KUWAIT: Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah said yesterday that Kuwait solidly backs Saudi Arabia over the Iranian danger in the region but said the so-called Iranian danger should not be magnified. “We and Saudi Arabia complement each other. We may be considered as one side in this issue but we should not inflate this danger (from Iran),” the premier told reporters in response to a question about if Kuwait was mediating between Saudi Arabia and Iran. He however insisted that the most important factor was to keep “our domestic front strong and in total solidarity”.
The prime minister said that the final communique of the GCC summit was very clear towards Iran which is a neighbouring country and “we hope that ties with it will be good”. Sheikh Jaber was responding to a question about reports that said the positions of the six-GCC states towards Iran were not unanimous. He said that Kuwait does not have many differences with Iran “but we belong to the GCC and we are with all the GCC states in this issue”.
The premier said that the issue of GCC states taking part in negotiations between Iran and Western powers over Tehran’s nuclear program is “premature and all parties must approve this”. Sheikh Jaber said the unified military command established by the GCC leaders is an advanced stage over the GCC Peninsula Shield forces because it includes naval and air forces.
By B Izzak
KUWAIT: Investigations are ongoing in a case of an Interior Ministry official accused of using his position to pass transactions illegally according to sources familiar with the case. The sources who spoke to Al-Rai on the condition of anonymity further indicated that the man’s son was also held for questioning in a case involving 3,000 transactions for expatriates that were illegally passed at the Immigration General Department. The official was suspended after investigations revealed that he wrote the name of a senior ministry official on transactions to make it seem that the papers are exempt from regular procedures.
Taima police arrested two people responsible for 8 auto theft cases reported around Jahra governorate. The two men, a Saudi and bedoon (stateless), were detained following investigations during which they were identified as prime suspects. The suspects led police to the spots where they kept the 8 stolen vehicles, as well as license plates and computers they stole in separate thefts. They were taken to the authorities to face charges.
Jahra police arrested four people following a car chase which saw the suspects fire gunshots in a bid to distract policemen and escape. Police had gone in pursuit of the Syrian nationals after discovering that the 2010 model car they were driving was reported stolen. The suspects fired shots from a mechanical weapon during the chase, but were eventually forced to stop at a roadblock. They were placed under arrest after putting up strong resistance during which one police officer sustained a stab wound on his hand. Police searched the car but could not find the weapon, which the suspects said they threw away during the pursuit. Jerrycans filled with fuel were also found in the car as the suspects explained that they planned to use the fuel to burn other vehicles that they stole. They were taken to the authorities to face multiple charges.
Criminal Investigations General Department officers closed two Instagram accounts and summoned the accounts’ owners for questioning regarding unlicensed massage services they were promoting. Legal action was taken following investigations which confirmed that the two promoted massage services for male customers carried out by female masseuses.
A man was found dead inside a Khaitan apartment in a suicide case according to preliminary investigations. Police and paramedics headed to the scene after an Egyptian reported that his roommate committed suicide. The 35-year-old Indian man was found hanging dead from a rope tied to the ceiling of his room. The body was taken to the forensic department after crime scene investigators examined the place. Investigations are ongoing to determine the circumstances which led the man to end his life.
Hawally police freed a woman who was kidnapped and locked inside a Nugra apartment where she was forced on prostitution. The operation which saw police raid the apartment and arrest the suspect and another man went underway based on investigations after police received information that the apartment was being used to offer sexual services. Investigations revealed that the Asian woman was kidnapped by an Egyptian man who then assaulted her sexually and physically before forcing her to practice prostitution. The woman was taken to the hospital whereas her kidnappers were taken to the Public Prosecution for further action.
KUWAIT: State employees and school students will have a two-day holiday on New Year according to a report yesterday quoting a senior official in the Civil Service Commission. Speaking to Al-Qabas on the condition of anonymity, the source explained that Jan 1, 2014 falls on a Wednesday, making the following day a day off automatically since it falls between the holiday and the weekend. “The CSC has prepared a letter to be sent to the Cabinet for approval before being circulated to state departments within two weeks,” the source said.
In other news, Al-Watan daily reported a ‘senior official’ in the Ministry of Education who indicated that there are no present plans to give students a day off during the Gulf Cooperation Council summit on Tuesday and Wednesday. Students were given a day off when Kuwait hosted the Arab-Africa Summit last month to avoid traffic pressure resulting from closing main roads.
