Reply – Blacklist Companies Not Just Punish Corrupt Officials! Reply

bribe 2bribery-in-business[1]

Majid New (2)

March 17th, 2014

Dear Brother Saleh;

After Compliments;

Reference your article belowSunday Beat – Times of Oman – March 16, 2014

Saleh Al Shaibany – http://www.timesofoman.com/News/Article-31123.aspx.

As a matter of ethics, principles, transparencies, accountabilities and professionalism – I am fully with you here – and that is the reason for my posting it in my website here  at –

https://majidsn.com/2014/03/16/blacklist-companies-not-just-punish-corrupt-officials-saleh-al-shaibany/

However, if okay with you I would like to raise some points for your review and consideration – please – and with due respects, sincerity and apologies!

As you are aware, I used to have two columns ‘Between Us Only’ – before in The Oman Daily Observer – where if you remember I used to raise my points with you the coming Wednesdays on aspects ‘we agree to differ’ but with respects and adherence to one another’s viewpoints! Or in some cases, where we do agree but need to highlight some pertinent important points – as in this one case!

As you are also probably aware, I have written intensively on this particular topic of ‘Corruption’ in my columns and in my books also – see my columns websites here – www.majidall.com and www.majidwrite.com. Also my book site here at www.myownmajid.com – a search of the word corruption will reveal many such articles covered during my 13 years as a Columnist!

Frankly, I have met ‘corruption’ from the first day of working in that distant land – and even before I landed in Oman for the first time in 1972 from Tanzania. Our flight went through Karachi – and I met ‘bribery and corruption’ as even as a transit passenger – even as on ‘a refugee status’ – and returning home!

Also for your information in my job aspects in that oil company then at least in one of the jobs – I was handling over US Dollars 15 million per year – with full authority only my one signature to pay staff to OMR 15,000 and contractors to US Dollars 100,000 per one invoice! But I am dead certain I had not taken even one Baizas – as per my late Father’s preaching not to get involved in bribery and corruption – and try our level best to live ‘within our means’ – and to avoid excesses, artificiality, pretences and shallowness – devoid of pride, show-off and contempt of others. And treating others with respects and esteem – and in ‘live and let live’ approaches in life per se!

I must admit that even when I had my Consultancy there were many implied nuances for `bribery and corruption’ to get contracts – or keep them going – some were even direct with no ‘beating round the bush` syndromes – and ironically in one case an expatriate was asking me ‘how much I wanted to quote on stationery quotation’ – thinking that I was only working for the company as CEO – but not ‘smart and intelligent enough’ to run my own company!

Having all these now said – and putting all these things now behind in perspective and in consideration – I would like now to address some important pertinent points for your review and consideration – please!

Some of the people involved in the cases are ‘Top Guys’ who have full authority of how to spend the money under their control. Some of the budget are exhausitive and intensive – which you and I may consider high and huge – but for them is ‘peanuts’ in evaluation and comparison – especially if stretched out to a long period of time! There are so many instances of Miscellaneous that even the Auditors – even the External ones – would tend to pass through quickly in affirmation and checking!

You may find this funny anecdote now – but I found out that one of The Depot guy in my oil company in that distant land was using ‘snacks for office entertaintment’ as paying his Grocer for his food purchases – including strange purchases of ‘locks, ropes and bulbs’ for offices usages! – including stamps and stationery too!

Yes I fully do agree with you – but then perhaps we have seen too many films ‘where the Top Guys’ say – if you are caught you will be alone in this case – and we wash our hands off you! A recent film I saw was Agra – concerning American hostages during the Iranian Revolution times! It has been known to happen! And the way some of the businesses are run!

But it could also be that ‘even if they had suspicion’ these things were being played out ‘out of their view and sight’ – yes they may be aware – but perhaps throwing a finger of doubt into the equation – would they have known how far and deep the thing has gone in? Like the cancer cells attacking the body – but for all fits and purposes – looked all healthy and well from the outside and peering eyes!

There is an East African saying that the ‘homes hide a lot of secrets’ – skeletons in the closets (cupboards)! Similarly the same logic and theme could be applied to companies and departments one would imagine!

