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Lack of clear vision Kuwait’s major problem No will exhibited to resolve housing issue

IT’s only natural that the youngest MP in the Parliament is concerned most about youth issues. However, Abdul Kareem Al Kandari, aged 33, thinks that resolving the problems would be a humongous task given the state of affairs in Kuwait, where the government and the parliament don’t see eye-to-eye on a lot of issues. The lack of a clear vision is one of the many problems ailing the nation, he complains. In this interview he discusses a variety of other topics, among them corruption and global financial crisis.

Question: Described as the youngest of the MPs in the current parliament, what is the program you would like to pursue in the Parliament for the benefit of the youths like you?
Answer: Certainly, being the youngest in the parliament puts a huge responsibility on my shoulder in adopting issues concerning youths such as creating jobs opportunities, fighting unemployment, fighting corruption as well as standing against social problems which include culture of suppressing Kuwaiti expertise which unfortunately is leading to brain-drain as they immigrate to other countries and leaving this rich and beautiful country in search of better economic opportunities. 

Q: What is your opinion on the management of the country by the current government?
A: Actually we are facing problem of lack of clear vision or approach in the work of our governments including the previous ones and the current one which led us to see many problems today. Always there are problems in Kuwait, a country with abundance of money, job opportunities, abundance of land, but we don’t see implementation on the ground, there is no encouragement for competent people, so the problem lies with the government performance which lacks clear approach. The government performance is based on only individual efforts of ministers. For instance, a good minister would assume office and perform well and offer good services but another minister would come and destroy all what had been built by his or her predecessor. 

Q: Are you satisfied with the performance of the current ministers?
A: Indeed, performance of ministers differ in terms of high and low or good and bad and that is why we demand that a minister should be appointed based on his competency and qualification and on criterion of technocrat and not based on criterion of favoritism tied to tribalism, sectarianism or family which has been one of the keys of the failure of this government. We always know that if government wants achievement it must appoint qualified and technocrat ministers who have vision that conform to the required stage.
It is unacceptable to have a parliament with a vision to serve the youth and then have a government without clear vision or approach. We are supposed to have consistency even in our ideology especially today we talk about a fast world and modern requirements even in a statesman who should not boast of gray hair and wisdom but should be able to react to the demands of youth potentiality, he needs to move forward and have brave in taking decisions. 

Q: Reports of the Audit Bureau on some Ministries showed flaws and corruption rampant in these ministries, how can this corruption be eliminated?
A: The Audit Bureau’s reports have indeed made some observations almost on all state departments which confirms that there are government failures especially with regards to oversight, probe and accountability and it is illogical that the flaws and mistakes keep on repeating while the government does nothing to correct them and hold account those responsible. So today we call for administrative reform and correction to these flaws. 

Q: The Anti-Corruption authority law was passed by the parliament and endorsed by the government, do you thing this law can help eliminate the widespread corruption in the government?
A: Yes, the full name of this law is “anti-corruption and financial disclosure authority”. It was passed last year but unfortunately it has not implemented till now simply because its executive bylaws have been not been issued by the government. On this ground, I threatened to grill justice minister if he failed to issue this bylaw within two weeks and the minister responded positively and issued it within a week.
In fact we are in need of anti-corruption authority law today because it is regarded as an important oversight authority in the country and because it will even serve as watchdog on the parliament; it will monitor bank deposits and accounts and properties of all MPs and that is why I am so keen to see this law activated . 

Q: One of the serious problem facing Kuwaiti Youth today is unemployment, what should the government do to create job opportunities for them?
A: The government is obliged to lay out short-term solutions in order to end the long queue of job-seekers and also a long-term plan to avoid recurrence of this crisis. The government of required to activate the role of private sector and encourage youth to work in this sector. Citizens are scared of working in private sector due to lack of job security and sustainability as he or she fears he may be fired at any time. So the government needs to secure jobs in the private sector for citizens and also diversify sources of income so as to create job opportunities. In addition, the government must focus on small enterprises to help citizens depend on themselves and eliminate the unemployment crisis.

Q: In your opinion do you see that establishing many authorities by the government also contribute creating to jobs for citizens?
A: I personally oppose the establishment of many authorities because this dismantles other major government institutions like ministries which is a dangerous move. There is no problem in creating a suitable authority but exaggerating the number of authorities will mean more bureaucracy, slow documentary process and inflation in the budget. We need to correct mistakes of any failed government institution rather than turning it into an authority. 

Q: Academic standard in the government schools is relatively low, making it hard for graduates to meet job market, what should government do to solve this problem?
A: Low-academic standards in the government schools is basically caused by lack of ability of schools and universities to accommodate number of students because it is known that quality education relates to the number of students in the class. So, for instance a class-room in the current university is designed to accommodate only twenty students but you find about hundred students in the class which makes it difficult for a teacher to handle the situation. Kuwait is the only richest GCC country that still have only one government university and the government has no clear plan to create certain academic disciplines to match with labour market. 

Q: Housing care is one of the major crises facing Kuwaiti citizens. There are more than 107,000 in the waiting list and government is granting housing loans and rent allowance to citizens to resolve this problem, do you see this will really solve this crisis?
A: Housing problem cannot be solved unless there is a will to resolve it. Unfortunately there is no will to solve this crisis, there is no need for any laws, the laws are there already, the lands are there and the money is there, but there is no will and decision to resolve this crisis. Granting housing loans and rent allowance are all temporal solutions but we need lasting solutions which is to allocate lands for Public Authority Housing Welfare to build hoses for the thousands of citizens in the housing care list. 

