Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Selling Votes and Taking Notes

I love the concept of a Diwaniya. I really do. Men sit around, in a grand formal setting, often from different segments of society bringing their set of knowledge, values and perspectives on life. Oh…and in this part of the world, they also bring gossip. What's an election, after all, without a certain amount of he said/she said. In the spirit of my little mixed diwaniya here at the Panic Button, I'm going to perpetuate this tradition and tell you a story without, of course, assuming any responsibility for its accuracy.

A religious bearded friend of mine starts to tell me his story:

Black Beard: Hey Saracen, did you hear about the people that got pulled by the cops? Flaan and Flaan??

Saracen: Yeah, loosely getting bits of news here and there….

Short Pause

Saracen: Okayyy…What about them??

Black Beard: Well, a friend of mine from high school who I've known for years came to another friend's diwaniya where we were sitting. We were four men, and he was our fifth. This was a few days ago…

Saracen: Uh huh, and then?

Black Beard: So he starts saying

Flashback Scene (Think Grease with the whole stairway in the Johnny Rockets restaurant)

Sketchy Guy: Listen guys, if you or someone you know wants to sell their vote to Flaan, you can come through me.

Black Beard: You're working for that guy?

Sketchy: Why wouldn't I? There is a lot of money in it and he's good for Kuwaitit!

Black Beard: (smiling widely)…Ok, but how much?

Sketchy: Haaa…um…700 KD

Black Beard: You bastard, are you trying to take us for a ride? We know the price has gone up to at least 1000 KD

Sketchy: Yeah, but I get something…you guys wouldn't get to this guy except through me.

Black Beard: (Laughing) Yeah, no thanks.

Sketchy: Itha it7armoon* there is another option. Vote for Flaan, and he will give you a gurantee that whenever you need something from him, he will take note of your name and make sure that you get that one thing that you ask for.

Black Beard: (Laughs mockingly) Like a genie?

Sketchy: I told you guys what I wanted to tell you, and the choice is yours. He's going to win no matter what, you might as well get something out of it. God knows nothing else works in this country.

End Flashback

Saracen: No way…has it really come down to this?

Pause while we both shake our heads with disapproval

Saracen: (suddenly looking up and at Black Beard) Agool, I have a question. What made this guy think that someone with your obvious religious inclination think that you would be interested in something like this.

Black Beard: (grinning widely) I don't know, I guess because we knew each other from high school.

Saracen sits with a question mark on his face letting his mind wander…


david santos said...

Hello, Saracen.
Excellent work.
Have a nice day

1001 Nights said...

Wow so there's this whole marketing thing going on with the bribery world? And this "vote salesman" wants a 30% COMMISSION!

This is simply sad.

eshda3wa said...

1000 bas

a blogger said someone offered her 4000 !

that candidate should get with the programme

and i love the etha et7armoon line ... ya36ehum ba3ad alternatives, how considerate ! zain ma yablihum fatwa ba3ad ina y9eer

and to think a person like that will represent kuwiat!

sad.. just sad

intlxpatr said...

so flat out in the open. Amazing. Chirp was offered 4000KD (I am not entirely sure how this works) but it was for 4 votes and required her to give up (something) until the voting was over; in essence, she was giving up her vote, promising to NOT vote. (But she didn't accept.)

Lone Ranger'ess said...

not only are they giving out money for ppl's votes.. but they are also paying ppl to actually work on their campaign! i honestly wud like to experience such situations, behind the scenes.. sounds wildly believable;p

intlxpatr said...

Your tagged, Saracen

Anonymous said...

I actually heard that women working for a candidate in the 3rd electoral district are being paid KD500 to work for him, which is pathetic.

It is pathetic because the candidate cannot find anyone who will support his convictions/ beliefs/ platforms without the need to pay them, and that is probably because he doesn't have any.

It is also pathetic because some young girl out there is willing to risk her reputation by associating with a questionable candidate for a mere KD500.

This is a sad state of affairs.

eshda3wa said...


as far as my knowledge goes a lot of candidates offer money for ppl to help them out during the elections..

last elections a very well known candidate paid the women up to 1000kd

their employees ... they work and get paid for their time..

theres a difference between selling ur vote, pride, and dignity
and being paid for a job

1001 Nights said...

eshda3wa, I think being paid for a job is perfectly fair, and by no means am I insinuating that those who get paid are doing anything wrong. BUT where you start to worry is if they SAY someone is being paid for a job when in reality said person is sitting at home and doing nothing so it's an indirect way of bribery. How can you check on that? I think for the sake of transparency they're should be a pay roll list for each candidate so it's clear who's being paid what and that's something that can be looked at or checked by the government.

Q80 Saracen said...

David Santos: Thanks

1001 Nights: I agree with you on all counts. I'm a big proponent of transparency. After all, people getting paid for a job is only fair. The time they use costs them money. In Kuwait, however, we have some of the most clever triscksters this side of the Gulf.

For example...did you know that people went and registered themselves as candidates simply to that they could claim that their illegal Diwaniya is in fact an election headquarters? The hope is that by the time the election is over, the government campaign against infringement on public property will be over...clever and sad...but clever too...

Eshda3wa: 4000 KD?? Ya3ni that kind of cash is beyond criminal. Yeah, that line really stuck with me: "it7armoon". Its sad how people openly and blatantly take advantage of what they believe are religious loopholes. The beautiful thing about Islam is that there aren't any loopholes and that what was offered is equally 7aram. Allah iy3eena 3la hal ashkaal.

Like I told 1001 Nights, I agree with what you said about getting paid for a job. Key: transparency, transparency, transparency.

Intlxpatr: I should hope she wouldn't because whatever she recieves now, she will end up paying it many times over with what that candidate will cost her in terms of health care, education and what's really important in life. Thanks for tagging me :-)

Anon: While I think that it is common practice to pay some of the key workers on your staff...I agree with you on what you said about people who work for questionable candidates. It shouldn't matter whether they get paid or not or whether they themselves engage in questionable activities. Just because you are not the corrupt arm of this person doesn't free you from blame if you work for them willingly. Get a new candidate...Kuwait has a lot of good people.