To Jordanian National Leaders
16 August 2005
(Translated from Arabic)
May God Almighty grant you strength and good health. You are most welcome in this house, your house and that of all Jordanians. For some time now, I have been thinking that we all should meet, members of the Upper House, deputies and government, together, since we are all one team working for the realisation of the same goal and the same interests, that is the national interest, which should top all other interests and considerations.
If you allow me, let us be frank and admit that there is a certain degree of failure to do what should be done and that there are mistakes. The responsibility of this failure and these mistakes are not shouldered by any one party alone, they are the responsibility of all.
I said, brothers, several times, that work should be done in a team spirit and that all of us, members of the Upper House, deputies and government, are partners in shouldering responsibility. We all stand in the same trench. I also said that the relation between the three authorities, especially the legislative authority and the executive authority, should be one of cooperation and complementarity, a relationship built on confidence, respect and feelings of shared responsibility. But it has been really disheartening to see that distrust, exchange of accusations and blame-laying exists. Even more disheartening is the tug of war and arm-twisting between the government and the deputies.
To be even more frank, brothers, I would say that if the deputies are not satisfied with the government's performance, they should know that citizens – and I know the citizens well – are not satisfied with the performance of our brothers, the deputies.
When we face a problem, each party starts to lay responsibility at another's feet, or just stands aside as a spectator or observer. Hence the head of state or the king is required to interfere, as if responsibility is his alone to shoulder. No, my brothers, responsibility is for all, and everybody should fulfil his duties and shoulder his responsibility, courageously and faithfully. It is unacceptable and unreasonable that the king should interfere in every detail or shoulder all responsibility alone.
Since the days of my father, may his soul rest in peace, responsible officials used to tell people – whenever these officials wanted to put into effect a certain resolution or whenever the results of any resolutions were negative – that they were merely complying with directives from above, meaning directives from the king. Today we hear the same thing, but instead of saying they had directives from above, they say they had directives from the peak of the pyramid.
I know the position of every one of you, those who are shouldering responsibility now and those who were shouldering responsibility before, and I am asked to bear with everybody and to accept everybody in a fatherly spirit.
Here I hope that every one of you, brothers, should know that when he leaves office, he is not being exempted from responsibility. On the contrary, he is a reserve soldier who should have a sense of his responsibility towards the homeland that honoured him with such a high position and uphold it accordingly.
To see that everything is good and correct while you are in a position of authority and then claim that all is wrong when you are out of office, is a form of logic that is unacceptable and shameful.
Criticism, brothers, is rather easy. The important thing is to provide alternatives, have a positive and courageous spirit in facing challenges and suggest realistic solutions to problems.
For example, there is much talk about unemployment and the failure to “do something” about it. As you all know, I follow this issue with great interest and concern. I asked the deputies to give us plans and solutions for dealing with this problem in their constituencies, but I am sorry to say that I received nothing except a response from one or two members of parliament. This means that there is no follow-up. We know that the major cause of this problem is not the absence of job opportunities, but rather the reluctance of some citizens to accept vocational or manual work, meaning that the cause of unemployment is misguided social concepts.
In some governorates, hundreds of jobs were made available and the youth were asked to come forward and take them. Only a handful did, because these youth want office jobs. At the same time, most of the young women for whom job opportunities were made available – whether manual or vocational work – accepted these jobs and were comfortable with this type of work. This is really something positive and a source of pride.
This leads us to the topic of "wasta" (intermediation). I really wish that every deputy, member of the Upper House or minister, instead of endeavouring to get jobs for others, would rather, along with the rest of us, try to change our sons' and daughters' perceptions of work and jobs. Our sons and daughters should understand that manual or vocational work is no less important or less worthy of respect, or even less rewarding financially than office work. They should understand that "wasta" is not an honest deed. None of our children should start their career in a dishonest way or through a form of corruption.
The challenges before us are immense. They need effort and real work, and they need cooperation and real partnership among all, rather than the mere talk that is going on at the salons that are – fortunately – not found, except in certain areas of the capital. Some of the patrons and attendants of these salons leak rumours and false news to the foreign press to serve their personal agendas, or try to intimidate our homeland through their relations with some foreign forces. I want these people to know that nobody should ally themselves with others to intimidate our homeland or try to intimidate us because we are travelling the path of right. Our affiliation to the homeland is much stronger than anybody who draws courage from any other force.
I know these persons, and I know their goals and movements. They do not even spare me from their accusations and empty talk. Also, some weekly newspapers compete in spreading rumours and lies for financial gain, even at the expense of the national interest. These newspapers attack in every direction and all those in charge. We should refrain from joining these newspapers in promoting whatever rumours, accusations and slander they circulate.
I want every citizen – man or woman – of this country to know that I am for everybody. Nobody is closer to me than any other, and the status of any citizen or official is measured – in my consideration of him – by his honest and decent service to this country, irrespective of any other consideration.
The challenges we face are much bigger than a discussion of who wants to be a minister, prime minister, speaker of the House of Representatives or speaker of the Upper House. The interest of the homeland supersedes any position or any other gain. It is not the interest of the homeland that the relation between the legislative authority and the executive authority is one of struggle or tug of war. Nor is it in the interest of the homeland when the Lower House becomes a battleground between blocs or centres of power, as some people call them.
I know and do appreciate the fears of some of you that plans exist to redraw the map of the region and to settle some historic issues at the expense of Jordan. We are talking about the issue of resettlement and the alternative homeland. Frankly, we in Jordan – whether our origins are from the west of the river or from its east, or from the north or the south of the country – should stand up to any plan that aims to deprive the Palestinians of their right to return to their homeland or to establish their independent state on Palestinian soil and nowhere else. If such a plan exists, it is a plot against the Palestinian people as much as it is a plot against Jordan. I should not be alone in confronting such a plot, if it exists. No, all of us should stand up to this danger and this threat, foremost among us Jordanians of Palestinian origin.
I want everyone to know that the only way for us to confront such plans, if they exist, or any other threat that endangers this country, is to build a Jordan that is strong, that is economically, socially and politically advanced. If it is weak, God forbid, it will become the prey of the strong. If we want to strengthen Jordan, we should all be working together as a team, and we should continue along the path of reform, modernisation and development. This endeavour requires new legislation, the delay of which will obstruct our progress. We are at the threshold of a new stage of modernisation and development, so I ask all of you to work with maximum capacity and with the highest sense of responsibility.
When I speak with you so frankly and transparently, it is because I aspire to the realisation of the national interest and wish to confront head-on any problem that we may face in the future.
God bless you, and my God grant you strength and good health.