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Monday , November 12 2018

If ignorance were a man I would have killed him

MAY the pious Imam of the fourth caliphate Ali bin Abi Taleb (may Allah be pleased with him) forgive me for borrowing his eternal saying: “If poverty were a man, I would have killed him.” I would have said to him: “Poverty in my rich country is no longer a concern as it was in your thriving past era.”

Oil gushing from our blessed land replaced that concern, but something even worse than poverty also occupied our land and dominated our lives – corruption, disarray and ignorance; which is the worst of all evils.

Some members of the Parliament, who represent us, are talking about things they do not know. They insult the Constitution which plagued us with them through clear texts.

They always interfere in matters which do not concern them, so they give and tailor privileges and titles for the undeserving.

The government and its members, who are dripping in weakness, are submitting to them on matters they endorse without rationale or reason.

I will write within this short period about a flaw in our government and the Parliament. This flaw is none other than ignorance which docked and nested in the minds of many of our officials.

I will give a clear example of such flaw whose outcome I personally heard and witnessed. We all know about ‘automation’ – a process to accomplish official transactions electronically.

This automation has invaded the entire world and entered every house through computers and mobile phones. It is also in ministries and public departments. The entire world is shunning the old manual operations which involve papers including the signature of the boss.

We have seen our officials signing multi-million transactions on papers submitted by employees with the lowest rank. Most of the time, these employees are expatriates of a certain nationality who are in all departments in this country.

Our administrations are very backward, up to the extent of being similar to the countries where these nationals came from – with due respect to them; but this is the reality which has been prevailing for decades wherein bureaucracy and ignorance have been thriving.

Back to the automated official transactions, a good example is how the government departments from which any of the citizens owe a certain amount operate – especially the General Directorate of Implementation in the Ministry of Justice that puts the name of a citizen or expatriate on the ‘travel ban list’ without notifying him or her.

This is the first flaw of ignorance in this department. I wonder if it would hurt the department if it informs the concerned person about the debt in order to settle it or petition its source.

Nonetheless, we can overlook this flaw which takes us to the airport where the debtor presents his passport to the immigration officer who notifies him about his travel ban and then directs him to the Implementation Department to settle the debt so he can proceed with his journey as the travel ban is lifted instantly.

Our topic here is not about the air border, it is the land border. Just last week when I was with one of my colleagues in a meeting, he received a call from his father informing him that a relative’s wife was barred from passing through Abdali border to Iraq due to the KD 500 she owes one of the agencies.

The woman offered to settle the debt at the border so she could continue with her journey, but she was told to return to Kuwait (non-) International Airport in order to settle the debt and then catch the bus organized by the government to travel to Iraq.

Just imagine, this is happening in Kuwait in 2018. Where are the computers? Where are thousands of Kuwaitis waiting for job opportunities? Where is the rationale in designating one place for you to pay your debts or fines during off-duty hours in order to lift the travel ban?

This is typical ignorance and its essence. If it were a man, I would have killed it. I dedicate this to my esteemed brothers, the ministers of interior and justice.

By Ali Ahmed Al-Baghli

Former Minister of Oil

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