The Chief of the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) Major General Ahmed Shiyam said that an improvement in the country's internal security can be seen clearly as several steps have been taken to ensure the safety of the public.
In an exclusive interview with Haveeru, the MNDF Chief who was in Colombo recently to attend the Defence Seminar 2012 titled ‘Towards Lasting Peace and Stability’ emphasized the need to have defence cooperation among regional countries to maintain regional security.
“Everyone in Maldives focuses on the Police and the Army. It is our responsibility to ensure the safety of our country. The internal security in the country has improved drastically and we are working on keeping Maldives safe. Certain steps have been taken to maintain our internal security,” Major General Shiyam said.
“Currently, regional security is an important issue that needs to be addressed. Maldives has been co-operating with several South Asian countries especially with India and Sri Lanka. Recently we conducted joint naval exercises with India and Sri Lanka. We hope to make this a regular naval exercise which will strengthen defence cooperation between the regional countries,” he said.
Major General Shiyam further said that the achievements of the Sri Lanka Army were not a small task despite the country facing several external challenges.
“Some bigger countries try to condemn the smaller nations like us and belittle our achievements. However, what the Sri Lanka Army has achieved in terms of winning the war was no small achievement,” he said.
“On Wednesday (August 8) night many of us who were part of the foreign delegation that attended the Defence Seminar walked on the roads of Colombo and we can see the drastic improvement in terms of security. It was such a good feeling to be able to walk on the streets without fear and all the security. I have been to Sri Lanka during the height of the war and I know firsthand what it felt like and the fear that gripped everyone who came here. But today Sri Lanka is enjoying their freedom, thanks to the Sri Lankan forces,” he said.
The Maldives Defence Chief also added that Maldives will continue to cooperate and support Sri Lanka on achieving common military objectives.
“We have several Maldivian military officers who are currently receiving training here in Sri Lanka. We have always stood by Sri Lanka and the strong ties between both countries have always been there. Many Maldivians live and study in Sri Lanka and the two countries have shared a very close friendship. Even at the UNHRC sessions in Geneva, Maldives rendered its support to Sri Lanka. During our troubles times Sri Lanka has been there with us,” he said.
When Haveeru asked about him showing his bank details to the Commission of National Inquiry (CNI) which is probing the events that led to the transfer of power in February, Major General Shiyam said that he was a public servant and he has nothing to hide.
“There were allegations leveled against me saying that I had taken money from certain individuals to take sides. As officers we will never sell our service. I have nothing to hide and that is why I am prepared to be open. Many of us have served our country with a lot honour and integrity,” he said.