By the same logic that you use of people giving bribes – one could say the same should be said for those receiving bribes? If we go on this route – there are great consequences and repercussions for the great oil company which produces in my calculated guess of  90% of the income of the country! Imagine where we would be then!

Frankly, it is true that the Company has installed a lot of checks and balances to stem and wipe out corruption – with even HE Dr. Mohamed Al Rumhy – MOG – saying it was a ‘tough nut to crack’! It is really no excuse, blessing in disguise  or wishful thinking – but if you look at the alleged corruption like The Oil and Gas sector like in Nigeria – we are just peanuts – or ‘a storm in a tea cup’ – when it goes that high to Cabinet Ministers and The Central Bank too!

Corruption and bribery are cancerous cells that have spread all over the body – and like my late Father used to tell us – if your nose stinks – you do not go to cut it – but try to ‘keep it as clean as you possibly can get’!

The concrete steps have seriously started – and we should all remain strong in support and in adherence. In-fighting or finger pointing should be discouraged – and also ‘witch hunts’ and ‘ghost hunting’ escapades and scenarios!

At the bottom line too, we must not forget all those Omanis and others working for the companies if their lives came to a complete standstill in ending of operations of these companies – and the social impact and upheavals  that may arise!

Please accept Best Wishes and Regards,

With sincere and due apologies!

Your Friend and Brother Always,

Majid Al Suleimany

majid@mymajidwrite.com

majid@majidalsuleimany.com

malsuleimany@yahoo.com

majidalsulaimani@gmail.com

 

 

..

Advertisements

Saudi officials shut down display at book fair Reply

Saudi officials shut down display at book fair

Summary 

At this year’s Riyadh International Book Fair, greatly anticipated by Saudi writers and intellectuals, a display by a new press run by Saudis out of Beirut was ransacked and shut down.

Madawi%20Alrasheed-001[1]

Author Madawi Al-Rasheed

Posted March 13, 2014

A man shows a book by Saudi writer and poet Al-Rotayyan during the Riyadh Book Fair in Riyadh

A man shows a book by Saudi writer and poet Mohamed al-Rotayyan during the Riyadh Book Fair at the International Exhibition Center in Riyadh, March 9, 2013.  (photo by REUTERS/Faisal Al Nassar)

*** Author: Madawi Al-Rasheed – Al Monitor

Posted March 13, 2014

Saudi Arabia boasts about the annual Riyadh International Book Fair, where Saudis can explore a flourishing book market, meet authors and engage in intellectual discussion. Every year, however, the book fair is transformed from an intellectual market into something more resembling a battle for the hearts and minds of Saudis. The gathering has become an arena in which multiple actors want to assert their presence, control the event and dictate what Saudis should and should not read. During the 2014 book fair, this struggle resulted in visitors on March 7 posting photos online of the destruction inflicted the night before on the booth of the Arab Network for Research and Publishing, a relatively new press based in Beirut.

Many writers and readers look forward to the annual book event, which breaks up the monotony of intellectual life in the kingdom and allows them to enjoy a different kind of consumption. The government promotes the book fair under the auspices of the Ministry of Information, while security agents, accompanied by members of the Committee for Promoting Virtue and Prohibiting Vice, otherwise known as the religious police, search for books to confiscate and destroy. They also look for any signs of mingling between the sexes and flirtatious behavior deemed to undermine public order. 

A group of young Saudi intellectuals, including Judge Abdulaziz al-Qasim and the journalist Nawaf al-Qudaimi, established the Arab Network for Research and Publishing to promote books offering new perspectives on society, religion and politics.

As the press’ director, Qudaimi worked hard to create a significant collection of books written by Saudis and other Arabs, all presenting new interpretations of history and religious tradition with a view toward reconstructing consciousness and promoting an examination of past and current knowledge.

The press also translates books from other languages, primarily academic English books on Saudi Arabia and other countries. Days before the book fair, Qudaimi had begun to promote the press’ 2014 list, tweeting short promotional materials and summaries of the awaited titles. He was granted permission to display the publishing house’s collection in a designated corner at the Riyadh book fair.

