President presents national awards of honour and recognition

President Abdulla Yameen presented national awards of honour and recognition today at a function held at the Dharubaaruge convention centre to mark this year’s Republic Day (November 11).

“Recipients of the national award of honour received a shield of honour, a badge of honour and a commemorative plaque, while the recipients of the national award of recognition received a commemorative plaque and a certificate,” the President’s Office noted in a statement about the annual tradition.

The recipients of the national award of honour were Mohamed Zakariyya for his contribution to the development of Dhivehi literature and ‘Hiyalee’ Mohamed Rasheed for his contributions in the field of sports.

The 14 recipients of the national award of recognition were:

  • Sergeant First Class Al-Ghari Mohamed Aslam in the area of recitation and teaching of Quran
  • Al-Ghari Al-Hafiz Abdul Rasheed Mohamed in the area of recitation and teaching of Quran
  • Anwar Ibrahim in the area of Dhivehi linguistics (oratory skills)
  • Mohamed Areef in the area of Dhivehi customs and culture (cultural games)
  • Adam Rasheed in the area of fisheries (promotion of pole and line fishing)
  • Ishaq Solih in the area of tourism (culinary arts)
  • Hussain Rasheed in the area of agriculture (development of commercial agriculture and agricultural research)
  • Ahmed Hishan ‎in the area of social services (humanitarian service)
  • Mohamed Fayaz Ali Riza in the area of sports (fitness therapy)
  • Nahidha Ali in the area of sports (fitness)
  • Afzal Shafiu in the area of visual arts (calligraphy, illustration and design)
  • Captain Ahmed Athif in the area of performing arts (singing, music, and composition).

National awards of recognition were also presented to outstanding individuals among youth and women.

They were Hassan Ziyau (in the area of information and news dissemination) and Moomina Adam (in the area of sports).


President Yameen slams “Western colonial powers,” declares foreign policy shift to East

The European Union (EU) imposed restrictions on Maldivian export of canned tuna for refusing to change or abandon Islamic principles, President Abdulla Yameen claimed today, declaring a foreign policy shift to the East.

In his address to the nation on the occasion of Republic Day, President Yameen said economic cooperation with China does not involve the same challenges to remaining an Islamic state posed by “Western colonial powers”.

“Participating in business with China does not involve any such compulsion for us,” Yameen said at a ceremony at the Dharubaaruge convention centre this morning.

Yameen referred to the EU’s refusal to extend the duty-free status of imported fish from the Maldives following the country’s failure to comply with international conventions concerning freedom of religion.

Until January 2014, fish exports to the EU – the single largest export partner by value – were duty-free under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) programme, a non-reciprocal trade agreement extended to developing countries.

Last year, the government’s application for a year’s extension under the ‘GSP Plus’ program was declined as it had not ratified all 27 required international conventions. The Maldives holds reservations concerning the freedom of religion component of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Former Fisheries Minister Shafeeu told Minivan News in November 2013 that the Maldives would lose its competitive advantage over the larger fishing fleets of nearby Sri Lanka and Thailand with a 14-20 tariff on fish imports, and reduce profits to “a marginal value”.

President Yameen said there was “no way forward” for the country regarding the issue.

“The government’s thinking is changing towards the East,” he said.

Under the Maldivian Constitution, all citizens are required to be Sunni Muslim and the practice of other religions as well as places of worship are prohibited. Customs authorities forbid the import of religious items and scan the baggage of tourists arriving at the airport.

Former Minister Shafeeu explained last year that the EU’s move was not unexpected as Maldivian fisheries had been given a three year extension of its duty-free status after graduating from the UN’s definition of a ‘least developed’ country to ‘middle income’ in 2011.

Silk Route

The government decided to participate in the Chinese 21st Century Maritime Silk Route initiative because China is currently the strongest and fastest growing economy in the world, President Yameen said.

As a result, Yameen continued, the government believes that the “multi-million dollar infrastructure investment” needed for economic development would “arrive through this door.”

Participation in the Silk Road initiative would not adversely affect either the Maldives independence and sovereignty or the Islamic identity of the nation, he insisted.

