Shura Process in the Sultanate Receives Great Attention of HM The Sultan… State Council Chairman Affirms

Muscat —- Dr. Yahay bin Mahfoudh al-Manthri, Chairman of the State Council affirmed that the Shura process in the Sultanate has been accorded utmost consideration and care by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said as His Majesty always praises the achievements of this march at the national level, the remarkable communication it has established between the Government and the citizen, as well as the national view it has added to the specificities pertaining to the history, civilization, and the honourable ideals of the society.

This came in an interview conducted by Shurufat Al Majlis Periodical Magazine in its third issue to highlight many aspects of this blessed march, which enjoys the utmost consideration and care of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said.

Dr. Al-Manthri, Chairman of the State Council said “We notice, in the first place, a qualitative gradual progress as regards the enhancement of awareness related to the assimilation of the Shura issue. This is reflected by the figure of voters in each term, as well as the figures of the candidates. For instance, the voters number in the 7th term was 400,000 while the 8th current term scored 600,000 voters. The increase in the number reflects this assimilation. This is coupled by the outcome of the practice itself comprising the citizen, who is keen to follow up the Shura movement, and what the members carry out during the annual sessions in connection with putting forward ideas concerning adoption of new draft laws, introduction of studies pertaining to basic necessities of the citizen, and supporting development projects, or examining important urgent issues. The member of the A’Shura Council, who does not only take consideration of what the voter anticipates, but also works for maintaining a higher benefit for the nation, materializing the interests of both sides, the citizen and the country equally.

On the other side, the practice itself has originated in other forms of the concept related to practice of democracy. This includes the Municipal Council in the second term of its experiences, which has commenced at the beginning of this year. It is represented by 192 members of 11 Municipal Councils. In the same context comes the gradual exercise of this form of practice by the students Councils in the Universities and Colleges in the Sultanate. This system in its comprehensive integration reflects this Shura concept of these various climates and establishes starting points, which are more aware of the truth of the practice itself”.

He added “The Shura march is destined to remain and develop, as we all know. This progress is expected to support the different development projects. The ultimate target of the Shura process is to contribute along with the government efforts to rectify the development tracks and support them to carry out its full role in the service of the country and the citizens equally. Based on this concept, this trend is substantially reflected in the outcome of the practice in reality, most of the studies, reports, and recommendations submitted to the government, in the previous consultative stage, preceding the legislative and auditing competences accorded by the Royal Decree 99/2011, have been implemented in reality. Today, the legislative and auditing competences are applied, to add another dimension in supporting the development programs. This includes amendments to the laws in force, or adopting new laws as per the new circumstances of the stage to directly contribute in the efforts of the government. It is known that the infrastructure has increased, the development projects have been doubled. This creates many development challenges before the decision-maker. This necessitates renewal of legislation in response to all these requirements.

As for the qualitative diversification of qualifications of the members in the State Council and Majlis A’Shura, and the level of its contribution in the legislative and oversight issues in the two councils, Dr. Al-Manthri explained: “The terms of the Shura process witness qualitative gradual diversification of the level of qualifications of the members who lead the said process in the two councils. This reinforces the targeted performance of the two councils. Furthermore, the qualitative level of the members utilizes the competences as required. This is what is reflected by the parliamentary work, and the topics put forward for discussion throughout the direct practice in the annual sessions of each term. It is undoubtedly a substantial effort, which has been commended by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said in his inaugural speech of the 6th term of the Council of Oman in November 2015. It is a tribute of which we are proud and reflects the satisfaction of His Majesty with the work of both councils.

Regarding the cooperation between the Council of Oman and the Council of Ministers, Dr. Al-Manthri said:” The Royal Directives of His Majesty the Sultan require continued meetings between the members of the two councils for further coordination and cooperation, and discussion of all matters related to expediting the works and materializing substantial objectives and achievements. There is a joint Ministerial Committee represented by the Bureaus of the State Council and Majlis A’Shura on one hand, and their Excellencies the Ministers on the other hand. The said Committee holds periodical meetings throughout the annual sessions of each term. This is expected to reinforce the confidence of the citizens in the Council of Oman, as well as cooperation and integration in the execution of the various development programs between the two councils. The Council of Oman supports the role of the government in the huge extent of the development march, and adds another share in it.

Dr. Al-Manthri spoke about the efforts being exerted by members of the Council of Oman. He pointed out that the efforts of the Council of Oman are remarkable since its establishment and they are a great incentive for the government’s efforts in all circumstances. “The Council is an indispensable part of the components of the state. Its members are citizens, as well as representatives of the citizens under its dome and their responsibilities are doubled. The Council, therefore contributes in proposing solutions, submitting reports and recommendations following studies, in such circumstances, and does not restrict itself to its inherent specialization [legislation and auditing]. Whatever has been achieved to this effect has a good response, and receives great attention of the government. We therefore, highly appreciate the efforts being made by the honourable members, and extend our appreciation and gratitude to them,” he pointed out.

He highlighted the topics discussed during the 5th term. “The 5th term [2011-2015] had achieved a qualitative quantity of topics discussed, which amounted 61 topics including draft laws referred by the government, proposals submitted by the council, reports and studies put forward by the special Committees, throughout 46 plenary sittings within the 8 annual sessions of the term. This qualitative quantity reflects the efforts exerted by the honourable members as represented in the six standing committees, in addition to ad hoc committees, which are tasked with specific issues,” he explained.

