ReflectionsYemen’s Democratic Margin [Archives:2004/719/Opinion]

March 11 2004

By Yahya Al-Olfi
[email protected]

I have received criticism regarding my article on corruption in that I have accused everybody of being corrupt and made corruption as an ingrained attribute of our history.
But, I would like to stress that I have not pinpointed anybody in person and that the existence of corruption has been recognized by everyone including the corrupt themselves and whose traits I have mentioned in detail, in edition 714.
Linking corruption with the invaders is pretty clear because invaders do not think about building the invaded land in those days but looked at it as an opportunity to plunder.
I compared the present corrupt people with those greedy invaders and defied anybody to prove otherwise. So this criticism is general and is aimed at making the impulse and the impetus to ameliorate things in face of the current slump.
As you might well know Yemen is a historic country which was always renowned for its, navigational skills, dams, tunnels, citadels, prestigious architectural relics, sciences like Algebra (promoted by a Yemeni named Ahmed Ibn Mousa Aljaladi) etc. and culinary contribution by introducing coffee to the world (coffee comes from the Arabic word Qahweh not from mount Kaffa in Ethiopia as wrongly proclaimed).
The Turks who occupied Yemen introduced Coffee to Europeans as Kahveh in Turkish and hence comes the English word 'coffee' etc.
Of course some countries are still claiming unjustifiably that they are the original providers of coffee but do lack the concrete evidence while in Yemen's case its claim is far more convincing and boasts overwhelming absolute support as well as concrete evidence by Turkish, French, Dutch, British and Italian historical sources.
All those sources testify that Yemen is the indisputable original homeland of coffee and was once upon a time its one and only exporter but later the plant was implanted in other lands around the world namely Ethiopia and South America.
The political leadership represented in the person of his Excellency President Ali Abdullah Saleh, has on many occasions voiced having an absolute aversion towards the corrupt and on several occasions the president himself made surprise visits to some establishments and closed them down.
Although I disagree with the method, the president has shown himself at least to be against corruption. In fact he made some of those individuals cease exercising their official capacities until after some time influential people interfered for them.
I would like to stress also that the president and the declared policy of the government are all against corruption to the extent that the corrupt in order to make a good impression about themselves do parrot the president and the prime minister's calls for fighting corruption and act as referred to in my article of edition 714 and hence they always exercise pilferage with a seemingly legal cover-up and the calls of the president and the prime minister come to nothing.
As for, the historical facts they are indisputable and no body can argue, that with the Ethiopian and Persian invasions the Yemeni civilization came to a grinding halt and that the oppressed Yemenis of those days played the most crucial rule in spreading Islam while the invaders remained behind.
Until this very day you can still see tombs of Yemenites in China bearing their distinguished names such as Al-Khowlani, Al-Mawradi etc. or the names of citadels in Spain such as Yahsub, Khowlan ..etc. let alone the fact that Spanish is still brimful with Yemenite Arabic words e.g. Alqala. (vide Al-Arabi Magazine).
My articles against some illnesses in our society are destined for the general good and in order for us to stop the present “Ostrich Policy” as well as to avoid detractors naming us a “cardboard state” (vide articles written about Yemen in certain Arab Gulf States).
The president should use his acumen so as to avoid being duped by those who care only for their own insatiate egoistic interests against mere lip service, because curbing corruption is in the interest of everybody including the corrupt themselves albeit most think that they have already secured themselves abroad, and forget the famous wisdom of our sagacious sapient Ali Ibn Zayed.
I remember that the president has declared more than once that people must be allowed to express themselves and that he cannot in the same time hold together poverty with loss of freedom.
So, in order to keep up the good work, poverty should be fought and freedoms furthered even more. The illness is only cured by taking the right medicine not by ignoring it.
The close associates possess by now enough and should start being more honest with themselves and in their advice, for their sake and our sake, because the country needs badly their being more patriotic and to stop immediately their continued willingness to please and cajole lest the ship wrecks in us all.
Unfortunately, while the democratic margin is narrowing corruption has become an established fact and is gaining momentum and partisans. We should recognize the illness in order to find a cure. With Yemen being united and having the necessary resources it needs the will and determination not compromise solutions and compromise appointments.
There is now no room for nepotism, favoritism, lineage or compromise solutions, for curbing corruption has become an overriding necessity. Sufficient salaries should be paid for the state employees and the army and this for sure shall be reflected in more stability, less crime and less tribal strife. There are many sad examples I am avoiding to mention. I am writing about corruption because I care and because I am not reading or hearing people speak enough about it.
Our government should allow more criticism in order to ameliorate things because journalism cannot be respected if it is not sincere and people from one glance can observe if this or that paper is sincere or insincere. It is unbefitting to interpret articles whimsically in order to hush people up. We are not on a lonely planet and thus should always keep in mind that other nations are looking at us and each and every embassy reports the policies and the government's attitude towards issues such as democracy, freedom of press, multi-party system, cleaner elections etc. and then formulate their respective policies towards us and rate us based on our actions according to their own interests.
Our government should follow the example of Egypt by enacting a law that prohibits jailing, intimidating or fining journalists for we should at least catch up if not excel our Arab brethren.
Our president possesses the acumen and the courage necessary and is surrounded by some of our extremely intelligent people whom I urge to use their intelligence by being more serious and truthful with the president and to abstain from the known day-to-day panegyrics. I would like also our president to discourage the extollers and encourage the faultfinders albeit human nature likes extolment and abhors criticism.
Our president should know that his people do in reality like very much to hear his addresses, but equally do request from him, to follow up their fulfillment indeed. Our president can easily obtain the Magic Wand by the mere encouragement of good people and the punishment of the baddies because Yemen is in a dire need for serious actions, in brief “It Is Now Or Never”!