Min­istry of Hap­pi­ness? Bah, hum­bug!

E DII TO RII A L

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

The Ruler of the United Arab Emi­rates an­nounced that he is es­tab­lish­ing a Min­istry of Hap­pi­ness, headed by a very promis­ing young woman who had also been in charge of eco­nomic strat­egy in the past.

This is not un­usual for the UAE, that ranks 20th in the World Hap­pi­ness In­dex, as it seeks to im­prove its po­si­tion by adding value to the qual­ity of life, so that the Gulf state is not just glam­our and riches de­rived from the en­ergy sec­tor. Ac­tu­ally, the UAE and in par­tic­u­lar Dubai, has been at the fore­front of the Ara­bi­sa­tion pro­gramme and has in­vested heav­ily in education, hu­man re­sources and di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion into high-end ser­vices.

De­spite the mini-prop­erty crash of the past decade, the emi­rate has re­cov­ered, thanks to help from its peers, and its cor­po­rate port­fo­lio of lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional com­pa­nies is rapidly ex­pand­ing into for­eign mar­kets, the most ev­i­dent be­ing that of the ‘na­tional’ air­lines.

And the in­vest­ment does not end there, as the rein­vest­ment of its rich re­sources has pro­duced ef­fi­cien­cies, such as e-Govern­ment, a high-level of health­care and even de­na­tion­al­i­sa­tion pro­grammes, to the ex­tent that pub­lic dis­sent is lit­tle to nonex­is­tent. Tol­er­ance on sev­eral is­sues is wide­spread and still grow­ing, at least as re­gards the Middle East­ern mind­set, while in­ter­pre­ta­tion of democ­racy, as dif­fer­ent as it may be from that of the western civil­i­sa­tion, is one that ap­peals to the young Emi­ratis.

Now, travel in warp speed to Cyprus, and one can see why even the con­cept of ris­ing up the ranks of the Hap­pi­ness In­dex is be­yond reach, de­spite the cul­tural dif­fer­ences with the UAE.

In fact, Pres­i­dent Anas­tasi­ades should aban­don the re­gur­gi­tated prom­ises of es­tab­lish­ing six Deputy Min­is­ter port­fo­lios, sup­pos­edly to help im­prove the ef­fi­cien­cies of the govern­ment ma­chine and make Cyprus more com­pet­i­tive in the ar­eas of en­ergy, ship­ping, tourism, etc. In­stead, he should es­tab­lish a Min­istry of Stu­pid­ity, es­pe­cially now that on the eve of par­lia­men­tary elec­tions just three moons away, a lot of prom­ises will not be kept, re­sult­ing in a bucketful of po­ten­tial can­di­dates, both to head the of­fice and to “op­er­ate” it.

The re­form of the civil ser­vice has be­come a joke, de­spite the hon­est in­ten­tions of the com­mis­sioner in charge, who has ob­vi­ously been given too much on his plate. Per­haps that was the idea from the on­set.

Fur­ther­more, the Min­istry of Stu­pid­ity would deal with is­sues such as Lar­naca shun­ning the best that ever hap­pened to the sleepy town, with En­ergy gi­ants To­tal and ENI now be­ing lured to Li­mas­sol port, where they will be wel­comed with open arms.

Come to think of it, what Anas­tasi­ades needs, con­sid­er­ing the noise we hear on a daily ba­sis from the op­po­si­tion par­ties and trade union­ists on all is­sues un­der the sun, is an adap­ta­tion of JK Rowl­ing’s Min­istry of Magic.

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