Saudi Arabia: accountability is the new buzzword
Today, we are witnessing a government that is relentless in its drive to stamp out corruption and upgrade its services
The Saudi Ministry of Health still occupies prominent space in local papers, which have reported that several health officials in Jeddah were relieved from their posts for shortcomings in their performance. These people were medical doctors holding administrative positions. Unfortunately, the Ministry of Health has experienced many grave mistakes that cannot be overlooked. There is a need for more experienced and better qualified managers to run the ministry. The ministry does not necessarily need doctors to run it; what it needs is good managers and reliable staff.
Unfortunately, the ministry lacks the leadership of professionals who are management and business oriented and have a global overview of the medical field.
However, the public has reason to feel more optimistic over the swift government action against the negligence and weak performance of government officials and personnel. It is now evident that accountability has become a buzzword and that government staff from ministers on down can no longer get away with poor management, unethical practices and arrogant and reckless behavior. The government will not tolerate it anymore.
King Salman has made it clear that the welfare of citizens is of paramount concern. This message should filter down to the most junior employee starting from the person behind the counter at the airport to the traffic cop on the street to others in ministry corridors. Many government personnel strut around like peacocks and treat citizens who knock on their office doors with disdain.
Today, we are witnessing a government that is relentless in its drive to stamp out corruption and upgrade its servicesKhaled Almaeena
The King's directives are crystal clear: shape up. There will be zero tolerance for corruption, negligence and malpractice.
Today, we are witnessing a government that is relentless in its drive to stamp out corruption and upgrade its services. It has the tough task of enforcing work ethics and applying international standards. This can only be done with the induction of new blood that includes those who are energetic and have a deep sense of commitment.
Meanwhile, the government is also expected to reform the bureaucratic system and run it along business lines so that those who produce are rewarded and those who shirk their duties are punished.
Indeed, there are many shortcomings that need to be resolved. However, people and systems cannot be changed if there is no accountability and proper monitoring of government services. Hopefully, the new directives will produce good results and usher in an era of good governance and productivity.
These are the other Saudis that many do not know about. To them we offer our salute.
This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on April 19, 2015.
Khaled Almaeena is a veteran Saudi journalist, commentator, businessman and the editor-at-large of the Saudi Gazette. Almaeena has held a broad range of positions in Saudi media for over thirty years, including CEO of a PR firm, Saudi Television news anchor, talk show host, radio announcer, lecturer and journalist. As a journalist, Almaeena has represented Saudi media at Arab summits in Baghdad, Morocco and elsewhere. In 1990, he was one of four journalists to cover the historic resumption of diplomatic ties between Saudi Arabia and Russia. He also traveled to China as part of this diplomatic mission. Almaeena's political and social columns appear regularly in Gulf News, Asharq al-Aswat, al-Eqtisadiah, Arab News, Times of Oman, Asian Age and The China Post. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter: @KhaledAlmaeena