The Power of Independence [Archives:1999/46/Viewpoint]

November 15 1999

It was truly sad to hear these words from those few people. Their words do not reflect a good sense of responsibility. They wanted us to be negative, stay still despite the efforts that are being exerted by the president. They perhaps thought that when the president sees that no one is on his side even when doing some good things, he would go back to the old days and decide not to continue. Then they will have the chance to accuse him of not doing something for the country. It is a wicked way to think about things, and shows they prefer criticizing all the time or staying negative over the national interest. 
Yemen Times thinks differently. On the contrary, even though the president was not as efficient in the past as today, and even though there are some things that he did wrong, as all human beings do, we still need to stand beside him when he is doing something good. We need to forget all the past and try to concentrate on the future. Let us ask ourselves this question, “What if he is motivated? Won’t he improve?” The answer is a typical ‘Yes,’ and hence we need to encourage him to take more of these good steps. If we want our country to flourish, we should try to push him to do more instead of staying idle waiting for him to commit a mistake and then criticize him all the way. There must be justice in the way we treat our government and president, and that justice can only be found when thinking independently. 
The night after the seminar, I received a phone call from the president, thanking me for my efforts in the seminar, assuring me that he will continue to do more and make a lot of changes in the future. I then told him, “Please Mr. President, do not think that this is some kind of praise or so, this is a motivation for you to do more of what you are doing. Don’t think that your steps are not appreciated. They are, and if you continue on this path and push harder for change, we as the Yemen Times staff members are willing to encourage you more and more to show that we are on your side.” But the other probability is also there. I said in the seminar, “Even though we as an independent newspaper are hailing the good deeds and strong commitment of the president and the government for change, we still do not want them to be surprised if we hold another seminar that is against their actions, criticizing them for their wrong doings. We are a newspaper that bravely criticizes what is wrong and supports what is right!”It is for this reason that we have the trust of the readers more than all the rest, because we are independent! It is indeed tough to hold on to a straight independent line because you cannot please all sides at once. If we were an opposition newspaper, we would have pleased the opposition bloc only, and if we were a governmental newspaper, in this case we would only need to please the government. But we are independent, and if there is one bloc that we want to please, then it is the public. It is our precious readers who appreciated the last move of the Yemen Times in supporting the president’s decisions. The 9-year history of Yemen Times cannot and will not be subject to any change in policy. It is our readers who judge our contents and evaluate whether we have abandoned our independent line or not. We are happy to stress that they see the newspaper solidly independent today more than ever. 
According to an interview with several readers, we discovered that they sincerely valued our efforts at the seminar. They believe that Yemen Times is a truly independent newspaper that is giving priority to the national interest before anything else. They know that our slogan is “supporting what is right and fighting for it, condemning what is wrong and fighting against it.” We are proud that once again, we proved that the newspaper has the power of being independent! 
I personally want to thank our readers for standing beside us, and want to assure them that it is our conscience that made us think of the country more than a political party or group’s interest, or anything similar. We as Yemen Times staff, feel we have something that makes us stronger than any other newspaper, independence! Our independence is the strength that enables is to say, ‘NO’ to what is wrong, and ‘YES’ to what is right without thinking about the consequences. We may sometimes satisfy one side, and not the other, after all, we can never think of pleasing everyone. If some figures want us to say YES to the government all the time, then to those we say, “No way!” If some figures want us to say, ‘NO’ all the time, even though right things are being done, I want to tell them, “Go find another target. Yemen Times is independent and will always stay independent!” 

Walid Al-Saqqaf
Chief Editor