President Gayoom with Deputy Speaker Abdul Rasheed Hussein
This promise was soon followed by concrete action, when Planning Ministry announced a spending target of over 102 million rufiya this year on the housing project in Hulhumale.
It is a project with which the dreams of most Male citizens are inextricably linked.
When the first phase of the project is complete, Hulhumale would accommodate 50,000 people. The first batch of flats would number 250.
President Gayoom started his address with a reiteration of his government’s broad policy, which is
“to defend the sovereignty and independence of the nation, protect and preserve the Islamic faith and the unity of the people, safeguard the rule of law, and pursue inclusive development.”
Even though this policy has remained a constant source of inspiration throughout his presidency, this time people could empathize more with its profound wisdom. The Maldives is now facing more threats to its sovereignty, unity and faith than at any time since the Malabar invasion in the 17th Century. An
axis of evil formed by religious extremists, Christian missionaries and social outcasts is threatening to tear at the very fabric of the nation.
Members listening to the Presidential Address: The
Constitution enshrines a special bond between the Executive
and the Legislature.
The increased patriotic fervor in Male following the President’s speech proved him right in his conviction that
“every citizen would deem it an honor to do their utmost to protect the nation’s independence and to safeguard the social harmony and the progress achieved by the nation.” When face with threats Maldivians have proved again and again that they would rise to any challenge.
The mood in Male is upbeat following Gayoom’s revelation that the economy has actually fared far better than what the prophets of doom had foretold. Despite the negative global effects of September 11, Maldivian tourist arrival figures declined a mere 1.3%. The economy has actually managed to grow over 2% during the year, against all odds. This may be sharply contrasted with the contraction of the economy faced by Singapore, a nation that has been gradually sliding back after the retirement of its visionary leader.
Prominent citizens in the audience: There was
general appreciation for a speech that was short in length,
but heavy in content.
Maldivian women particularly welcomed President Gayoom’s decisive policy of gender mainstreaming. He is the first leader in modern Maldivian history who has understood the genuine disadvantages faced by women in our society. In his speech Gayoom also highlighted some of the concrete steps he has taken to advance women, proving that his policy would not remain just on paper.
President Gayoom’s priorities for the year clearly illustrate his vision of the development requirements of the Maldives. “The most valuable developmental asset of the Maldives is its human resources,” the President said, stating his intention to “ widen access to higher education”.
President Gayoom's development policy had always being people centered. This is clearly shown in the progressively increasing investments he has been making in health and well-being, particularly that of children. It is his policy of “inclusive development” that has brought unprecedented prosperity to the Maldives.