Corruption and the late zero hour [Archives:2007/1043/Opinion]

April 19 2007

By: Amer Ali Sallam
Yemen is facing numerous challenges locally, regionally, and internationally. I don't assume that Yemen is rich with its natural and human resources neither it is qualified for economic development more than anytime in the past. Also, I don't assume that it is qualified to achieve tangible development in several areas for it lacks the preliminary theoretical grounds for rebuilding the nation on the basis of democracy and political, intellectual, economic, and commercial pluralism, as well as the press freedom. Well, I believe that these grounds are very necessary for shaping the future of Yemen, which requires good institutional performance and tough procedures against corrupt individuals.

Locally, corrupt individuals are on the top of those challenges. I think tough procedures appear as if they are a nightmare making them in a state of trouble and frustration. They fear such suggested procedures if applied but alas not. Even if these procedures are implemented in real life, I think the situation will not be different from that associating with applying the Financial Liability Law, establishing an independent authority for tenders, activating the reports of the Central Organization for Control and Audit and activating the roles of commercial judiciary and the anti-corruption authority.

The anti-corruption authority has set its bylaws and regulations for uncovering corruption, its forms and colors, and punishing corrupt individuals regardless their posts and responsibilities. The authority realized that the future of Yemen relies on the tough measures against corruption and corrupt individuals. Do we have the right to declare the war against corruption? Such a question cannot be postponed or referred to the donor community, it only needs national clear conscience, as well as an official will on the part of the government and the regime.

Corruption has become a persistent problem facing Yemen and threatening its development and prosperity. It is a great challenge posed to the financial and administrative reforms. Corruption wastes natural and human resources and minimizes the ideal exploitation of these sources in a way serving the country and its development. The ideal exploitation of resources is impossible to achieve amid the policy of postponement or via the ineffective laws and regulations. Rather, it can be achieved through the real application of tough procedures in real life situations. The current remarkable procedures, taken by the government, seem unable to eliminate corruption but they may encourage the spread of corruption in different government institutions.

Today, we need to benefit from the others' experiences such as the Asian Model, which is close to us and deserves to be imitated. The Malaysian experience, which is a live example for the will and power, shows us how Mahatir Mohammed selected economy for developing his country. He approved firm procedures against corruption and made out of his country a developed and free of corruption. Can our country benefit from the Malaysian experience?

It is time for those who exploit their government jobs and influential military positions for embezzling public money, plundering lands, monopolizing trade, and intervening in investment to face tough measures. As a matter of fact, Yemen is in dire need for various reforms.

Observers say that our media insult themselves because they depend on partisan, sectarian, ethnical, or material grounds when they publish stories. However, journalism remains a noble profession and it can perform its duty with a strong sense of accountability. For, it applies the presidential decision saying that “Stories and reports published by the media shall be in conformity with the publication laws, media legislations, and ethics of the profession.”

It will be of a great benefit to hear that this presidential decision is being applied even in a single case in any newspaper regardless of its policy so as to be the first seed for the fourth authority (journalism) to develop the sense of constructive media. So, we can criticize those who hinder investment and development and who exploit their posts for serving their own personal interests. Is it time to say not to corruption and that the zero hour has started, even too late?