A Good President Makes a Good Country [Archives:1999/21/Focus]

May 24 1999

I was watching the president’s interview report with the Middle East News Agency, which was broadcasted on Sharja Satellite TV Station a few days ago. The thing that impressed me most was the part in which he expressed his intention to quit chewing qat, and to redirect his energy to computer technology. I was so happy, because he is our role model, and many Yemenis will follow him. 
I was happy that our president came to realize the dangers of this evil plant which has been devouring our resources and freezing our mental capacities for so long. 
He realized that it is time for our country to rise above this daily qat chewing habit, and begin a mission of thorough and intensive reconstruction. Neither the people, nor the president want Yemen to be left behind in this technological era. This is why the president emphasized that catching up with computer technology is an important step that we must take. I had trouble believing my ears when I heard that our president won’t be chewing qat any more, but I was happy. It is a courageous commitment. 
I know the president will keep his word. I congratulate him from the depths of my heart. To be honest and frank, I did not expect him to address this problem in front of millions of Yemeni qat chewers. It was not an easy task, but he had the courage and vision to do it. He didn’t worry about the thousands of qat traders and distribution agents who are benefiting from the destruction of our lives and our country’s economy. 
I also think that some of the gratitude should go to the Qat Combating Society. Members of this society are the people who started the intensive campaign against qat this year. It is noticeable that many people have started to realize the negative effects of this destructive plant from various public and private media organs, and have stopped chewing it. Their role was really a noble one. 
The president’s pledge to quit chewing qat not only impressed me, it also impressed millions of other Yemenis who are suffering directly or indirectly from the effects of qat. The president was keen and smart to realize that it was time for a nation famous for its wisdom to seek a way out of this troubling qat habit, and to get rid of it for good. By announcing that he had stopped chewing, the president has given us a great example of a good leader who wants a brighter future for his people.
I thank the president for his decision, and ask him to continue his efforts to discourage the bad habit of chewing qat. Mr. President, I know that the leader of a country is its example for the rest of the nation. I also know that you are our example.
Thank you for being a good one. 
By: Walid Al-Saqqaf 
Yemen Times