In the spirit of the new guidance given to us recently from the venerable [and Government appointed] Oman Human Rights Commission, the dept. of Public Prosecutions, and compliant (as always!) with the comprehensive Omani publications law, here’s the news from Oman*!
[*not a police state, despite what the Economist says, like they know anything].
New Series: “I’m super! Thanks for asking! Because everything is super when you’re … in Oman!”
To honour the far sighted arrest, imprisonment and soon to be meted deserved punishment of those bloggers and activists, intent on causing trouble and hiding behind their abuse of free speech in this glorious country, we’ll have a series of posts about Oman in general, highlighting the positive things these people don't want you to know. These so-called Omanis (we all know if they act like this they can't be real Omanis) can't be allowed to bring the Omani Anglo-Bloggoshere into disrepute.
Government and The Law.
GovernmentOman is governed by an excellent political system known as an http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absolute_monarchy Absolute Monarchy, aka an Autocracy. His Majesty Sultan Qaboos issues all the laws, without the needless constraints of a written constitution or the oversight of a constitutional court. (There is a Basic Law, which effectively acts as a constitution for regulation and is just wonderful, but the Sultan can modify it if he wants to.)
This system of benign dictatorship ensures that all such laws and regulations are fully aligned with the wishes of the all people, by definition, and this is evidenced by the way all laws are greeted with delight by the citizens.
Photo: HM Sultan Qaboos. A true warrior Diplomat, handsome, debonnaire, visionary, and the original inspiration for The Most Interesting Man in the World ads by Mexican beer company Dos Equis. True story.
We all know that a fundamental foundation of the Oman system is that the authority of His Majesty The Sultan must be held inviolate. Because all Omanis agree on that absolutely, and wouldn't even think of deviating from that even in their dreams, this national unanimity is robustly protected by very strong Lese-majesty Laws. Even the hard-core looters carried signs in praise of His Majesty. (It goes to show that just because someone's a seditious rioter doesn't mean they're
This blog has always held to the observation that there is a word for what Oman would be like without HM Qaboos - And that word is "Yemen". And without an Opera House or Grand Mosque at that. And fewer pastels. Even Al Qaida are apprently leaving Yemen and coming here of late, that's how bad Yemen is.
Great leaders though the ages have agreed a benign dictatorship is the best system ever devised to govern a country, as long as you have a dictator who is benign and wise, as we have had here in Oman during the more than 40 years of Blessed Renaissance. That's why we were awarded most progressed nation by the UN.
It is not a problem what so ever that there is no publicly known successor to His Majesty, no heir nor Crown Price. We can proceed secure in the knowledge that everything will be OK and that His Majesty will continue to live for many decades making all the big decisions on behalf of a grateful citizenry.
Some of these seditious critics abusing their right to free speech claim that robust institutional systems are not in place to moderate the power of a future successor to the Sultan. All Omani people are united behind His Majesty, and HM has wisely put in place a process for the succession, so it is not something people need fret about, it’ll all be OK. The tremendous talents intrinsic to the very DNA of all members of the Royal Family, under the wise guidance of the Oman Military, will ensure the eventual successor is just as infallible, honorable, visionary, dedicated and benign as Sultan Qaboos. Afterall, just look at how things were in Oman even before his Majesty. And that was
His Majesty also appoints all the members of his Cabinet and the Ministers that administer the functions of Government. All these appointees are regularly made to appear before the democratically elected members of the Shura, where they must answer questions. There are no political parties in Oman's Shura, people vote for their representative's
Despite the fact that the Shura has few resources of its own and little expertise in the technical details of the Ministerial portfolios or activities, they ask very probing and challenging questions based on solid data and independent evidence, and ensure the Government continues to function perfectly in line with the interests of the people. In addition, the Ministers and their staff never make any mistakes anyway, which is of course why we have to have these Q and A sessions in private behind closed doors, and don’t report the proceedings in the public domain.
It's therefore agreed and self-evident that Oman's system of Government is awesome. In fact, it is so good, I know you'll agree with me that we must ensure that no-one can sully our Government's shining reputation, for example by making false allegations, or publishing slanderous rumours about it or it's Ministers.
Well, like myself, Ms Dragon and all readers of Muscat Confidential, you'll be pleased to know the law here in Oman, guided by those strong and deep Omani cultural traditions you'd have to be a traitor to disagree with, wisely ensures anything people publish which may prejudice the safety of the state is not only criminal, but vigorously pursued and those transgressors punished with jail-time! Whew.
