|This is the title of a book written by Alan Paton that all high-school students in Kuwait were required to learn as part of their English subject in 1965 in order to pass and graduate. This famous book was published in 1948 and soon became an international bestseller. It is about the racial discrimination shown by the whites against majority of the blacks in South Africa.|
However, today after 52 years, we are segregating the expatriates in Kuwait whom we are desperately in need of, but the numbers of which make native Kuwaitis a minority in their country like in most of the Arabian Gulf countries. Suddenly we started to realize this painful fact but without understanding that we are the culprits behind this imbalance in the population structure, as housemaids, servants and drivers account for 50 percent of our population, which is about 730,000. A similar number of expatriates are working in various ministries and the private sector.
Now, out of the blue, we want to impose tax on them and prevent them from receiving treatment in “Kuwaiti” hospitals just because they are not Kuwaiti nationals.
It is quite shocking to know that hospitals are being constructed exclusively for Kuwaitis, and expatriates will be shunned and sent to other mixed government hospitals. We are now creating two types of hospitals — one for natives and another for mixed expatriates.
How can any of us justify such an inhuman act and behavior towards expatriates over hospital services when we are in desperate need of these expatriates?
Yes, we are aware that Kuwaitis represent just 30 percent of the total population but whose fault is it? Are we serious about restructuring our population composition in order to become majority or at least 50 percent of the population and get rid of 100,000 expatriates?
If so, let us start among ourselves and reduce the number of our domestic workers and drivers. For how long can we manage? Maybe less than 48 hours. Can we seriously reduce and get rid of so many expatriates in order to balance the population structure? Let each household try and get rid of just one housemaid. Can we?
There is no immediate solution for making the minority of 31 percent into 50 percent overnight. It will take time and efforts. It has to start with us striving to improve our own performance and productivity. However, while we are developing our country and working on investing more in mega projects, building and rehabilitating five islands, it seems quite impossible to amend the current population structure.
This does not mean that we have to segregate between ill Kuwaitis and ill non-Kuwaitis, or turn the latter away. Expatriates are here to live, work and contribute to the building of Kuwait for all of us, without having to face segregation and discrimination. We should strive towards making their stay in Kuwait more comfortable in order to improve their productivity for the better of all of us. Preventing them from using Kuwaiti-only hospital is simply inhuman.
We hope our government does not implement such a savage and unacceptable segregation and instead decides to keep the hospitals open for all …
Our forefathers and fathers taught us not to discriminate anyone or do anything to harm human rights and principles. But we are failing so badly in respecting human rights and have to only shout “Cry, The Beloved Country”, as they don’t know better.
By Kamel Al-Harami
Independent Oil Analyst