The press’ books arrived and were displayed as expected. Qudaimi’s early publicity effort was so successful that a number of Saudis were looking forward to purchasing copies of their favorite volumes. They were disappointed, however, when they arrived to find the ransacking of the press’ display a day after the book fair opened its doors. Books and papers were scattered and thrown from the tables set up for their exhibition. Thus, the press was only able to display its collection for a very short time before being closed down.

Among Saudi liberals speculating about the reasons behind the raid, the majority prefer to blame the religious police, absolving the regime from any wrongdoing. This is an easy way out for them, because they would like to think of the regime as a bastion of enlightenment working against a tide of religious conservatism, bigotry and radicalization.

They have exhausted this myth, however, and instead live under the illusion that King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz is a reformer, working hard to open Saudi Arabia to new ideas and curb the influence of radical groups across the society. They cheered when a recent royal decree promised to punish radical groups and designate them as terrorists. The raid at the book fair affirms the myth’s collapse.

The raid not only proves that reform in Saudi Arabia is in short supply, but confirms that the regime is not serious about fighting terrorism. Freedom of expression is not by any means an unlimited right, but it is a precondition for open debate, including tackling the roots of violence. Without people being able to engage in free debate, read alternative interpretations and expose themselves to new ideas, the regime is fighting a lost cause. In fact, the raid proves that the government does not want to create the intellectual conditions for new ways of thinking and behaving.

The raided publications hardly contain any radical ideas, blasphemy or immoral material. In fact, several volumes deconstruct the roots of Wahhabi teachings, in particular those that would perpetuate repression at the personal and political levels, promote violence and suppress people’s rights. Many authors are critical of old Wahhabi teachings that promote rejection of democracy and civil and political rights.

BiH38TUIAAAClKe[1]

A tweet with a picture of the booth before and after (Twitter/ @Alqudaimi)

A common theme runs through many books in which some authors search for ways to free the Islamic tradition from the authority of religious scholars whose interpretations have become sacred, especially in Saudi Arabia. Rather than exporting Wahhabi ideas, these Saudi authors draw on the work of modernist scholars in North Africa and elsewhere to reconstruct Islamic interpretations suitable for modern society. Many volumes offer a serious critique of Islamists in Saudi Arabia, highlighting their shortcomings in preparing people for demanding their rights.

The book fair raid indicates that such a collection of books has been designated a threat to Saudi national security. The regime, however, cannot fight terrorism simply by arresting terrorists and criminalizing radical language that might incite violence. It should allow people to engage in alternative ways of emancipating themselves and freeing their conscience from the oppressive preaching that still dominates the country.

The regime knows very well, however, that this freedom is inevitably bound to sweep away the political repression that sustains, finances and nourishes those whose main objective is to control the hearts and minds of citizens. As a regime founded on a holy marriage with Wahhabism, one of the most rigid Islamic traditions, considered by some as Islam par excellence, it knows all too well that its survival is dependent on Wahhabism remaining a revered corpus of religious thought.

The Saudi regime is keen to prepare Saudis for the afterlife, but the raided books aim to prepare them for this life, hence they were targeted in a way that demonstrates how dangerous this perspective is viewed. Books that praise the pious rulers of the country, congratulate them on their development projects and commend their support of Islamic causes are well-guarded on the book fair’s shelves. Also those publications that teach one how to ablute during water shortages remain abundant, but those that prepare people to pursue their rights as citizens or deconstruct mythologized history are banned.

No historical or political change can be forthcoming without a paradigm shift that dismantles traditional ways of thinking and replaces them with new perspectives. The regime fears this shift and is determined to suppress its slow birth. The Saudi regime is fighting a losing battle in the age of new media, during which books can circulate in electronic form. Its raid only sparked curiosity and increased people’s determination to search for the destroyed publications online.

The iron curtain has already fallen, and Saudi authors are themselves the new archaeologists with sturdy trowels for excavating a fossilized body of religious and political thought. The famous 10th-century Arab poet Abu al-Tayib al-Mutanabi said that the sword is mightier than the pen, but weak and troubled regimes, such as the Saudis’, seem to fear the pen more than the sword

*** Dr. Madawi Al-Rasheed is a columnist for Al-Monitor and a visiting professor at the Middle East Centre at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She has written extensively about the Arabian Peninsula, Arab migration, globalization, religious trans-nationalism and gender. On Twitter: @MadawiDr