Monday, July 03, 2006

Do not complain!

An astonishing attack on the English language press by Ayesha Sultan in Al Bayan and reprinted in Gulf News. It seems to have been triggered by comments about the Emiratisation of HR & secretarial positions.

Let me say straight away that I fully agree with her complaint that readers letters are often insulting. Gratuitous insults have no place in any society and Letters Editors should be far more effective in their decisions about which letters to print. Racial slurs are simply not acceptable and the Letters Editors should not print them.

But the article is in essence telling her readers that the English language press is subversive, destructive, provocative, publishing reports "with the aim of provoking UAE nationals...insulting a society, its individuals, policies and strategies..."

She is demanding high-level official action to stop the "outrageous campaign aimed at destroying values and rules of the UAE."

No-one should complain because: "Foreign workers are treated with respect and nicely as long as they do not cause any harm to the country and its standard policies." Unfortunately, too many workers are not treated well at all, not necessarily by Emirati management, but nevertheless it is a fact that they are treated badly without having caused any 'harm to the country.'

I hope that Ayesha's opinion that discussion, comment, complaints are such a huge danger to the country is very much a minority view. I don't see it as dangerous, as trying to insult or destroy the country's values or as provoking its nationals - quite the opposite. I see it as useful, in any country, for the people to be interested in government policies, for there to be open debate about those policies and their effects, to express their concerns if they believe the policies could be improved, to suggest alternatives.

This is the way that countries move forward.

And as a sign-off, Ayesha says "Strangers should always be polite and this is the dominant golden rule followed everywhere in the world." Sorry, but the first word should not be strangers, it should be "everybody".

You can read the article here

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