The dismissal of Civil Service Minister Khaled Al-Araj through a royal decree on Saturday is being widely described as a momentous decision. “It heralds a new era of transparency,” said Dr. Hamdan Al-Shehri, a Riyadh-based Saudi political analyst and international relations scholar.
Al-Araj has been blamed for abusing his position to recruit his son to a high-paying job. He has not only been removed, but a committee has been set up to investigate charges of nepotism against him.
Talking to Arab News on Sunday, Al-Shehri said it was a “clear-cut” message to “one and all” that nobody is above board. “Whether you are a minister or a bureaucrat or whatever, you won’t be spared if you do anything wrong,” he said.
“The message wasn’t just for the sacked minister, but for all ministers of the new era of accountability and openness.” Al-Shehri said it was unprecedented for such a decision to be announced on public television. “The people of this country now know that such favoritism won’t be acceptable. This is a good sign.” He said the overwhelming welcome that the decision received on social media was indicative of people’s craving for good and transparent governance.
Al-Araj had in the past stirred controversy when he appeared on an MBC television show and said Saudis are lazy and the productivity of civil servants in the Kingdom on a workday does not exceed an hour.
The Saudi National Anti-Corruption Commission (Nazaha) had found that he assigned his son Abdullah to a job for a monthly salary of SR21,600 ($5,750) shortly after he became a minister.
Al-Araj was replaced on Saturday by Essam bin Saeed.
Social media users delighted in the announcement. “He deserved it,” said one Twitter user. Using an Arabic hashtag that translates “#Trial of the minister of civil service,” another Twitter user tagged the former minister and tweeted: “You aren’t minister anymore, you can change your profile.” (source credit – Arab News)