Ahead of his maiden state visit in September, Chinese President Xi Jingping called on the Maldives “to get actively involved” in the creation of a maritime trade route linking China to the east coast of Africa and the Mediterranean.

Meanwhile, former President Mohamed Nasheed has criticised the decision to join the Silk Route initiative, contending that it would threaten Indian Ocean security and risk putting the Maldives in the middle of war or disputes between Asian powers.

“Indian Ocean stability depends on a firm Indian hand. President Yameen must reverse his decision on Maldives being a party to the Silk Route,” the opposition leader tweeted on November 8.


President Yameen to honor individuals who commit the Quran to memory

President Abdulla Yameen will award a ‘President’s Medal’ to individuals who commit the Quran, in its entirety, to memory.

The medal will be awarded two individuals at the Republic Day official reception on November 11 this year.

According to the President’s Office, the medal intends to reward individuals who memorise the Quran in its entirety “for their lofty achievement, and to encourage more individuals to undertake this noble feat.”

Yameen’s administration has introduced a number of new awards and restarted awards given out by former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom  – these include the Rehendhi Award which recognizes women for contribution to national development and the Fehifai Award for individuals and organisations for contribution to environmental protection.


Indian High Commission hosts Republic Day ceremony

The Indian High Commission hosted a function on Friday (January 25) at the Dharubaruge conference hall to celebrate India’s 64th Republic Day.

The ceremony, which included a dinner and different cultural dances from across India, was attended by an assortment of Maldivian dignitaries including Foreign Minister Dr Abdulla Samad and members of the cabinet.  Representatives of Male’s Indian expatriate community were also in attendance.

Speaking during the ceremony, Indian High Commissioner to the Maldives Dnyaneshwar M Mulay conveyed greetings “to those Indian expatriates who are in Maldivian jails”.

“After the Independence of Maldives in 1965, India was among the first countries to establish diplomatic relations and a full-fledged mission started working in the 70s. In the early days the State bank of India and Air India performed pioneering roles in project finance, banking and connectivity,” Mulay observed. “Old timers would remember the first telecommunication line between Mumbai and Malé known as Bombay line which was at that time Maldives’ only connection with the outside world,” he said.

“India believes in maintaining cordial relations with all its neighbours. We are proud of our special relationship with Maldives nurtured carefully for decades both by political leadership and the people of both countries. We are connected through several threads like economic, cultural, historical and above all geographic. Our destinies are tied and we share aspirations as well as concerns regarding the collective future of mankind.

The first contacts between India and Maldives go beyond two millennia. The messengers of peace and prosperity were sent to Maldives by Emperor Ashoka in 3rd century BC. The Buddhist culture of Maldives continued till the arrival of Islam in 12th century. Throughout history, our maritime contacts have been very strong, as testified by many Arabian as well as Chinese travellers,” Mulay said.

Mulay outlined India’s contemporary contributions to the Maldives, and announced that the new eight storey Faculty of Hospitality and Tourism in Male’ would be handed over by the Indian government in several months.

“Our cooperation in the health sector and education sectors is well known. Indian teachers, doctors and nurses are serving the Maldivian people in many remote islands. A large number of Maldivians visit India for health services, education as well as tourism and recreation. I would like to appeal to both Indians and Maldivians to strengthen this partnership in the future,” Mulay added.

“Currently the Maldives is facing certain challenges, but we are confident that the wise people of Maldives will be able to choose a stable government that works further to strengthen these relations. India has always wished for a peaceful, prosperous and progressive Maldives since the security and peace in Maldives would have direct implications for our own security and peace,” he said.

“We are optimistic that the people of the Maldives will vote for the political and economic stability of the country. The hard earned democracy needs further support from all quarters.”

Mulay also noted that India has offered its assistance to the country’s Election Commission.

“Maldivians are dear to our heart. I would like to convey our assurances that no Maldivian would ever be denied visa to India and we will work very closely with the Maldivian authorities to resolve all the outstanding issues in a spirit of cooperation and goodwill,” he concluded.

Maldives Foreign Minister Abdulla Samad kept his address short, stating that Mulay had covered his topic thoroughly.

“The contributions of India to the Maldives, particularly towards security, and our socio-economic and human resources development, are too numerous to enumerate,” Samad said. “Many of our doctors and nurses are educated in India, as well as our civil servants, and likewise our military and police force have received significant support and training in India.”

