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Maldives News Bulletin, 02-03-2008
Issue No: No.1151

Foreign Minister congratulates the Maldives High Commission in New Delhi for being awarded the “Amity Award for Fostering International Diplomatic Relations” and “Amity Excellence Award and Gold Medal”

 24 Feb: The Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon. Abdulla Shahid extended his congratulations to the High Commissioner of Maldives in India, for the High Commission being awarded the ’Amity Award for Fostering International Diplomatic Relations’ and 'Amity Excellence Award and Gold Medal’ by the Amity International Business School in New Delhi.
 In his congratulatory message, Minister Shahid noted that “the award symbolizes the exemplary leadership of Lt. General (Ret) Abdul Sattar Adam and the steadfast dedication of the staff of the High Commission".
 The awards were presented to the High Commission of Maldives on 21 February for the leadership and excellent role played by the Mission in strengthening the bilateral relations that exist between the Maldives and India.


Novelty Printer and Publishers present the President the first ten printed copies of the new Dhivehi translation of the Noble Quran produced by the Government of Maldives

24 Feb: The President was this afternoon presented with the first ten printed copies of the new Dhivehi translation of the Noble Quran, which was produced by the Government of Maldives.
The copies were presented to the President by the General Manager of Novelty, Mr. Ismail Abdulla.  Novelty’s Manager, Mr. Ishaq Ahmed and Assistant Manager, Mr. Ismail Maleeh participated in the presentation.
Highlighted the high importance that the Chairperson of Novelty Printers and Publishers, Mr. Ali Hussein had attached to the project to print the new translation of the Noble Quran, the President thanked him for his personal attention throughout the project.
The President highlighted that the Government had worked on the endeavor to produce a high quality Dhivehi translation of the Noble Quran for many years, and noted that, throughout; the people had awaited the release with much anticipation.  He noted that the completion of the first few copies was good news, and expressed his confidence that the project would soon be completed in full.
The team from Novelty briefed the President on the current status and some of the highlights of the project.
On the completion of the project to print the new Dhivehi translation of the Noble Quran, the Government would gift a copy to every single household in the country.
The presentation was attended by the President of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Sh. Mohamed Rasheed Ibrahim, and the Minister for Presidential Affairs, Mr. Mohamed Hussein, the Minister at the President’s Office, Ms Aneesa Ahmed and the Executive Secretary to the President, Dr. Ahmed Shareef.


The President urges the people to embrace the National Voluntary Blood Donation Campaign with the utmost enthusiasm

25 Feb: The President has urged the people to embrace the National Voluntary Blood Donation Campaign with the utmost enthusiasm.
In his speech at the ceremony held last night at the Alimas Ufaa Carnival to launch the campaign, the President highlighted that the number of adults and children who need blood transfusion in the Maldives was relatively high, and that they included many Thalassaemic children. “It is our moral obligation to ensure that all those who need blood transfusion in the Maldives have regular supplies through voluntary donations”, the President emphasized. He also pointed out that anyone could face the situation during their lifetime where they need blood transfusion.  “Therefore, it is a great humanitarian service to give blood for as long as we are in good health”, he added.
In his speech, the President said that saving the lives of their fellow human-beings was the duty of every Muslim. “It is both a social and a religious duty to care for people’s lives”, he elaborated.
The special Dhiraagu pre-paid card used for the National Voluntary Blood Donation Campaign was launched at the function by the Minister of Health, Mr. Ilyas Ibrahim. In his speech, the Health Minister stressed the importance of the campaign, and noted that many people had experienced enormous difficulties in finding blood for their loved ones who needed transfusion in medical emergencies and at regular interval.


Tsunami Warning System to be Established soon in Maldives

26 Feb: Maldivians will soon have advance warning when an earthquake or tsunami hits the region.
According to the Telecommunications Authority of Maldives, a Tsunami warning system will be built this year and should be in use by next year. TAM has been doing research for the project since last year.
Since the 2004 tsunami that devastated most of the Asian coastal areas, Maldives has been on alert for quakes and possible tsunamis.


