Will Lebanese ministers dare confront mafias?
Concern over Lebanese peoples’ lives remains a top priority
“We are all responsible for what happened on the roads due to rainfall and I will neither be lenient nor I will back down from punishing anyone responsible for this dereliction,” said Lebanon’s transportation and public works minister Ghazi Zeaiter on Sunday, in response to the disastrous footage we saw on Saturday after the country witnessed heavy rainfall for the first time this year. Zeaiter’s statements are nothing new and have been preceded by similar comments by other ministers; however, nothing has changed the tragic reality is that the Lebanese people have to go through this every time rain falls. What’s required is for the minister to act in addition to making statements and to inform the public of the measures taken in this field and thus abandon the approach of saving face over mismanagement. It is true that Lebanese citizens are partially to blame for this mismanagement but the biggest burden falls on the institutions who fail to carry out their duties.
Pursuing those responsible is important but holding them accountable is more important. What health minister Wael Abou Faour did - despite all the criticism leveled at him from fellow politicians - may be necessary to awaken semi-dead consciences and an attempt to protect citizens’ health. However there’s the problem of the victims’ solidarity with their executioners as many Lebanese people pitied shops’ and restaurants’ owners. They thus voiced solidarity with them as if announcing that a store violates approved standards harms the customers’ dignity. Worst of all was involving sectarianism in these serious allegations of cheating, negligence and harming people’s health.
Despite all that, concern over Lebanese peoples’ lives remains a top priority, or at least it should be as such. If politicians complain of their inability to set in motion the wheel of political life - for foreign reasons mostly - then carrying out their duties to protect the minimum of people’s living standards and health is key. The hampering of such issues is not linked to foreign parties as they are instead being obstructed by domestic mafias who oppose all forms of reform because they want to achieve more illegal profit. We hope that energy minister Arthur Nazarian exposes the identity of those providing political cover to those occupying (yes, it’s an occupation) the headquarters of Elecricite Du Liban’s main building.
If each minister performs his duties and speaks openly to the public, history will note that this government performed well during this difficult time. Reforming the ravages of time is difficult, or rather impossible, unless ministers who are truly willing to engage in reform decide otherwise.
This article was first published in al-Nahar on November 20, 2014.
Nayla Tueni is one of the few elected female politicians in Lebanon and of the two youngest. She became a member of parliament in 2009 and following the assassination of her father, Gebran, she is currently a member of the board and Deputy General Manager of Lebanon’s leading daily, Annahar. Prior to her political career, Nayla had trained, written in and managed various sections of Annahar, where she currently has a regular column. She can be followed on Twitter @NaylaTueni
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