In our society people tend to criticize every single subject matter. Whether its about politics, society or the latest trend, we, as human beings, are wired to criticism whether constructive or just for the sake of it. Many discussions are based on hearsay and give way to useless gossip and baseless stereotypes.
Within a year, the number of people frustrated against the governmental institutions increased. The lack of a presidential figure did not help. The postponed parliamentary elections gave way to many groups of people to express their rage freely. We should note that these are the same people that, for years now, have been electing these same candidates back to their seats.
This post is to set some things clear about the misconceptions that many of the Lebanese citizens have towards their representatives and the benefits they receive for their time and work towards the sake of the country at retirement.
During late President Frangieh’s term, a bill was passed to guarantee the ongoing flow of salary to retired members of parliaments. Sonia Frangieh Rassi narrates in her book “Ma Patrie a toujours raison” about an incident that happened during her father’s presidential term. On the 1st of January 1971, people rushed to the presidential palace to present their wishes for the up coming new year. A taxi stopped at the palace entrance and came out the Emir Khaled Chehab, previous prime minister, who lost his fortune during land passover transactions with the jews. Witnessing such a scene propelled the President to pass the bill guaranteeing half of the salaries to retired governmental officials for the rest of their lives. During those years, governmental officials used to sacrifice their time and family to the well being of society and especially the people who elected them to higher office. Most of them were lawyers, doctors and merchants who put aside their everyday job so as to focus on their mission as members of parliament or government.
I remember clearly when I was a kid, some women used to ring the doorbell every other Friday to have a talk with my father. I never understood why he would be giving them money every single time. He explained to me that being a representative of these people who elected him to office, it was his job to listen to their demands and help them the best way he could. I am sure that there were many other officials who performed their duty the same way and still do.
Whether you like it or not, the following is true behind people holding the political torch in their family.
First of all, family will always come second. The ultimate goal is to help and reach to the population whether you are aware of it through the news or not. See every single politician helps his electorate but does not need to quote it in the media. Most of them spend their time on the road, at office or abroad working towards enhancing their country’s image, infrastructure and laws.
Second of all, diplomatic passports are issued to every single member of the family. Men after 25 years old have to renounce it whereas women when they are married. I have not asked properly what are the advantages of holding the passport, however I have noticed that some countries, like Cyprus and Egypt do not require visas on entrance. Although, there is a special queue in the airport for diplomats, we all have to wait together for the luggage arrival.
Thirdly, yes the government covers our insurance expenses, however with limit. Men are stripped of it at 25.
Yes you are going to point out that even at the death of the retired politician in question these perks continue. Well not really they don’t.
There is an investigation that goes on and the governmental officials, that you all tend to form a cliche in a work setting, sets to work heads on the portfolio. I have seen with my own eyes how they are serious about their jobs and put the time and effort to legalize your paperworks and explain to you the steps that should be taken later on. They are serious about their work. It isn’t another paycheck for them while attending office hours and not do anything.
First of all, the half salary the retired politician used to receive is diminished as well to a mere normal salary (you all tend to make monthly) and divided between the female members of the family.
If you are working and your company has admitted you to social security, you are stripped from your private health insurance and the salary ratio that is directed to you. Even if you haven’t been put through social security and withhold such information from the government, the punishment is serious.
And of course, your passport is stripped from you when you get married.
I want to direct my attention to the people who love to criticize the government, the members of parliament/government and even the clerks behind the scenes in those institutions. Before bashing and generalizing a whole institution because of some mishaps and major incidents committed by a few money eager selfish business men, take a minute or a paragraph and mention those who have sacrificed their lives and everything in it to try and make it a better Lebanon for us. As you have noticed, those perks offered to politicians’ family members are bound to expire one day or another. And I want to stress on the fact once again that many politicians nowadays perform their duty towards their citizens yet you do not need to be aware of it. I have met a few of them and I can say they are genuine people like you and me, caring for your well being and their country’s state being constantly in their worry.
I believe you should stop ranting before you put yourself in one of their shoes literally…maybe as a candidate at the next parliamentary elections!!