Mr. Ibrahim Shafiu sworn-in as Minister of State, Controller of Immigration and Emigration and Ms Khadeeja Hassan sworn-in as Minister of State for Gender and Family

27 Feb: Mr. Ibrahim Shafiu has been sworn-in today as the Minister of State, Controller of Immigration and Emigration and Ms Khadeeja Hassan as the Minister of State for Gender and Family.
Mr. Ibrahim Shafiu and Ms Khadeeja Hassan took their oath of office before the President in a ceremony held at the President’s Office this morning.
The oath was administered by the Chief Justice, Sh. Mohamed Rasheed Ibrahim.
The ceremony was attended by the Minister for Presidential Affairs, Mr. Mohamed Hussein.


President appoints H.E. Mr. Mohamed Hussein Maniku as Ambassador of the Republic of Maldives to the United States of America


27 Feb: The President has appointed H.E. Mr. Mohamed Hussein Maniku as Ambassador of the Republic of Maldives to the United States of America today. The Letter of Credence was presented by the President, at a ceremony held at the President’s Office this morning. The Minister Foreign Affairs, Mr. Abdulla Shahid and the Minister for Presidential Affairs, Mr. Mohamed Hussein, attended the ceremony.
Ambassador Maniku has had a distinguished career as a public servant joining government in 1980. Since then, he has held senior posts in the Government including the Deputy Director of the Fisheries Projects Implementation Department (1989-1990) and Deputy Director of State Trading Organization (1990-1991).  Prior to his present appointment, Ambassador Maniku was the Managing Director at the State Trading Organization.
Later in the day, the Ambassador was formally welcomed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid. During his welcome, the Minister noted Washington’s importance as a diplomatic posting and expressed his confidence in Ambassador Maniku to foster greater relations between the Maldives and the United States. During this event held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ambassador was also introduced to the senior staff at the Ministry.


The Maldives and Japan signs Food Aid Grant

 27 Feb: The Government of Maldives and the Government of Japan have signed the Exchange of Notes that grants 230 million Japanese Yen of Food Aid to the Maldives. The signing ceremony took place in the Japanese Embassy in Colombo today.
On behalf of the Government of Maldives the Exchange of Notes was signed by H.E. Mr. Ali Hussain Didi, High Commissioner of the Republic of Maldives in the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and on behalf of the Government of Japan by H.E. Mr. Kiyoshi Araki, Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of Maldives.
The Food Aid grant will be used to purchase wheat flour. Food Aid provided under grant aid by the Government of Japan plays a vital role in the Maldives’ food security owing to the fact that land suitable for agriculture in the Maldives is less than 10 percent of the total land area and all of the country’s staple food, including wheat flour, is imported. The wheat flour made available under the grant is equivalent to half of the total wheat flour consumed in the Maldives.
The Government of Maldives, sells the wheat flour to the general public through an agent, and the proceeds (equivalent to at least two thirds of the value), which are deposited into a special account maintained by the Government of Maldives, are utilized for economic and social development projects in the Maldives.
The Government of Japan has been providing food aid to the Maldives every year since 1981. Apart from food aid, the Government of Japan also extends generous assistance towards socio-economic development of the Maldives, such as construction of seawall around Male’, school in Male’ and other islands and rehabilitation of Tsunami affected islands.


The President says the deepest connotations of the awards that he received from India and Sri Lanka is the current stature of the Maldives among the international community. 


27 Feb: The President last night said that one of the deepest connotations of the two awards that he had received recently from India and Sri Lanka was the current stature of the Maldives among the international community.  He made the statement in his speech at last night’s function organized by a group of well wishers to congratulate the President on receiving the “Sustainable Development Leadership Award 2008” of TERI and the “Sri Lanka Mithra Vibushana” award of the Sri Lankan government.
“The awards are ample proof that the international community recognizes the role of the Maldives and values our contributions on the global arena”, the President said.  He also said that the awards were a great honor and privilege for the country.
The President said that the second connotation was the high importance attached the two closest neighbors of the Maldives to further strengthening bilateral and development ties.  “It shows that both India and Sri Lanka value and respect our friendship”, he added.
The President praised the organizers of the function and thanked them for their sincere efforts.
The President was presented with the commemorative plaque on behalf of the Maldivian people. The presentation was made by Ms Habeeba Hussein Habeeb.