LawMaking detailed, complex laws that spell out exactly what is required of the citizens is an awful lot of work. So instead, we generally make up our laws on the back of a napkin from a nearby shwarma shop, often just hours before it is submitted to the process to be brought into law via a Royal Decree. And as all Royal Decrees are issued by His Majesty, they are (again, by definition) perfect. That’s how efficient our Government is. No messing around. Everyone knows what the law means anyway, because our laws are based on our strong and deep cultural values of doing exactly what you’re told by those in authority without question.
Should anyone have evidence of any problem with any Government Official, no matter how high their rank, the authorities await you with open arms and would be most appreciative of such evidence, as they don’t have time to waste trying to collect such evidence themselves when there isn’t any to be found in the first place. Instead of creating rumours on-line or on a ‘blog’ [working illegally as a journalist are you now?] or newspaper, which is quite rightly a serious criminal offense, just come to the ROP. Why risk saying or writing “anything” which “may” potentially cause damage to the respect for any Government Institution, which is also illegal? Instead, simply take the matter to the people who are tasked with enforcing the law, as they want to hear your complaint, as we point out to the Americans and the UN all the time.
Just ask a good friend of the blog, our Man from the Ministry Mti! I'm confident he'll tell you do do exactly that!
(Of course, making a false or unsupported accusation to the Police or Internal Security is a very serious matter indeed, and could lead to important people being insulted and offended by your very accusation of malfeasance or incompetence. And offending and insulting people is a crime in Oman, in fact a crime we prosecute far more often (and more successfully) than we prosecute crimes of corruption. So I’d make darned sure your evidence is water-tight before going around making wild unfounded accusations against members of His Majesty’s Government sunshine, or before you know it you’ll be helping Big Abdullah make his bed every night in Muscat’s wonderfully-respectful-of-all-human-rights penal facility for uppity people like you. )
Just a warning there, certainly not a threat or an attempt to intimidate anyone.
Please report any suspicions you may have, especially if they are suspicions or complaints about people who are creating suspicions, because we take those complaints very seriously indeed.
The Basic Law, examplesOman guartantees all Omani people and lawful residents free speech and freedom of expression. It's in The Basic Law, issued in 1996. Here, read it: http://www.omanet.om/english/government/basiclaw/overview.asp?cat=gov&subcat=blaw. Here's a sample.
Article (29) Freedom of opinion and expression, whether spoken, written or in other forms, is guaranteed within the limits of the Law.
Article (30) Freedom of postal, telegraphic, telephonic and other forms of communication is sacrosanct and their confidentiality is guaranteed. Hence, it is not permitted to monitor or inspect them, reveal their contents, or delay or confiscate them except in circumstances defined by the Law and in accordance with the procedures laid down therein.
Article (31) Freedom of the press, printing and publication is guaranteed in accordance with the conditions and circumstances defined by the Law. It is prohibited to print or publish material that leads to public discord, violates the security of the State or abuses a person’s dignity and his rights.
Article (32) Citizens have the right of assembly within the limits of the Law.
These articles are subject to subsequent legislation, which is what makes them so Universal. You see, all Omanis have freedom of expression as a right in the Basic Law, (well, except where we make it illegal, obviously).
And we make it perfectly illegal like this http://www.main.omanobserver.om/node/67972 - just one tiny excellent example of Omani law in action from the new Publications Law:
Decree amends publication law
Mon, 10 October 2011
It is prohibited to publish anything which may prejudice the safety of the state or its internal or external security - MUSCAT —
His Majesty Sultan Qaboos has issued Royal Decree No 95/2011 amending some provisions of the Law of Publications and Publishing. Article 1 stipulates that Article 26 of the said Publications and Publishing Law shall be replaced with the following text:
“Article 26: It is prohibited to publish anything which may prejudice the safety of the state or its internal or external security or all that relates to military and security apparatuses, their bylaws and internal regulations, any documents or information or news or official secret communications, either by publication through visual, audio or print media or through the Internet or any means of the information technology unless a permission is obtained from the competent authority.
It is also prohibited to publish the wordings of the agreements and treaties concluded by the government before they are published in the official gazette. Article 2: The Decree comes into force from the day following its date of publishing in the gazette. — ONA
This is a wonderful law, and I've written enthusiastically about it before, as regular readers will know. (Although, I must confess, for absolute elegance the defamation laws are my favourite, if you must know).
I asked a friend of mine who is a real-life Senior Judge here in the Western world if he would review it, and give his expert judicial opinion on the above as a piece of legislation.
He read it very carefully, and announced it was "a world class example of fascist law", and there was nothing to review. It was so comprehensive, in his opinion, it made ANY statement on the Government's actions criminal by definition. "There is no free speech with that law, none."
Wow. Our legal minds are that good people! World Class Law!! Go Oman!
So, that was our fast tour of Oman's Governance and Law. We'll add to the series as we go through the balmy days of summer. Hell, maybe we'll even get around to Blue City III...