President Hosni Mubarak’s address to the People’s Assembly and Shura Council on 19 December marked the launch of a new beginning for Egypt. This is the largest, most professional, capable, competent parliament in our history; this is not just talk, but is backed by figures.
In his speech, the president ended the differences, divisions and disputes that surrounded the elections and made everyone look at Egypt, which rises above every person, party, and for whose sake there were electoral battles.
The president gave voice to what was in the heart of the Egyptian people in terms of optimism, confidence and faith in their future. The address increased our sense of national pride by refreshing our memories about what has been achieved so far, what we aspire to, and what we are capable of.
The president assigned the new members of parliament the responsibility of new legislative tasks to truly transform Egypt and place it where it deserves to be. This heralds a new phase of serious national work by all political forces for the sake of the country and its people without a lot of talk or clamour, or fears that distract from our true goals and ambitions through the delusions or fantasies of those who abuse religion.
The president simplified matters for everyone in the political spectrum by presenting visions, setting assignments and explaining in broad terms the outline of political action in the coming phase. The president believes that great work awaits everyone and action must be taken quickly without wasting time on rumours or pointless attempts to undermine or distract progress.
For 45 minutes, the president was looking forward, to where we all turn in search of a better future.
The address was futuristic, discussing what needs to be done to confront the challenges of tomorrow. The president reviewed efforts made to date and stated hopes and ambitions that cannot be ignored. He talked about achievements in production and work, and how we overcame crises without asking for anyone’s help. He gave us confidence that we chose the right path by opening up to the world, making the best of available opportunities, and that we should be proud of our capabilities. We will not face challenges worse than the ones in our past; the economic reform policies garnered rewards and strengthened the economy, making it more capable of ironing out and solving problems.
But tomorrow’s aspirations will not come by themselves, but will be built on effort, planning, development, consensus and compatibility with the elements of the age. They also require repositioning the country towards a better work ethic, and an ability to advance people’s lives and society to enter the age of nuclear energy and all its trappings of developing industry, agriculture, scientific research and all branches of education.
As the president said, our hopes rely on putting in place the pillars of a modern civil state that quietly abandons religious, political and social tribalism and replaces them with prioritising the citizen. It also requires revising the role of the state and liberating it from decades-old burdens that have prevented it from moving forward and inhibited our ability to grow. The state is to become a regulating force, providing incentives for economic activity, and playing a pivotal role in caring for the segments of society that are in dire need of true social justice that reaches the poor.
It also needs to expand the base of popular participation and decentralisation that would change life in our country, and in all political and economic activism, so that Egypt’s national security gains the importance it deserves.
President Mubarak focused on the two most critical threats we are facing, namely those who stir sectarian strife among Muslims and Christians, and those who divide ranks overseas among our brothers and partners in the fertile Nile Valley. We are part of a world that interacts and changes very quickly, and we will not be able to avoid these changes. We must respond to them in a way that guarantees our interests, protects our identity, emphasises our Egyptian character and our stature in the region and the world.
And do not forget, Egypt is an independent state that does not accept conditions or diktat. It is truly a strong country; what it declares in public is what it says behind closed doors.
The president prioritised curtailing unemployment in the coming phase, and the work needed for this on several fronts. If we want to create jobs, there is no alternative but to continue to raise growth rates to attract more investment, which is met by immense population and social growth, and in a way that achieves a new thrust to which the president has led us.
The future vision outlined in President Mubarak’s speech is a new challenge, not only for the government but for all state institutions, including the political parties who need to reconsider and rise above the pettiness of the elections. They should join the successful, strong and just march leading Egypt and its people freely to unprecedented political, economic and social progress and development. In this way, we will survive the chaos and turmoil being plotted by mischievous elements who have sold their Egyptian identity in return for petty interests or passing fame or objectionable allegiances overseas.
The president’s address outlined many tasks for the new parliament to develop the necessary legislative infrastructure in the coming period. Everyone is invited to participate by effort and opinion; the current work ethic is unacceptable and transforming it is a national duty. Encouraging individual initiative has become a national call, as is overhauling public schooling, technical education, health insurance and water and energy security in Egypt, as well as other issues mentioned in the president’s address. The speech was an invitation to flock around Egypt’s interests in order to support our achievements and protect them in an unstable region and during these difficult times.