Mulqi Tries to Fill the Void

By Jumana Ghunaimat

تم نشره في Wed 14 February / Feb 2018. 01:00 AM - آخر تعديل في Wed 14 February / Feb 2018. 10:51 PM
  • Jumana Ghunaimat

The public’s reaction to the Prime Minister’s televised interview Tuesday was as expected as it was ruthless.

Dr Hani Mulqi went on air, despite the Jordanians’ fury at all the decision his government made, knowing the public will not welcome him, or his statements for that matter, with an warm heart.

Of course, the people’s response to his appearance on television varied, between supporters, opponents, critics and cynics. As a result, social media platforms flooded with relative hashtags, in Arabic, quoting the premier. Two in particular carried a lot of criticism of the government and its performance. One of them translates to “bottleneck”, and the other is just a plain hashtag of the Prime Minister’s last name, Mulqi.

Some of these posts and tweets were cynical, quoting the Premier’s statements for kicks.

None of this is out of the ordinary under the current circumstances.

Jordanians are in no mood to humour the government, let alone the Premier, or his statements. People are infuriated by the decisions the government took. Not just Mulqi’s, but the decisions of almost every other government over these last several years.

Many of these harsh decisions were based on myopic and outright failure policies that resulted only in the accumulation of further economic strains for Jordanians.

The public is overwhelmed, almost, by concurrent, reckless government decisions that result in no tangible benefits for the taxpayer. On contraire, all they’re doing is making life more difficult for Jordanians.

That said, Jordanians have the right to express their anger and frustration. And the cynicism is natural, not to mention that it has become somewhat of a trend among Jordanians.

An eventuality of careless government decisions and policies over an extended period of time is apathy and cynicism. This is not a novel case for Jordanians, who now reject all that is official.

Nonetheless, there is at least one positive aspect to the premier’s interview, which is that he finally mustered up the courage, if ever he lacked it, to face the people.

The interview initiated a real national conversation, a discussion, regardless whether the public agrees with Mulqi or the interview altogether. His appearance on live Jordanian television was necessary.

Now, this is his third appearance since Mulqi arrived in office.

However, this last interview came at precise and most sensitive time, appearing under a combination of such distinctly memorable conditions. He himself is undergoing treatment for his tumour, as he announced. Meanwhile, the public is outraged at his government, and at him.

These conditions, combined, make for a distinct moment. An unforgettable one even, perhaps.

Aside from timing, the interview itself entailed an uncanny amount of honesty, in diagnosing the current state of affairs, as harsh as it is.

Many a priceless confession the Premier made.

Chief among them is his realisation of the confidence gap between the government and the people, and his confirmation of it. He even said he is willing to be held accountable for his performance as Prime Minister.

On the other end of the televised interview, the amount of people who tuned in to it and followed up on it only confirms the public’s need for communication.

Citizens need to engage their government in open dialogue and discussion.

How else will the people feel including in the making of their lives and future, in the decision making process?

Mulqi pledged to Jordanians that the nearer future, just a year and a half from now, will bring hope and at least some relief to the people; that tangible results are at hand. All they need to do is be patient, and the year 2019 will bring them at least one thing to feel good about.

He realises, or so he claims, the scale of challenges and issues he inherited from the governments before him, and he knows the expected repercussions of his decisions.

In short, his appearance was overall a good thing.

What is important now is that he keeps up the discussion; keep the channels of communication open.

Adhering to the public’s right to know what’s going on with their lives and what to expect is a good step towards bridging the gap. Silence only instigates the problem and widens the ridge between citizens and the state.

The premier is trying to communicate with Jordanians, as late as it is, so that they’re not left to the mercy of the vacuum; the political void.

He hints that he is well aware of the scale of discontent among Jordanians, as well as of the intensity of the domestic situation. He’s telling this to the protestors and the opposition as well, who also stayed in to listen to what Mulqi had to say.

Once again; officials need to initiate dialogue within their sector and beyond it.

It is vital that void is filled.

Surely, one interview is not enough to convince the people of the government’s plan or calm console their suffering. But it’s a start; long due, but a start nonetheless.

This article is an edited translation of the Arabic version, published by AlGhad.