Open Letter to the King

الأربعاء 26 كانون الثاني 2011

By Dr. Lahib Bani Sakher

Your Majesty,

On the eve of your anticipated address to the populace, and in the wake of your consultations with a handful of Jordanians from different walks of life, I, as a devoted Jordanian who is proud to be a Bedouin woman, would like to weigh in, since we, women, have been marginalized and excluded from these consultations, and thus were not able to provide our point of view regarding the critical social, economical, and political challenges that  are facing Jordan.

Ya Taweel Al Omer, the following are a few thoughts that I believe I share with the majority of Jordanians about how we can address our problems:

1. First, regarding the selection of a certain group of Jordanians who had the privilege of meeting Your Majesty in the past few days, this group of people, or at least most of them, were/are the reason for what we are facing today. Over the years, they assumed responsibilities and were in charge of consecutive governments, and yet many, if not all, failed to address the needs of the people and were behind the depletion of Jordan’s assets and resources, which can be  attributed either to the lack of vision and experience, or to corruption.
Thus, and with all due respect for their efforts, they are not the right people to seek advice from. They took their chance and it is time for them to step aside and allow for fresh blood to offer timely and relevant solutions, which would be more effective in my view.
2. The second factor that needs to be addressed is the selection criteria when it comes to appointing persons to Senior Governmental positions. It should be based on merit and merit only. We are in the 21 century, it is absolutely unacceptable in this time and age to inherit positions – Prime Ministry, Ministry, Director, Head of Royal Court – and to be given opportunities based only on who your father, grandfather, uncle, spouse, father-in-law, etc…is.
And here Sir, if you allow me, I would like to reiterate and affirm, that I am loyal to Jordan and the Hashemite family. I believe each and every Jordanian would give his/her life to ensure prosperity and stability in Jordan. So you have to give us the chance, as it has been granted to those who have been occupying the scene for over 60 years with their grandsons and granddaughters, as if Jordan doesn’t have any alternative.

The only practical step to overcome this shortfall in our political scene is to introduce or reactivate mechanisms which would prohibit the  appointing of any relative of former Senior governmental staff (Ministers, Ambassadors, Jordan Representative in Regional & International agencies , etc…), unless they undergo the same selection process as any other Jordanian. The  whole process should be very transparent to avoid the misuse that has been hindering qualified people from getting a fair chance.

3. The issue of accountability and transparency has been overlooked over and over again. During our life time we witnessed several serious cases of misuse of power and fraud. And each and every time people had great hopes and aspirations that justice would prevail, but in each case we were shocked and disappointed with the way things were handled. We were astonished by how people dared to break the law over and over again, as if it were their private property or business. The rule of law should be reinforced to ensure that people’s rights and resources are in safe hands.
One way to regain trust in the system is to bring people who misused their power and ran away freely back to justice, regardless of their current protected status. This is the only way for people to be assured that the government is finally on their side.

4. Social cohesion. Often one feels that we live in parallel societies. Jordanians from different origins are living in islands they don’t mix. I witnessed this first hand. I come from a mixed family, thus was able to mingle and interact with Jordanians from different  origins. People were not encouraged to interact, but rather stay isolated. Governmental programs failed to assist in bridging social, economical, and political gaps, and tailored different approaches for different groups of people. We should not hide from the unique demographic situation in Jordan. All components of society should engage and take part as Jordanian citizens regardless of their origin.

Here we should highlight and emphasize that all above processes won’t be executed and implemented smoothly unless we pay urgent attention to reform in our in political system, which will advocate the right of each Jordanian, and result in a healhier political scene.

Your Majesty, I hope  this will find its way to you.

Best regards,
Dr. Lahib Bani Sakher
Amman, Jordan