Dr. Al-Manthri pointed out: “The responsibility of the voter becomes greater as regards the selection of the eligible candidate for Majlis A’Shura. He has to take into consideration the issues concerning the nation and its interest, as well as his own interest and that of the citizens too. The voter should not be partial to his kinship or friends in his selection of the member of Majlis A’Shura, unless he meets conditions qualifying him for that membership. This includes knowledge, experience, service of the society, and not only seeking personal privileges. It is a joint responsibility of both parties [candidate and voter]. The candidate shall have to feel his responsibility and honesty, as the real practice of the Shura process reflects the standard of the efficiency of the member and his feeling of responsibility. There are good indications to this effect. In the recent terms of Majlis A’Shura, there is a trend for the selection of the best. However, there are some exceptions, but the voter has to shoulder his responsibility. By his decision, he paves the way for the efficient members or others to join the membership of Majlis A’Shura.

As for the participation of the citizens with regard to supporting march of Shura, not only in candidacy and elections, but also in their direct initiatives to furnish the two councils with issues circulating in the country, Dr. Al-Manthri explained that the Omani citizens are known for their positive attitudes, as well as their cooperation and solidarity with the government. They are still taking initiatives and supporting the same, which the government undertakes, in addition to the plans and programs adopted by the government in connection with the various development march. There are citizens who put forward proposals and views to the Council, which will in turn study them objectively, and then forward them to the concerned authorities, along with the recommendations of the Council’s members. On many occasions, when there are issues of common concern to the public opinion, initiative pertaining to these issues will be submitted to the Council, and they always receive the utmost consideration and care of the honourable members. This usually happens throughout the annual sessions. Furthermore, the Council, via its website and accounts on social media, receives many remarks and interactions by the users. This reinforces and appreciates the joint partnership between the Council and the citizens. It also reflects the sincere positive attitude of the citizens when adopting urgent national issues. The entire community realizes the huge responsibility they have to shoulder. They are all sailing towards the safe beaches, God willing. The country is for all.

He furthered: “The State Council has taken the initiative on many occasions to launch such forms of dialogue with the society to explore the various horizons of its concerns. We have noticed during the last period efforts being exerted by the citizens themselves to examine the different phenomena through researches and studies they conduct to find out their reasons and put forward solutions for their manipulation, as well as recommendations to abolish them. The Council organized a seminar on April 15th-16th-2014 entitled The National Symposium on the Best Social Omani Practices. The event discussed many issues including: social values, orientation in social occasions, and the role of the mass media in it. Many researchers concerned with social issues took part in the symposium. The Council also organized a workshop on Revision of the Legislations Regulating the Work of the National Manpower in the Private Sector during March 3rd-4th-2015. Researchers and the concerned authorities of the private sector participated in the workshop.”

As for evaluating the role of the mass media in conveying the message of the Council to the receiver, he explained: “We have been very keen that the information at the Council will be one of the important tools to convey our message to the receiver, as we strongly believe that it is one of the important components of development, which reveals its tracks and trends. To this effect, a Secretariat General for Information and Public Relations has been set up at the State Council. It has a specialized department of mass media, and the alternative media, represented by the various forms of social media. In this context, the Council issues many publications including this periodical ‘Shurufat Al Majlis’ which is concerned with the parliamentary studies and articles. There is an internal bulletin dealing with the Council activities. The department has close connections with the official and private mass media to convey the Council’s activities and news. We are working hard to promote this department and furnish it with qualified young Omani cadres. There is a trend to utilize the maximum of social media to forward our message to whom it may concern.

Dr. Al-Manthri spoke about the role of woman in Shura march. He said: “The Woman has been accorded utmost consideration by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said as one of the effective players in the march of the blessed Renaissance. She has, therefore, been given the opportunity to participate equally beside men in the elected Council. In the State Council, she makes substantial contributions. She joins the Standing Committees just like her male colleague. She is definitely the most capable of tackling issues pertaining to women, though not monopolizing that. They are members in all specializations as per their vocations outside the Council including doctors, engineers, and specialists in the various human sciences. Today, she is assuming the post of the Deputy Chairman at the Council by direct free voting. The woman is available whenever there are congenial conditions for her to work. As for her presence in the elected Council, that remains to be part of the convictions of the voters”.

Regarding the Municipal Councils. Dr. Al-Manthri said: “As per the competences of the Municipal Council dedicated the service of the citizens and related to the various development programs in collaboration with the concerned authorities represented in them, the Council is tasked with many functions, which formerly belonged to the member of Majlis A’Shura. This used to consume the time of the said member who is now free for his inherent competences of legislation and auditing, as well as utilizing the Council’s tools appropriately. This issue is related with the voter when electing a member of Majlis A’Shura. If the selection is dealing with development of infrastructure, the villages and the towns, this concerns the member of the Municipal Council. If the selection concerns aspects of various strategic issues governed by the legislation, this pertains to the member of the A’Shura Council. This requires a little time to sort out the confusion taking place with some of the voters and candidates equally”.

Dr. Al-Manthri concluded the interview saying: “The work in the Councils is in general very close to the concept of a voluntary work. This type of work requires many sacrifices and a sincere desire, and dedication of time for achievement. This exceeds the administrative understanding of a job which has specific timing and a certain wage. This issue requires great efforts, patience, wise manipulation, ascertaining evidences and searching for the real information on which knowledge building is based. In addition to the relative long hours of work in discussions, research and checking, as well as listening to everyone carrying a message dealing with the service of the nation and the citizen, and receiving the members of the society at any time. I advise whoever is seeking candidacy to these Councils to take the afore-mentioned into consideration.

Lack of understanding of the above-mentioned leads voters to lodge complaints against the members of the Council, as they do not keep the promises they have made during the electoral campaigns. The reality of the parliamentary process has exceptional merits of which the candidate to these Councils is not aware. I would like to praise the experience of the students’ councils which is under formation at their age. It is likely that these councils will lay the foundation for the future members of these parliamentary councils, in a modest but important way.”

Source: Oman News Agency

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