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Too much to handle during government's 100-day challenge

Aug 01,2018 - Last updated at Aug 01,2018

Almost midway into its 100-day challenge, the government of Prime Minister Omar Razzaz, has run into a set of challenges that illustrates where Jordan stands and raises a big question about the path ahead.  

This bundle of problems has little to do with the major issues that have had their painful toll on the country, like regional turbulence and the ensuing refugee crisis, the slow economy, Trump's much speculated "ultimate deal" and other issues of a similar calibre.

We are speaking here about day-to-day incidents that speak volumes about deep-rooted problems that rattle social peace and receive full attention of ordinary Jordanians and, subsequently, decision makers. Let's examine some examples.

The tobacco factory case involving illegal manufacturing, faking and smuggling of cigarettes has stubbornly remained in the media spotlight and is not expected to vanish soon. Coming at a time when the new government has promised a relentless campaign to eradicate corruption, the public does not expect from the government anything less than clear answers to the graft epidemic, totally unwilling to believe that the culprits have been violating the law for years without support from influential people. People want to know who and how, very difficult questions for the government to provide answers to, especially if these mysterious figures have well covered themselves legally.

The recent assault on a traffic officer in Amman also gives salience to the phenomenon of "lawless" pockets across the country, where certain people, some of whom occupy high-ranking positions at state agencies, act as if they were above the law and would aggressively assault a law enforcement official doing his job or a collector of electricity fees. Electricity and water thieves, marijuana farmers, car thieves, drug traffickers, illegal fire arms vendors and others fall in this category. The majority still cannot blink at such evils and is not yet satisfied with authorities' attempts to combat these crimes. 

Although it did not stir a social media fuss, the assault against an investor in Ajloun last month is a reminder that despite the measures taken to protect guest businessmen, including the setting up of a special unit at the police department, the mentality of some people in host communities remains a big hurdle facing efforts to make investors feel safe. 

A fourth example was evident when Razzaz promised this week to dispatch "mystery shoppers" to public hospitals to ensure that people are being well served. The premier acknowledged during a surprise visit to Al Bashir Hospital on Tuesday that the medical facility struggles with tremendous pressures, but that is no excuse for any inhuman treatment of people there or anywhere.

Law enforcement, fighting corruption, improving public services and, above all, giving people hope are what is expected from Razzaz' government in its first 100 days in office, and beyond. These are mammoth tasks and too big promises to be fulfilled in 100 days, but the government so far enjoys an unprecedented popular support, so much so that young activists tried last month to stage a rally to show this backing and tell the premier that he has Jordanians behind him. 

But make no mistake; this support can in a blink of an eye turn into public anger and negative anti-government sentiments if Razzaz and his team do not show, at least, enough sincerity and seriousness in the drive to enhance the rule of law and bring to justice those who believe they can break the rules and get away with it.

 

The writer is the Deputy Chief Editor of The Jordan Times

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