Divergent reactions to NDP congress
PRESIDENT Hosni Mubarak 's address at the 6th annual congress of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP)was highlighted in yesterday 's press.However,comments on the congress agenda and key addresses of the party leaders varied widely between semi-official and opposition newspapers.For instance,Sherif Riyad of Al-Akhbar semi-official newspaper was convinced that thethree-word slogan for this year 's congress 'Just for You 'duly represented the NDP 's bias towards the interest of simple citizens.He argued that the issues subject to discussion at the congress were not mere points on an agenda
but the framework of a plan of action to which the party and its Government would be committed.“They come under Mubarak 's presidential manifesto of which 80 per cent has been implemented in the past four years ”.In the light of these accomplishments,Riyad was certain that the NDP would be able to fulfil the remaining 20 per cent in the coming two years.He criticised those who considered the congress as a sheer media fanfare for the party 's policies and said that these annual congresses were a tradition observed by political parties in well-established democracies.In the meantime,Mohamed Amin of Al-Wafd opposition party writing in the party 's mouthpiece,was certain that the people did not believe that the congress was convened for the sake of the poor.“If the party were really nterested in the poor where has it been n the past 28 years?”He wondered how one or two years would be sufficient to solve all of Egypt 's problems.“Nobody can believe the statement of NDP Secretary General Safwat el-Sherif that it is too early to name a presidential candidate,”Amin asserted.He was surprised by the statements of Hossam Badrawi,a prominent NDP member, who said that the party had more than one candidate other than Gamal Mubarak,namely Mohamed Kamal,himself and Alieddin Helal. Amin was surprised,because as he put it,“None of these names is even fit for a municipality council ”. Moving backwardsIn the same newspaper Ibrahim Abdel- Meguid lashed out at the banned-yet-tolerated Muslim Brotherhood.He argued that it was high time for a group,which has failed for eighty years,to give up the dream of politics and to turn to real life.He suggested that they should become a mere charity group,who would morally enrich society and help in the social and economic development of it at large in compliance with the laws of the civil state.He attacked the group for its rigid and backward thought based on the mere appearance of Islam.He urged leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood to make use of present-day changes and to contemplate the harm done to society owing to the spread of their outdated ideologies.“At a time when Saudi Arabia,which adopts a fundamentalist Wahabi approach to religion,has allowed the mingling of male and female students at a newly-established university,the Muslim Brotherhood are still talking about separating male from female students.They are also struggling to talk as many women as possible into wearing the full face-veil (Niqab ),” were the concluding words of Abdel-Meguid 's attack. Qualities neededMohamed Abdel-Hafez of Al-Akhbar , meanwhile,did not expect train accidents to stop following the resignation of Mohamed Mansour the former Minister of Transport,in the wake of Al-Ayyat train crash.He proposed creating a portfolio for the railway to be assigned to a well-selected person that would be fully aware of the problems of this vital sector and at the same time enjoy leadership qualities.He believes that such a person should be capable of extending bridges with workers at the Railway Authority.“Yet,before being designated he has to submit a reform plan,” he said..“In this way,the transport minister to be appointed would be dedicated to the upgrading of land and river transport,which is already a heavy burden.” Expanded Nile transportHis colleague,on the same page,Faten Abdel- Razeq was,however,pleased with the plans ofCairo Governor Abdel-Azim Wazir to expand the use of the Nile transport such that commuterswould be raised from 6,000 to 36,000 by means of increasing river docks and Nile water buses.She hoped that the governorate would make use of the transport cooperation agreements signed during President Mubarak 's recent visit toHungary to upgrade passenger and freight transport on the Nile. Breaking taboosOn the back page of Al-Ahrar ,newspaper of the opposition Liberal Party,Nabil Zaki yesterday sarcastically defended Mohamed Mansour 's right to register his resignation to thePublic Notary for being as the first in the historyof Egyptian Cabinets.He related how a TV talk show titled “I was aMinister ”,which hosts former ministers,revealed that none of the guests knew why they were chosen for their office or why they were dismissed.Mansour 's name will be associated in thepublic mind with his 'unprecedented politicalaccomplishment of resigning ',Zaki affirmed.“Itdoes not matter why he resigned,be it because ofnegligence or for suspicions over a locomotive deal.What is more important is that he made a new entry of a word that was once taboo to the dictionary of Egyptian political life,”concluded Zaki.Educational prescriptionMeanwhile,in Al-Masry Al-Youm independent newspaper Soliman Gouda praised an article by Professor Alia el-Mahdi,Dean of an Economics and Political Sciences Faculty,in which she wrote a prescription to remedy the nation 's national educational system.“South Korea realised that t couldn 't providefree yet good quality education for all students.For this reason it channelled its entire education budget to tertiary level to enable students to have free education at the highest standard.As for the university students,they are required to pay fees except for outstanding students that are granted scholarships,”Gouda quoted from Professor el-Mahdi.He continued that she found 'such is the only way forward for us if we really wish to occupy an advanced rank among well- educated countries '.Mahdi knows that her suggestion will open fire on her,since theState has committed itself to free education from primary to university levels. Gouda hoped that Mubarak would read el- Mahdi 's article especially given that she is a prominent figure in the ruling party. Cities likely to be submergedAbbas el-Tarabili of Al-Wafd opposes the establishment of the projected Mediterranean city of New Mansoura north of the Delta.He pointed out that amidst warnings about the likely submerging of coastal cities owing to the rising sea level of the Mediterranean caused by global warming,the Government had announced its plans to establish a new community that stretches 2l kilometres along the coast.El-Tarabili assumed that we would face huge problems to secure protection for already existing cities when large areas are inundated in fifty years 'time.He asked why do we have to increase our woes and to squander funds when we could first consult experts?A matter of timeIn the meantime,Sameh Mahrus of Al- Gomhuria was of the opinion that traditional problems have to be approached in an unconventional way.He was referring to the need for a new initiative to protect holy sites in Jerusalem and break the stalemate of the peace process.He asked:“Why do we not try to approach the proposal previously put forth by Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi,where he called for a unified Israeli-Palestinian state.”Mahrus described it as a realistic outlook on Palestinian rights.He claimed that one state would be in theinterests of the Palestinians,because in such co-existence the Palestinians will normally outnumber Israelis.“The majority of Arabs will impose itself in time,” he wrote..