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Saturday , October 31 2020

PM in dual grilling over competence

Ten MPs sign no-confidence motion

KUWAIT CITY, Sept 22: Ten MPs signed the no-confidence motion against HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Sabah; including Muhammad Haif, Muhammad Al-Mutair, Thamer Al-Suwait, Riyadh Al-Adasani, Abdulkareem Al-Kandari, Al-Humaidi Al-Subai’e, Abdullah Fehad, Hamdan Al-Azmi, Naif Al-Merdas and Badr Al-Mullah. These MPs signed the no-confidence motion on Tuesday, after the National Assembly discussed the grilling requests of MPs Abdulkareem Al-Kandari and Al-Humaidi Al-Subai’e against HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled. In addition, MPs Khalid Al-Otaibi and Adel Al-Damkhi confirmed their support for the no-confidence motion.

HH the Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled Al-Hamad Al- Sabah during the parliamentary session on the grilling motion submitted against him

They did not attend the session as they were found to be infected with coronavirus. Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim announced that the lawmakers will vote on the no-confidence motion on Sept 30. During the session, the Assembly approved the request of Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled to merge the two grilling motions. Al-Kandari’s grilling motion consisted of three points – failure of the government to deal with the coronavirus crisis, inability to protect the citizens’ privacy as it did not take tough procedures against those involved in the issue of spying on citizens, and failure to solve the demographic imbalance.

On the other hand, Al-Subai’e focused on the government’s failure to protect oil wealth, non-implementation of the recommendations of the parliamentary fact-finding committee tasked to investigate violations committed by senior officials at Kuwait Petroleum Corporation, adopting the attitude of previous governments, and failure to rectify mistakes such as violating the right to obtain citizenship considering the withdrawal of the nationality of many Kuwaitis.

In his presentation, Al-Kandari cited Article 39 of the Constitution as follows: Freedom of communication by post, telegraph, and telephone and the secrecy thereof is guaranteed; accordingly, censorship of communications and disclosure of their contents are not permitted except in the circumstances and manner specified by law

He pointed out Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled is politically liable; such as the case of former health minister Dr Ma’assoumah Al-Mubarak who resigned because of a hospital fire, and that of former education and higher education minister Dr Ahmed Al-Melaifi due to the incident in Shaddadiya University which resulted in a number of deaths.

He talked about the leaked video showing a senior State security officer and son of the former prime minister bragging about the creative ways to spy on citizens. He said this case requires the resignation of the entire government, or at least, the minister of interior. Instead, the prime minister went against the citizens’ will and renewed confidence in the minister, away from any political modesty, he asserted.

He asked the premier if any procedure was taken against Deputy Head of the Cabinet Diwan Fahd Jaber Al-Mubarak who was mentioned in the spying video when his brother said that he is getting better than him in terms of spying. He inquired if the latter was referred to the Public Prosecution or suspended.

He added the Malaysian sovereign fund issue would have been a litmus test to determine how serious the prime minister is in combating corruption but he failed the exam. On the failure of the government to deal with the coronavirus crisis, Al-Kandari asserted that the disturbing decisions issued by the government led to the increasing number of infections which already reached 100,000.

He attributed this to the delayed suspension of flights and the entry of thousands of expatriates without the PCR test, indicating the government cancelled the requirement after Egypt voiced objection due to lack of devices for such a test. He added the citizens who came from Iran were allowed to stay at home even if they were supposed to be in the quarantine centers. He quoted the State Audit Bureau (SAB) as saying that the government settled contracts valued at about KD 1 billion during the coronavirus crisis, disclosing the bureau rejected many contracts despite the approval of other concerned institutions such as the Central Agency for Public Tenders (CAPT).

He criticized the adoption of just one medical opinion – that of Health Minister Sheikh Dr Bassel Al-Sabah, while the opinions of others were ignored and were later proven to be more appropriate. He wondered why the government rejected the offer of the owners of several hotels to use their facilities as quarantine centers, pointing out that the reason could be the executive authority’s unwillingness to cancel contracts with beneficiary owners of other hotels.

He also highlighted the government’s failure to solve the demographic imbalance even if Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled has been aware of the issue since his tenure as Minister of Social Affairs in 2006. He warned about the lack of selfsufficiency in food production, stressing this is very dangerous in times of emergencies.

On the other hand, Al-Subai’e focused on the violations in the oil sector. He said KPC has gone out of control and the time has come to ‘tame’ its senior officials, asserting that whoever covers up corruption is corrupt as well. He added the government used the withdrawal of citizenship as a political weapon against citizens. In his response, Sheikh Sabah Al-Khaled presented details of the procedures taken by the government to deal with coronavirus. He clarified there is no manual about the proper way of dealing with such an unprecedented crisis, so mistakes are common.

The most important step is to quickly rectify the mistakes, he stressed. He highlighted the medical sector’s readiness since the beginning of the crisis; pointing out that although the number of infections is too high, the number of recoveries is high as well while the number of deaths is low. He said the negative economic consequences of the crisis hit the entire world, not only Kuwait.

He also clarified that the amount spent on coronavirus is KD 500 million, not KD 1 billion. He confirmed as well that the government took legal procedures against those involved in the spying and Malaysian fund issues. He then cited the Constitution and the decision of the Constitutional Court in his argument that the prime minister should be grilled only on the general policy of the government, not on issues under the jurisdiction of ministers. He continued to explain that procedures related to withdrawal of citizenships are part of the functions of certain institutions, not the general policy of the government.

By Saeed Mahmoud Saleh Arab Times Staff

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