4 January 2012

Bismillah.
Yesterday was my 59th Birthday. I am pleased with the large number of friends who sent me well wishes. I thank them all. A birthday is an appropriate time for us to reflect on our lives and what we have been able to accomplish personally and professionally. It is also a good time to think and take course corrections for the rest of the time remaining, even if we are not sure how much time we have left. What is certain in life is that nothing is completely certain. But when you reach my age there is one thing that you know for sure. I don’t have nearly as much time as I want. This realization makes every moment very precious.

Allah has been very kind to me. I am thankful for all the blessings in my life. Good children and a wonderful family are the biggest blessing of all. I am thankful for generally good health and for a peaceful life. I wish such good blessings on all my family and friends.

One of the things for which I take a great deal of responsibility is this government’s pledge for a Maldives without drugs. We now have the possibility of setting up a whole new regime for the control of drug abuse. I thank the Majlis members for passing the new Drugs Bill and thank President Nasheed for endorsing the same. Many committed individuals helped to design and improve the Bill and I would like to thank them all, but one of them deserve special gratitude. Hon. Mohamed Nasheed, Member of Parliament from Kulhudhuffushi contributed more to the preparation of the new drugs bill than anyone else I know. So thank you Hon. Nasheed.

Now the difficult challenge of implementing the Bill starts. A new drugs court will be set up and a series of treatment programmes will be available for the treatment of drugs victims.

It is important that the new court is set up soon. We will work with the court to strengthen it’s technical capacities in all substantive issues of drug importation, transaction, use, and most importantly on treatment, rehabilitation and reintegration. We have already provisions for this work under the support provided by the European Union through the United Nations.

In the past three years, I have chaired the Narcotics Control Council (NCC) and overseen the work of the drug related agencies, but with mixed results. There have been some success including the preparation of the new Drugs Bill, better coordination among the drug related agencies, setting up of new treatment programmes, more support to NGO’s working in the area of aftercare for recovering addicts etc. There are still many structural and programmatic challenges we have to resolve.

From the beginning, I have always been convinced that a strong central agency is needed to plan, manage and supervise the implementation of drugs programmes. While many actors will be involved, such as NGOs in the provision of the services, there needs to be a central organization that provides technical and professional support to them. This capacity is currently lacking. We have tried for the last three years to work with the existing structures but we have not seen the kind of change we all expected. The implementation of the new legislation requires a new architecture of drug control administration. I have proposed a draft organigram of the National Narcotics Control Agency in the new Bill. This will be discussed and we will come up with a final structure in the next few days.

I know that what we have been able to do so far is not adequate but we hope that we can move forward better with the new Bill in place.