Opening the First Ordinary Session of the 15th Parliament
2 December 2007
(Translated from Arabic)
Prayers and peace be upon our master Muhammad, the honest Arab Hashemite Prophet,
Honourable Senators,Honourable Deputies,
Peace, God's mercy and blessings be upon you,
In the name of God, and with His blessing, we inaugurate the first ordinary session of the Fifteenth Parliament, with hope and optimism in this new assembly – a collection of many qualified Jordanians who have been elected for the first time. We hope they will be a qualitative addition that enriches the work of this parliament, enhancing its ability to serve and achieve through its work with the executive authority in the spirit of unity, with faith in the homeland's progress and enthusiasm to participate and a sincere desire to serve.
The coming stage of dear Jordan's march is a continuation of the process of building, reform and modernisation. It is of utmost importance because it is full of challenges and requirements that should be realised. This calls for work, over the next four years, in the spirit of partnership, cooperation and complementarity between the legislative and executive authorities, and in accordance with the principle of majority rule with respect for the opinion of the minority within the framework of the Constitution, in both letter and spirit.
Public service allows no room for personal interests, or interests that are related to district, party or narrow tribal affiliation. The interest of the homeland and its citizens supersedes all differences and considerations. Hence, our ultimate goals should define the relationship between the two authorities: realising the biggest share of public interest, facing up to all challenges, whether political, economic or social, providing a decent life for citizens and realising comprehensive development that guarantees a bright future for this homeland.
The Constitution identified the duties and responsibilities of both authorities, the executive and the legislative, and defined the mechanism and nature of their relationship in order that executive policies and legislative process would constitute a circle of homogenised and integrated work, while consolidating the executive authority's right to realise the people's aspirations in various fields and the legislative authority's right to monitor and hold accountable.
Our vision for Jordan's future is clear and ambitious; its pillar is comprehensive reform and modernisation - political, economic and social - for the sake of attaining the ultimate goal: improving citizens' standard of living and providing the means for a decent life to every Jordanian family. This is the duty of all: myself, the government and you, the two houses of parliament. I repeat: what is required is to improve the citizen's standard of living. This for us is a principle to which we are committed in governance and administration, and not just a slogan that some reiterate to achieve interim or momentary goals.
When talking about political reform, the first thing that we want to emphasise is the importance of entrenching awareness of democratic culture, and developing political parties that enable Jordanian citizens' real participation in decision-making, provided that intentions are loyal to the homeland and to the preservation and defence of our immutable national principles, and not subject to outside agendas. This demands the entrenchment of the principles of justice, equality and equal opportunity, on the basis of merit, rooting these principles and concepts in our national culture and transforming them from the realm of mere talk into reality of work, away from doubting and posturing.
As for our economy, one of the most important priorities is increasing the economic growth rate, enhancing financial and monetary stability, handling the debt problem, rationalising expenditure, boosting our self-reliance, enhancing the role of the private sector in national development and building on the achievements that have been realised by Jordan in the signing of Arab, regional and international economic agreements, so that Jordan becomes an economic centre attractive to investors.
Our vision of social life is focused on increasing Jordanian citizens' income, in all social sectors, in a way that ensures a decent living for every Jordanian family. We also must seek the just distribution of development returns through economic projects that take into consideration the geography and demographics and the particularities of each governorate. We are additionally keen to provide every citizen with a good level of basic services and bridge the gap in the standard of health and education services and infrastructure between the capital and rural areas, the Badia and refugee camps.
I have noted that in years past, the government has not implemented all the projects and plans required of them, in spite of the availability of the necessary funding for these projects. On the other hand, the legislature hampered the government's work by delaying the endorsement of requisite legislation. I am confident that partnership between your honourable assembly and the government can guarantee the realisation of the achievements to which we aspire for the future of Jordan.
We realise that promoting Jordan, enabling Jordanian citizens' participation in development and improving their standard of living requires numerous laws, which should be passed to implement the necessary policies and plans to realise the desired development. Primary among these is legislation related to enhancing transparency and accountability, such as a law concerning a national ombudsman, legislation related to human rights, the rights of women and children, the protection of youth and adolescents and to encouraging investment and tax reform. Of equal importance are executive assignments in a number of sectors - political, economic and social - to which the government has committed to planning and implementing in the best possible manner. Here, we respect and appreciate parliament's role in monitoring the government, and following up its work in implementing projects, plans and the National Agenda.
