Our national malady

Sadly, it seems we’ve all just given up

We need our heads checked. Honestly, I think we Lebanese are suffering from what can only be described as Stockholm Syndrome. Why is it that people are suddenly so in love with our ministers?

What exactly is Wael Abou Faour doing? “He’s making sure our food is safe to eat and pushing through healthcare reforms,” you might reply. As minister of public health, that’s his job. I can’t fathom why our response to a minister who is doing his job for a change is to applaud him. What about all of the others who don’t? Why are we not angry? Why are we not demanding more? There has been a food safety draft law written for 12 years. We should be furious that no minister of public health has raised this issue before, not smitten with one who finally bothers to do something. On healthcare reform, Abou Faour’s simply applying a law first passed in 1994.

The same is true for Ali Hassan Khalil. He’s weeding out corruption at the Ministry of Finance? This is the bare goddamn minimum. We should be revolting, not heaping praise on public servants for serving.

What is distorting reality is their reliance on professional media and public relations advisors who are obviously in a fierce competition to get the most coverage for their respective clients. If ego stroking is what it takes to get our public servants going, so be it — let’s get each one a PR advisor!

But sadly, it seems we’ve all just given up. I didn’t want to believe that, but it’s true, and I saw proof of it firsthand during this year’s ArabNet conference at a panel I moderated. On this panel were two former ministers and two private sector heavyweights. When the speed of Lebanon’s internet came up, none dared truthfully discuss the problems. Instead, they pointed to whatever tiny backwater managed to have even slower internet than us, and praised our failing state for providing anything at all. Four months earlier, at Accelerate, people were angry and demanding answers. The name Abdel Moneim Youssef was on everyone’s lips. How did we all just give up in four short months?

We’re sick, and all of the generic pharmaceuticals in the world won’t cure us.

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