|I always get many mixed feelings each time I read or hear reports about attempts being foiled to smuggle huge quantities of alcohol into the country.|
Historically, it was not allowed to consume alcohol openly in Kuwait. Even until the issuance of the Law No. 206 in the mid-1960s, alcohol was being sold to non-Muslims in Kuwait through Cree McKinsey British Company.
However, the non-Muslims were then re-selling the alcohol to Muslims and other residents, to make money. The selling points were known to the government but it preferred to turn a blind eye.
Based on a report published by the Al-Qabas on Jan 27, 2009, it was mentioned that a Kuwaiti newspaper had published a report in October 1963 about Cree Mackenzie Company, accusing it of making huge profits from the sale of liquor since it had monopolized the sale which was surprising because the country believes in the free economic system.
The report mentioned the MPs had submitted a draft law to the government in May 1964 to confiscate and destroy all existing alcohol. There was a discussion on the subject and an amendment to Article 206 of the Penal Code.
The session saw extensive discussions by a number of MPs, including MP Jassem Al-Qatami who said the prevention is not enough and is not a cure for any problem. He called on educating the people and promoting awareness among them and that the government should play a role.
MP Dr Al-Khatib said the phenomenon needs a wider study and analysis, but the National Assembly agreed in principle to the draft law.
On Oct 12, 1964, the government banned the import of alcohol and intoxicants and withdrew the licenses of authorized bodies. Law No. 206 was issued which stipulated punishment.
The law called for imprisonment for any person importing or manufacturing alcohol for trading purposes. However, the law did not apply to the embassies and diplomatic missions.
What is important in the subject is the destruction of confiscated alcohol, perhaps in accordance with the explanatory memorandum of the law, but those who suggested the disposal of the confiscated materials were thinking in small quantities.
The quantities are getting bigger and bigger worth tens of millions of dinars, and possibly more. It is senseless to insist on the destruction of the confiscated alcohol in a primitive manner.
For example, the confiscated alcohol can be exported to other countries and the proceeds from thereof can be used to treat the alcohol and drug addicts.
The other side is related to the smuggling operations. It is horrifying to know there are those who can smuggle more than ten containers without being inspected.
We have a feeling the alcohol confiscated by the authorities is only a tip of the iceberg. This is in addition to other stuff being smuggled by some people more dangerous than alcohol, such as weapons and drugs.
Are we aware of the size of the threat that we are exposed to, and with all this corruption in which we live?
By Ahmad Al-Sarraf