Dreaming of the State of Law and Order [Archives:2001/42/Viewpoint]

October 15 2001

On every passing day, I look up to the sky with hope that Yemen will someday become a state of law and order. I have tried with my pen and newspaper to bring this issue into focus; Yemen cannot develop unless law and order are enforced. That is the limit to what I can do in this cause. Besides, I can only hope.
We have suffered from lawlessness for too long. We are sensing the pain that has been inflicted on the public after years of neglect and disrespect to the laws of the country. Thousands of laws and regulations are destined to stay on paper without implementation on the ground for tens of years.
No one can deny that this has led to corruption in public funds, injustice in national courts, and despair in the Yemeni people. What are we waiting for? Why are we waiting?
Mighty, rich, and influential people in the country have been exempted from almost all rules currently applied to the poor and weak. Injustice, evident everywhere you go, reflects the need to look back and see where we were wrong. Why have the Yemeni people become so poor, so illiterate, and so abandoned in a time citizens of the First World are in luxury? What is it that we are missing? Is it the natural resources, the labor, or the will? Or are we just missing the point?
As the Five-Year Plan was discussed on TV, I saw a poor beggar in the street watching the TV with a look of desperation. He said: “This is what they have been doing for years. Talking, talking, and talking. I know that they will do nothing to improve our life standards, but I pray to God that they will not devastate us further.”
Just a few weeks ago I wrote in this very column about the incident of the traffic officer who couldn’t stop an armed tribal gang in the street and ask them about their car’s plate. Today, I can see the very same traffic officer still unable to fulfill his job. He still cannot enforce the law on this powerful tribal sheikh.
Amid the efforts to combat global terrorism, Yemen continues to fail to enforce the simplest rules and regulations. We continue to live in a country that has no control over the problem of weapons and no control over tribesmen. We cannot deny this fact, but instead we should work with others to bring an end to such phenomena.
Until the day when laws are enforced on all people, strong and weak, civil or tribal, and poor and rich, I will continue to dream of the day Yemen becomes a state of law and order.