Sunday, March 23, 2008

How we vote...

Many people know how they're going to vote. I mean we are in Kuwait after all. Everyone's got a relative, a friend of a friend, or someone whom they view as the superior candidate for Parliament given their family background or even history in politics.

For those few Kuwaitis out there who don't know how they're going to vote, there usually is a self-imposed criterion that one tries to follow. It differs from person to person, and the range that it stretches is in itself humorous.

Let's take the 4th Electoral District for example: In these areas they're will most likely be primaries held by tribal leaders. Headlines of Kuwaiti Newspapers today say the government will be firm and unrelenting in anyone found participating in this illegal activity. They've said that before, and alas, the primaries still happen. In such cases, the voting criteria is reduced to which branch or "fi5udh" the potential MP originates from. If he is from your branch, than it is only right that you vote for him, regardless of whether or not he is directly related. For those who chose to participate in these illegal primaries, but vote based on substance, there is a high probability of those votes being diluted.

Another criteria held in some of the other districts is the infamous: "what has this person done for me or my family?" Now, while you may think that there are worse foundations on which to vote, what is meant by this statement should not be confused with "what issues has this person championed that express what I want for the future of Kuwait?"….Its more like "how many parking tickets did he get me out of and did he fly my uncle to Switzerland for a routine tonsillectomy when we wanted him to?" You see the distinction of course.

Then there are those who vote for people that express their core beliefs and morals, which is mostly how its done in western democracy. If you are pro-choice, you vote for the pro-choice candidate, if you are a farmer, you vote for the one with the best agricultural plan, etc. In Kuwait, if you are a liberal, islamist, tribal, shiite, shiite islamist, and derivations of the aforementioned, you vote accordingly.

Nevertheless, there is a new election criteria that more and more Kuwaitis are adopting. In a lot of ways, its unique to this election and if you subscribe to that type of thought, may be the best way to go about your voting. Simply put: "never again". Many people are saying that anyone who was a part of the previous parliament has already lost all credibility as a beacon of change. Those who didn't participate in crisis creation remained silent instead. Those who did speak to no avail never possessed enough influence to make a difference so shouldn't be re-elected on that grounds. Hence the slogan: never again.

On a personal level, I don't subscribe to any one of these methods, but more of a combination of them all. However, I can't help but feel that this process cost us something very dear, when we people become convinced that democracy isn't working. One thing is for certain, if we can't change the way we view the election process, all Kuwait can expect is more of the same.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Kuwaitis are Stupid? Not!

Politics is funny. It really is. I mean think about it: If it wasn't funny, could Jay Leno really make a living off of political humor? Or the Daily Show guy? The evidence speaks for itself.

Somehow though, in Kuwait, politics seems to be just a little bit funnier. Take a look at yesterday's newspapers. On the one hand, you have Al-Qabas, one of Kuwait's oldest and most prominent newspapers, on the other hand you have Al-Watan, which also made quite a name for itself (and for some reason, the only Kuwaiti daily you can buy on Edgware and the Champs) and then of course all the rest that are struggling to keep up. Lets take a closer look at the messages these papers try to send across…(I mean there have to be messages right? God forbid, our daily newspaper just report the news after all.)

The headline of Al-Qabas was the equivalent of "Elections soon to come, with the 5 electoral circles". I see…so out of more than 3 different scenarios that don't involve the dissolution of the parliament, Al-Qabas decide to post that headline.

Then there is Al-Watan's editorial. A wonderfully written piece that waves its fingers at the MPs. "No no no…The executive branch chooses the Prime Minister, not you. Shame on you for even bringing us to this crisis". I see…

Contrary to what our politicians may think, Kuwaitis are NOT stupid. We know your game, and we all know who's behind each of these daily's and why they take the position they take. We know who you are…(X-Files music playin in the background).

Now normally, along with being an optimist, I'm a capitalist too. I think someone starts their own business, such as a newspaper, they have the right to talk about what they think just as we have the right not to buy their papers. Just don't think Kuwaitis are stupid, because we are not. We are smarter than any other people out there, especially when it comes to politics. Oh, and to the big newspapers: in case you haven't noticed, we are in a crisis now with no real idea of what will come out of it. Citizens need the news, not sensationalism and swaying tactics. Shame on you for sinking this low…and shame on you for thinking we're stupid.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Panic Button

You know…I like to talk. I'm a conversationalist by nature. It's in the genes really. We (my family and I) talk about anything and everything ranging from local politics to videogames, from pre-Islamic poetry to why Brittany is sporting the neo-Nazi look these days.

You know who else likes to talk (can you see where this is going)? Our Parliament sure love to talk, don't they? In the past few months alone, we heard our MPs call for a new grilling (istijwab), an increase of 50KD on top of the 120KD we will be getting next month, separation of men and women on all levels of education (and variations of that), oh…and let us not forget the two superstars Lari and Abdulsammad's outspoken support for their fallen comrade. (Note: You ever notice that people always say Lari and Abdulsammad as opposed to Abdulsammad and Lari…even though Abdulsammad seems to be callin the shots…hmmm) Yeah, we Kuwaitis have to put up with a lot of talking. You could say it comes with the territory.

Conversely, on the flip side of the coin we have our Government. They can best be represented by that infamous scene in ever cowboy western, where everything gets really quite and all you see is this tumbleweed roll across the screen. Oh you can wait for Roy Rogers, Charlton Heston or Clint Eastwood to show up. I wouldn't hold my breath if I were you. Instead of standing its ground, backing the policies its put forth, or even taking the time to explain to the people why they believe the things they believe the government has opted for silence. What's even worse is that instead of being silent (and hence useless), they are backing down on issues they pushed forth in the first place.

The latest news shows that the government plans on reconsidering their policy with the destruction of Diwaween that are illegally placed on Kuwait's land. Yes, Kuwait's land…not Government Land, not your land, not my land but Kuwait's. Lets complete the picture, shall we? They proceeded with the destruction of Diwaween a few months back, costing a lot of Joe Shmoes a great deal of money…and now they want to reconsider. Does that mean we plan on reimbursing Joe Shmoe now? He isn't going to shut up…would you?

To recap, fellow Kuwaiti…in one felt swoop, resulting from silence on behalf of the Government and an overly chatty Parliament…we lost land (for Shmoe's Diwaniya), and money going (for unlucky Shmoe's broken Diwaniya), and most importantly…we lost time.

If the government can't talk, and the Parliamentarians are busy talking over each other, maybe what they need is one big Panic Button. A button that's main purpose would be to cry out for help. If ever there was a time to push that button, it would be now.

NOTE: This post was in fact written before the events that transpired today, i.e. the imminent dissolution of the Cabinet. I will post a little later when events have time to unfold.


I'm an optimist. I really am. I start with that because a lot of times, it will seem as if I view the world through the "glass half empty" perspective. Rest assured I am an optimist nonetheless. For some time now, I have been flirting with the idea of starting my own blog… I never fully understood why one feels compelled to share their, sometimes intimate, thoughts with complete strangers. Still, I value the opinions of others…(even stupid people) I feel that at best, they can convince me that I am wrong thereby correcting an error in my thought process, and at worst they can prove my point just by them being wrong.

Don't be fooled. This is not a serious blog. Far from it, actually. What fascinates me most is escaping/venting/elevating above seriousness through blogging. It is in that spirit in which I would like to introduce my blog. Welcome to "The Panic Button".