AMMAN (JT) – A Royal Decree was issued on Tuesday appointing Khalid Irani as minister of energy and mineral resources and minister of environment as of October 26, 2010.

Irani was sworn in before His Majesty King Abdullah yesterday in the presence of Prime Minister Samir Rifai and King’s Adviser Ayman Safadi, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.

Hazem Malhas submitted his resignation as environment minister to Rifai on Monday, and a Royal Decree was issued later in the day accepting the resignation.

Petra quoted Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications Ali Ayed as saying that Malhas had apologised in his letter of resignation for making “unintentional offensive remarks” against media organisations and individuals working in the field and that he stressed his respect for the Jordanian media outlets.

On Tuesday, Rifai underlined that the Royal Decree accepting Malhas’ resignation was a “clear message” that the government deals “professionally” with the media, Petra reported.

Rifai said the minister has acknowledged that he was mistaken when he made the remarks and resigned accordingly.

During a meeting with participants in training programmes held at the Royal Jordanian National Defence College, Rifai underlined the importance of the code of conduct the government drafted last year to regulate the relationship between the government and the media.

The premier stressed the need for the media to be as “courageous” as the government in dealing with similar situations.

He added that if a journalist unrightfully harmed a citizen’s reputation, the organisation in which that journalist works should take procedures against him/her.

The media cannot be bold in criticising the government’s policies and procedures if its relationship with the government was coupled with “materialistic gains”, he said, in reference for journalists who had been on the government payroll, serving as consultants, while keeping their jobs in their respective media organisations.

Meanwhile, he stressed the need for the official media to “rise to the next level” to ensure their credibility as they provide the public with information.

Meanwhile, the Jordan Press Association issued a statement yesterday commending the Royal Decree and the official position towards the minister.

Also on Tuesday, the Centre for Defending the Freedom of Journalists (CDFJ) praised the decision to approve Malhas’ resignation.

In a statement sent to The Jordan Times, the CDFJ said the government’s stance towards the minister “redeemed its credibility in the eye of the media”.

CDFJ President Nidal Mansour said journalists are not “infallible” and everyone has the right to criticise them, but without “offending and abusing” them.

Environment portfolio

Irani occupied the post of minister of environment for four years, 2005-2009, over three consecutive governments, before being appointed in December 2009 as minister of energy and mineral resources in Rifai’s government.

Born in 1964, Irani received his BSc and his MSc from the University of Jordan.

Since 1996 he has served as director general at the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN) and project coordinator for Dana GEF project. His previous positions included manager of Protected Areas Department at the RSCN and research assistant at the University of Jordan.

During his four years as an environment minister, Irani pushed for tackling the country’s main environment hurdles, mainly leading the country’s switch from regular to unleaded fuel in February 2008, establishing the Royal Environment Protection Department (Rangers) in 2006, the Environment Protection Fund in 2007, passing of laws that criminalise the use of untreated fertilisers in the Jordan Valley and use of sandblasting, in addition to launching a long-term project for the rehabilitation of the Zarqa River.