Public Sector and Community Involvement
Antoine N. Frem
-Chairman, INDEVCO Management Resources Inc. -Chairman, Interstate Resources Inc. USA -Chairman, Board of UNIPAK -Member, Advisory Board of the Institute of Family and Entrepreneurial Business at the Lebanese American University
-Member, Board of the Lebanese Management Association (LMA) -Member, Board of the YMCA -Member, Board of Directors of AMIDEAST, Washington, D.C. -Member, Board of Directors of the Children Cancer Center Lebanon (CCCL) affiliated with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital -Member, Caux Round Table: a network of senior business leaders around the world dedicated to corporate responsibility -Past Member and former Chairman, Board of Trustees of Lebanese American University
I want to tell you something about running a modern Lebanese city.
Jounieh, with a population of around 200,000, is one of Lebanon’s largest cities and is located on the coast, 21 km north of Beirut. It has several schools, universities, hospitals, houses of worship, banks, restaurants, hotels, and beach resorts.
I believe public service and the common good should be shielded from political or personal interest and the municipal council of Jounieh is committed to these same principles, while carrying out its public service responsibilities transparently and uprooting corruption.
Within the Comprehensive Development Plan and Strategy, our municipal council has achieved several important projects, including:
1. Jounieh Public Garden, which provides citizens, visitors, and tourists free access to green zones, pedestrian streets, and jogging and cycling areas. 2. Friendship Square, which was inaugurated in September 2011. It epitomizes our belief in the importance of openness, coexistence, and cultural exchange involving Lebanon and countries around the globe.In April 2013, the municipality of Jounieh, in coordination with the US Embassy in Lebanon and the American Task Force for Lebanon, dedicated a statue of Lebanese-American diplomat Ambassador Philip Habib for his mission to broker peace in Lebanon in 1982, while serving as US special envoy to the Middle East. The ceremony was attended by the highest political and social figures, The Hon. Maura Connelly, U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon, representing the U.S. Government, and Dr. George Cody representing the American Task Force for Lebanon (ATFL).
3. Jounieh International Summer Festival, which is organized annually by the municipality of Jounieh and Phellipolis, an NGO, to showcase concerts and performances by Lebanese and international artists.
4. Drilling of several reservoirs to collect rainwater.
5. Rehabilitation of the major city roads.
6. Rehabilitation, with USAID assistance, of the fishing harbor and fishing cooperative. Main challenges:
The influx of more than 20,000 Syrian refuges to Jounieh has presented challenges in terms of housing, schooling, sewage, water, and other infrastructure.
Administrative centralization in Lebanon has been a major obstacle delaying municipal work and project implementation. There should be administrative decentralization to expand the powers of the municipal councils, which were elected by the people and enjoy the confidence of the people. I believe administrative decentralization represents a sound basis for good governance.
Waste management used to be assigned to the central government. Recently and without prior notice, waste management was handed over to municipalities, although the municipal funds have not been released for municipalities to undertake this responsibility. In addition, the lack of sufficient sanitary landfills and sorting facilities constitute a difficulty for municipalities in disposing of their cities’ waste. My term as a Mayor for Jounieh has come to an end on May 15, 2016 and I did NOT want to run again because I believe that "L’ALTERNANCE" as they say in French is healthy for institution building.
Furthermore, there was a discussion not to hold municipal elections and to extend the term of current councils for two years same as they did for members of parliament.
I made at that time a public statement "that I will resign if there is no municipal elections because I refuse to represent people if there is no public vote..." It is about time to have a wake up call for Lebanon's democratic institutions to operate by the rule of law and not by “de facto” behavior.
The handover ceremony with the newly elected mayor took place on May 24th at Jounieh City Hall. Below is a translated copy of my speech on this occasion: Address by Mr. Antoine Frem Mayor of the city of Jounieh, Lebanon (2010-2016) On the occasion of the Handover Ceremony to Jounieh New Elected Mayor May 24, 2016 at Jounieh City Hall Mr. Juan Hbeich President of Jounieh Municipal Council; Members of the newly elected municipal council; My colleagues members of Jounieh municipal council; Jounieh Municipality Staff Members; Ladies and Gentlemen:
We are pleased to be gathered today at Jounieh City Hall on the occasion of the handover ceremony and to pass the baton to the newly elected municipal council.
We welcome first mayor Juan Hbeich, vice president Mr. Roger Odaimi, and all the members of the newly elected council, wishing them success in their responsibilities in serving the common good and the development and growth of the city of Jounieh.
Six years ago our municipal council has committed to the citizens of Jounieh to stay above any political affiliation and personal interests, and to carry out our public service responsibilities through transparency. And since day one our municipal council has worked as unified, cohesive and integrated team and one governance body, away of any political affiliation and personal interests, with solely one objective which is carrying out our public service responsibilities and to implement and execute the Comprehensive Development Plan and Strategy for the whole city. And today that our term has come to an end, we are passing the baton and lighted torch with pride, contentment and serenity to the new municipal council Especially that municipal work is a continuity and it does not end with the end of a mandate... The development and growth of the city of Jounieh should be entrusted to all future municipal councils. It is a duty and obligation that should be inherited from one administration to another administration...
And in this context, we confirm that we extend a hand and we stand ready to offer any assistance or help we can provide to the newly elected council to serve our beloved city. And I seize this opportunity to thank all my colleagues the members of the municipal council with whom I have worked during the past six years for their unlimited commitment in serving our city, and I would like to express a special thanks to the vice president Mr. Fouad Boueiry who worked very hard and was always ready to answer the call of duty.
I would also like to thank the chairs of the committees, and all the staff of the municipality with no exception for performing their duties in honesty and sincerity, and especially to thank the head of the engineering department Mr. Elie Salameh and his team namely Messrs. Dominique Chamnoun and Elie Hokayem, as well the head of the accounting department Mrs. herese Chikhani and Mr. Georges Kashar and Miss Rita Matar, as well as the IT department and all other units. Moreover, I would like to thank all members of the municipal police force, in particular commissioner Joseph Nassrallah and Moussa Ayoub for their relentless efforts to ensure security and peace in our city.
And last but not least, I would like to thank the citizens of Jounieh for the trust they have placed in our municipal council and for entrusting us for the past six years.
There is a big difference between an "opponent on a ballot list" and an "enemy". Competing against an opponent is just to win the race and then extend a hand and together press forward. As for the enemy you wish him to be destroyed and disappear...
For us municipal election is not a battle between "enemies", it is a democratic expression, and a competition among individuals for the service of our city... And is there a more honorable and a nobler competition than the rivalry to serve the common good and development and growth of our city?
Congratulations to the newly elected municipal council, wishing you success and luck in your mission and carrying your responsibilities, and wishing our beloved city Jounieh continuous progress and prosperity.
Long Live Jounieh. Long Live Lebanon.
Photos from the ceremony: