Last week I attended a seminar at the American University of Kuwait titled the Trauma of Choice. It was held to prepare the younger crowd at the university for the upcoming elections. You’d think they have enough preparations since its become a yearly event, but that’s just my cynicism coming out. The organizers had a good variety of speakers, liberal and tribal, which gave people an insight to what all think of whats happening in Parliament these days.
Here are a few nuggets of what I saw and heard while I was there:
- Saleh Al-Mulla gave a great point when he discussed the apathy towards the elections that is sweeping the country. He explained how there has been a concerted effort by certain sections of the royal family to instill this feeling among the population. It has become so bad that people are satisfied with the status quo and don’t want change because they are happy to sit and complain about the lack of progress. This is something I deal with on a daily basis with my group of friends unfortunately. They consistently complain about how Kuwait is going no where yet do nothing about it. I will write a post about this soon.
- Saleh also discussed how there are members in the Royal family that undermined the previous Prime Minister so that they can set their own path to being Amir. They view the PM position as the stepping stone, although no where does it say that in the Constitution.
- Rula Dashti picked up on his point on the importance of voting, and explained to the attendees that change doesn’t come by itself. We create change (Obama anyone). That is why it is very important for all of us to go out and vote.
- Marzouq Al-Ghanim brought the discussion back to the point of choice and said its important that voters know the track record of previous MP’s. Who shows up to the non-televised session? Who does the daily work, and comes everyday? He also mentioned how the bank statements of the people running for Parliament should be public records so we know who talks the talk, and who just gets fat from this gig.
- He also brought up a very important point about the expat population in Kuwait. Only 48,000 of them have a college degree or higher, while over 900,000 don’t even have a high school diploma. That is a scary stat people!
- Then came on Musalam Al-Barrak and was is his usual form. Screaming at the top of his lungs and blaming this guy and the that guy. Claiming the stimulus package is making the rich get richer. Mentioning how difficult it is for families to send their kids to school. He used the old Arab technique of saying how he has documents to prove who is corrupt and who isn’t. Nothing to see here folks.
- Then came the star of the show. Dr. Aseel Al-Awadhi was on fine form. In her understated way she didn’t attack the government or the Parliament. She urged all of us to come out and work to fix all that ails us. How it has become the norm to just sit back and blame the government. She says we don’t need to scream when we have microphones, and that through dialogue we can achieve results. Musalam takes offense to this and starts attacking her and yelling how he needs to respond to her. She stays unfazed and refuses to fall into his trap. Excellent!
After that I left because and didn’t hear the rest of the speakers, but I did enjoy what I had seen so far. I hope the students at AUK will mobilize and go out and vote. If we don’t go out in numbers this year then nothing will change. I will try do do my part in pushing as many people and I hope you do yours.