Par­ti­san pol­i­tics dead, new al­liance be­tween mil­i­tary, NGOs needed: Badrawi

‘WE NEED $100BN IN­VEST­MENTS TO CRE­ATE MIL­LION JOBS, TO COVER THE FOR­EIGN DEBT’, SAYS VET­ERAN POLITI­CIAN

The Daily News Egypt - - Front Page - By Fatma Lotfi

DE­CEN­TRALISED AD­MIN­IS­TRA­TION MEANS EV­ERY GOV­ER­NORATE MUST HAVE ITS OWN BUD­GET, ELECTED LO­CAL COUN­CIL, AS WELL AS RULES

THE WORLD IS CUR­RENTLY RULED BY FOUR POW­ERS: THE ARMED FORCES, THEO­CRATIC IDE­OLO­GIES, STRONG ECO­NOMIC POW­ERS, OR PO­LIT­I­CAL IDE­OLO­GIES SUCH AS COM­MU­NISM

WE RE­JECTED THEO­CRATIC IDE­OLO­GIES. THE ARMED FORCES, ECO­NOMIC POW­ERS, AND THE CIVIL SO­CI­ETY ARE WHAT RE­MAIN I BE­LIEVE THAT THE EGYP­TIAN GOV­ERN­MENT TOOK BRAVE STEPS IN SAY­ING THE TRUTH ABOUT THE STA­TUS OF THE CUR­RENT ECO­NOMIC SIT­U­A­TION WE CAN AP­PLY A NEW DEMO­CRATIC FOR­MULA. I NAMED IT “THE FOURTH GEN­ER­A­TION OF DEMOC­RACY”

Dur­ing a long jour­ney of ser­vice in the pub­lic sphere, Hos­sam Badrawi, the prom­i­nent politi­cian and physi­cian, has en­gaged in many vi­tal roles in the fields of pol­i­tics, ed­u­ca­tion, writ­ing and NGO ac­tiv­i­ties.

The 65-year old states­man is the founder of both the Union Party and the Egyp­tian Coun­cil of Com­pet­i­tive­ness ENCC. He also serves as ENCC hon­orary chair­per­son.

Badrawi, known for his re­formist stances, chaired the de­funct Na­tional Demo­cratic Party (NDP) a few days be­fore it was dis­solved in April 2011, dur­ing the 18 days of the Jan­uary 25th upris­ing which top­pled for­mer Pres­i­dent Hosni Mubarak.

When he was a Par­lia­ment Mem­ber and chair­per­son of the Ed­u­ca­tion and Sci­en­tific Re­search Com­mit­tee from 2000 to 2005, he launched sev­eral ed­u­ca­tion ini­tia­tives aim­ing to im­prove Egypt’s ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem, both within the NDP and the par­lia­ment.

Ad­di­tion­ally, he pro­posed many pol­icy doc­u­ments and re­form plans for high school and univer­sity ed­u­ca­tion, which, ac­cord­ing to his per­sonal web­site, “con­sti­tute the core of all cur­rent strate­gies of ed­u­ca­tion nowa­days.”

Daily News Egypt in­ter­viewed Hos­sam Badrawi to dis­cuss the cur­rent Egyp­tian po­lit­i­cal scene, the sta­tus of NGO ac­tiv­i­ties, and the new ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem. He also con­tem­plated the coun­try’s eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion, the long-awaited lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions, as well as the prepa­ra­tions of the Union Party which he chairs.The tran­script for which is be­low, lightly edited for clar­ity:

Con­sid­er­ing your ex­per­tise in ed­u­ca­tion de­vel­op­ment, how do you view the new ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem?

It is very early to judge the new sys­tem. I am an op­ti­mistic per­son by na­ture, and I be­lieve it is a promis­ing plan on a the­o­ret­i­cal level, re­gard­ing the con­cept of the dig­i­tal­is­ing the whole struc­ture. I think this is just a part of the new ed­u­ca­tional method.

The scheme al­lows stu­dents to rely on tech­nol­ogy in the ed­u­ca­tional process, which is good. But, it is still just an idea. When it is ac­tu­ally ap­plied in re­al­ity, then I will praise it, but not be­fore wit­ness­ing real mea­sures or re­sults.

The Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion’s ef­forts to of­fer high qual­ity and equal op­por­tu­ni­ties for all stu­dents, as well as build­ing their char­ac­ters, are also still un­clear for eval­u­a­tion.

Par­ents are con­cerned about im­prov­ing the school cur­ricu­lum, but the point is not about the cur­ricu­lum, it is about teach­ers them­selves, and whether they are well-pre­pared to de­liver knowl­edge to stu­dents. Teach­ers [should be] able to cre­ate a sat­is­fac­tory at­mos­phere for stu­dents in or­der to build their char­ac­ters.

You can have a doc­tor who will turn out to be a crim­i­nal or a ter­ror­ist. So, build­ing the per­son­al­ity is more im­por­tant than the cur­ricu­lum, as it is the teacher’s re­spon­si­bil­ity.

Ad­di­tion­ally, to help stu­dents be­ing cre­ative and in­no­va­tive, the min­istry must reach a balance be­tween set­ting up a plan and open­ing the door for cre­ativ­ity.The more the state con­trols the ed­u­ca­tional sys­tem, the less in­no­va­tion and cre­ativ­ity there will be. Ahead of the ex­pected lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions, is your party ready to com­pete? We are wait­ing for the lo­cal ad­min­is­tra­tive law to be is­sued. But there are two points I would like to clar­ify. First, there is a con­sti­tu­tional pil­lar to trans­form from cen­tral­i­sa­tion to de­cen­tral­i­sa­tion in five years. This de­cen­tralised ad­min­is­tra­tion means ev­ery gov­er­norate must have its own bud­get, elected lo­cal coun­cil, as well as rules.

In or­der to at­tend to health­care, ed­u­ca­tion, trans­porta­tion and san­i­ta­tion, there is a need for so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity, and for lo­cal au­thor­i­ties to be held ac­count­able.

Sec­ond, given the ex­pe­ri­ences of other coun­tries, this tran­si­tion to de­cen­tral­i­sa­tion takes time. In France, it took 20 years. I am very con­cerned that we might ruin the whole process of de­cen­tral­i­sa­tion if we do not pre­pare well for the elec­tion.

The elec­tion is not the so­lu­tion, it is a part of a process which should be pro­cessed and fol­lowed by ef­forts. Re­gard­ing my party’s prepa­ra­tions, we are not ready. No­body is ready if there is no law yet.

How is the ab­sence of lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal coun­cils af­fect­ing po­lit­i­cal life in the coun­try and the sta­tus of lo­cal neigh­bour­hoods? Also, do you have any re­marks on the lo­cal law?

Of course, the ab­sence of lo­cal coun­cils for the last 10 years has af­fected ser­vices. More­over, the ex­pected new coun­cils might in­clude young mem­bers with­out ex­pe­ri­ence in deal­ing with such is­sues, but in any case, elec­tions do no bring the best-qual­i­fied peo­ple into of­fice. How­ever, democ­racy re­quires elec­tions, and we have no other op­tion.

Con­cern­ing the law, I think it missed iden­ti­fy­ing author­ity roles, and it should stip­u­late that gov­er­norates must have fis­cal and eco­nomic de­cen­tral­i­sa­tion. How do see the cur­rent par­lia­ment’s per­for­mance? Given the num­ber of in­de­pen­dent MPs, do be­lieve par­ti­san pol­i­tics is grad­u­ally dis­ap­pear­ing?

I can’t eval­u­ate the cur­rent par­lia­ment’s per­for­mance as I am not well in­formed of all that is go­ing on in­side it. Maybe there are good steps taken that I do not know about.

Tra­di­tional par­ti­san pol­i­tics are grad­u­ally dis­ap­pear­ing in Egypt and in the whole world. These types of pol­i­tics can­not be found any­more amid the rise of the so­cial me­dia ef­fects, which of­fer di­rect com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween au­thor­i­ties and peo­ple.

