A shameful bill!

Just when everyone in Kuwait has begun believing that the government is being victimized in the power struggle with the National Assembly, the proposed amendments to the Press and Publication Law have ruined the picture. The government appears to be one of those sad characters from movies who are incapable of having friends. Think Jim Carey in 'The Cable Guy.'

Anyway, for old times' sake, I will try to explain why the proposed amendments to the law are wrong.

First of all, how can we be guaranteed that the new law will be implemented properly? I mean, the whole crisis occurred because the authorities did not use the legal procedures, that were already stipulated, to resolve the situation. Instead of the Ministry of Information bravely accepting the blame for failing to perform its duties properly, the suggested amendments imply that there are loopholes within the existing laws, not in the way they were implemented!
Secondly, the very fact that violations occur, do not necessarily mean there is a need to increase punishment. It will be like saying "it appears as if the death penalty is not enough to stop drug smuggling into the country, so we are going to increase punishment to – death penalty plus flogging the dead body 100 times!

Thirdly, even if the law is passed, people will still find other ways to express what they want to say. In practice, it will only be one more way to embarrass Kuwait internationally, especially if international organizations will start demanding the release of imprisoned journalists. It might also create a wave of Kuwaiti political asylum-seekers in the world, because they can't voice out their opinions in their homeland. Some of them may even launch media outlets in those countries, where the Kuwaiti government cannot reach or gag them.

So, the government better have other reasons to propose these amendments, because from what is apparent, they simply don't make any sense at all. As for the Parliament, it's an entirely different story. MPs need to consider few facts before voting on these amendments. First of all, they need to remember the oath they took when they started their duties. It reads "I swear … to protect freedoms, interests, and the wealth of the nation." They should ask themselves why 'freedoms' comes first in the word order.

After doing so, MPs would probably want to look into the possibility of the entire crisis over the controversial TV show being 'staged.' Some 'hidden forces' could've used the man to say these offensive things and generate such angry reactions in order to use this momentum to impose censorship. If I know what your reaction will be like, then I can fool you into demanding what I really wanted to do in the first place. It will probably be much better for all of us if MPs stop being so predictable.

If these concepts are beyond our respected parliamentarians, then there will be a price for that. If they okay the amendments and then decide to practice their freedom (which is a hobby for some MPs) of criticizing the government, then no one will dare deliver their messages to the public. Journalists who do that will be risking a jail term.

Finally, if all this is completely meaningless to everyone and if the law is passed, then we will be the first, and probably the only country in the world, that managed to democratically suppress freedoms. We will be the one and only democratically-practiced dictatorship!

© Kuwait Times 2010

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