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Calling the bluff of the government

Jul 23,2018 - Last updated at Jul 23,2018

Hashtags about a fresh corruption case in Jordan have become much of a trend on social media over the last few days. For many, this new cigarette-related corruption case is a tough test for the new government. Nabil Gheishan, a prominent member of Parliament, wrote on his Facebook page that the case is a bombshell that has gone off in the face of the new government.

The main suspect in the case, Awni Mutee, has left Jordan a few hours before a raid on the cigarette factory that is involved in the corruption case. Jordanians, on the whole, wonder whether he escaped on his own or he was helped in the process. Furthermore, Jordanians are determined to know the very detail of the case and it seems that they will accept nothing short of fair trial to all people involved in this case.

Prime Minister Omar Razzaz gave the go-ahead to pursue the accused people with gusto. This seriousness on the part of the prime minister is of paramount importance as many people suspect that the state is not serious in putting a cap on corruption. Over the last few days, the government has been grilled by Jordanians. Some even seek to call the bluff of the government. They suggested going back to the fourth circle in support of the new prime minister in his quest to hold the accused responsible for their economic crimes.

And yet, if the prime minister is not successful in translating his words to deeds, his popularity will take a nosedive. It is kind of an uphill battle for the government to impose new tax or even enact the new Income Tax Law if this government fails in bringing those involved in the illegal production and smuggling of fake-brand cigarettes. State Minister for Media Affairs Jumana Ghunaimat said that a travel ban was imposed on seven more suspects on Saturday, but that no arrests have yet been made. “The government will investigate the case, gather facts and carefully monitor its progress in cooperation with the relevant authorities, and it will not hesitate to arrest those involved, wherever they may be. They will be brought to justice and punished for their actions,” Ghunaimat said in a press release.

While many will not take the words of Ghunaimat at face value, it seems to me that this time the state has no option but to come up with a compelling case for suspicious citizens. With the trust gap between the successive government and people reaching an unprecedented level, this current government needs to understand that enough is enough. 

The running theme in the majority of posts on Facebook is that Jordanians are being impoverished for the benefit of the very corrupted few. Indeed, the gap between the haves and the have nots reached a scale unseen before. For this reason, the last thing Jordan needs is a reinforcement of a public image of the lack of seriousness on the part of the state to deal with corruption. Perhaps, this also provides a golden opportunity for the government to restore some of the public trust.

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