Tag Archives cp

What? No thanks notices?

What? No thanks notices?

Here’s a breath of absolute fresh air:

تعميم ديوان ولي العهد للوزارات: الشكر على الزيارات الميدانية بالعمل وليس بالإعلانات

أعلن مكتب النائب الأول لرئيس مجلس الوزراء، في تعميم من ديوان سمو ولي العهد، بأن الشكر موصول لمختلف الجهات الحكومية على حرصها لابداء امتنانها وتقديرها لزيارات العمل الميدانية التي يقوم ولي العهد نائب القائد الأعلى النائب الأول لرئيس مجلس الوزراء صاحب السمو الملكي الأمير سلمان بن حمد آل خليفة من أجل الاطلاع على الأهداف الاستراتيجية والوقوف على سير العمل بالوزارات والهيئات الحكومية. وأنه وفق توجيهات صاحب السمو الملكي ولي العهد نائب القائد الأعلى النائب الأول لرئيس مجلس الوزراء على الجهات الحكومية عدم نشر إعلانات الشكر بشأن زيارات العمل الميدانية التي يقوم بها سموه؛ وأن الشكر الحقيقي هو العمل الدؤوب لتوفير الخدمات الحكومية المتميزة والمتكاملة للمواطنين وتحقيق كل ما يصب في مصلحة الوطن. [Alwasat Newspaper]

Essentially, the release above is a directive by the Crown Prince to government (and other) agencies NOT to publish their customary “thanks for your visit” notices in papers and other media, but show their actual thanks through diligent work and actions which can benefit the country and its citizens!

This is a distinct departure from the status quo, and a very welcome one at that.

This is bound to piss off Anwar Abdulrahman as he built his whole career on such, ehm, appreciation. This directive will no doubt tick off other editors too as this unnecessary practice has unquestionably been a good source of revenue for their organisations. More importantly, the ramifications of such decision is that others will (and most definitely should) follow suit. To say that this has been a very long time coming is an understatement as far as I’m concerned, and it does shows that the Crown Prince has literally rolled up his sleeves and will not take any crap from anyone.

Observers might think nothing of this move. To us Bahrainis; however, this is quite significant in its intentions. I believe this country over the last few years has gone quite overboard in the art of brown-nosing with people actually being rewarded for doing so. I do fervently hope that this signals the end of that decrepit and degrading “custom”.

Here’s to a better future!

Share

Frustration, a good catalyst for change

I can fully understand our Crown Prince’s frustration with the government and officially welcome him into our ranks, the ranks of I would say the majority of Bahrainis whose only recourse to their frustration is to habitually bang heads against solid walls of stasis and fear of change. To the government, they think that they are simply doing their job, to the rest of Bahrain, we once again recognise yet another missed opportunity to progress.

The cost is huge. It is truly a matter of life or death to this country. What is amazing is that for 40 years or more we have been on a downward spiral which almost got us to the state of a forgotten backwater, when those around us have been enjoying the fruits of their foresight. Yet, when we get someone who wants to effect real change, he and his sincere ideas for progress find inordinate opposition.

It is as if they are saying that change, whatever it is, is not welcome in this country.

Labour reforms, educational reforms, economic reforms as well as political reforms have all but died in the last few months. We are at a stage now of lethargic existence. ‘Who cares’ is a phrase oft repeated by all and sundry.

His Highness Shaikh Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Crown Prince of Bahrain, addresses luncheon guests and members of the US-Bahrain Business Council

From the heydays of 2001 when enthusiasm for welcome change and new beginnings was palpable. When a Bahraini walked tall in the streets and wore a beaming smile welcoming an expectant and inclusive future is all but been destroyed now. It is a state that one is forgiven in believing that it is completely stage-managed: ‘Get the people so frustrated in order to kill every single spark of enthusiasm for this country and its people’.

The proof of this condition is quite plain to see: frustration is the norm, torturers continue to walk amongst us with impunity, sectarian hatred is rife and its perpetrators continue to go unmolested – in actual fact they continue to be promoted and enjoy complete immunety from accountability, the dangerous policy of demographic change goes unabated, transparency is opaque at best and corruption has escalated. Almost all international metrics about this country have deteriorated and there seems to be no will to correct them.

This of course translates into public unrest. People have become so frustrated that they now believe only complete change will correct the situation. 2007 saw some 113 demonstrations a lot of which turning violent. These resulted in imprisonment, hospitalisation and even fatalities.

