The executive branch of Lebanon’s government has been in limbo for half a year, so it’s not surprising to encounter the latest “achievement” of the caretaker government’s ministers: trading accusations of misbehavior.
The caretaker minister of state, Nicolas Fattoush, set off the commotion late last week when he held a news conference and blasted a number of officials from the Finance Ministry and the judiciary, while saving his greatest ire for his colleague in the Cabinet, Mohammad Safadi, the caretaker finance minister.
Fattoush lashed out at what he described as “scandals and corrupt acts” by ministry officials and Army officers who enjoy political clout, determined to reveal a long list of threats and extortion, and obstruction of justice.
However, the “bombshell revelations” appear to stem from nothing that involves a matter of the nation’s higher interest or widespread public concern. Instead, the commotion stems from a personal matter, involving accusations of tax evasion by the minister’s brother, a prominent quarry owner.
Media reports suggest that the case is several years old and predates Safadi’s tenure at the Finance Ministry, but Fattoush apparently had nothing better to do than lash out in all directions, and especially at Safadi, using rude, derisive and abusive language that has unfortunately become the norm in political discourse.
Safadi responded, making things worse, and contented himself by speaking about “quarries being the opposite of civilization.” In fact, the opposite of civilization is to allow a state of legal and administrative chaos to become the norm of government activity.
No one in Lebanon believes that corruption and mismanagement are anything but endemic to the political system; there are scandals and illegal activities that take place every day. The only concern should be when the public hears about such things and why. Moreover, they usually hear about these issues from politicians who should have little interest in revealing such “scandals,” and not from the judiciary, which is often sidelined and unable to take a strong stand against official corruption.
Politicians should remember that the public has become extremely jaded by such corruption scandals. Some people might be momentarily entertained by the spectacles, but in the end they only end up confirming public knowledge: sweeping such cases under the rug is the inevitable final chapter to these sagas, with no one found guilty or punished.
The people who vote for the politicians every time an election rolls around should take a stand and demand that they come clean, and for once, submit to a proper judicial process instead of trying to influence the course of justice. Otherwise, they have only themselves to blame for allowing the continuation of this rotten state of affairs, in which people are obliged to hear about wrongdoing and outrageous scandals, but never see anyone held accountable.