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Tuesday , January 26 2021

Your Highness … hands tied

Ahmed Al-Jarallah Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times

IS Kuwait unique in this region? Doesn’t it have enough oversight bodies to root out the rampant corruption in its institutions? Aren’t there models in this world worth studying and learning from regarding how to deal with corruption?

Despite our absolute belief in the integrity of His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, his dedication to work, and his great effort to combat corruption, all these lack decision and will, as the English proverb says: “Where there is a will, there is a way.”

When the people in Malaysia voted for Mahathir Muhammad to end corruption, it did not take him more than five days. His first steps were to arrest nine ministers, suspend all air and sea travel activities to prevent the corrupt people from fleeing the country, and issue arrest orders against 144 businesspersons, 50 judges and 200 police officers. He managed to return $50 billion to the State Treasury, and his predecessor Naguib Abdel-Razzaq was thrown into prison. All of this in just five days!

Your Highness, if Malaysia is far away from us, then let’s talk about the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, our near neighbor. The Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman gathered all who were suspected of corruption in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, including princes and his cousins. He recovered from them $200 billion, and prevented them from traveling prior to the completion of the investigations and the return of everything they took.

In countries where the law prevails, a minister gets fired for using the government’s car for his private trips.

As for us, there is an oversight body in almost every ministry; despite that, the level of corruption rises daily, and scandals have become as common as the daily sunrise.

Nonetheless, we rarely hear such cases of corruption, some of which are due to negligence, in other Gulf countries. We have not read about a crime of corruption of this degree in the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and the Sultanate of Oman; but in our country, it’s a free fall.

Unfortunately in Kuwait, everyone is arguing that the law does not allow the prosecution of corrupt people except with hard evidence and proof.

Do you think that the thief – “Khamoush” – will leave anything behind his tracks? Even if he does, he will be defended by lawyers who will dig deep into the law to find loopholes. The clearest evidence of that fact is the drug-related crimes where a person is caught red-handed but ends up getting acquitted due to a legal loophole, after which he returns to his criminal activity – one that is killing our youth in cold blood.

Your Highness, corruption destroyed the greatest nations and sparked revolutions which the conspiratorial forces exploited to provoke chaos in a number of countries. This is what happened in Egypt in 1952, Iraq in 1958, and Yemen in the 1960s along with several other countries. In countries where willpower existed, corruption was rooted out, and some of these countries even became economic tigers eventually.

Your Highness, we know that you cannot arrest a minister, or even a director or an employee, as long as the law is like a sieve that allows everything to pass through. Instead of seeing the corrupt people go to prison, we see them enjoying around the world with the money they looted from the people.

Your Highness, may Almighty Allah be of your assistance in your very tough mission at a time when your hands are tied.

By Ahmed Al-Jarallah

Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times

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