NEWS about the dishonesty of many of our executive and legislative officials fill our eyes and ears every day through social media, newspapers and gossip. This includes government officials from the highest to the lowest level, and MPs and their assistants.
Hundreds of millions of the public funds have been stolen by some, and not even a finger was moved to confront this with the exception of the late Sheikh Nasser Sabah Al-Ahmad who had presented evidence about the involvement of a group of his relatives and others in disasters related to the looting of public funds. His actions had eventually led him to lose his official position.
We also felt sad when none of the senior officials who were accused of stealing public funds was punished. Whoever brought them to justice did not intentionally send the evidence of the indictment in their hands, because if someone who is being tried is convicted, he may drag along with him those who have not yet been tried.
We have been desperately demanding that the legislative vacuum we are enduring be filled through the adoption of a law “from where did you get this” so that those on whom millions fell like rain when they were barefoot and penniless can justify the source of those millions. However, no one in the executive and legislative authorities moved even a finger to approve such a law that is necessary in our dark times.
While recollecting the past days of goodness, giving and honesty, I remembered a meeting that was held outside Kuwait during a parliamentary trip that brought together members of the National Assembly at that time including an MP who was a former minister.
During this trip, one of the MPs thanked his colleague (the former minister) for the fairness he showed towards a company that the MP sought to help because the leaders of the concerned ministry had repressed it unjustly for some reason or another.
The MP asked his colleague (the former minister), “Do you know how much I got from the company due to your fair decision?” He then mentioned a high number that shocked the former minister, and the latter told him this amount exceeds all of the salaries and privileges that he had obtained when he occupied the ministerial position.
During the same meeting, another MP told the former minister that he also benefited from his fair decisions when he went to him to ask for justice and fairness towards a company wronged by the employees of his ministry and its institutions, and that the company gave him an amount with which he managed to pay off his difficult debts to a bank.
In another meeting, a friend of the former minister mentioned a story that the minister told him during his term of office. He said the former minister was fair to one of the companies in a tender for his ministry, and the company’s manager, who is the owner of most of its shares, approached him and offered an amount as gratitude or a reward for the minister’s fairness. The friend said the minister responded by saying, “Thank you. Consider that I have received the gift. However, if you had reduced that value from the tender amount, the ministry and the public interest would have benefitted, and this is a better option.”
These are some of the stories of honor, honesty and conviction from our beautiful past times. We miss these now and long for them.
The former minister and MP – the hero of the above mentioned stories – is me (Praise be to God). I decided to mention it even though I don’t like to talk about myself. I had to write about it with the hope that the current thieves of the public funds, including members of the executive and legislative authorities, would feel ashamed of themselves at a time when honesty has become a scarce currency.
By Ali Ahmed Al-Baghli
Former Minister of Oil