President Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik has called on all Maldivians to act on lessons learned from the devastation caused by the tsunami of December 26, 2004.
He made the statement in his address to the nation at the official function to mark Unity Day on Wednesday morning held at the Islamic Centre.
Highlighting the spirit of national unity that was seen in the immediate aftermath of the tsunami, President Waheed urged the people to continue to strengthen the bond of fraternity and solidarity that had existed among the people.
The President said that the fraternity, cooperation, solidarity, love and compassion that the people had displayed on the day epitomized the true principles of Islam and national unity. He added, without such solidarity and cooperation, the damages of the tsunami would have been much greater, while the rebuilding and recovery work would have been much more difficult.
Recalling the devastation caused by the tsunami, President said the memories of the day were still afresh and brought tears to the eyes of many Maldivians.
“After the tsunami, many Maldivians were left to start over their lives from zero. It was a day that destroyed homes, farmlands, fishing vessels. On that day, the people were unable to bury the dead. On that day, the people suffered severe physical as well as psychological trauma. The cooperation and solidarity displayed by the people on that day is the greatest strength that helped to rebuild the nation”, said the President.
However, while praising the solidarity of the people in the aftermath of the tsunami, President also expressed concern over the deterioration of Maldivian unity. He said “what we see, what we hear, what is said, what is written, what is drawn indicate how the nation’s fabric of solidarity is getting frayed and tattered”.
Moreover, he said what could be seeing now was how some people had put their own political interests ahead of national interest, consequently destroying the nation. He, therefore, appealed to the people of Maldives to think about the state of their country.
Continuing in this regard, President Waheed said it was the responsibility of all Maldivians to work towards strengthening the weakened national unity. President urged the people not to hesitate from taking this important responsibility, and to put national interest ahead of everything else. He also said it was inevitable that the country would suffer from the negative consequences of discord among the people.
The President concluded his speech by stressing the importance of cooperation, solidarity, dialogue and good moral values for national progress and development.
A minute of silence was observed across the nation at exactly 9.20am on Wednesday, in remembrance of the compatriots who lost their lives and went missing during the tsunami.
At the function, the President also launched a book about disaster mitigation mechanisms.