“Waves of secularism”: President warns of undue foreign influence

Foreign parties are attempting to exert undue influence over the Maldives, secularise the country and exercise power over its people, President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik has warned.

Dr Waheed made the remarks in his address to the nation (Dhivehi) at a ceremony on Friday night, following the unveiling of a memorial monument for ‘Victory Day’  – when an attempted coup on November 3, 1988 was thwarted by Indian military intervention.

The former vice president said that “foreign parties are attempting to exert influence over us in different ways, under different names and capacities, to exercise power over us.”

These foreign parties were “saying that we must turn to their ideologies and sending waves of secularism [or secular ideologies]  to the country,” the President claimed.

The country has undergone drastic changes in a changing world, Dr Waheed said, while Maldivians’ “traditions, lifestyle and behaviour” has seen major changes.

Dr Waheed contended that Islam was the principal reason “behind the Maldives surviving to the present day.”

“We would not be here marking this day if not for the light of that religion,” he said. “Therefore, we should not give any opportunity for [anyone] to take undue advantage of the turmoil in our environment. I call upon all political parties not to compromise the peace and security of our nation.”

In his first major speech since assuming the presidency on February 7, Dr Waheed told supporters of the ruling coalition that this was “no longer the age of colonialism” and that “no foreign country can influence the Maldives.”

“Today we will maintain our sovereignty with bravery. Be courageous. We will not back down an inch. Today, the change [in power] in the Maldives is what Allah has willed. This did not happen because of one or two people coming out into the streets. Nobody had been waiting for this. Nobody even saw this day. This change came because Allah willed to protect Islam and the decent Maldivian norms,” Dr Waheed had said on February 24.

“Be courageous. Today you are all mujaheddin [those who wage jihad or holy war] who love the nation. We will overcome all dangers faced by the nation with steadfastness.”

Indian investment

Meanwhile, speaking at a ceremony to mark 46 years of diplomatic relations between the Maldives and India on Thursday night, President Dr Waheed said business that have done well in the country were “built on mutual trust and respect.”

While the Maldives would “always welcome Indian investments” it was important to ensure that “national interests are fully protected” when inviting multi-national corporations (MNCs) to invest in the country, President Waheed said in a speech delivered in English.

“Small countries like Maldives are like small businesses, vulnerable to external shocks, always self-conscious about security and easily manipulated by bigger partners. In addition as a nation state small countries are very conscious of their national pride and sovereignty. It is important that, we small countries invite large Multi-national Corporation’s we need to assure that our national interests are fully protected,” Dr Waheed said.

“Similarly the MNC’s must understand as small countries we are vulnerable, we have little bargaining power and especially as a country in transition, we are on a steep learning curve, it is when we become sensitive to each other’s concerns that we build a trusting and lasting friendship. It is not a secret that we are currently facing some difficulty with some Indian companies, we must overcome these difficulties and adamantly resist such difficulties from effecting our very close and brotherly relationship between our two countries.”

He added that Maldivians should “never question the relationship with India” and “must always appreciate and remain grateful to India.”

Meanwhile, Minister of Finance Abdulla Jihad last week warned that the government was unprepared to meet its recurrent expenditure – including salaries – for the final months of 2012 without US$25 million promised by the Indian government.


Indian High Commission donates MVR 55,000 to three NGOs

The Indian High Commission has donated MVR 55,000 (US$3,567) to three local NGOs in recognition of their service to the community.

At a function on Thursday night at Iskandhar School to mark the India-Maldives friendship day, President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik presented commemorative plagues to the NGOs –Care Society, Maldives Autism Association and Haemophilia Society of Maldives.

While Care Society and the Autism Association were gifted MVR 25,000 each, the Haemophilia Society was given MVR 5,000.

Senior government officials, MPs and Indian expatriates living in Male’ attended the ceremony on Thursday, which also featured entertainment.

The event was held to mark the 46th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two nations.