My government is committed to working, over the coming months, on providing a social safety net that protects the poor and expanding health insurance coverage. The quality of food products, drugs and water must be actively monitored to preserve citizens' health and safety. In addition to the right to health and safety, citizens have a right to learning and education, to be equipped with knowledge, experience and skills that qualify them to enter the job market.
I directed my government to make the year 2008, with God's permission, the year of housing projects, so that those of limited income, public service employees, members of the armed forces and the security institutions will enjoy descent housing, in appreciation of their contributions to building the homeland and protecting its achievements.
From this democratic forum, I call on the legislative and executive authorities to start a positive dialogue on the Landlords and Tenants Law to come up with practical solutions that take into consideration the realisation of social security, justice, and the interests of all, whether they are landlords or tenants.
We have also made a strategic choice to diversify our energy resources and rationalise consumption so that neither citizens nor the homeland will remain hostage to the fluctuation of oil prices on the international market.
Justice is the base of governance. We therefore emphasise that we will continue to enhance the independence of the judiciary, to realise justice among people and the rule of law for all, without exception.
And because youth are the future of Jordan, we emphasise that we will continue to support them and open doors for their capabilities and abilities to enhance their participation in public life, and enable them to participate in building their homeland.
As for the freedom of the press and information, we do assert, from this house of democracy, our commitment to preserve and protect this freedom, so that the media will be the monitor's eye that uncovers truth on professional and objective basis, and in the spirit of responsible freedom. This is on condition that it is Jordanian in its belonging and nationalist in its goals and message. The Constitution guarantees the freedom of opinion and expression. It is not acceptable to send a journalist to prison for a difference in opinion on a public issue, as long as this opinion does not entail abusing the rights of others, their freedoms, honour or dignity.
Our armed forces and the security institutions remain the symbol of the power, security and stability of this nation. They protect its progress and achievements, and they are partners in the development process. We will do our utmost to continue modernising their capabilities and providing them with all that they need in terms of most up-to-date weapons, training and preparedness, so that they remain, as they have always been, a symbol of efficiency and capability and an outstanding example in this regard.
A strong, invincible and prosperous Jordan, is a Jordan that is able to support and stand by our brothers, whether in Palestine or Iraq. From this forum, and from this magnanimous parliament, we call on them, in the name of brotherhood and the bonds of religion and nationalism, to overcome their differences, unite their ranks against sedition and embrace dialogue as a means to reach mutual understanding and settle disputes.
Concerning the peace process in the region, Jordan adheres to the option of a just comprehensive peace, for which the late, great King Hussein, may God bless his soul, worked, so that the peoples of the region and generations to come would enjoy security and stability, strangers to the calamities of conflict and war and their destructive outcomes.
Hence, we emphatically tell Israel that ending the occupation of Arab and Palestinian lands, withdrawing there from and implementing legitimate international resolutions are the only way to realise just, permanent and comprehensive peace, and to guarantee a safe future for the region's peoples and its coming generations. We also say to the Palestinians that strength is in unity and weakness in disunity; so, unite your ranks and seize the available opportunity to realise peace and establish your independent state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Jordan is determined to carry on with its legitimate and historic role to confront the campaign of distortion being waged against our honourable religion by rejecting extremism, violence, and takfiri thought. We will continue to convey the true principles of Islam, the religion of moderation and tolerance. God Almighty says in the Holy Quran: "Thus have we made of you a nation justly balanced, that ye might be witnesses over the nations."
We will stand up to anybody who tries to abduct our religion or to monopolise Fatwa for political reasons, for the purpose of using religion as a tool to subdue others for the sake of special or suspicious agendas. We will activate the role of historic religious institutions and enable trusted scholars to play a role in activating the principle of Ijtihad and Fatwa to cope with contemporary social, political, intellectual and scientific developments, and to guide the nation's conscience and human culture, while preserving the essence of our religious belief and the great message of our religion.
The responsibility you shoulder is great: public service is about answering a call to duty and assuming responsibility. It is not just about gaining prestige. You have ahead of you four years of work, and they are enough to achieve much. We entrust you with this responsibility and you are worthy, God willing, of this trust. Beloved Jordan deserves that we all work for it with utmost loyalty and a sense of belonging.
I ask God the Sublime to grant us all success in serving this homeland, and realising the ambitions of our good giving people.
Peace, God's mercy and blessings be upon you.