For More Dignity of the State: The Need for Action NOW![Archives:1997/40/Viewpoint]

October 6 1997

The parade marking the 35th anniversary of the 26th of September Revolution included an impressive show of military hardware. The state displayed its prowess. This is one way to impress people to revere the state. But it is only one way. There are many other ways that help establish the prestige, credibility and dignity of the state. One important way is to preserve a minimum level of integrity. Indeed, a system with integrity is one that commands the respect of others. The present system of the Republic of Yemen does not have the minimum level of integrity, and it is this fact that erodes its very legitimacy and prestige.
What is integrity? The dictionary defines integrity as the quality of being of sound moral principle, upright, honest and sincere. In a system that is overwhelmed with corruption, carelessness, lack of accountability, etc., it is very hard to preserve integrity. Because it is the belief of many Yemenis and foreign observers that the system only reacts to pressure. It does not have a built-in integrity to be fair and correct.
Embodiment of the Problem? Corruption is a worldwide plague. It exists because it is part of human nature to deviate. But the public guards against this deviant behavior. At least when exposed, a corrupt person is subjected to penalties. Here in Yemen, it doesn’t happen. If the deviant person is influential, he/she gets away with it. In some cases, the deviant official is removed from his present post, but is quickly given another. In other words, the fact that some official has fallen in the public eye because he has been caught red-handed does not mean that his career is over. You can list one example after another. This situation forces one to conclude that the system is cornered by the corrupt.
One of the major changes needed in the reform process is to establish some degree of accountability. To weed out the bad elements is an important step, not only for the system to regain credibility and prestige, but also to help speed up the development process. For example, foreign investments cannot be entertained unless there is a working system, based on law, order and integrity. ý
All over the world, the public does not think much of officialdom. The prestige of the state is as low as it can get. But here in Yemen, we have struck a new record. When officials speak, say on television, I have noticed many families either turn off the set, or leave the room to do something else. They are just fed up with all the lies.
Some of the prestige and credibility of the Yemeni state can be restored. For that to happen, however, some tangible steps need to to be taken. These include bringing some of the notorious violators to trial. Another step would be to revitalizing the watch-dog roles of parliament, the attorney-general’s office, the Central Audit and Control Organization, and the media. More transparency and accountability are needed and a visible attempt must be made to weed out the rotten public officials.  
Editor-in-Chief & Publisher Pro. Abdulaziz Al-Saqqaf