Parliament continues to exacerbate the situation even further. They have not considered any action beyond narrow sectarian parameters. They have even abrogated their intrinsic responsibility of oversight by habitually refusing to utilise one of their constitutional tools to question ministers due to nothing more than sectarian considerations. Their role has been limited – willingly – to publication of press releases castigating people for using their constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of expression!

Anti-naturalisation demonstration in Bahrain

The country is directionless. It is in dire straights and requires a good captain to step up on deck and take control of the rudder to navigate it out of these turbid waters.

I believe that our crown prince, with his amply demonstrated leadership qualities and commitment to the country, is the right person to lead this change. He has shown that he can take criticism with an open mind, is inclusive in his approach by eliciting and acting upon views even from the opposition as we have witnessed through his various reforms workshops. He is young and tenacious with a clear vision. He should be given an honest and unfettered chance to push that vision and ideas through.

playClick to listen to the Crown Prince’s interview with Turki Al-Dakheel at FIKR6
Arabic :: mp3 :: 38 minutes

His frustration has obviously been brewing for some time. The evidence of which was during the recent FIKR6 conference in Bahrain where to everyone’s surprise (and other’s chagrin) he digressed from his planned opening remarks by appending a passionate and clear appeal to the people to show the leadership that we are frustrated with the state at which we find our country. He went further and encouraged everyone to highlight government meddling and its hindering of necessary projects. “Get your voice to the leadership” was a resonating call in halls filled with intellectuals and decision makers.

He amplified on this call even more during his interview with Turki Al-Dakheel where he boldly pointed out that a government’s main job should be limited to three things: Defence, Security and Justice.

He was time and again harassed by the interviewer who rightly pointed out that this is not he case at all in any Arab government, but the prince was adamant in his belief. He time and again affirmed his vision that he wants Bahrain to go in this direction. He seemed to not have any doubt in his mind that this is the way to go. This is the ultimate vision he is working toward.

Those remarks, so publicly expounded, must have shaken a few cradles. His efforts continued to be thwarted. But now, it seems he has reached a turning point. In a highly visible public gesture, he has notified the King of his frustration and laid the ball completely at the King’s feet. It is now up to the King to ensure that the government change and that the role of the Economic Development Board – which the crown prince heads – is affirmed in unambiguous terms to be the exclusive agency in charge of national economic policies.

That mandate has now been given.

What the effects of this clear mandate is, will become clear in the next few days and weeks. I just hope that those effects will be expedited by the removal of the gargantuan guardians of that wall of regression. New blood must be infused into a representative and forward looking cabinet to effect much awaited and desperately needed change.

The world does not wait for us to make up our minds and does not stand on ceremony either. It wants results and a clear indication that we mean business in a modern and transparent way; else, other markets are wide open to receive the world’s benevolence. We are very welcome to continue to reside in the quagmire of one of the last remaining backwaters in the world.

Share

Renewed official stance on corruption

Corruption

Like everyone else in Bahrain, I was thrilled to read our Crown Prince’s unequivocal statement that corruption will no longer be condoned and that even if a minister was implicated in corruption, he or she will get their just desert.

I also remembered that our parliament has discussed this issue and the committee tasked with formulating that new law has rendered its decision1 to approve a parliamentary discussion of this law. I hope that with the Crown Prince’s push, that law will see the light during the forthcoming new term.

This re-enforced political will is wonderful to behold especially in view of the accelerating corruption cases brought against various managers in government-owned companies like ALBA, Gulf Air and most recently ASRY. I hope at the very least these people being brought to justice will at least get those corrupt officials to sit up and feel a bit embarrassed and take their thieving hands out of the cookie jar for a while at least. One would hope that this new political will will also force them to refill those jars from whatever that had stuck to their nimble fingers.

Unfortunately however, these kind of promises have been heard before but never sufficiently followed up; or at least if they have been followed up no conviction was been meted out to the corrupt. On the contrary, in some cases, people implicated in corrupt activities were actually promoted, as we have most recently witnessed in someone who was implicated in the infamous Bandargate fiasco.

Cases like the Housing Bank, GOSI and others are still fresh in people’s minds. So calls like these – with all due respect – need to really be followed up and convictions of the corrupt be levied in order for this political will to have some legitimacy and for it to regain its credibility.

