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IT is shameful that no one admits failure. What is more shameful is to have someone coming at us and ranting about a Kuwait that is different from others, even though we are consumed by corruption, bribery is increasing in dimensions, wasta is eroding the bones of society, and tribalism, sectarianism and regionalism are the prominent titles for self-identification.
It is as if an individual does not believe that he has an identity and that he is a citizen with full rights and also duties like every citizen in the countries of the world.
Therefore, we beg to ask – Is the situation in Kuwait promising? No talk about this country is devoid of how it has retrogressed at a time when the people of the region, especially the Gulf countries that are similar to us in everything, speak of prosperity, progress and development? In Kuwait, hope is almost diminishing. The country has become an example of administrative tragedy and scientific inadequacy, because interference based on the principle of “This is our own” has struck the foundations of all institutions.
Confirming this is the “Corruption Perceptions Index” report that was released earlier this week. Despite all the events that the country has witnessed, the prosecution of a number of those involved in looting public money, and having more than 16 oversight bodies concerned with preserving integrity and public money, and combating bribery and nepotism, all of them did not work. Kuwait was ranked 116th out of 180 countries.
We cannot help but wonder what it would have been if there were no oversight bodies and a parliament that is supposed to be held accountable? What the country is going through is a maze that no one knows how to get out of. When an honorable employee becomes a rare currency, and everyone around him is drowning in favoritism and nepotism, the question becomes – Where are we heading to? This is what the late Sheikh Saad Al-Abdullah used to ask when crises intensify as a result of some political mess. He used to put his head between his palms and ask, “Where are we heading to?” We have used a lot of slogans, but in the end, it turned out that they were just wishes and nothing more. This is because we lacked a vision about what we want for our country.
What we are going through reminds me of a story by the Lebanese writer Saeed Taqiuldeen in 1949, when his brother Baheej was chosen as the Lebanese Minister of Agriculture. Saeed was an immigrant at that time, and he wrote a brief letter to his brother, which reads the following: “Greetings, my brother Baheej, I have learned that you have become a minister in the government of Lebanon that we love. You made me recall our early childhood memories, when in the evening after dinner we would race to sleep in our father’s bed. He would smell our hands to check if they were clean after we ate our food, and made sure we washed them in order to allow us to sleep next to him. Our father has been buried today under the oak tree. After a while we will be there too, and he may smell our hands to check if they are clean … So keep them clean. Congratulations to you for your new position. Yours truly, your brother Saeed Taqiuldeen.”
After all this chaos and corruption, we too have to retreat and kill deliberate ambition and lack of vision. We may have to smell our palms before going to sleep to make sure they are clean of bribery and public money after corruption has pervaded, because one then can be assured that he is on the right path, and the right path needs someone to draw it. This requires decision-makers who work away from any special considerations in order to stop corruption and the creeping decline in everything in the country to the extent that it has lost its national immunity.
By Ahmed Al-Jarallah
Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times