A disappointing win

The battle for transparency still needs to be won

Executive August issue cover (Illustration by Ivan Debs)

Three years ago, we asked then Minister of Energy Gebran Bassil about how millions of dollars made from the sale of oil and gas data were being managed as part of our coverage of the governance of the nascent industry. He told us it wasn’t important. When we ran an article suggesting such secrecy is a bad thing, he sued us for defamation. This month, we won. What kills me, however, is that our in-depth coverage that exposes with irrefutable truth suspicions of cronyism got overlooked by the general public, civil society and those responsible for investigating such doubts. I welcome the judgment, but the most important questions remain unanswered: where’s the money and what checks and balances are in place to safeguard our interests? The purpose of sticking out our necks quite prominently is not to get shares and likes or even warm handshakes. We demand an investigation.

There is an accountability problem in this country, and it’s about time someone did something about it. Around this time last year, we watched the political class manipulate a popular movement. “The mafias” who we were marching to depose won – let’s not kid ourselves. They used and manipulated street protests as an excuse to cancel waste management deals with the private sector that would have solved the trash crisis across the whole country. We would have had infrastructure and modern solutions. Instead we’re going to throw much of our trash in the sea. The rest will continue to be burned and dumped around the rest of the country. And no one cares.

It’s demoralizing. Our economy is all but dead. We’re sinking. Instead of throwing us a lifeline, our politicians are pushing us under with their dirty deals and gross mismanagement. At Executive, we’re doing our part. Our investigative journalists work tirelessly month after month to explain the most complex of issues in an easy to understand way, pointing out what is being done right and how to improve what is not. We’re doing the hard work and it’s time for civil society to pull its weight as well. Without strong and continuous action, we will never be able to save this country.

3 Comments

  1. George Sabat (ACMA) said:

    Excellent stuff Yasser, thank you! May I slip in a small suggestion? Why not allocate a small portion of EXECUTIVE’s columns to suggestions or proposals by the readers and add your staff’s comments. In other words, start a real people’s dialogue on how we can all help each other and jointly build a Nation.For example I would have been really interested in knowing more about that waste management deal with the private sector that you mention, considering that I have written reams of paper on the subject and met with dozens of members of Civil Society and waste management pundits.

  2. a lebanese said:

    As the popular saying goes: “Whats that? There’s oil on Mars? Looks like Mars needs some Freedom!” Maybe the only reason that we’re still (albeit on one leg) standing , is that we haven’t started pumping. A blessing, because as soon as that first gallon erupts, we might need a regime change…

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