“None of us can forget the support india promptly provided when we have had security problems in our country, or natural disasters during the past few decades,” Samad said.

Samad also thanked the Indian government for its support “during the past 10 months, following certain changes that have taken place in this country on the political front.”

“I should mention that the government of India was almost the very first country to recognise the changes that took place, and extended their support very quickly. In this regard, our gratitude to the government of India and his excellency [High Commissioner] Mulay is too significant to address,” he concluded.


Economic dependency threatens Maldives’ independence, warns President Waheed

The Maldives has become financially and economically dependent on foreign parties to an extent that threatens the nation’s independence and sovereignty, President Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik warned in his address (Dhivehi) to the nation on Republic Day.

Speaking at a function at Dharubaaruge last night, President Waheed said the country has still not recovered from the devastation wrought by the tsunami in December 2004.

“The national debt has soared to levels it has never reached before. In the past four or five years, the country has become financially and economically dependent on foreign parties to an extent that undermines our domestic and economic independence,” he said.

The Maldives “faced challenges to domestic stability” with the post-2004 constitutional changes and democratic reforms, he added.

“During this time, the country’s constitutional framework was destroyed and the state started to function outside of legal bounds,” Dr Waheed said. “And in addition to this, after the events of February 7 this year, some people have created further challenges to the country’s economic development and diplomatic relations.”

Then-Vice President Waheed assumed office on February 7 following the resignation of former President Mohamed Nasheed in the wake of civil unrest and a police mutiny at Republic Square.

The Republic Day marks the abolishment of an 853-year-old monarchy and its replacement by a second republic under President Ibrahim Nasir on November 11, 1968.

President Waheed meanwhile said in his speech that the country was facing a trial “during hard economic times” to increase government revenue, improve services to the public, maintain diplomatic ties and “establish financial and economic freedom.”

These objectives had to be achieved in a “world without domestic walls, within a social fabric where protecting Islamic values and the nation’s independence has weakened,” Dr Waheed said.

In his speech at a ceremony to mark ‘Victory Day’ on November 3, President Waheed claimed that foreign parties were attempting to exert undue influence over the Maldives “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 over waves of secularism [or secular ideologies]  to the country,” Dr Waheed had said.

Meanwhile, in his address on Sunday night, President Waheed said sacrifices “such as those of our ancestors” were needed for peace and security and to ensure that “the economy is not destroyed through differences of opinion” and that “the social fabric is not unwoven through political antagonism.”

Important decisions needed to be made for next year’s budget to reduce expenditure and increase government revenue, he added.

President Waheed also announced his intention to convene a “National Conference” as a forum to discuss development strategies.

Ideas and opinions would be sought at the forum to chart a roadmap for development, he said.

Politicians, entrepreneurs, tradesmen, scholars, students, women, youth, judges, lawyers and private parties would be invited to participate in the conference, Waheed said.

In late October, Finance Minister Abdulla Jihad told local media that the Maldives would be unable to pay salaries and meet recurrent expenditure for the rest of the year without a further US$25 million loan from the Indian government.

The US$25 million was agreed upon in September as part of the $US100 million standby credit facility signed with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in November 2011.

Jihad told local media that he believed the loan was being delayed due to the ongoing controversy over Indian infrastructure company GMR’s development of the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA), which is opposed by all parties in the ruling coalition.

Since coming to power, Waheed’s government has committed to reimbursing civil servants for wage reductions made during the austerity measures of the previous government, amounting to MVR443.7 million (US$28.8 million), to be disbursed in monthly instalments over 12 months from July 2012.

As of November 4, the overall fiscal deficit has already reached over MVR 2 billion (US$129 million). Jihad told the Majlis’ Finance Committee that he expected this figure to rise to MVR 6 billion (US$387million) by year’s end – 28 percent of GDP – alleging that the previous government left unpaid bills equal to over one third of this anticipated deficit.

Former Minister of Economic Development Mahmood Razee told Minivan News that increased expenditure in the face of a pre-existing deficit represented the government “ignoring reality.”

A delegation from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) meanwhile urged parliament’s Finance Committee and Economic Committee last week to expedite legislation on fiscal responsibility.


