x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

'My goal is to protect the federation'

We begin a series profiling all 40 members of the FNC by taking a look at the second deputy speaker, Ali Jasem Ahmed Jasem.

'You should add to the council and contribute with your own agenda,' says Ali Jasem Ahmed Jasem.
'You should add to the council and contribute with your own agenda,' says Ali Jasem Ahmed Jasem.

We begin a series profiling all 40 members of the FNC by taking a look at the second deputy speaker, Ali Jasem Ahmed Jasem. Perhaps because he is the oldest serving member of the Federal National Council, on which he has served six terms since 1993, Ali Jasem Ahmed Jasem can at times sound a little severe in his assessment of the council and its members. "Although it was [our] first democratic experience, we have seen no results because members are not aware of the role of the council," said Mr Jasem, the second deputy speaker.

Half the 40-member council were elected by a small electorate in 2006 in the country's first election. "Some members were enthusiastic at some point, but the majority of them have no enthusiasm," added Mr Jasem, a member for Umm al Qaiwain. Mr Jasem believes an FNC member should have one ultimate goal; to protect the federation and its institutions. Promoting the nation's identity and mitigating the population imbalance are also top issues for him.

He believes that an FNC member should contribute to the council immediately rather than waiting to learn from their experience in serving in it. "You should add to the council and contribute with your own agenda," he said. Mr Jasem has called for the voting age to be lowered from 21 to 18 as a way of fostering political awareness among young people. "We need to prepare a generation that is politically aware, that realises the importance of the Federal National Council, that knows their role as members of society and is given the chance by the constitution to have a role in the decision-making," he said in March.

He has also called for a clear government position on the future of the FNC. The council's current term expires in February and the government has not disclosed plans for future elections. Mr Jasem also hopes the government will draft an elections law, as the country's first elections were regulated under a framework that did not amount to a law. @Email:mhabboush@thenational.ae