President Outlines Foreign Policy Priorities of the Government

28 Feb: The President of the Republic of the Maldives, H.E. Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, today delivered his 2008 Presidential Address on the occasion of the Official Opening of the People’s Majlis, and used the occasion to outline his Government’s policy priorities for the coming twelve months, including in the sphere of foreign relations.
Speaking about the Government’s over-arching goals, the President identified the promotion of moderate religious principles and unity; the safeguarding of the fundamental rights of the people; the injection of added vigor into efforts to establish a modern liberal democracy; the implementation of the legislative and institutional reforms needed to effectively implement the soon-to-be-completed new Constitution; and generating higher living standards as key policy priorities.
In the foreign policy field, the President drew particular attention to the importance of strengthening bilateral and multilateral relations and further enhancing the reputation of the Maldives in the global arena. The President’s call comes amidst a significant increase in the Maldives’ overseas reach, with the establishment of a number of new diplomatic missions in key centers of bilateral and multilateral diplomacy. This expansion has coincided with a significant strengthening of relations with key partners across Asia, Europe and North America as well as with important multilateral institutions such as the United Nations and its various sub-organs such as the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; the European Union; the World Bank; and the Inter-Parliamentary Union. 
This emphasis on building strong cooperative relations with major international partners has already paid dividends, with technical cooperation in areas such as legal reform, human rights, and disaster preparedness increasing markedly; and improved development aid flows playing an increasingly important role in the Maldives’ push to become a top-ranking middle-income country by 2020.
Finally, the President used his speech to outline his Government’s determination to raise global awareness of the dangers posed to the Maldives by climate change. In November the Maldives hosted a conference of Small Island States to draw attention to the “human dimension” or “human face” of climate change. Soon after, at a major UN Conference on climate change in Bali, Indonesia, President Gayoom delivered a keynote address in which he again emphasized the threat posed to Small Island States and urged the world to quickly adopt an effective successor to the Kyoto Protocol.


The President announces Government plans to attract foreign investment to implement mega projects

