04 January 2007

Clueless in Bahrain

We have a huge information deficit in Bahrain. There is a lot of talk about transparency, but very little of it in actuality. I mean, basic statistics and information about the government are for some reson top secret! Not that I don't appreciate the government's efforts to protect us from knowing too much, but I still think this lack of transparency is very unbecoming of any semi-democracy, almost-free society like us. For one, it makes people suspicious: governments don't hide information for no reason. In that sense, no one can blame people for not trusting the government-- It also just totally undermines this "reform" thing we keep talking about.

But anyway, someone had made the comment that I complain about what's wrong in Bahrain and don't appreciate what's right. So, in order to be more positive, I came up with two lists: the top 5 things I'm grateful the government is transparent about-- and the top 10 things that I wish were transparent-- the lists are not exactly proportional, since there is much more that I don't know, but at least I tried!

Top 5 things we know in Bahrain:

1. We are an island (there is no proof, as we can barely see the sea really, but I'll give the government this much)
2. We have a King, a Prime Minister, and a Crown Prince
3. We have some oil left and we have a company called BAPCO
4. There are laws and the laws are available in www.legalaffairs.gov.bh
5. Some government agencies make mistakes and some mistakes are published in a report

Top 10 things no one knows:

1. Who is in charge of the country? I mean seriously, who rules? (if any)
2. Who owns which parts of Bahrain. Really. Please?
3. How did those people come to own those parts?
4. How much is our real oil revenue?
5. Where is the oil money going?
6. Why doesn't BAPCO have a board of directors anymore?
7. Why do we have a BAPCO, a supreme council for oil, a national oil and gas authority, AND a ministry of oil? (or am I just cross-eyed?)
8. Of all the laws in Bahrain, which are actually applied? (if any)
9. What are the ministries of defense and interior up to? and why aren't they in the audit report?
10. How many people did Bahrain naturalize in the past 5 years? (please now someone must keep track!)

Of course, there is actually much more and really it's all long over due.. There are things like royal spending, financials of government companies, business affiliations of high officials, benefits and salaries of those, etc etc. We could even have a top-100 list just like the billboard music thing! (or not...) Point is: we are really clueless in this country and we desparately need INFO!


error said...

Hello lulu from ba7rain!! I love ba7rain even if gargoyles ruled your tiny island however I don’t like the humidity!! I’m surprised that we share a lot in common considering both political scenes. It’s a long a difficult race, ironically we inherited the same problems our fathers and grandfathers faced in our 50 years democracy and BTW our first legislative parliament was dissolved by the emir in 1939. We are not asking much, justice and equal opportunity seems to be a lot to ask for therefore we have to take it into our hands!! You are doing great ba7rain I love U!!

Qassoom said...



Keep up the "good" questions :-P

Cheers! ;-)

isagreatphilosopher said...

As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don't know
We don't know.
- Late US Sec of Defense, nice one

If you take that latter poetic epistemology seriously, you gotta worry about the unknown unknowns as well.

LuLu said...

@ error: Hey, we do share a lot in common-- I get a total kick following Kuwaiti politics, athough it can be depressing to think that after 50 years of democracy we still may end up... the same? Anyway, keep on writing! I want to learn more!

@qassoom: thanx & want to read more of ur Arabic blogging too!

@isagreatphilosopher: Aww God I thought I'd put Rumsfeld and his jargons in my memory purgatory forever.. wasn't he painful? But yes, there is an unlimited inventory of unanswered questions in this country.. and the more I find out the less i know!!

Hisham said...

Good post/rant :)

Just been perusing your blog and I must say that I love what I've read so far. Keep it up, it's compelling and your style is very accessible and fun.

LuLu said...

@ Hisham, thanx!