Kuwait’s Electricity Minister Abdul Aziz Al Ebrahim, under fire from angry lawmakers, has stressed that he would continue to fight corruption even though the battle was particularly daunting. The minister, who is also in charge of the public works portfolio, has waded into controversy after he seemed to agree with a comment on a claim posted online that lawmakers were receiving up to KD350,000 to support a motion for a no-confidence vote in him.
“My answer is that fighting corruption comes at a cost,” he told a reporter who requested a comment on Sunday. “This is what happens when you fight corruption,” he said. Al Ebrahim’s answer triggered a wave of protests among lawmakers and MP Ouda Al Ruwai promptly said that he would file a motion to grill the minister on four topics.
“I have been monitoring issues related to the minister, including the cancellation of the airport expansion tenders, the massive power cut and his own performance,” the lawmaker said. “Now, there is his comment on the claim that lawmakers receive money to quiz him. For these reasons as well as for other reasons, I announce that I will grill the minister soon,” he said, local daily Al Nahar reported on Monday.
MP Talal Al Jalal said the parliament would have a strong stance against the minister and the lawmakers would “refute his fallacious claims.”
“We want the minister not to dodge the grilling so that Kuwaitis become better aware of the extent of the mistakes and abuses at the electricity and water ministry and at the public works ministry,” he said.
MP Nabeel Al Fadhl said that the minister had made a mistake by antagonising the lawmakers instead of seeking their support at a time when he was facing difficulties at the parliament.
“I wonder where the minister’s sense of politics is and he should have known better than to antagonise lawmakers,” he said. “The no-confidence vote in Al Ebrahim will be achieved through the lawmakers’ own will and not through money they will receive. He should apologize for his statement or else he will have to face the parliament,” he said.
The minister should not have condoned in his answer to the reporter’s question the “trivial” claim that lawmakers would receive money, he added. For MP Jamal Al Omar, the minister must present evidence about the corruption of lawmakers to the competent authorities so that legal procedures could be taken.
The call to the minister to divulge the names of corrupt lawmakers was supported by MP Abdullah Al Tariji. “The minister must be brave and announce the names of the MPs who are allegedly receiving funds to support a no-confidence vote,” he said. Al Ebrahim reiterated his determination to fight corruption and that he was aware that such stances came at a price, stressing that the fight was not easy.
“My clear answer to the reporter’s question was that whoever is fighting corruption has a price to pay,” he said. “I hold in high esteem all the honourable people, in the parliament and elsewhere, who are dedicated to the building of the nation and to protecting public funds. I have had absolute faith in the need to fight corruption even before I was given ministerial portfolios and I shall continue on this path, drawing strength from God and from the people of honour in Kuwait,” he said.