Criticizing the Shoura Council

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Al-Watan

WHENEVER I decide to ignore news related to the Shoura Council a new issue surfaces requiring special attention and response. I was shocked to hear that two Shoura members literally abused the media and other members for criticizing the council's performance.

The Shoura cresident did not intervene when the two members attacked the media and rebuked other members. He was the only person authorized to interrupt and stop that verbal exchange of abuse in the corridors of the reputed body.

In the meantime we were surprised to see a female member opening the session last Monday, reprimanding her colleagues at times and leveling accusations against the media at other times.

The female member, who joined the council just eight months ago, abused other members for criticizing the Shoura’s performance as if they were students who erred in carrying out their academic duties. She also accused the media of playing the role of an instigator.

By doing so, the female member was reminding us of a former minister who blamed the media without accepting his mistakes and without showing the courage to apologize and correct his mistakes.

The female member alleged that the media was attacking the country’s symbols referring to the Shoura members. I don’t know when the council members became symbols overnight. They should know that our kings have taken the title of "servant." By making such a statement she was trying to say that Shoura members are above criticism.

Instead of stopping the abusive statement Shoura chief left window open for another storm as a member demanded a trial of the members who criticized the council, although they did not commit any major crime.

I wished the honorable member had called for enforcing the law that would disqualify a member and dismiss him/her from the council and the benefit of such dismissals, and should have seriously thought of leaving the organization along with his female colleague because of their provocative and shameful statements.

The most shocking was the president’s negative stand as he did not make any move to stop the furious exchange of abuse by Shoura members. That action reflected the member’s lack of awareness about the media’s role as a strategic partner of the regulatory and legislative bodies such as the Shoura Council and ministries.

Instead of stopping the abusive and angry comments, the president listened to it with full ears and allowed the two members to use all abusive and provocative words against their colleagues and the media. I am sure the impact of those words would not disappear from the minds of the rest of Shoura members quickly.

Instead of honestly and courageously acknowledging that the council's performance was not satisfactory while dealing with important issues, they attacked the media. Shoura members should know people’s disappointment and anger toward the consultative body for not addressing their issues properly.

The two members should understand that the Shoura has to build a strong professional relationship with the media considering it as a partner in the development process, not an enemy.

The Shoura is a legislative and monitoring agency. It makes not only recommendations but also decisions. People are watching its commitment toward the society and its achievements. The measurement of public opinion is one of the most important tools that reflect the society’s opinion and its satisfaction toward achievements of any organization or institution.

With the arrival of the new electronic media, the era of exaggeration and polishing officials and ministries has ended. No one is above criticism. We are ambitious people having thirst for development and reforms. The problem is that the angry member has a doctorate in measurement, a master's degree in measurement and evaluation, and a person who has received specialized education in measurement must understand the importance of measuring public opinion on the achievements and decisions of state institutions.

It’s the president’s authority to open and conclude Shoura meetings, conduct discussions and participate in the debates. He may allow members to speak during the session and instruct them to follow its rules and regulations. He can also put the matter to vote, hold an emergency meeting or postpone a session, and take necessary measures to maintain order and discipline.

How did he allow the two members to attack and challenge the remaining 148 members of the council and waste its precious time? We the citizens wanted the Shoura to make use of every minute to discuss a new topic that concerns us and our daily life.

The president should not have considered that the Shoura Council is an extension of his family council where he would forgive his children when they make mistakes or rebuke them. On the other hand, it is the president's duty to take action against members who make mistakes and tarnish the Council’s reputation.

I wish the president had used his judicial expertise to defend other members of the council and had taken punitive action against the two members to bring them to their senses. He should have told the two that the Shoura members are not above criticism and should have used his powers to avoid this unpleasant and sickening scenario.


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