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Wednesday , August 5 2020

What you said was said before, Oh Your Highness the Prime Minister

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

A few days ago, we listened to His Highness the Prime Minister during his meeting with the regulatory authorities. His diagnosis of the disease that our country is suffering from was on point. However, it did not differ in its merits and particulars from what was said in the past by all the successive governments.

In fact, no solution was pitched in this regard. It is as if the government, as an executive authority, is not concerned about protecting the state from corruption and bringing an end to the trend of looting and squandering of public funds.

Words are being repeated over and over again to such an extent that they have become a constant part of any action plan for the programs that these governments adopt.

Your Highness the Prime Minister, surely these words need teeth and claws on the basis of implementation of the laws of Kuwait in relation to the protection of public funds and prevention of abuse of public office. Otherwise, these words are just serenades that will neither stop the widespread looting of public wealth nor curb exceptions under the pretext of winning over MPs’ support.

From the scandal involving the Kuwait Oil Tankers Company to the major ones related to the Malaysian Fund and other funds, we are yet to see a single culprit being referred to prison or a dinar being returned to the State Treasury.

On the contrary, all we see is culprits fleeing to safe havens abroad, or their cases getting swept away with dust of negligence. Even if such cases take the proper legal path, we hear usual statements such as “The law does not allow”, or “We need legislation from the Parliament”.

Once it is presented to the Parliament, the issue finds itself lacking constitutional merit, or collapses through votes. All this is due to multiple interests behind such matters – a fact that is not a secret to anyone.

In the history of government action, there was an incident that should have transformed the behavior of the governments. This happened when the late Mohammed Al-Badr took over the chairmanship of the committee that was tasked to remove encroachments on state properties.

He worked with all effort and dedication, and removed about 2,000 diwaniyas and encroachments; he did not pay any attention to the use of “wasta”. However, immediately after his tenure ended, things went back to normal; in fact, the encroachments expanded, giving an impression that the government and the Municipal Council were on another planet.

Talking about Kuwait Municipality where the load of corruption is too heavy to be carried by two camels, its laws have remained the same for more than four decades. Worst of all, the few amendments that were adopted were not intended for development and improvement purposes. Such a phenomenon is not unique in the municipality but can also be seen in other state institutions, some of which have become backyard farms for ministers, undersecretaries and director generals.

Undoubtedly, fighting corruption is a sacred task that rises above all accounts. Unfortunately in Kuwait, we have been hearing about scandals of ministers and undersecretaries for the last 30 years, but nothing much was done.

This is due to the fact that there is a conviction among officials that time solves the most complex problems, and this led the disease to spread. Containing it requires a tough surgical process to eradicate all the tumors and ulcers that had formed.

Your Highness the Prime Minister, we agree with you that “this huge manifestation of corruption does not correspond with the number of regulatory authorities and their efforts, as well as the abundance of our laws that aim to protect public funds from looting and wastage.”

However, don’t you see that the multiplicity of regulatory, or rather oversight, bodies has facilitated the transgressions?

Given that Kuwait is not that a big country and its official institutions do not need all of these bodies, perhaps one or two are sufficient to serve the purpose, and maybe three, if we exaggerate, but without an army of employees in each of them. In fact, this multiplicity of oversight bodies can be considered as a form of corruption by all accounts.

Therefore, having a large number of oversight institutions will not fix the matter. There is a rule – “Multiplicity of opinions spoils the decision”, as well as a proverb – “Too many cooks spoil the broth”.

Countries are determined by decisions; and justice does not differentiate one person from another. Unfortunately, we have laws that have been tailored based on personal interests and whims.

In fact, there are laws that have never been applied since 1963. Many of them are outdated and retrogressive in the current era. A lot has changed in the last 60 years, and any defects in the state’s institutions and laws render it to lag behind not only in the world, but even among its neighbors.

Hence, we are today in an urgent need of a legal and administrative revolution that can remove all the deposits of the past. Otherwise, we will be like the one who tampers with the foundation of his house and then becomes shocked when the house collapses.

Your Highness … from the bottom of our hearts, we hope that you succeed in fulfilling the pledges you made.

However, fear hits us whenever we see wasted opportunities, especially since we are living a bitter reality when dealing with the COVID-19 crisis, which started worsening due to the clash between the government and the Parliament in relation to tackling the consequences of the crisis.

You have the sword of emergency decrees that can put an end to procrastination. For example, the decree on the one-vote system came in handy – this is a good example, and it may be useful.

The current situation in Kuwait has made us a laughing stock among the Arabian Gulf states. Just a quick look at what is being published in their newspapers and on social media clearly reveals our image abroad.

Finally, Your Highness the Prime Minister … Thank you.

By Ahmed Al-Jarallah

Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times


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