Reform is a necessity, not a luxury

Khalid Dalal
Khalid Dalal (Photo: Jordan News)
The journey to reform is fraught with challenges. We have no illusions about that. Can we do it? This is a legitimate question, the answer to which hinges on the scope of the change we need, and if we can strike the right balance between courageous decisions and realistic ambitions.اضافة اعلان

Let’s start with some facts most of us agree on.

Reform is a necessity, not a luxury, and it should be genuine, meaningful, and intent upon making a positive difference to our lives, image as a nation, and the future of our children.

Another is that there are proponents of the status quo, also known as the Old Guard, who will wage a fierce fight to resist it and put spokes in the wheels of reform.

We should also acknowledge that a good percentage of Jordanians are frustrated with what many of them perceive as successive failures to achieve real reform. We should not underestimate this as a challenge, and admit that rallying the public to accept and act will be a slow and piecemeal process that relies on a number of interlaced factors to be taken into consideration when the plan is drawn up.

In addition, we need to set the rationale and communicate it with the public with utter transparency and through unconventional tools, simply because many of the traditional mechanisms are obsolete, exhausted, and futile.

Above all, youth should be the target of our PR campaigns, because reform is a future enterprise and they are the future. It is true that this will not be an easy task when the unemployment rate among youth is almost 50 percent, according to the World Bank, but the spin is that political reform is a prerequisite of all other types of reform, including an economic revival and a makeover of the public sector and administration in a way that makes every citizen feels that he or she counts.

Whatever it takes, including legislative change, young Jordanians should be given a fair chance that is proportionate to their percentage of the population. We need to empower them, in deeds, not in words, and let them help lead the nation to the future it aspires to. Let’s remember here His Majesty King Abdullah’s words in his Seventh Discussion Paper: “Our people are our most valuable asset. Armed with a modern, quality education, Jordanians will become agents of change. To that end, we must ardently invest in education. It is the most rewarding investment, and I firmly believe that every Jordanian is entitled to an opportunity to pursue a good education, excel, and realize his or her highest potential.”

All of this leads us to keep in mind two things while moving forward with our reform process.

First, inclusive reform is more sellable and is definitely the sole option. Planners need to start from here, and people should believe that they have a say when their future is being discussed.

Second, the reform scheme should be a blanket plan, covering all aspects of public life; hence His Majesty’s talk about distributing roles among stakeholders: a good start to all of that is the King’s Discussion Papers. These seven landmark documents, written and published between 2012 and 2017, cover everything from the path towards democracy, making the democratic system work for all, role distribution in democratization, democratic empowerment and active citizenship, pillars for deepening democratic transition, rule of law and civil state, and finally, human resource development and education. After all, Jordan cannot step into the second centenary of its history without a plan based on the tenets outlined in these progressive papers, followed by a debate that involves reaching, of course, a road map.

The reform process indeed needs a road map. And the whole process should not last forever. Can we do it? We have to for the sake of our future generations.

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