers was instigated, aided and abetted by a handful of treacherous Maldivians.
Undoubtedly, the biggest challenge to our national unity in our contemporary history was the failed attempt, encouraged by a foreign power, to create a breakaway republic comprising of the three southern-most atolls in the country. It was not surprising that a few Maldivians were, yet again, involved in this plot.
We must never forget that political gain was not the sole factor behind every single attempt at compromising our independence. We should be mindful not to invite foreign intervention in so-called attempts at domestic dispute resolution and mediation, as the consequences have been less than desirable from previous experiences.
Economic prosperity is surely a prerequisite for a country’s people to reap the fruits of independence. Furthermore, social harmony, peace and prosperity cannot be achieved without economic self-determination and improved standards of living.
There are important issues to take into consideration, as we endeavour at a holistic transformation of our economy. While we are a responsible and active member of numerous key international multilateral financial agencies and global banks, it is an unmistakable fact that attempts at exerting unwarranted influence on our sovereignty are also being made through economics and finance. Our efforts to strengthen and widen our ties with multilateral financial agencies are, therefore, a further security net against malicious attempts at economic subjugation.
Increasing and widening manufacturing, foreign trade and economic activities in general are surely among the priority. It is also important to forge strong strategic economic alliances and to attract investments by large multinational corporations. Similarly, empowering and encouraging Maldivian businesses to venture into regional commerce and overseas investment enhances the profile of the country overseas. Investment in the Maldives by multinational corporations from across the global will safeguard the country from any future attempts at compromising our sovereignty.
The presence of a productive and proactive youth is essential towards economic empowerment. Creating urban centres focused on the working youth in the country, and providing education and training, as well as improved housing and job prospects for these youth is an important priority.
Distinguished invitees, dignitaries from abroad, beloved people of the Maldives;
Societal harmony and social development are the most important tools of nation building. Many of the negative influences of globalisation have also found their way onto our shores, and, at times, the social fabric in the country is sadly being torn to shreds by such influences. Many people in society have been plagued, in recent years, by ill-behaviour and lawlessness, more often than not the bitter outcome of so-called attempts at improving fundamental liberties and improving human rights. Hatred and slander have shattered the centuries-old unity and harmony in our society, and these concerns have today escalated to such a level that our nation’s sovereignty and independence have come under repeated threat as a result. They have also hampered our economic progress and prosperity.
Women play a vital role in efforts to safeguard social harmony. We must empower women, provide security for them in the workplace, and protect them from domestic violence and abuse. We cannot be complacent in fulfilling our responsibilities to care for and empower our disabled and disenfranchised to lead an active and happy life, as well as to uphold the rights of and protect our children and our senior citizens.
Prosperity and harmony in the Maldives lies in adherence to our Islamic faith and in respecting the laws of the country.
Threats from outside are far more dangerous than those from within, and we must today be vigilant and watchful against such threats. Attempts by developed and technologically more advanced countries to interfere and intervene in domestic affairs of small and less developed countries, under the guise of ideology and cultural norms, is a reality that we must comprehend, counter and condemn, as such attempts that erode a country’s sovereign rights clearly contravene international norms and global compacts.
There is no denying that there are those who attempt, in different ways, to cultivate cultural norms and so-called values that are alien to and frowned upon by our Islamic faith. We have also seen that those who stood up and voiced their concerns over such attempt have faced economic sanctions and political marginalisation.
We cannot be a people that are fearful and apprehensive of the future. We must embrace the future, take the responsibility to bequeath a better tomorrow for our coming generations, and to make our children’s future a more prosperous and happy one.
Our foreign policy respects the laws and traditions of our neighbours and friends, as well as their territorial integrity, sovereign rights. Similarly, we do not discriminate in proactively forging and strengthening friendly and mutually-beneficial ties with any country that respects our independence and sovereignty. Our membership of international bodies and multilateral organisations are also founded upon the their respect for our independence and sovereignty. We do not get ensnared in global, regional or bilateral military, political or geopolitical disputes and rivalries of others, while we continue to raise our voice on global issues on human rights and justice.
The very pillar of international relations is the continued right of every sovereign state to determine their domestic affairs in full independence and without outside interference or intervention. Determining the appropriate future course of socioeconomic and political development of the country to maximise benefits for its people, while strengthening the fundamental rights of its people, are ultimately the sole business of that country alone. We are disappointed that some countries, and indeed some prominent bodies within these countries, have seen it fit to interfere in domestic affairs in the Maldives, while taking the liberty to question judicial independence and integrity and condemning us for not supporting certain norms and ideologies that are entirely alien to our culture, our faith and our traditions. Those who embrace and value true independence, respect peace and harmony and champion national self-determination will surely not support such unwarranted attempts by some countries.
Could you tell me one country in Earth that would welcome others, and not their own people, determining the legality of its own government? Could you tell me who will rejoice at foreign powers taking the liberty to disregard the laws of the land and adopting instead their own norms in passing judgement on domestic criminal matters? I note that the Constitution of the Maldives fully conforms with and adheres to international norms and standards adopted in the most progressive societies of the Twenty First Century, and all our laws and regulations are drawn up in full accordance with our Constitution.
I firmly believe that developed countries have an obligation to treat developing countries with sincerity and respect. They must be willing to give us more opportunities for development. The world will be a safer and more prosperous one if the voices of every member of the international community are heard, regardless of size or stage of development, and if they all have a say in setting the parametres for future global application, rather than resting decision-making powers in the hands of a select few whose sole occupation appears to be to generate material wealth in the hands of a few. Only then will meaningful international diplomacy come to fruition.
The biggest responsibility resting on our shoulders today is to carry our beloved motherland forward in full independence and as a democratic republic, so that these blessings can also reach our coming generations.
May the Almighty Allah protect the independence and sovereignty of our beloved nation! May He sustain peace and harmony on our shores! May He also bless us with prosperity and happiness! Ameen.
I thank you!