There’s nothing is new about the typical ministerial complaint.
Often ministers wonder why they got themselves involved in the public sector altogether, shamelessly of course. Especially those who leave the functionality and pay-scales of the corporate world to join in the chaotic and myopic dance of the government.
Many of them complain about the lower salaries they’re making as ministers, and the peace of mind they left behind to become statesmen.
In return, they want us to be grateful for the “sacrifices” they made to become ranking figures of the state.
As if it doesn’t come with a bundle of privileges they wouldn’t otherwise dream of!
What’s worse is that none of them have made a difference in the way this country is run!
At best, they didn’t add to the deterioration.
Some, however, left their ministers and sectors worse off when they retired.
Despite the damage they made, they got to walk out with their titles intact, and all the prestige and social status titles get them, and they carry it all to the grave.
Now whether or not they deserve these privileges doesn’t matter, of course, on the one side.
On the other, many officials and bureaucrats are leaving the public sector.
Where do they go? They join the private sector of course, with all the privileges of their public postings with them.
In order to invest in an official’s influence, contacts, and procedural knowledge, companies pay them higher salaries.
Why then would a public servants, or a minister for that matter, with good connections, stick to the public office?
Those end up with a higher salary, the former rank, and all the free prestige which comes with it.
Society worships titles.
In fact, a title makes one’s life in Jordan much easier, and it comes with a free social status booster.
Obviously, there’s something wrong in both sides of this equation.
Be it leave the public sector to join the corporate, business world, or the other way around, no one seems to realise the importance and sanctity of public service.
Many do not know what honour that comes with the job, nor the vitality of their every individual role.
Notwithstanding, those are two kinds of Jordanian officials.
The third is the official who arrives in office after years of baffling; Islamists and leftists alike, they are opposition figures who pride themselves of being “patriotic”.
Some of them were members of parliament. Others were members of opposition parties.
Needless to say, this is the most disappointing kind of officials, by far.
They soon give up on their public duties and everything they ever believed in.
What else can be said?
The fourth kind is the rarest. Ministers who believe in their roles as public servants, and stand firmly by their duties to protect society and its interests.
We have had some of those arrive in office; they do not steal or exploit their power, and care deeply about the welfare of the people.
Those believe in what they do and work hard to address and fix the many imbalances we have in our state institutions.
More than anything else, they want to realise change.
They also believe in their political role.
Hence, they engage the people and do not shy from communication.
Unfortunately, this kind of officials is rare.
Often, their work is shunned by the carelessness and cowardice of other officials, who do not know the first thing about governance, or care to.
Last but not least, the most dangerous kind of officials, is the official who thinks he knows best, and believes that it is society’s job to serve him, not the other way around.
Unknowingly perhaps, they end up smearing the entire public sector’s reputation.
In the midst of all the hesitant, disenfranchised, careless, opportunistic, and corrupt officials, whose errs smear the good name of the public sector, the bad outshines the good.
Day after day, the people grow tired.
Their distrust in our failing governments and discontent with the shortcomings is well-justified, mind you.
Moreover, our officials played a major role in the deterioration of the state-citizen relationship.
At this point, restoring the public’s trust requires more than just the capacity of the state, or that of a society which respects the law. And we’re not short on plans and strategies.
We need the right people to find their way to the right place.
Reconstructing the state’s relationship with the people requires the arrival of a new kind of officials in office; officials who take pride in serving the people with dedication and vigour.
On the side of that, some justice; equal and just enforcement of the law.
The more difficult the situation domestically is, the more in need we are for ministers and officials with the courage to engage the public and the knowledge to explain the government’s rationale.
It would serve us much better than all the ministers hiding behind closed doors, cowering under their desks, or basking in the shadows of their titles.
This article is an edited translation of the Arabic version, published by AlGhad.