Four years after the first labor reform workshop, the second labor reform workshop, the economic reform workshop, and an education reform workshop, people are still waiting. In fact, the majority of Bahrainis began to doubt that the intention of reform even existed.
The recent call (outcry? please read the letter) by the Crown Prince echoes what most Bahrainis want to scream out but they can't: the government needs to change its ways before the ship sinks. Say what you may about the EDB and its plans, the Crown Prince did what no other in this country was able to do: revive the discourse of "REFORM" (badly needed, badly ignored).
Thanks to the Crown Prince's public letter, the King finally moved to declare intentions to hold ministers accountable (I suppose ministers are a good proxy term to use). The opposition is now again emboldened to call for change... and even the sleeping parliamentarians are riding on the reform wave.
On the other hand, many of us fear another deja-vu in the making. This latest episode is of course significant because for the first time - instead of it being the feedstock of late-night gossip - the struggle between reformists and the "old guard" in the leadership finally came to light. It is also significant more so because for the first time in 4 years, we are starting to feel some sort of hope that someone somewhere is thinking of fixing the country.
The Economic Development Board needs to move, and move fast, to show people it is serious. Now that the "government" resistance is addressed v.publicly, EDB now has the chance to show that its powers can be put to good use. Unfortunately, doubt is still much stronger than hope, but Bahrainis are eager to be proven wrong on this one. As much as Bahrainis detest certain elements within the leadership, they don't want this to be just an episode in the power struggle between the Crown Prince and his foes. Real changes are badly needed-- changes that have a direct impact of people's lives. People need to see Bahrain moving in a unified direction and according to a plan that makes sense and that is transparently shared with all. Moving beyond the Amwaj and "McKinsey" controversies, people need to know that the Crown Prince is working for them.