What Yemenis think of living standards [Archives:2008/1144/Reportage]

April 7 2008

Shafeeq Al-Homaidi and Talal Al-Khawlani
Corruption is a big concern; whether on public transportation, qat chewing sessions, or senior officials' speeches, it has been on everyone's lips. Recently, the Anti-Corruption Authority was established, but no single government official has been sent to justice. Shafeeq Al-Homaidi and Talal Al-Khawlani walked around streets in Sana'a and discussed this issue with some locals.

Akram Abdullah, 29, employee in a private company

We often hear about the Anti- Corruption Authority through media outlets. Its main aim is to fight corruption and corrupt individuals in our country. But we have not heard or seen any corrupt person in high government positions sent to trial by the authority. The main source of corruption in our country is those high-ranking officials. If they remain as such (being corrupt without trying them), then it is impossible to fight corruption by settling an account only with low-ranking officials.

Rabab Al-Maswari, 25, housewife

I think that corruption is widespread and tangible in all aspects of our lives. [One example is] the crazy price hikes and absence of control over the sellers who control the prices according to their own will. The meager salaries are a mark of corruption in the governmental sectors. Moreover, there is no justice regarding giving scholarships to prominent students who deserve them. We are all still optimistic that our leaders can save this country and its people from corruption and those who are corrupt.

Rashed Al-Awadhi, 33, teacher

Eliminating corruption stands only at 10 percent. I believe that it has dominated all aspects of life and affects our incomes. If you look over the education, health and social sectors, they are not evenly distributed. We don't find our rights that the constitution has ensured.

Ali Al-Hukairi, 32, tailor

Many years have passed while the situation of our lives has been getting worse and worse. We have not seen any fruitful steps made by the Anti-Corruption Authority. As we know, the government has allocated a budget to fight corruption, but we haven't seen anything. I'm wondering for how long we will dream of a society free of corruption, or should we just wait for more price hikes?

Mohammed Al-Badhani, carpenter

The chairman of the Anti-Corruption Authority is an ideal character and [there is] no person like him in Yemen. We really understand that eliminating corruption does not happen in one day. My suggestion and everyone's suggestion is that in order to make this government body (Anti-corruption Authority) work, it must involve opposition party members to show a clear image and realistic duties for the public.

Tahir Hazza, 36, shopkeeper

Corruption has made our lives meaningless. The problem we all face in our society is corruption. I really get amazed noticing our daily needs changing constantly from good to bad.

Ali-Al-Zoraki, 35, education worker

Corruption has crept into all government administrations. It's difficult to get your legal documents signed without bribes; ministry employees on all rungs of the ladder are corrupt. It is like a rampant disease spreading all over the community.

I personally heard that the members who work at the Anti-Corruption Authority get higher salaries. But are they aware of the country's corruption they have themselves never suffered from? I hope they don't serve themselves, but put our rights first; otherwise, we will wind up in this lost jungle.

Khalid Hameed, 36, teacher

Some members of the Anti-Corruption Authority are probably corrupt. They deprived us (Yemeni teachers). Frankly, holding the corrupt responsible doesn't exist in our community in general. Security and peace in every place around Yemen have even disappeared due to corruption. We can't walk on the street or stay at home safely.

Abdul-Wadood Mohammed, 23, teacher

Corruption sprang first from this government body which is known as 'The Anti-Corruption Authority'. People who fight corruption must be honest and must also be selected by the people themselves. They must not be chosen by the corrupt. We should support those who fight corruption and the corrupt.

Jobran Saleh, 26

The idea of the Anti-Corruption Authority is a good step. We are really hopeful of this authority's role and what reforms it will make. I think fighting corruption is not the authority's responsibility; it is everyone's responsibility.

Yemeni people should not pay bribes when they have something at government bodies and ministries.

I am blaming those Yemenis who give chances for those to be bribed. Bribery is the main source of corruption which adversely affects economic conditions. We are all aware of corrupt people who consume the private and the public budget. I hope the Anti-Corruption Authority will do its best for the public interest and change the country for the better.

Amani Al-Saifah, 23, teacher

Certainly, corruption affects my life particularly and the whole community in general.

It affects economic conditions by making the prices soar. I really keep asking myself if we will one day find ourselves living in a society that is similar to a jungle. Corrupt government officials have even destroyed our dreams of an honest society. Graduates who come from different universities with higher qualifications can't find job vacancies. Qualified people can't find a position among such corrupt [officials]. I'm a teacher and my meager salary is not enough for transportation; then how can we live with such a high cost of living?

Please, tell me where we can find our rights and what the role of the Anti-Corruption Authority is!!

Jamilah Al-Katta, 28, teacher

I think that corruption creates a lot of problems in our lives. Who is responsible for the confusion (resulting from corruption) that takes place in every aspects of life?

All kinds of corruption, including financial and administrative, are spread all over the country, leading to an increase in unemployment and bribes. Corrupt government officials care more about their positions than people's rights. Our government doesn't even care about our demands and has ignored fighting the corrupt.

Basheer Al-Hada, principal

Corruption is a worldwide issue; it is not just a Yemeni problem. We really heard about the Anti-Corruption Authority and its role. It is a good step and fighting corruption takes a very long time. I personally appreciate the role of the authority in fighting corruption.

Afrah Mohammed, 33, teacher

Corruption is not caused by the government; it is the citizens themselves who create and live with this issue.

Do we fulfill our jobs and responsibilities in a way that satisfies ourselves and the government? Unfortunately, no; we all complain about corruption but are not willing to be good examples of good principles. We should all first start with ourselves and change for the better; then, I'm sure no corruption will exist in society. It is enough to do the jobs or assignments given to us without oversight, but do them satisfactorily. Nobody is really willing to do better for himself and it is wrong when we still criticize the government.