On Sunday, the new session of the Kuwaiti National Assembly commenced. It is an Assembly with a life of four years; at least that is what the good book of law says. But will that necessarily be the case, and what should and would happen, is still to be seen.
In recent times, the National Assembly’s life has not been more than a year and a half. The last National Assembly survived for four months before it was dissolved by the court. Now, such a scenario hardly surprises Kuwaiti people and has rather become common. The question that we should be concerned about is not how this National Assembly will survive for four years, but whether it should last its entire term?
The recent election came at a difficult time for Kuwait when there was a new voting system with each voter entitled to a single vote and there were many who opposed participation. Although some key opposition leaders did not contest, some new and well-known names have made it to National Assembly. However, it is still not possible to predict if this National Assembly will last its term.
I do believe we need some stability in the country on the political level but under no circumstances can that mean that we as voters will allow any MP to think we are naïve. We cannot allow anyone to enrich himself or herself at our expense.
In the past, some MPs clearly and openly used their position and influence to accumulate ill-begotten wealth and also involved their relatives in such illegal business practices. Although some of these allegations were not and could not be proven in the eyes of the law, some of them could never justify the source of their sudden wealth.
The government did not take a stand and instead re-appointed some of them and thus shielded them. Personally, I cannot think of any other reason why a government would defend a corrupt member unless it perceived such a person to be of some use.
I think even a shadow of a doubt, a whiff of a scandal that an MP could be involved in corruption should be enough reason to ease him or her out, but sadly that does not happen in Kuwait.
Should this National Assembly last four years? Only if every MP is ready to sign and approve his financial statement and declare that he or she will not use official power or influence to enrich oneself, that all bank accounts of the MPs will be in Kuwait and, if held overseas, it will be within the powers of the Kuwaiti government to check such accounts in case of any suspicion s of any illegal practice.
For me, this is the only condition under which this National Assembly should be allowed to last. Allegations of corruption should not be tolerated at all, now or at any time.
(Muna Al-Fuzai is a columnist at Kuwait Times, where this article was published on Dec. 17, 2012)