The Australian High Commissioner to the Maldives, Ministers and Ladies and Gentlemen, everyone present here, Good evening;
Four people from the President’s Office have been selected for the scholarships and therefore they have done some speaking notes for me. It is quite substantial. I didn’t know all that.
The amount work done by the Australian government through the years, when you look at it, has been very substantial. We always thank the Australian government and the people of Australia for the development assistance that they have been giving all throughout the years.
The High Commissioner has been very kind in suggesting that my intervention has something to do with increasing the number of scholarships, but I have always thought that really the work depends on who the High Commissioner is as well and how much the High Commissioner is willing to engage in this.
In talking about Australia and the scholarship programme, it is an excellent thing and we are able to fill a huge gap in our human resource needs through Australian scholarships. If we didn’t get these we would have to spend amazing amount of funds while we don’t have a higher education institution or a university at all. So this is an excellent programme and we will take the full benefits of this.
I have a little story on the Australian programme. Since the Colombo Plan times in the 1950s…I think Australia has given more than 100,000 scholarships. In 1974, Aminath Rasheed left the Maldives because she was selected as the best student in Aminniya that year. She went to Australia to be a teacher, but of course she found better things to do. She later on got married. Nazimy Johnson, her daughter has won many, many medals and finally a gold for Australia in the Olympics. And you know this is the extent that it can really actually go. After having known about this story for quite a while, I then met Penny, the Australian Environment Minister. She again was exactly the same story. Her father came to Australia through a Colombo Plan scholarship and then she is now the Australian Minister in charge of climate change and she actually was so instrumental in getting the whole thing through in both Copenhagen and now in Cancun. So I really think that there is no way of losing in these scholarship programmes.
I am sure the whole programme will go from strength to strength. Again thank you very much to the Australian High Commissioner and the Australian government. I must say I really quite thank Kevin Rudd, the Foreign Minister now and also the Prime Minister with whom we had a number of conversations on exactly the same topic. We would like to see more of this going on and we would like to see other things also, so that both countries can be much close and I’m sure we are moving along these paths. Again, thank you very much.