At the beginning of this legislative course, we remember brothers of ours who should have been with us under the roof of this parliament taking part in this great national workshop, but the bullets of treachery prevented them from doing so. They fell martyrs merely because they were determined to shoulder national responsibility by putting themselves forward as candidates for the elections of the People's Assembly; and so they haven't been able to share with us this historic day.
In respect for their souls and the souls of all innocent civilian martyrs and military martyrs who fell since the early days of these events, we stand with great veneration and send their families our love and say to them that their blood was not spilled in vain. I am not saying this to indicate seeking revenge but in terms of upholding right because a right is never forgotten unless it is forfeited by its owner.
Our only solace – and here I'm not only offering condolences to their families; I am rather talking about the larger Syrian family – is that our country will be once again sound and healthy and that the children of this homeland will enjoy security, peace and stability.
Mr. Speaker, ladies and gentlemen, members of the People's Assembly,
It gives me pleasure to congratulate you on the trust the people has put in you, and to particularly congratulate the new members who have joined this national institution to provide new blood and creative ideas which renew and invigorate the homeland and which fulfill the Syrians' aspirations in a safe and prosperous future.
I highly appreciate your determination to take part in these elections under the critical circumstances which require more courage, perseverance and a high sense of responsibility. This is only evidence of your willingness to give and to sacrifice at a time where many individuals toil under national responsibilities which are only shouldered by those who believe in the sacredness of national work and those who have committed themselves to serve the people and defend it.
The People's Assembly is an Assembly for all the Syrian people. It is the Assembly of the farmer dreaming of getting better crops and a better future. It is the Assembly of the peasant sweating to feed his children and extended family. It is the Assembly of the public sector employee taking his children to school to ensure a safer and more stable and prosperous future for his children. It is the Assembly of the soldier sacrificing his life in defense of his homeland. It is the Assembly of the intellectual, the educated, the doctor, the engineer, the lawyer, the journalist, the worker. It is the Assembly of the women who have always contributed to the development and progress of Syrian society. It is the Assembly of the people from whom it takes inspiration and for whom it lives, legislates and oversees the performance of the executive authority.
Members of the People's Assembly cannot carry out their legislative and oversight functions in an optimal manner without possessing a clear development vision. For this vision to mature, it needs two factors: the first is constructive dialogue under the roof of this Assembly and among its members; and the second is continual communication with the citizens in order to know the challenges and the difficulties which they face or to listen from them to solutions and proposals which could enrich the programs and plans of the Assembly and make them closer to reality and better adapted to citizens' concerns.
Communication between officials, whether in the legislative or executive authorities is essential for the citizens who need to express their concerns; but it is a greater need for officials because their success, whether they are part of the executive or the legislative branch, is directly linked and strongly relevant to their relationship with citizens and their ability to draw ideas, plans and visions based on the aspirations and proposals of the citizens and their need for a better life.
If the Syrian citizen is our objective, he should be our starting point. And if we are working for the Syrian citizen, and if our objective is to serve the citizen's interests, then the citizen's views should be our guiding light. Focusing on the oversight role of the Assembly shouldn't undermine its participatory role with the executive authority. Those who are charged with oversight and accountability should be able to propose solutions; and this requires this institution to be turned into a beehive for work and dialogue so that it becomes the generator and the locomotive of the development process in Syria.
The relationship between the legislative authority and the executive authority – whether it is the government or other institutions – is often described as good or bad. I believe that this description is not accurate, because this relationship is not based on paying lip service to each other nor is it based on competition. It is based on integration, and such a relationship should only be described as methodological or non-methodological. When we say that it should be methodological, this means that we need mechanisms which are the most important thing for any institution at the beginning of its work at a particular stage.
When we talk about the oversight role of the People's Assembly – which is its most important role – over the executive authority, it shouldn't start with bringing to account the executive official who failed to deliver, it should start by planning. When the executive authority starts the planning process, there should be direct dialogue with the legislative authority which discusses these plans with the relevant authorities. The process starts when the government makes its statement, and later every minister is required to present his plan and his vision for the sector he is responsible for. Then comes the role of the Assembly in terms of follow-up and oversight, and later on when there is any failure on the part of any official, it should bring them to account. And here the assembly has a responsibility in front of the electorate and the citizens to hold discussions; and members should be able to discuss and approve a plan for which they will be responsible, together with the executive authority. Of course they are not responsible for implementation. This requires that a member is not simply a channel connecting the citizens and state institutions, they should interact with the citizens and propose ideas and plans and discuss them with the executive authority to see whether such plans are feasible and implementable. Just imagine instead of having tens of ministers thinking and planning, having hundreds of members discussing, planning, thinking and implementing. The development process will certainly be more effective and will make more achievements.