Let me remind you that corruption is not only monetary, but other forms do exist as well which must be taken care of. In Bahrain for instance, the financial corruption might not exceed other forms of corruption like nepotism, patronage, influence peddling, avoiding the law, etc. However, corruption is no longer just restricted to these traditional arenas, it is more completely defined as:

Corruption obtains when an official transfers a benefit to an individual who may or may not be entitled to the benefit, in exchange for an illegal payment (the bribe). By taking the bribe, the official breaks a legally binding promise he gave to his ‘principal’ (usually the state administration or a private company) to allocate the benefit to those entitled to it. Corruption is neither a property of a social system or an institution, nor a trait of an individual’s character, but rather an illegal exchange. Nowadays scholars have abandoned the classic view of corruption as the degradation of an individual’s ethical sense, or lack of moral integrity. If corruption is a type of exchange it can, at least in principle, be the subject of empirical, cross-country examination. For data, scholars turn mainly to three sources, the German-based NGO Transparency International; the World Bank, and, to a lesser extent, Freedom House. These agencies all produce large cross-national surveys and ranking of countries, although the data come with a variety of biases. Naturally, illegality makes it hard to measure corruption.

Which brings me to the last few years’ CPI rating for Bahrain which has degraded appreciably. One only hopes that with the affirmation and bluntness of the Crown Prince this time, that things will really get moving in the right direction. Finally.

If I may suggest a few small thing to aid in inculcating the culture of anti-corruption: create a provision in law to protect whistle-blowers, cancel that heinous Press and Publications Law 47/2002 to allow news reports to out corruption and its benefactors and let’s see some sentences handed down against high-profile corrupt public employees and appropriate their misbegotten wealth. I am sure that should these things be enacted, our CPI rating will most certainly rise. Much more importantly of course, Bahrain’s credibility both national and international will be much enhanced, and people’s lives here will be bettered.

Now what’s the Anti Corruption Hotline number again?

[1] pdf document in Arabic

Share

Hands off our throats!

Shaikh Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa, Bahraini crown prince

واعرب سمو ولي‮ ‬العهد في‮ ‬حديث لرئيس التحرير على متن الطائرة الملكية،‮ ‬عن آسفه لموقف الوزراء الذي‮ ‬وصفه بانه‮ ‬غير مسؤول من‮ »‬ربيع الثقافة‮«‬،‮ ‬وقال‮ »‬ان لا أحد قال كلمة طيبة وانا مستاء جدا وموقفي‮ ‬هذا نابع من حرصي‮ ‬على المستقبل‮«.‬

وحذر سمو ولي‮ ‬العهد من ان فكرا‮ ‬غير مسؤول وسياسات ضيقة تخدم فئة معينة،‮ ‬تهدد المواطنين والأجانب العاملين في‮ ‬القطاع المصرفي‮ ‬الذي‮ ‬يوفر نحو ‮٥.١ ‬مليار دينار لاقتصاد البحرين،‮ ‬مشيرا سموه إلى أن هذه التصرفات‮ »‬تهدد مستقبل أبنائنا وتفرح منافسينا‮«. ‬

ووجه سمو ولي‮ ‬العهد‮ »‬نداء شخصيا لكل مواطن أيا كان،‮ ‬حتى وإن كان قد عمل ضدنا في‮ ‬السابق أن‮ ‬ينتمي‮ ‬إلى حركة جديدة اصلاحية تريد الازدهار والتنمية وأن‮ ‬يتركوا عنهم الأمور التي‮ ‬تشغلنا عن الهدف الرئيسي‮«‬،‮ ‬مشددا سموه على أن ما‮ ‬يحدث في‮ ‬البحرين من مشاغبات واضطرابات لم‮ ‬يؤثر على ايمانه بالديمقراطية التي‮ ‬تحتاج فقط إلى الحوار المستمر والمشاركة والشجاعة‮.

Al-Ayam :: 2 April 2007

Finally, someone came out and unequivocally slapped those moronic Islamist MPs and put them in their place. And that someone is the crown prince, so we can expect our effervescent MPs to now dither and dodge and try diligently to look and act like headless chickens caught in heavy traffic to “revise” their positions.

Thanks your highness, you’ve set the required standard and showed not only our dear beloved elected MPs but the cowardly ministers who didn’t enough backbone to stand up to the dimwits and ensure that they protect the constitution by simply defending the guaranteed freedoms that taking a moderate line and abiding by the constitution they swore to uphold is no longer just talk but a basic requirement of their jobs.

Well done! It’s about time.

Update 4/4/07: English translation of the interview is available here

related: Gulf News coverage.

Share