In the past, this di­rect com­mu­ni­ca­tion was only through a po­lit­i­cal party. Now, US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump com­mu­ni­cates with Amer­i­cans via Twit­ter. Sim­i­larly, Egyp­tian of­fi­cials do so.

There­fore, re­cy­cling the same poli­cies and prac­tices of need­ing to have a po­lit­i­cal party such as Al-Wafd Party and the NDP are no longer ef­fi­cient.It is like tak­ing the same ac­tion hop­ing for dif­fer­ent re­sults. There­fore, politi­cians need to dis­cuss the balance of forces.

The world is cur­rently ruled by four pow­ers: the armed forces, theo­cratic ide­olo­gies, strong eco­nomic pow­ers, or po­lit­i­cal ide­olo­gies such as com­mu­nism. Such po­lit­i­cal ide­olo­gies col­lapsed, and we re­jected theo­cratic ide­olo­gies. The armed forces, eco­nomic pow­ers, and the civil so­ci­ety are what re­main.

In the West, the three har­monised, how­ever, in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries, civil so­ci­ety is weak, and not taken into con­sid­er­a­tion. The eco­nomic power [rep­re­sented in busi­nessper­sons and cor­po­ra­tions] is re­jected, hence we do not have an­other op­tion but the mil­i­tary.

Yet, the coun­try’s man­age­ment by the mil­i­tary is not sus­tain­able. We need con­sis­tency be­tween the mil­i­tary and civil so­ci­ety lead­ers, so we can ap­ply a new demo­cratic for­mula. I named it “the fourth gen­er­a­tion of democ­racy”.

Be­cause of the pre­vi­ous failed ex­pe­ri­ences, and the fact that democ­racy in the West is head­ing to­wards the far-right wing, po­lit­i­cal par­ties have lost their in­flu­ence in con­ven­ing peo­ple.

Do you not be­lieve it is im­por­tant for the next pres­i­dent to have a po­lit­i­cal party or or­gan­i­sa­tion which sup­ports him or her?

At first, you need to know what the pres­i­dent’s ide­ol­ogy be­fore you elect him or her. I be­lieve what­ever the adopted ide­ol­ogy is, it should be left as soon as the pres­i­dent as­sumes of­fice.

Even­tu­ally, I hope the cur­rent gov­ern­ment is eval­u­ated based on their ap­pli­ca­tion of Egypt’s Vi­sion 2030 ob­jec­tives. I sug­gest launch­ing two mon­i­tor­ing ini­tia­tives, one for ed­u­ca­tion and an­other for health-care. They will track track­ing the ef­forts of min­is­ters. This is the role of civil so­ci­ety.

The gov­ern­ment is takes am­bi­tious steps to re­form the econ­omy, are you op­ti­mistic or con­cerned?

I be­lieve that the Egyp­tian gov­ern­ment took brave steps in say­ing the truth about the sta­tus of the cur­rent eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion. Later, they started with lift­ing sub­si­dies and im­prov­ing in­fra­struc­ture, mea­sures that con­trib­uted to the econ­omy’s re­cov­ery.

But I have some reser­va­tions. The in­vest­ment at­mos­phere is not at­trac­tive for fi­nanciers. More­over, re­peated changes in the tax­ing sys­tem repels fi­nan­cial back­ers.

Ad­di­tion­ally, the Egyp­tian state is in­vest­ing on its own projects [via state-owned na­tional projects], a mea­sure which brings the pub­lic sec­tor back to the scene. How­ever, this has [pre­vi­ously] failed in Egypt, and in the Soviet Union.

I am very con­cerned over the amount of for­eign debt, which al­most equals the rev­enues, ac­cord­ing to the state­ments is­sued by the Min­is­ter of Fi­nance. This means we will not have enough money to in­vest in in­fra­struc­ture.

There­fore, we need to in­vest­ments of at least $100bn an­nu­ally to cre­ate a mil­lion job op­por­tu­ni­ties, and to exit the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion.

Fi­nally, the gen­eral at­mos­phere is not en­cour­ag­ing for the pri­vate sec­tor, which has been re­peat­edly ac­cused of cor­rup­tion.

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