Wednesday, 18 January 2012

A Tourist’s Viewpoint

By Michael J Troy

I arrived in Cairo on the 22nd of January and immediately picked up a paper. Two articles stuck in my mind, one about a corruption indictment against a man named Ezz, a major contractor who, in my memory, had something to do with a disputed building going up next to Tahrir Square, and the second about tearing down the iconic Coca-Cola sign above Tahrir. Both having to do with Tahrir and both made me think of how idiotic government officials could be, especially to demand the billboard removal and probably had something to do with the new “illegal” building.

My comments to others had to do with the uproar and financial hurt that would be caused if this “official” were able to proceed with his plan. The article implied that discussions were going to be taking place before the decision was finalized.

One or two days later, the billboard was dismantled. I could not believe that government could mobilize and act within days of an article in the paper! Then, on the 25th history was rewritten.

Although seemingly unrelated, the events following and up to today are totally interwoven. Did Mubarak give the orders to shoot demonstrators? Did Mubarak give the orders to tear down the Coke sign? It really does not matter. The system of government that allows anyone to make a decision, on their own, without consequences and total protection, is completely wrong.

That same system is still in effect today. SCAF and Tantawi are of one mind. Tantawi (and here you could insert any military general’s name and the results would be the same) formed SCAF and therefore they are totally subservient to his will. Any official person can act with impunity and give total protection to anyone in the army or SCAF or the provisional government, who does anything they think is appropriate, including giving the order to fire or just allowing the shooting to continue. No responsibility, no consequences, no one to answer to.

One way or another, the people have to have a way to control the government and democracy is only a beginning. It is just as easy to elect bad people as good. You need to have a government that keeps an eye on itself. The way of American government I have really come to appreciate is the system of Checks and Balances. Each branch of government is responsible to the other. Of course, the system is not without flaws and it has been abused, but not often, and someone usually takes a fall.

Now that elections are over, Egypt has a chance to change. That chance will come in the form of a new constitution. The old model, the currently used model, is flawed and this should be obvious from some of the rules that were supposedly voted on prior to the elections (possibly June?). The process cannot be rushed and the model used to base it on should be a well-proven model. Finding a model that 400 plus people can agree on could be a major problem!

Keeping the Salvation Government (appointed by Tantawi) and SCAF completely isolated from the process is crucial. Hopefully, Tantawi has not been able to slip in any of his pre-constitution, irrevocable demands that allow him or any military ruler to exercise authority over the president and the new constitution in order to control the budget and mission of the army.

The people you’ve just elected have this enormous responsibility. They are even going to set the rules for how you elect your new president. The new president will not be your savior, merely a figurehead, who should be limited by the constitution and work within it to make Egypt great. Presidents and members of the parliament are elected for just a few years, but your new constitution will be for history! Humdulillaah! 

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Don't let them fool you: SCAF in 2011

Theory and practice are two very different things, don't let them fool you.