28 Feb: President Gayoom this morning announced Government plans to attract foreign investment into the Maldives to implement mega projects that would benefit the people.  In his Presidential Address for 2008, the President noted that the Government would revise the framework on utilizing the country’s resources with the view to attracting mega scale investments and, thereby, increasing the flow of foreign currency into the country.
Noting that 2007 was a very successful year for the country’s tourism industry, the President disclosed plans to lease islands in the south and the north of the country for development as training resorts, to facilitate more tourism sector employment opportunities for the youth.  Highlighting that the breathtaking beauty of the country’s natural ecosystems and the prevalent peace and stability in the country were essential prerequisites of sustainable tourism development in the Maldives, the President also emphasized that it was the collective responsibility of each and every individual to ensure that these determinants were sustained. 
The President noted that encouraging signs had been emerging lately that the country’s fisheries industry was rebounding after a lean period and that it would return to a pattern of promising growth in the near future.  He pledged that the ongoing programme to extend soft and medium-level loans for fishermen experiencing financial difficulty as a result of the recent lower fish catch would be continued during 2008.  He also said that soft loans would also be extended to agricultural entrepreneurs as well. 
In his annual Policy Statement of the Government, the President said that the ongoing work to construct 504 flats on Hulhumale’ with Government funding would be completed in December 2008.  Also, he announced that a new scheme of housing loans would be introduced during 2008, as an incentive for people with inadequate financial resources for housing purposes.
The President noted that efforts were underway to establish an Islamic bank in the country during 2008, and that a new project to provide mobile banking services throughout the country was also being planned. 
Recalling the explosion in Male’ in September 2007, the confrontation between extremists and law enforcement officials on Himandhoo and the failed attempt to assassinate him in early January, the President said that such incidents should not be occurring in the Maldives, and warned against encouraging or abetting such criminal elements.
In his address, the President announced that, as part of the ongoing programme to introduce secondary education in all parts of the country, more secondary level classes would commence across the country during this year.  He also said that a civic education programmes would also be launched in 2008 to promote respect for the law among the youth population.
The President said that the Government would allow interested parties who fulfill the necessary criteria to operate international schools to begin such ventures in the country, and that a National Centre for Technical and Vocational Education Courses would also be established during the year, to provide further job opportunities for the youth.
Highlighting the success of the Government’s efforts to extend the services of doctors to islands with populations in excess of 700, the President said that the Government was now working on providing the services of doctors to all islands with populations of over 600.  He also noted that work would begin this year on building Health Centres on islands where such centres had not been established to date.  Further, he announced that the Government would establish a Social Health Insurance Scheme in 2008 that would benefit Government employee and their families, as well as the underprivileged in society.
The President said that the Government would take appropriate measures to control the rise in prices of commodities and services.  He also said that work would begin this year on the pending housing reconstruction work of the post-tsunami recovery programme.  He added that all post-tsunami housing reconstruction work would be completed by the end of 2009.
Focusing on his democratic reform agenda, the President noted that more independent radio stations would begin broadcasting during 2008, and that independent television stations would also be launched this year for the very first time.  He also highlighted that a bill on developing the Voice of Maldives and Television Maldives as modern public service broadcasters had already been tabled before the People’s Majlis. 
Emphasizing that the ongoing constitutional reform work in the People’s Special Majlis was the centerpiece of the efforts to usher in a modern liberal democracy in the Maldives, the President urged the Special Majlis to complete their work as soon as possible.  He went on to note that the work on drafting the reform legislation that would complement the new Constitution was already ongoing, and that the Government intended to table many of these bills before the Majlis in the very near future.  Further, he said that the highest priority would be attached to the bills that would pave the way for the establishment of essential institutions and regulations needed to ensure that the presidential election of 2008 would conform to international standards as a free, fair and transparent election. 
The President also announced that two pending undertakings that he had announced previously, namely the completion of the work on printing and publishing the new Dhivehi translation of the Noble Quran and the elevation of the Maldives College of Higher Education to the status of a University would both be completed during 2008.
 

Draw of Saff Championship held

28 Feb: India included in Group A of the Saff Championship Football tournament, alongside Maldives.
The draw for the tournament was held in Paradise Island Resort today.
The tournament will be held in Male’, and Colombo, Sri Lanka.
India has won the Championship
The other teams in Group A are Pakistan and Nepal.
In the other side, Bangladesh, the runner-up in the last tournament will take on Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Bhutan.
All group-A matches will be played in the National Stadium here in Male’.
Group B matches will be played in Sugatha/Dhaasa Stadium in Colombo.
Semi-finals will take place in Male’, and Colombo.
In the situation where Maldives has to take on Sri Lanka in the Semi-final, the venue for the match will be settled in a draw.
This is the 7th tournament to be held since the tournament was first held in 1993.
Of the 6 tournaments, India won 4 while Sri Lanka and Bangladesh took the other two trophies.
The Maldivian team will have a hard time against, 4 time winner, India.


The President hands out high level promotions

29 Feb: The President promotes the post of President of the National Centre for Linguistics and Historical Research, to the ministerial level.
Abbas Ibrahim, the President at the Centre will be serving at a ministerial level from the 27th of this month onwards.
He was assigned the post of President of the Linguistics Centre on the 22nd of December 1996.
Abbas Ibrahim has earlier served as the Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture, as the Minister of Transport and Shipping, and as the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs.
The President also today, assigned Ahmed Maniku of Galolhu Ufaa, as the Chief Executive Officer of State Trading Organization.
The post is ranked at a deputy ministerial level.
 

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