Roads closed for Republic Day ceremonies

Several roads in the southeast of Male’ will be closed for the public for a special ceremony on Sunday ‘Dharubaaruge’ to mark the 44th Republic Day of the Maldives.

Some of the main roads that will be closed include fuel shed area on Boduthakurufaanu Magu, the area where Ameenee Magu and Boduthakurufaanu Magu meets, Moonlight Hingun, the end where Janavaree Magu and Buruzu Magu meets.

Police said any other road that has to be closed due to any reason will be closed, and thanked the people for their cooperation and apologised to the people for any inconvenience caused due to the closure of these roads.

Meanwhile, the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) has set up a huge stage at the Republican Square to perform a musical event as a celebration of Republic Day.

Former President of the Maldives Mohamed Nasheed has also issued a statement sending greetings to all Maldivians.

The Maldives declared Republic on 11 November 1968, ending the 853 year-old monarchy. The monarchy was replaced by a republic under the presidency of President Ibrahim Nasir.

The official name of the country was then changed from ‘Maldive Islands’ to the ‘Maldives.’

On 15 March 1968 a national referendum was held on the question with 93.34 percent of those taking part voted in favor of establishing a republic.


President confers national awards of honour, recognition

President Mohamed Nasheed conferred national awards of honour and recognition at a special function at Dharubaaruge on Sunday night.

Recipients of this year’s awards of honour were given a shield of honour, a badge of honour and commemorative plaques while winners of recognition awards received certificates and commemorative plaques.

The two individuals who received the honour award were Mohamed Yousuf for his contribution to education and Mohamed Ismail Fulhu for his contribution to raising health awareness.

Recipients of the national award of recognition were MP ‘Colonel’ Mohamed Nasheed in the area of Dhivehi literature (oratory skills); Ahmed Anwar in the area of education; Ali Rasheed in the area of health (traditional medicine); Husnu Su’ood in the area of legal service; Prof. Hassan Uqail in the area of innovation; Mohamed Ali Fulhu in the area of arts and crafts (boat building); Abdul Haris Haaroon in the area of arts and crafts (boat building); Abdul Rahman Moosa in the area of arts and crafts (lacquer work); Abdul Hameed Abdul Ghafoor in the area of sports; Abdulla Amir in the area of sports; Rafiath Rameeza in the area of performing arts (singing); Niuma Mohamed in the area of performing arts (feature film and drama acting); Jadulla Ismail in the area of applied arts (fashion designing); and Prop Pvt. Ltd. in the area of construction.


School exams bumped up for O-level schedule

Final examinations will be held earlier than planned at most secondary schools in capital Male, in order to avoid complications with O-level scheduling.

The Education Ministry issued the change after receiving requests from schools, and extended the new schedule to some atoll schools, reports Haveeru.

O-level examinations will being on October 16 this year, and will be held until mid-November. Some eighth- and ninth- year exams will coincide with the O-levels, Haveeru reports.

Requests to close school for the four days after the Eid holidays were not honored by the ministry.

Schools will resume their studies on November 10 but will again close on November 11 for three days to mark the Republic Day.


Maldives military to show off weapon skills with live ammunition

The Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) is hosting a special event to show demonstrations using armored vehicles and weapons with live bullets.

‘’We will use many weapons such as armored vehicles, RPGs and smalls arms such as rifles,’’ said Major Abdul Raheem. ‘’We will fire into the air and sea.”

Abdul said there would be targets in the sea and the military officers will fire at the targets.

“This event will be held at the end of Lonuziyarai Magu, the whole area including the park near it have been taken by the MNDF,’’ Abdul said. “MNDF officers practiced seven days for this event and at the same time MNDF has decorated the area for the event.”

Abdul said there would be safe areas marked for people who visit to see the event.

‘’It won’t be dangerous, we have taken safety measures and we have taken a large space for the event.’’

The event is schedule to be held from 4:00pm to 6:00pm this afternoon.

This is the first time the MNDF has held a public event using live bullets.

The area has been modified with camouflage paintings that match the combat uniform of MNDF to make the area appear as a military ground.

Male’ International Airport has delayed all its flight due to the event.