Lebanon: Why Scandals Never Make A Difference

Politics-Corruption-Cartoom

It’s deplorable when a population is more attracted by a celebrity sexual affair or the short skirt of an artist than by a politician deeply implicated in corruption.

Usually, it starts with a controversial story released deliberately to discredit or pressure a political opponent. The impact is quickly intercepted to avoid potential repercussions by launching a counterattack full of history and justifications.

Let’s assume a media attack occurred by the Future Movement on Gebrane Bassil accusing him of financial irregularities while managing the ministry. The accusations could be well-founded, but Bassil’s response will be through another media retaliation exposing Hariri’s history, Fouad Siniora, Solidere, and other irrelevant facts. That’s when the public opinion shifts from investigating the scandal itself to being entertained by an open debate, until the entire story fades away in few days time.

Not to exclude this politician who “won” a governmental bid for a highway leading to his hometown using his own contracting company, whereas many accused him of corruption after inflating prices and selling rubble to other companies he owns. His supporters and the residents of the region turned a blind eye, they even thanked him for the new highway despite the obvious fraudulent manoeuvres; they never saw it as a scandal, and summed it up by a  “Sahtein aa albo, emelna tari” (He deserves his gain, at least he provided us with a road)

It’s a mentality, a mentality built on constant doubt, submission and lack of accountability. We became unable to come up with our proper judgment on a matter, only believing and agreeing on what our leader says.

Lately, the case of the illegal internet providers became public without having an  impact on people’s perception on corruption and the vital need for change. Ogero is the official company appointed by the Lebanese authorities since two decades to operate all wire telephone services including internet.

The fiber optics wiring system was installed since the beginning of the millennium after granting a lucrative contract to prominent politicians of that time. In other terms, the installation was done but without ever planning to operate a service on these cables. Now, cables lay under our streets that were never used and could have become useless with time and lack of maintenance

During this period, Ogero refrained from implementing this service for two main reasons:

First, to make constant profit by providing a low bandwidth to subscribers at high prices, and slightly increase both every couple of years.

Second, Ogero is directly involved in the Lebanese political scene, using its organism to employ supporters for electoral purposes. In addition, it granted sub-contracts to fictitious companies whose role is to provide internet service to different areas of Lebanon without reporting back to Ogero on its activities, management or financials.

Nevertheless, scandals in Lebanon are not limited to a political class or religion, it became a common manoeuvre by prominent people who are able to turn any potential scandals into a mundane rumours or stories of no importance; especially with the easiness to deviate public’s opinion from the reality itself.

 

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