Ahmad Al-Shami: With existence of corruption, reforms would not produce any helpful results [Archives:2000/34/Interview]

August 21 2000

With existence of corruption, reforms would not produce any helpful results
After signing the Jeddah border Treaty, the country leaders have no reasons but to seriously focus their attention re-arranging affairs of the Yemeni house. Yemeni citizens are cherishing the hope that the President would be using the same political determination he had used in solving the border issue to achieve their ambition.
Qadhi Ashami, 75, was born in Sadda, Ibb Governorate and he is one of the famous Judges and scholars. During his long career he occupied the post of Vice Minister of Justice in the first government after the revolution in 1962 and became the governor of Ibb in the 70s, while in the 80s he had chaired the Court of Appeal in Taiz.
At the beginning of 1990 he became secretary general of Al-Haq party. In 1997 he assumed the post of minister of Endowments but resigned.
Judge Ashami took part in a large number of Islamic symposia and conferences inside Yemen and abroad, the last of which was last year in Muscat on Islamic sects.
In the pursuit of sounding out prominent Yemeni figures about these developments, Yemen Time interviewed the Qadhi Sheikh Mohammed Ahmed Ashami.
Q: Do you think the Yemeni political leadership is really serious in realizing all reformative aspirations through activating all operative laws, auditing judiciary reforms, removing corrupt and the corrupted, issuing a law on declaration of assets with retroactive effect, protecting the citizen who refuses to succumb to extortion and bribery and increasing employees salaries proportionate to their necessities?
A: No doubt citizens used to take into consideration justifications of the authority on negligence in realizing their legitimate aspirations and confronting the aggravated corruption. Surely, such justifications have now become invalid after signing of the border treaty between Yemen and Saudi Arabia. The political leadership is now facing the test of carrying out its responsibilities towards the citizen and realizing his ambitions by activating the laws, reforming the judiciary, fighting the corrupt officials, ending all discrepancies and unifying the educational system.
After all the political leadership has two options: either to realize all these ambitions in order to gain the citizens satisfaction or continue with existing procrastination and negligence; but the latter will result in the citizens loss of confidence in his political leadership. This is what the coming days would reveal.
Q: Recently heated media wrangles took place between several top figures and at mosques over infidelity campaigns sponsored by religious and political symbols against a number of writers and authors. What is your opinion on these events? What are their dimensions?
A: Those media controversies and disputes reminded me of the Traffic Week. It was a mere imitation. It never leads to genuine solutions. Even if the media disputes are settled, that will not end the phenomenon of blaspheming, terrorism and violence. We have to stand firmly in the face of their motives, reasons , reality of its practicing them and the dangerous dimensions which may be concealing a sedition.
The media wrangles had not reflected seriousness in dealing with the issue. They have reflected domination of compromise and leniency means in dealing with sanctities by both parties according to prevalent climates. At Al-Haq Party, with regret, we did not have to take the issue with seriousness. We did not like to shove religion and exploit it for the sake of interests.
Q: Recently an Iftaa(legal opinion) Committee has been formed composed of a number of respectable Religious Leaders. In your opinion what is the criterion according to which these men have been selected? Has selection of the religious committee any political or sectarian dimension that may involve your Al-Haq Party in the dispute between the GPC and the YRC?
A: Undoubtedly, a lot of factors are taken into consideration as criteria in selecting Ullamas viz. education, qualification, efficiency, rank as well as politics. As far as my Respected colleague, Mohammed Mansoor is concerned, he is a well-known weighty religious figure. His personal qualities, aptitude, ability, history, education and his very presence qualify him to be selected. This never means Al-Haq Party should be part in the on-going dispute between the two allies. His esteemed status was the basic reason behind his selection, I believe.
Q: What is the real stand of Al-Haq Party on the Jeddah Treaty?
A: The clear stance of Al-Haq Party towards the Treaty was mentioned in its statement and also in the statement issued by the Coordination Council. Al-Ummah organ of our Party, had also published it. We welcomed the treaty and affirmed that now the authority should carry out its duties in realizing citizens ambitions and confront corruption after the disappearance of justifications of negligence.
Q: Where does Al-Haq Party stand versus the oppositions Coordination Council? Does your party agree with their opinions and visions?
A: Al-Haq Party, like other parties, is a member of the Coordination Council. Everything is within the regulations and objectives which organize the Council. Anything issued by the Council represents all parties. I do not think this affects the particularity of any Council member.
Q: What is your opinion on the present educational status. What about unifying the educational system and application of the Law on Education?
A: Al-Haq Party was in the forefront for urging unification of education system; it called for the application of the seven-year-old Law on Education. I say that first the authorities on top and the Yemeni Reform Congregation (Islah) are mainly responsible for deterioration of education and for not implementing the Law of Education. What confirms gravity of affairs and deterioration in educational conditions is the cheating, disrespect of teachers, carelessness and leniency which has reached the stage of crime as we see in the case of the Faculty of Medicine Morgue. In addition to all these we have those educational institutions and universities which keep the students lagging behind, unable neither to create nor think. Yemen needs torches for enlightenment, not bombs.
Q: What do you think are the reasons for the weakness observed in the role of Opposition. How could this be tackled?
A: It is the mechanism of Coordination Council which is weak. Interest is focused on instantaneous issues. Initiatives and serious follow-up of issues are absent. Surely without redressing those negative aspects it is difficult to implant sound traditions for the opposition function. I believe this is the most important of opposition priorities. Selfishness should not be the prevalent characteristic of any of the opposition parties. Spirit of collective work, credibility and seriousness should always prevail.
Q: How do you look at the economic situation and the policy of economic reform which is being pursued?
A: The economic situation is improving only in what we hear in the official news. The citizen does not tangibly feel it. The situation is getting from bad to worse. Potions are successive and hope is fading away. Corruption is dominating over everything. With existence of corruption, reforms would not produce any helpful results.