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29-11-2011 - Gulfnews/By Sunil K. Vaidya

Qaboos: Free expression is vital

ultan Qaboos Bin Saeed has assured Omani citizens of freedom of expression and has asked the government to tackle corruption with the full force of the law.

"The State's laws and regulations have guaranteed for every Omani the right to express his opinion," said the Omani ruler in his address to the Council of Oman, a joint session of Majlis Adawala and Majlis Shura yesterday at the Al Shumukh Palace in Manah.

He urged citizens to participate with constructive ideas to enhance the march of progress witnessed by Oman in different fields.

He reiterated that there should not be any attempt to muzzle free thinking. "We have always believed it is important that there should be a wide range of different ideas and opinions, and that people should not be prohibited from thinking freely," he added.However, he pointed out that the freedom of expression did not mean that any one party had the right to force its opinions on others or suppress the rights of others to express their ideas freely.

"This has nothing to do with democracy or law; and keeping up with the times does not mean imposing one's ideas on other people." Also, he went on to say, "the monopolisation of opinion and its imposition on others should not be permitted."

He said that the more thought becomes diverse, open and free of fanaticism, the more it becomes a correct and sound basis for building generations, the progress of nations and the advancement of societies.

"Inflexibility, extremism and immoderation are the opposite to all this and societies which adopt such ideas only carry within themselves the seeds of their eventual destruction," the Sultan pointed out.


Talking about government's responsibility, and corruption, the Omani leader said the government work, as is well-known, was a matter of trust and responsibility.

"It should be carried out with total disregard for personal interests and with complete honesty for the service of the community," he stressed in his 30-minute speech also attended by the Royal Family members, former ministers and invited guests.

"It should never countenance corruption." He reiterated that corruption must not be allowed in any shape or form. "We instruct our government to take all necessary measures to prevent it and we direct all the audit authorities to fulfil their duties resolutely in this regard with the full force of the law."

He also stressed that justice must take its course and become our goal and objective. "Our support for the judiciary and its independence is a duty to which we have committed ourselves, and we recognise that it is imperative to respect its decisions without favouritism, as all are equal before the law," Sultan Qaboos said.

He also emphasised instilling good traits and high values among the youth from an early age. "It will act as a fence protecting them from falling into the abyss of intruding ideas that call for violence, extremism, hatred, fanaticism," he added.


He expressed satisfaction at the progress in Shura experiment in the country. "Many notable achievements were made along the path of this (Shura) blessed experience during the past phase," he said.

He added that he was looking forward to a qualitative shift in national work which would be carried out by the Council of Oman during the upcoming period in the light of the expanded powers given to Shura.



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