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Conferees discuss ‘proposal’ to up number of MPs from 50 to 70 Majority of lawmakers support bill: Zalzala

 KUWAIT CITY, March 19: A conference was held at the Constitutional Unity Bloc (CUB) headquarters Tuesday night, discussing the proposed amendment to Article 80 of the Constitution which stipulates the increase of the number of elected MPs from 50 to 70. MPs Yakoub Al-Sanee, Saud Al- Huraiji, Yousef Al-Zalzala and Adbullah Al-Tamimi attended the conference to convey the reason as to why this amendment is for the better of the country. Head of the legal committee in the CUB Faisal Al-Rashidi started the conference by revealing that the Kuwaiti Constitution was formed in 1962 and was designed in order for it to be amended within the next 5 years, according to the needs of society, adding that since its formation, no amendments were made. Al-Rashidi explained that if we remove the Speaker of Parliament, the Deputy Speaker, the secretary and the observer, who are all elected from the original 50, 47 MPs are left to run the committees, he said that these 47 MPs struggle with all the work, between legislating, supervising, committees and other parliamentary work, MPs are barely keeping up the pace. He noted that increasing the number of MPs will correspondingly increase the number of ministers, this will also be for the better, as the majority of ministers are currently tending to more than one ministry, consequently causing them to struggle in keeping up the pace of work too.

Moving on, MP Saud Al-Huraiji reminded the public that our forefathers created the Constitution with a conviction that it shall govern the country with an iron hand, which has made it one of the strongest Constitutions in the world today, he noted that this is all true at the time, but as time goes by, the country developed, the population has increased, the Constitution is now outdated, he said that the Constitution is not a divine book that cannot be changed, it is manmade, therefore subjecting it to change according to the country’s needs. Speaking about what the government will benefit from this amendment; MP Al-Huraiji said that Kuwaiti ministries are run down and battered due to poor supervision from the concerned minister, he clarified that this is not entirely the minister’s fault, as most of them tend to more than one ministry, not mentioning the numerous authorities that come under each ministry, pointing out that each authority is as complicated and tiresome as a ministry when it comes to its management.

Passing
The MP stated that by passing this bill, additional ministers will be added to the Cabinet relieving the others from the burden of supervising 2 ministries, concluding “like our forefathers, we need the conviction to amend the Constitution for the better of the country.” Adding on MP Saud Al-Huraiji’s point regarding ministers, MP Abdullah Al-Tamimi used minister Hind Sabeeh Al-Sabeeh as an example, he said that the Minister is currently managing 2 crucial ministries, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor, and the ministry of Planning and Development, pointing out that one of these 2 ministries alone is more than enough to make a minister struggle, let alone 2. He also mentioned how the Minister of Cabinet Affairs often answers his queries with “ I have over 15 committees to tend to, I didn’t have time to look into your query,” proving that ministers are indeed struggling.

Grant
“This bill will grant the Assembly the capability of representing more of the Kuwaiti public, including the Christian community,” stated the MP, concluding that the fear of this amendment is not real, and that it’s only an imagination, since an amendment to a Constitution that has safeguarded the rights of the Kuwaiti people for a long time, has never been witnessed before. In his turn, MP Yousef Al-Zalzala disclosed that during elections, MPs never mention amending the Constitution, because the public might accuse them of aiding the government, which is not the best way to win a seat in Parliaments, he also mentioned that during a discussion with his fellow MPYagoub Al-Sanee, they have come to a conclusion that any amendment to the Constitution should be to increase freedom, and this is the case of the proposed amendment. He explained that this proposal will grant the people more freedom by allowing them to elect more MPs who will represent them in Parliaments, considering the population has increased and the society has diversified, he also pointed out that in an international level a large number of MPs is not unheard of.

Furthermore, he pointed out that in attempt to decrease the work load on ministers the Cabinet once planned to merge similar ministries into one collective ministry, they planned to merge the ministry of oil and the ministry of electricity under the name of “ministry of energy”, and to merge the ministry of commerce, industry, finance, planning and development under the name of “the ministry of finance,” but this plan didn’t go through, clarifying that as similar as these ministries seem, they all work in their own unique mechanism and merging them is a bad idea. When asked by the Arab Times if they would back down from pushing this bill if they were pressured by the government, MP Al-Zalzala answered “the majority of MPs in the Assembly support this bill,” and that even if the government rejects the bill, by the end of the day, the decision lies in the hand of HH the Amir and 75% of the Assembly, and the government has no call on the matter. He went on to say that the late Amir Sheikh Saad Al-Abdullah Al- Salem Al-Sabah, during his short ruling, discussed this matter with a number of ministers and Constitutional experts, indicating that this is not a new idea, and that officials had discussed this before, therefore it is only logical to assume that it is a good step forward.

Addressing the public’s fear that passing this bill might pave the way for more amendments rendering the Constitution weak and full of gaps, the MP affirmed that in order for this bill to pass, the approval of the Amir himself is required, in addition to 75% of the Assembly , concluding that in the case that the amendment goes through, that means that the “power,” represented by the Amir, and the “people,” represented by the MPs are in agreement that it is indeed for the better of the country. Adding that in this case, there is nothing to fear, as HH the Amir’s rejection or approval to the amendment is essentially the Constitution’s shield.


By: Ahmed Al-Naqeeb Arab-Times Staff

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