Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Democracy in action in Oman - weekend move or not?

On the usually quiescent Oman Community blog, there's a post from Mohammed about the proposed move of the Omani weekend to Fri-Sat [from Thu-Fri], and how the pseudo-intellectually heavyweight Omani bloggo-fora commentators were opposed to the move by the elected Majlis Al Shura to recommend such a shift, (The Majlis are an advisory body to the Council of Ministers [who run things]).

The Majlis Al Shura

To a certain extent, the argument depends on whether a majority of Majlis Al Shura members were elected with a stated policy of switching the weekend.

If 'Yes', well, that's democracy for you. And the fora should maybe try to be positive in their criticism - highlighting real problems the move would cause, and proposing solutions to mitigate the side-effects. Or just bitching, that's OK too.

If 'No', it gets a bit trickier. This is one of the downsides of an absence of political parties (and their publicly stated platform of policies and priorities).

In the end, even without parties, you can have an agreed constitutional body making decisions, and at the same time still have valid debate, disagreement and challenge. Where such decisions are made, they will fall within the constitution and powers delegated under the rule of law. In the British system, there would be a separation between those parties in charge of governance, and those who form the so-called Honourable Opposition, whose constitional duty is to oppose the Government's proposals through suggestions of alternative solutions and force of argument.

This is why Freedom of speech is also a big part of the democratic process - it's not just about elections. And usually there is a commitment to protection of minority rights, to avoid a 'dictatorship of the majority'.

How the issue progresses in Oman may be a cute experiment on the decision making system. But it also shows how the Majlis has been successfully directed into worrying about such minutiae as this, reading long-term coal studies, and the moon sighting issue. IMHO, the Majlis has a long way to go. And perhaps the fora could be finding better things to focus public debate onto...


  1. the proposed move of the Omani weekend to Fri-Sat [from Thu-Fri], and how the pseudo-intellectually heavyweight Omani bloggo-fora commentators were opposed to the move by the elected Majlis Al Shura to recommend such a shift

    UD, I don't think you've read the situation correctly. The Majlis is rejecting the recommendation. They don't believe that there is any need to shift the weekend.

    The government is thinking about the shifting of the weekend and it asked the majlis for its opinion. The majlis returned with a negative view and they are rejecting the need to shift the weekend. Please read my original post on my blog.

  2. Muscati

    LOL. I had assumed the Majlis were recommending a switch, funny that its the other way around.

    Fortunately it doesn't really matter which way round the argument is to see what happens to the recommendation.

  3. @ Muscati

    I wanted to comment on your related blog post (and multiple others) but your comments section is infringing on my freedoms of speech - I don't want to open any special account just to be able to continue my existence as boxster :)

    So here goes:
    With all due respect to Islam and Omani traditions, the current situation effectively limits official interactions with the rest of the non-muslim world to 3 days out of 7. Not so good for trade, IMHO. Yet local oil rigs operate (and people work on them) 24/7/365.

    Anyway, muscati, don't be a comments nazi :) I'm sure you're in lockdown mode because you're jaded, but look at this blog - it's doing just fine with the offensive and off-topic comments. Give democracy a chance, let freedom flow, yes you can :)

  4. boxter - I will not allow anonymous comments on my blog. It is not because I am "jaded". I've been blogging for over 4 years now and it got out of hand when I allowed anonymous comments. I stopped it once and then allowed it again, and it got abused again. After two bad experiences, I am not going to be allowing it again.

    Allowing anonymous comments has nothing to do with democracy or freedom of speech. And by the way, I don't appreciate being described as "jaded" or a "comment nazi", even if it is followed by a smiley.

    It's your choice whether to comment on my blog or not. With OpenID you can use any service you want to register a nickname without compromising your identity or your rights.


  5. @ muscati

    "Anonymous communications have an important place in our political and social discourse. The Supreme Court has ruled repeatedly that the right to anonymous free speech is protected by the First Amendment."

    Jaded is not an insult but a one-word description of the process you went through to have decided to block anonymous comments.

    BTW the Oman Mobile logo is based around a cell, as in "a cellular network". Quite clever if you're a techie, but fugly nevertheless.

  6. boxster - I totally believe in your right to remain anonymous. As far as I am concerned, I don't need to know who you are. All I ask is that you register a nickname with any OpenID service. You can use an anonymizer. You can mask your IP. You can use a one-time email to register the nick. You can go to any extreme you want. But to post on my blog you must have a registered nickname. I will not allow people to post anonymously, as in just posting without using a nickname. If I allow anonymous posting, just to serve your purpose I will have to allow all the idiots who will post as "anonymous". I don't want that. If you don't like it either, that's your choice. But my choice does not infringe on your rights, so don't make it sound like it does. I never asked for you to give up your rights or disclose personal information.

  7. I have not read much about this weekend days matter on any blogs. But I heard 1-2 years ago that what is holding things back in Oman re possible change to Fri/Sat weekend = one or more higher level decision makers/advisers/officials in Oman do not want to share a weekend day with the near neighbors over in: is real. And that's what's stopping the change. But clearly banks and insurance companies are on board; so perhaps it's one of those things that will happen regardless of what a few of the powers that be (hippos) want. Cause gradually the progressives (cheatahs) are taking over whether the hippos like it or not.


If you wish to post anonymously, please pick a nickname by selecting the Name/URL option, or at least sign off your comment with one! I will delete comments I find objectionable or needlessly inflammatory. Sorry for the word verification.... OMG the spam has gotten BAD these past 12 months... trying to avoid making one log in...