The scourge of corruption


Makkah newspaper

WE have been robbed of our dignity of thought. We express our pride being citizens of the "kingdom of humanity and dignity" but at the same time we contradict ourselves by becoming agents of corruption, which has been rejected by our faith and our nature.

Corruption has become the norm in society. Previously it was taboo even to talk about it. Financial and non-financial corruption is not only a stumbling block to development and growth but also leaves a negative impact on thought ambition and dreams for generations.

We are now in the era of Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, an era of putting things in their right places. There are people who consider it as propaganda but I am sure that history would prove them wrong. I don’t hesitate to beat the drum in praise of Prince Muhammad Bin Salman as I believe that he is moving in the right direction.

Corruption is a scourge. If we had spent every Saudi riyal received from oil exports constructively without being tainted by corruption our condition would have been far better. At present we face problems such as unemployment, shortage of housing, and a lack of qualified professionals.

In seven years we earned SR7 trillion from oil exports but this huge revenue was evaporated as a result of imaginary projects and rampant corruption, which provided the chance for a few people to get rich. This not only delayed overall development in the country but also created a monopoly of goods and services. It also led to disruption of projects and massive disasters such as floods.

Corruption has pushed society to extravagance, deviation and violence, and all this happened because of a lack of focus on education, research and development. All of us were preoccupied with corruption, which had eaten away state funds.

It was corruption that made us rejoice when oil prices reached above $100 per barrel, paving way for shale oil to thrive and compete with us as a result of its technological edge. “The speed cash” provided a fertile ground for corruption at the expense of the country's development and future.

This situation prevented citizens from enjoying their most basic rights. It is not easy for an ordinary citizen to purchase a piece of land in cities because rich people have bought all available plots and waited for demand to go up to sell them at high prices. As a result of this, property prices have shot up in all city neighborhoods.

There was no intention to focus on building and developing human resources. On the other hand, corruption became the main focus. Therefore, we found ourselves in the ranks of underdeveloped countries in the fields of education, healthcare, technology and industrial exports.

We should study how Pakistan developed its nuclear technology and military aircraft industry without the backing of the huge oil revenues? The experience of Pakistan is a good lesson for us. Most of our decision makers were thinking how to create opportunities for corruption and embezzlement, instead of taking the country to new heights of progress.

It was taboo to demand a review of the state budget and discuss news of corruption in the public sector and even in the sensitive sectors of state machinery. We also know that some government projects are monopolized by certain contractors and big names.

When you criticize the delay in the proper implementation of a project you face harassment from state bodies, using state weapons and strength of their positions and their influence in the media. They tighten the noose on critics not because of the progress of projects but because of their corruption and failures.

Our ambitions have been killed and they remain a dream. Our brains have been drained off. Many of our citizens are still dreaming of getting a job.

Everyone talks about "transfer of knowledge" from abroad instead of asking why we do not build knowledge ourselves. Everybody thinks that it is better to entrust multinational companies to establish our factories, our cities, our hospitals and even our welfare.

Over the years, I was not bothered much about financial and administrative corruption even though I strongly believed it would have a negative impact on development. It was my hope that our thinking should remain stubborn and we should not give up, at least to preserve the dignity of ambition to build scientific know-how through advancement in education.

The young Crown Prince came on stage on a historic day to launch a big campaign against corruption. He will take every corrupt person to task. No one will think of corruption anymore. Today, corrupt people are worried whether they can live with their children at home or not.

This is a historic occasion and we pray for the success of the anti-graft campaign launched by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman. May Allah help them to steer the country in the right direction in these trying times when we fight enemies in the south and north. We also fight Iran and its proxies as well as terrorism at home and abroad and confront difficulties facing the development process.