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Kuwait MPs fail to show up for debate on expats
February 4, 2017, 12:45 pm

A session of the the Kuwaiti parliament, which was called to discuss the demographic issues of the country, was postponed on Thursday after 21 lawmakers failed to show up. Speaker Marzoooq Al Ghanem said that the session could not be held for lack of the required quorun.

Reports said that only 28 lawmakers and three ministers were present in the parliament to discuss the issue that waded into controversy after some MPs used derogatory terms to refer to the expatriates living in Kuwait.

Last month, MP Abdul Karim Al Kandari’s refered to expatriates as “settlers” which initiated the move to hold a debate in parliament on their status in the country. The lawmaker said that Kuwaitis should not be a minority in their own country and that he wanted the parliament to hold a special session to discuss the demographic situation.

In Kuwait more than two-thirds of the total population are foreigners, mainly unskilled workers from Asia working in the construction and service sectors. According to figures released last month, Kuwait is home to 4.4 million people, including 3.1 million expatriates (70 percent) and 1.3 million Kuwaitis (30 percent).

Al Kandari and the lawmakers who supported him on the issue said they wanted to hear from the government about the measures it has taken to address the issue of the growing numbers of foreigners in the country. They also said that parliament needed to look into ways to tackle the issue of traffickers who brought foreigners into country without securing jobs for them.

MP Safa Al Hashem said there were 20,000 unemployed Kuwaitis who could be easily be employed if positions were vacated by expatriates. “There is nothing that obliges us to recognise any agreements or commitments that require Kuwait to bring foreigners to work as long as the interests of Kuwait and Kuwaitis are at stake,” she said.

The failure of many lawmakers to attend the parliament session on Thursday was assailed as “lack of responsibility” by their peers. “I am astonished that some of the lawmakers who signed the move to hold the session did not show up,” MP Yusuf Al Fadhala said, quoted by Al Qabas on its website.

MP Saleh Ashoor said that it was deplorable to see that some lawmakers could not rise up to their responsibility and attend such an important session of the parliament. “We feel utterly disappointed and those who failed to show up should be held accountable,” MP Abdul Kareem Al Kindari said.

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