Stop Corruption: But Not Now, Next Time
"The March 14 Forces have strong clues on corruption nests at the heart of several sectors, and we can share them with the other camp, if they so wish. In any case, we'll have to discuss the matter at length." Walid Jumblatt (Joumblatt). (L'Orient-Le Jour, May 6, 2006, my translation).
The issue is not only Joumblatt (Jumblatt), or March 14, but a political culture that sees fit to make statements like the above without any follow through whatsoever. And a worthless press corps that hears these types of statements and goes back to sleep or to pontificate on matters they barely comprehend, like international politics.
This is President Lahoud about a month ago:
"there is a scandal in the telecommunications file resulting from distortion of facts since the two telecommunications companies operating in the country are not making profits currently and the government will soon sell one of them." He added: "Of course, I will stop this corruption and squandering of public money. ... I will not sign on the sale of the telecommunications firms' licenses!"
Lahoud threatened [bold mine] to uncover the schemes behind the issue which he considered "a scandal that will not pass unnoticed." (Daily Star, March 17, 2006).
On many other occasions when Hariri Sr. or Joumblatt or others would refer to corruption, Lahoud would reply (paraphrasing): "my opponents talk about corruption, everyone knows who is really involved in corruption. If my opponents want to talk about this, I threaten to open those files etc…" Of course the old Addoum-Lahoud-Syrian judiciary was an "if-then" judiciary. Not if you break the law then we will prosecute you. Rather, if you go against the regime, then we'll prosecute you. If you keep silent and do your corruption quietly, then we won't. In fairness the old judiciary was not much better, but this was carried to new extremes in recent years.
Another example I recall, more "abuse" than "corruption but in the same spirit. A couple of years ago, Ambassador Johnny Abdo's wife was assaulted and pushed to the ground by some goons in some supermarket. It was meant as a "shut-up" message to the Haririst Mr. Abdo (likely from Lebanese/Syrian Mukhabarat). Later Abdo stated he knew (or had a very good idea) who the culprits were, and that, by good golly, if it happened again, he would "speak".
These attitudes and statements, especially on part of public officials, are outrageous. And, even if not actionable, they should at the very least prompt the judiciary to seek a chat with the statements' author.
If you are a major politician (or anyone for that matter) in possession of corruption or abuse information, there should be NOTHING to discuss, with the "other camp" or amongst your own group.. The matters should be taken immediately to the judiciary, central inspection (Taftish el-Markazi), or some parliamentary commission.
The press should be hounding you for answers. Parliamentary groups should be holding hearings. The judiciary should be sending investigators. NGO's should be all over this.
Discussing a new plan for the economy, current Finance Minister Azour said that without losses due to corruption at EDL (Electrical Utility), the plan would not require any new taxes. Wanna bet that’s' the end of the story and new taxes will be imposed on a moribund citizen and economy?
Finally, the mother of all witnesses and scandals. Rana Koleilate sits at he heart of the biggest crime ever committed in Lebanon (Hariri murder, the UN suspects). She is also at the heart of the biggest Lebanese financial scandal ever, Al-Madina. The Lebanese government is "trying" to extradite her from Brazil where she was arrested TWO months ago. And for the umpteenth time, where are the editorials lambasting the officials on this one?
I don't believe they are trying to extradite her. Do you?