Bahrainis are somewhat optimistic

8 May, '06

The BCSR has released another of its interesting statistics which they get commissioned to do from time to time; this time they were asked to gauge the optimism of the street in the country and its direction. The results are hardly surprising, in summary, they are:

62.9%Optimistic
12.1%Pessimistic
82.9%Believe Bahrain to be competitive
38.9%Don’t and consider it the government’s responsibility for the development of the country
11.7%Private sector will play crucial role in spearheading development
68.9%Think that Bahrain has strong assets
72.2%Urge to eradicate some weaknesses
Lack of government departments coordination
Lack of security
Empowering human resources and encouraging scientific research
Improve standards of living
Anchoring democracy
Anchoring civil liberties
Reducing unemployment
Alleviate housing crisis
Reduce traffic congestion

I have no idea why there isn’t a “maybe” column or statistic in there, nor do I know how big is the sample used for this, but I would suspect at least a few would not have made their minds. Nor do they publish the margin of error (in the GDN at least, maybe the exalted journal didn’t find a need to declare it, and the BCSR’s site is a bit lacklustre, and that is being generous!)

The surprising thing to me is that these statistics look real! What is this, a government organisation actually saying the truth? And thus gaining credibility? I sure hope so…

So a massive 88.3% don’t believe that private business can contribute to the country’s development?! That is such a disappointment, I’m not sure if those people polled rest that responsibility exclusively on the government, or even more damagingly think that the Bahraini businessman is an insignificant component of society. I wonder why this has changed in a generation. Businessmen before the advent of oil were the only viable force of stability in the island, but when the oil started to flow, the government just did not need them, hence they were sidelined completely, and the businessmen and women did not do themselves any favours by acquiescing to the situation. They should have fought for more power, and ironically, I think if they fought for real democratic institutions in the last 30 years especially, they would have limited the impact of the government on people’s daily lives and they would have rightly claimed their social status and responsibilities. We see the result of that inaction now in statistics such as these.

There is a twist though, the respondents seem to contradict themselves in this point when 61.1% do not believe it’s the government’s responsibility to develop the country! If they hold private business in Bahrain in such low esteem, and they don’t believe that it’s the government responsibility to develop it, pray who is actually going to do any development? Does anyone have an Aladdin lamp that we don’t know about? This is probably a clear indication of the inappropriateness of some of the questions in the poll.

On the democracy front, it is much more encouraging. The vast majority of respondents (72%) are very politically aware and are cognizant of the ills of this country and know exactly the things that need to be addressed.

Will this cognizance translate into electing the right representatives for the parliament come October?

One can only hope!

It is interesting to note; however, that the only point the government chose to address (yes, do read between the lines, someone has to pay for these pieces of research and their timely release is not by coincidence!) is the traffic congestion issue, and even that seems to be a very half-hearted attempt.

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