The technocrat illusion still alive in Lebanon

Every time the government formation is in a deadlock in Lebanon, the idea of a technocrat cabinet is presented as the most appropriate way out of the crisis and usually gains popular support.

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Every time the government formation is in a deadlock in Lebanon, the idea of a technocrat cabinet is presented as the most appropriate way out of the crisis and usually gains popular support, wrote Khalid Saghia in an opinion piece titled The technocrat illusion in the Lebanese Arabic daily Al Akhbar. The world of the technocrat is portrayed as a serene and objective sphere, where scientific facts and technical solutions prevail, far away from private interests and sectarian systems.

Technocrats are not politicians, so they do not yield to public pressure and do not seek to please the masses; hence the expectation that they look into problems only for the sake of the public interest. But this vision of the technocrat too optimistic. First, in a normal political life, the technocrat who does not look at the facts through "a pair of ideological lenses" does not exist. Second, we do not live in a normal political environment. We are in a period of acute political friction. Third, the administration itself is so corrupt that technocrats will have their hands and feet tied and will not be able to budge without referring to the same antagonist political forces. For those reasons and more, the technocratic solution remains but another illusion to the masses for their entertainment during the coming Eid season.

In a joint press conference with the Spanish foreign minister, Miguel Moratinos and the Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian head of state said the normalisation steps by Arab states with Israel were possible if negotiations with the Palestinians resumed and settlements were frozen, wrote Fayez Rashid in the Qatari dailyAl Watan.

Mr Mubarak's declarations come at a time when Israel, with its right-wing government led by Benjamin Netanyahu, is committed to its settlement policy, particularly in Jerusalem. All the talk about a partial suspension of the settlements was but a political manoeuvre by the Israeli government. Moreover, the two conditions put by the Egyptian minister for Arab states to engage in normalisation steps with Israel are in total opposition with the Arab peace initiative, which demands a series of actions on the part of Israel, mainly the full withdrawal from all the territories occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

But the reality on the ground indicates that Israel considers both regions as its territory. In Arab states do undertake any steps toward normalisation with Israel sole resumption of negotiations, that a would be a move in the wrong direction. Israel's strategy is to enter in long negotiations that can last for decades, so the media can talk about a peace process underway while pursuing its policies and arrogant stands.

We know that even before the swine flu pandemic outburst, some of our neighbouring countries had a medical clinical in every school, while we have one doctor for every 30 schools, with every school hosting 300 students, wrote Fawaz Aziz in the Saudi Arabian daily Al Watan. This single doctor is required to visit all the schools within his sphere, give the students awareness and information lectures, return to his clinic and receive patients, including students and stuff, for consultation.

The Ministry of Education had announced its intention to stop providing medical services and transferring all its units to the Ministry of Health, which would have allowed it an economy of SR356 million. So far, it has not yet done so, nor has it improved the quality of the services provided, which remain mediocre and insufficient. SR356 million is probably not enough to serve five million students in 32 schools, but if the ministry had transferred to this effect the SR400 million spared annually after the cancellation, two years ago, of the high school central exams, the health units would have provided better care. In Kuwait, the Ministry of Education announced the rehabilitation, in co-ordination with the health authorities, of 120 school clinics, which the Ministry of Health accepted to equip and staff.

In a time of global media, it has become so easy to enter history with a single unusual move without being a war hero, a leader or an inventor, wrote Khalil Qindil in the Jordanian Arabic daily Addustour. The Iraqi journalist who threw a pair of shoes at the former US President George W Bush was no exception to this rule.

The event could have been concealed and wrapped in the kind of official declarations the Arab world was used to in the 1960s and 1970s. But at this very moment, there was TV, and the whole world was plugged in. The "camera" nevertheless failed, in the case of Mountazar al Zaidi, to transmit the events that followed his shoe attack against the president of the most powerful country in the world. The Iraqi shoe thrower is free but the man says he was tortured. He reveals that he was beaten with iron bars backstage, while he could still hear the voices in the conference room where the US president had his meeting.

How many crimes throughout the history of humanity no one ever knew anything about because there was no camera, whereas a unique scene of a man throwing a shoe made him a historic hero. * Digest compiled by Mohamed Naji