Q: Recently, you raised the issue of the two Kuwait citizens, Faiz Al-Kandari and Fauzi Al-Ouda who are still in Guantanamo detention camp for more than a decade. The effort of Kuwait government so far to secure their release proved futile, so what do you think the government should do now for the their release?
A: Actually, Kuwait government has not made use of its friendship with the United States. Today we have only two detainees in Guantanamo for 13 years without trial and America has released all Guantanamo detainees of GCC countries except these our two citizens. So we demand the government to put pressure on the US to release them and bring them to Kuwait so that we rehabilitate and in prison them here if they are found guilty.
The United State says it wants to close the Guantanamo Bay prison, as promised by the US President Barak Obama , but he was still not fulfilled his promise. So this issue need pressure on the US to release our detainees immediately.

Q: Bedoun issue has been old without solution and is affecting Kuwait’s image globally, are you satisfied with the government efforts to resolved this issue.
A: It is the government which created the Bedoun issue, it is the government that impedes granting citizenship to Bedouns and putting obstacles so that this problem remains unresolved. Bedoun problem needs to end. There are among Bedouns those who deserve civil rights and citizenship.
Any bargaining on Bedoun issue is totally unacceptable, and this should be clear to the government. 

Q: But the government says is it now providing basic rights to Bedouns such as free education, free health care, issuance of birth and death certificates and marriage certificate in response to their demands. What is your opinion on this government efforts?
A: Actually, the government is using these tools to put pressure on Bedouns and this is absolutely unacceptable, it is unacceptable for the government to use basic rights to put political pressure on stateless people.

Q: In the previous parliaments there were lot of interpellations presented against ministers which had been one of the causes of parliament and government dissolutions or suspensions. In this new parliament there was only one grilling request presented against a minister. Does this mean this parliament will not focus on interpellations rather than focus on issuing important bills or does this mean these ministers are somewhat faultless?
A: Interpellation is a constitutional right for every MP and he or she uses it whenever he sees it fit to hold account any erring minister. So it is unacceptable to prevent any MP from using this tool. However, MP should not abuse this tool, he should use it correctly when there is a problem and should follow-up his grilling after its discussion because there are some colleagues who don’t follow-up their interpellations after their discussions raising questions about their relevance.

Q: Security and stability of Kuwait is very important especially in light of what is happening in the region. Your opinion?
A: Security and stability come on top of all priorities. With security the country is stable and develops. Kuwait being a small country in a burning region, the government today is required prioritize its security. The ongoing wars and bombings in neighboring countries in Iraq and Syria as well as dangers of Iranian nuclear plants make Kuwait a sensitive and burning point in the Middle-East. So, maintaining internal security is necessary. Not just military security, Social security is also important to ensure stability in the country by avoiding any sectarian strife among citizens.

Q: Is Kuwait’s economy recovering after the global financial crisis in 2008?
A: Unfortunately, Kuwait is in obscure situation economically. Kuwait is the only country, at least in the region, that depends on only one source of income, oil, despite that it has capacities to diversify its source of income in what is known as investment creation. Kuwait has all capabilities to be a good investment creator for the world, to play the role of financial hub and financial mediator which may create more investment and new sources of revenues apart from the oil. Unfortunately we are still depending on fuel energy and not even thinking of sustainable energy. Until now we only have a unsustainable energy which can end at any moment. Today we live in affluence because of rise in oil prices, but the question is, what is the solution if the oil prices do not go up?

Q: Do you support building a nuclear energy plant as alternative energy source for the country?
A: I extremely oppose using nuclear energy hear simply because the countries like German and others which used it had abandoned it. There is clean and alternative energy like solar energy and other energies that can be used in Kuwait. I am not with those who favor nuclear energy, I support clean energy because it is more peaceful and sustainable and Kuwait has huge solar energy but why not making use of it?

Q: Do you support GCC security agreement and why?
A: I strongly oppose this security pact because it clearly and explicitly violates provisions of Kuwait Constitution. I am against anything that undermines the constitution and as Rapporteur of the Legal and Legislative Committee I will never vote for anything that violates my constitution and law.

Q: Government is taking measures to reduce number of expatriate workers, do you support this move and why?
A: Yes I support this move if the purpose is to provide job opportunities for the unemployed citizens. Of course, foreigners are welcome to work in Kuwait but that should not be at the expense of citizens. Kuwait needs foreign workers and expertise to develop its country but we need to have a balanced approach in this issue.

Q: Which one is better, the current one vote system or the old four vote system and why?
A: I always support reforming electoral system as a whole in Kuwait and I don’t thing four vote system is good because of its flaws and that is why it was changed to one vote system in response to the request of majority of Kuwait people.


Abdul-Kareem Al-Kandari was born in 1981. In 2011 he attained his PhD in commercial law from Strafford University in France. He was a lawyer and professor at Kuwait University (KU) Commercial Law School for two years. He is lawyer and a member in Kuwait Lawyers Association and member of Legal Institutions Center at Strafford University. In the July 2013 Elections he won ninth place in the 3rd Constituency with 1424 votes.

Al-Kandari is a first time MP (Independent) and the youngest of the MPs in the current Parliament. He has been elected a Rapporteur of Legal and Legislative Affairs Committee and member of Education Affairs Committee in the current parliament.

By Abubakar A. Ibrahim
Arab Times Staff

By: Abdul-Kareem Al-Kandari

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