Speech By President James A Michel, Commander-In-Chief Of The Defence Forces ICCS 1st January 2011
02 February 2011 | Defence
Chief of Defence Forces,
Commissioner of Police,
Officers of the SPDF.
Officers of the police,
Members of the military,
Members of the police,
Ladies & Gentlemen,
Winning for Seychelles! The theme of the new year resonates here. Winning for Seychelles! We put our motherland before all else! This applies to all Seychellois. It concerns all of us but its significance is more powerful, more profound and more evocative to the men and women in uniform. It has a special meaning to you, who have dedicated your lives, courage and all your efforts to the protection and defence of our motherland, to maintain law and order.
Your mission is noble. Your mission is just. Your mission is an inspiration to us all. We are gathered here today with much pride and joy -- at the start of the new year -- for the nation to render you a well-deserved homage. For all Seychellois to salute you for your courage, devotion and patriotism. For them to say thank you. For them to tell you that Seychelles is proud of its sons and daughters wearing the uniforms of the defence forces and police.
It is an honour for me to serve as your Commander-in-Chief. I stand proudly in front of you, ready for any eventuality. I am ready to listen to you, ready to give you guidance where needed. Above all, I am, together with you, ready for Seychelles. Ready to win for Seychelles!
Our defence forces were put to the test during the year that has just ended. We did not give up. With courage and determination we emerged triumphant. We were a good example to the world. The scourge of piracy in the Indian Ocean has threatened our territorial integrity on many occasions. It continues to threaten our economic activities that are vital for our survival and progress. These are fishing, tourism, trade, free circulation of maritime traffic ¦ Worse still, piracy is endangering the lives of our citizens. With the help of our foreign partners we have taken firm actions. We launched two spectacular military operations to free our compatriots from the grasp of the Somali pirates. We dealt them a good lesson. No one will hold us as hostages. No one fools around with Seychelles, although we are small.
It is quite appropriate today to pay tribute to the officers and soldiers who participated in the two military operations. Early last year, the coastguard and Tazar units who took part in the first rescue mission were presented with medals of honour. Most of them participated in the second operation. According to military protocol, the same medal is not awarded a second time. But they can receive another symbol of recognition. It is, therefore, with great pleasure that I present certificates of appreciation and recognition to all crew members of the Topaz and Andromanche and also the special Tazar unit for their bravery and gallantry in the performance of their tasks. I warmly commend you all and say a big thank you.
I would like to make a special mention of Major Laurencine, the commander of the Topaz. Your efficiency and leadership during the two operations were exemplary -- a source of inspiration and motivation to all the men under your command. Congratulation Major! Well done! Thank you!
I want to say something on military decorations. Participating in a military operation is a normal part of the terms and conditions of service, and the work of all the men and women in uniform. Medals, citations, etc, are awarded only in exceptional circumstances. This is the practice in all military forces in the world. I know that our Seychellois in the military are devoted and committed to the defence of their motherland and their work. Their biggest reward is the sense of victory and satisfaction after successfully accomplishing a mission, with bravery and gallantry. Their biggest reward is the support they get from all Seychellois, and recognition from their country for their effort and sacrifice.
The work of a military person and a police officer is not easy. It requires a lot of sacrifice. It requires a lot of perseverance. It is not a regular 8 to 4 job. The work is special, demanding- extra effort. It is also required that they are often away from their families. We are also paying tribute to their families when we show our appreciation to the work of the military and police. We thank them profoundly for their constant support, encouragement and resilience.
2011, the year of Winning for Seychelles, is a strengthening year. During the year Government will strengthen the intervention, institutional and infrastructural capacities of the SPDF and the Police. We will continually explore all possibilities to provide you with more resources. We will continually look for possibilities to improve your working conditions. Your concerns are our concerns. Together we will continually address the concerns. To give an example, following the meetings Minister Morgan had with the different units of the SPDF, we have dealt with a good part of your concerns and continue to look for solutions for the rest. As a fact, among the solutions, we will make available this year 60 houses for the defence forces. We will continue to build more flats for our military. A new transport system will be at your disposal. More importantly, a new scheme of service will come into effect this month.
The police -- the pillar in our society that guarantees order, peace and security in our country -- have not been forgotten. We appreciate your work and effort. But our citizens are demanding. Our expectations are high. We expect that you do even better in fighting criminality, social ills and anti-social behaviours. We know you can do more and better still. We have confidence in you. The police will benefit from more resources during 2011 to enable them to accomplish their work better and with greater effectiveness. We will also introduce, this month, a new scheme of service which offers improved terms and conditions.
Today, more than ever, Seychelles needs all its citizens of goodwill -- especially the youth, the new leaders of our country -- to come together in unity, with the sense of patriotism, fraternity, to work together in the same direction. This will bring more progress to our country, to combat divisions and scourges in our society. Seychelles deserves the best. Let us join our forces, let us combine our talents and creativity for a better Seychelles. Let’s do it for a bright future, for our children, for Seychelles. Let us, together, achieve Winning for Seychelles.
I wish all the members of the defence forces and the police a Happy New Year. May God continue to guide you in the accomplishment of your noble task. May God continue to bless our country!