SUSTAINABILITY: A Crucial Concept in our Lives [Archives:1998/42/Viewpoint]

October 19 1998

One of the key abilities of any successful individual, company, government or regime is to extend or perpetuate a positive situation or trend. The concept is not new, but the emphasis, especially in the context of development, is new. I would like to use this concept in three different contexts.
1. Good Public Mood:
At this moment, the mood among the Yemeni public is upbeat. There are many reasons for the near-euphoria feeling, including the anniversaries of our revolution, the favorable verdict on Hunaish, and even the success of our Al-Wahdah football club to hold at bay Saudi Arabia’s best team – Al-Hilal, in the match last week. For whatever reason, the mood of the Yemeni people is rather positive these days.
Question: Can we do something to sustain this mood?
Yes. I believe that any substantive positive action by the rulers towards putting the Yemeni house in order will go a long way to perpetuate this mood. It is up to our leaders to feed this good- will with visible action.
2. Getting Busy Feeling:
There is another mood that is beginning to prevail – the feeling that it is time to get down to real work. This attitude is the result of many factors. First, there is the feeling that the vacations are over, and it is time to go back to work. Second, schools and universities are just opening for education following the summer recess, and there is acceptance that families need to get their act together and enable the pupils and students to undertake their responsibilities.
Question: Can we do something to sustain this mood?
Yes. It is possible to feed this productive attitude by enabling the people who are ready to plunge into hard work or hard studying. The hurdles can be removed, and those individuals aggressively pursuing their work/study should be recognized and honored. In other words, the system must re-orient itself in order to sustain this feeling.
3. Political Movement!
There is a creeping feeling among a rising number of Yemenis that there is some movement along the stagnant political scene in Yemen. All the major political parties (Islah, PGC, YSP and Nasserites) have already held or about to hold their congresses. There are also serious debates regarding decentralization, local administration, municipal elections, and the coming (September 1999) presidential elections.
Question: Can all this political activity be sustained to restore confidence in the system?
Yes. That is possible provided we take credible measures to show that the system works, and that it brings about change and gradual evolution.
Nobody is asking for miracles. But sustaining the present favorable psychological climate is going to be important if our country is to make progress towards the 21st century. The regime will do itself a lot of good to capitalize on the present environment and build on the existing momentum.
The present approach of bombarding the people with media programs (especially on television and radio) with junk in the form of glorification of the regime will work only to a certain degree. After that, the people will want tangible evidence of why they should be happy with the country’s leadership and the regime.
Prof. Dr. Abdulaziz AL-SAQQAF
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher