By Safaa Abdoun
CAIRO: Finding a solution to the wage crisis in Egypt is the best means to combat corruption, stated opinion leaders in the country, according to a recent poll.
“If the citizen gets a suitable salary then this will make him or her able to resist the temptations of bribes and other corruptive means,” explained Gamal Abdel Gawad, advisor for the Public Polls Unit at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies.
The results of the study, titled the “Survey of Opinion Leaders on Corruption and Transparency in Egypt,” which surveyed opinion leaders in Egypt from a variety of sectors — including economy, media, religion, politics and science — aimed to explore the vision these influential figures have for Egypt in the upcoming period.
The priority for Egypt at the moment and in the near future is to continue building a democratic state and political stability, the results showed.
“In the majority of public surveys at the moment, people’s priority for Egypt is to restore security, however in this survey of public opinion leaders [building a democratic state] was found to be the top priority,” explained Ahmed Nagy, head of the Public Polls Unit at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies.
“[Politics] usually come much later in public opinion polls as economic issues, such as unemployment, wages, inflation, normally come first,” he noted.
The survey was conducted through face-to-face interviews, except for eight cases who were interviewed over the phone upon on their request.
Opinion leaders surveyed have recorded optimism regarding the economic situation in Egypt. “Their vision for the economic model for Egypt is that the private sector will play a leading role with the state supervising and organizing,” said Abdel Gawad during the presentation of the survey’s results.
“They want an open door policy to the world,” he added.
Regarding a model country for Egypt to follow, 32 percent hope to find Egypt in the future to be like Turkey, while 24 percent said Malaysia.
“It is worth mentioning that while Malaysia is a great economic model and has good governance, [when it comes to] democracy it is not that great of a model to follow,” Abdel Gawad pointed out, adding that at the same time it is “also not Saudi Arabia.”
A major concern when it comes to corruption in Egypt at the moment is that the people have “surreal expectations.” For example, there is a popular belief that the money stolen by figures from the ousted regime will be returned and that everyone will get a share.
“This is reflected in the ongoing strikes and protests around the country, which are partially due to high expectations following the January 25 Revolution,” said Abdel Gawad.
In addition, there is a unanimous dissatisfaction regarding the ongoing corruption trials of figures of the ousted regime.
“We are living in a crisis of justice, law and trust which creates the foundation for corruption and its protection,” said Hamdy Abdel Azeem El Naggar, head of Menufiya Human Rights Association.
Although the sample surveyed included opinion leaders across all the major fields and sectors of society, there were concerns regarding the sample.
“There are nine million people with special needs in Egypt and they are not even represented with one case in this study,” said Hassan Youssef, lawyer and head of an NGO for citizens with special needs, criticizing the study.
“There are segments of the society that have to been considered in this study, even in the media you [surveyed people working in] broadcast and disregarded the electronic social media and radio,” he said.
“There was no mention of bringing down the military rule which many people who are opinion leaders are calling for at the moment,” he added.