By B Izzak
KUWAIT: A Kuwaiti leftist political group, Kuwaiti Progressive Movement, on Sunday strongly criticized a decision by the health ministry to impose charges on blood units for expats, describing the measure as “discriminatory”. The ministry of health on Saturday issued a decision imposing a fee of KD 20 per bag of blood for expat patients if they have legal residency and KD 40 for visitors. The ministry also increased charges on 37 laboratory tests, ranging from half a dinar to KD 15 for residents and between KD 5 and KD 70 for visitors. Emergency cases are exempt from the charges.
The Progressive Movement said in a statement the decision discriminates between patients on the basis of religion, creed, social class and gender. The movement claimed “class-based discrimination has increased rapidly in state institutions”, adding that the level of discrimination reached in the country is “unprecedented”.
Meanwhile, the low turnout of candidates for the upcoming parliamentary polls continued Sunday, as only 24 hopefuls filed papers, bringing the total number of candidates to just 85 after three days of registration, compared to as many as 222 who registered in the first three days of the Sept 2022 elections.
But with seven days remaining for registration and many prominent candidates who have not filed nominations, the number will most certainly increase sharply. In the Sept 2022 polls, 367 candidates registered, but only 305 remained in the fray after withdrawals. Among the 24 candidates who registered on Sunday, there was only one former MP and two members of the court-scrapped 2022 Assembly. So far, 20 former lawmakers and as many as 16 members of the annulled house have registered.
A majority of candidates called for fundamental reforms with the hope to put an end to almost non-stop political disputes that have engulfed Kuwaiti politics for almost two decades. Prominent among candidates who registered on Sunday was Fahad bin Falah Al-Azemi, the son of the tribal chief of Kuwait’s largest bedouin tribe Al-Awazem, who said he might contest the speaker’s post if he wins a seat in the next Assembly.
He stressed Kuwait’s retreat is not because of democracy or the National Assembly, but because of fighting between those who want to seize the country’s fortunes. New candidate Mohammad Jawhar Hayat said state institutions will not be reformed without political reforms of the three powers — the judiciary, the Assembly and the government. He also called for amending the election system.
Fresh candidate Ali Al-Kandari insisted that there can be no development amid continued political disputes. Fawaz Al-Rasheedi called for building a new Kuwait and for creating a new political environment to serve the country. Hamad Al-Olayan said it has become necessary to review powers enjoyed by the constitutional court, which has nullified the National Assembly and elections three times in the past 11 years. Bader Al-Mutairi said Kuwait is passing through a very dangerous turning point in which development has stalled.