02 February 2007

The Crown Prince

My main man!

I like Shaikh Salman. I admire him too. Even for someone like me with little (or no) confidence in the government, he actually makes sense. I am totally convinced that he may be the one person high up there with the right combination of both brains and honesty.

To start with, despite my reservations on some of his past projects, I have to respect his drive for change and modernization. In 2004 and 2005, he patroned labor, economic, and education reform workshops, in which government policies and practices were criticized openly and severely. I totally believe that if the Crown Prince wasn't the one organizing it, all participants would've been in jail now. Those were quite bold moves in a country where "everything is fine.... just fine!"

So anyway, Shaikh Salman apparently gave an interview to McKinsey's quarterly publication. The best part in my opinion was the bit he gave about economic reforms. He first said that economic and political reforms are complementary. Then he said outlined how economic reform rests on three levers: 1. Making the private sector the engine for growth, 2. Transforming the government from an operator in the economy to a regulator, and 3. Investing in people through education and training.

Yes Yes Yes!

That is exactly what we need. Except, of course, he does not run the government. Dinosaurs and incompetents do, for the most part. Given our current line up of officials, the government machinery will not be able to implement any significant reforms even if it wanted to.

Still, and in the interest of hope, it is good practice to remember that, despite the lack of resources and support, some of his plans actually came true: the TRA, Tender Board, and Mumtalakat holding of Bahrain, at least. So I guess there is some hope in a brighter future, albeit faint and diminishing.

That said, one thing about the interview really made me uncomfortable: mentioning demographics in Bahrain" and the high population growth, as if it was a socioeconomic issue to be resolved by socioeconomic policies. I'm sure we are all well aware that the very high population growth has demographic engineering and illegal naturalization as one of its major causes. I can see how he's trying to fix the economy of Bahrain and improve the quality of life. I can also see why he would want to stay away from the political struggles, especially given the existence of much stronger power holds. Still, the legitimacy and creadibility of the reform programs are on the line. Economic and social policy reforms may not amount to much unless the politics of Bandar-like schemes (for example) are addressed too. Whether or not this will happen, though, is yet to be seen..


aMaL said...

Very rosy view of matters. I would very much like to be able to join you in your optimism, but I, unfortunately, believe that it takes way more than a few plans on paper to implement "perfect sounding" reform projects.
What is being done is not enough.

LuLu said...

Hmmm Amal, what rosy view? I hope you didn't just read half of the post and then gave up :)

aMaL said...

no, i read the whole thing :)

LuLu said...

OK Amal I guess I sometimes am unclear and may even assume that people read my thoughts (totally my fault), but basically the point of the post is: Reforms are needed and Sh. Salman's efforts should be recognized. However, as I mentioned, they are not enough in the larger scheme of things. Economic and social reforms are definitely not enough, especially in the context of growing political corruption and supression. They are a decent start, though, on principle. However, the main problem as I see it is not the "substance" of the reform or its imperfection, but rather the imbalance of power at this point. When push comes to shove, there are only 2 centers of power in this country and our fate depends on what deal they strike. The crown prince is not one of them and the extent to which he can push for any reform is dependent on the higher 2 powers and how much they are willing to give. We are obviously seeing this problem unfold this week. It is a disaster, for sure.

isagreatphilosopher said...

The CP as you obviously recognize has decided to sidestep political problems that I, ehem, am sure he is fully aware of.
I do not blame him for making such a decision.
As the saying goes, if you cant beat em, join em. Well, I doubt that it is within his reach to solve the curruption of the incumbent members of the government. As he would only lose out from any direct confrontation, his decision to remain impartial from politics, thus avoiding to take sides, must be respected if not admired, and not critisized.
Let us not forget that socio-economic factors underly much of the political problems we face and that solving these underlying factor will lessen the intensity of our political problems.
Perhaps what is being done is not enough, but it is a substantial move in the right direction and the CP must be given full credit for that.

LuLu said...

isagreatphilosopher I'm with you. Practically it makes perfect sense and the CP's decision is smart.. but for Bahrain it's definitely sad since it just means that we have to wait for a (very?) long time before substaintial reform is achieved.

error said...

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LuLu said...

good eye for fashion, error

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