KUWAIT: He works as a security guard in a mall with mobile earphones always in his ears. Many who pass by him think he is listening to songs, but the truth is he makes daily calls to his family in Egypt for more than 12 hours. Ahmad Nasser, 25, speaks about the story of the daily calls that take hours. “I use Skype and Viber on my smartphone to call my family and keep the phone on all day long to talk to my parents, wife, brothers and sisters as if I am with them, and it costs me nothing,” he said.
Nasser is one of many expats in Kuwait who have broken down the walls of being away from home by using that small earpiece and utilize smartphone apps that allow free international calls. Salah Deen from Bangladesh, who works as a supervisor in the capital, never lets the earpiece leave his ear, and speaks while carrying out his job. He said that “two years ago, I was calling my family twice a month by using prepaid calling cards or by mobile which cost me around KD 5-10 to speak for half an hour, but now it costs me nothing other than an Internet subscription for KD 5 and I speak with them for more than four hours daily”.
KUWAIT: The Ministry of Communications called subscribers of phone services to pay their financial bills in order to avoid automatic coder disconnect, slated to be implemented during current month against those who are lagging on payment. A first warning note would be sent to subscribers on December 8 before applying coder disconnect, followed by a second warning note to be sent to subscribers’ phone numbers on Dec 15, Dr. Ahmad Al-Hussaini, Director of public relations department at the ministry said in a press statement. Then, the ministry will go ahead and disconnect the service from subscribers who lagged on paying their bills, Al-Hussaini added, noting that financial rates for overdue bills are KD 50 for home phone services and KD 100 for business phone service.
Also, he indicated that the automatic coder disconnect will include phone numbers that agreed on leasing their overdue payments and were late in making their monthly payment, adding that phone numbers of those late in paying their annual subscriptions, over six months, will include homes and businesses for non-Kuwaitis, and business for Kuwaitis. In addition, Al-Hussaini stressed importance of commitment of paying the ministry financial bills for the continuation of phone services and avoidance of automatic coder disconnect, expressing at the same time his appreciation to subscribers who showed their cooperation with the ministry in the past months.
KUWAIT: The General Traffic Department (GTD) recently organized a traffic campaign in Khairan under the supervision of Assistant Undersecretary for Traffic Affairs at the Ministry of Interior Major-General Abdulfattah Al-Ali.
During the campaign the traffic sector seized 45 all terrain vehicles, a number of motorcycles, issued 500 citations and referred 40 youths to the concerned authorities for either holding illegal races, speeding or violating other traffic laws. Al-Ali reiterated similar campaigns will be held all over the country and that the law will be applied on all without discrimination. He went on to say the seized vehicles will be towed to the Interior Ministry garage and will be released only after paying the due fines. In other news, Al-Ali said the Ministry of Interior has prepared a study which will be referred to the Minister of Interior Sheikh Mohammed Al-Khalid for perusal and approval. The aim of this perusal is to limit the number of vehicles on the roads and help prevent traffic jams.
According to the study, a Kuwaiti will be allowed to own only two cars and for each additional car he/she will have to pay the government KD 100. However, the General Traffic Department will limit expatriates to one car and that too after taking into consideration the salary of the expatriate through technical channels. In all cases, an expatriate will not be allowed to own more than one vehicle. This decision was taken, Major-General Al- Ali said after the study showed a large number of citizens and expatriates owned several vehicles. The study shows, he added, at the moment 1,200,000 cars ply on Kuwait’s roads. Al-Ali added, this is not the only study which is being considered. There are other studies, plans and strategies in the short- midand longer-term to control and solve the traffic congestion on roads.
Ali noted the efforts exerted by the traffic sector in cooperation with the concerned authorities will help improve traffic movement on the roads. He disclosed, due to efforts exerted by traffic officers the traffic on the roads during peak hours has started moving faster which at one time moved at a snail’s pace. One of the reasons is due to strict traffic awareness and campaigns during which old vehicles which were cause of traffic jams have been pulled out of the roads and several motorists who were driving without licence have also either been arrested or they have stayed off the roads for fear of being arrested. This has helped ease traffic congestion during peak hours, he added.
The traffic campaigns which were organized over the last few months have resulted in arresting thousands of expatriates, either for driving without licence or committing serious traffic violations. The application of strict law and new government strategy, he added, has helped reduce the number of serious traffic accidents which had resulted either in death or permanent injuries. Statistics issued by the General Traffic Department show a 20 percent reduction in all accidents. This was due to the tremendous efforts exerted by the traffic sector and other security agencies.
The traffic cameras which have been installed at vital places along highways have largely helped reduce traffic accidents, he said. Add to this the 24-hour road surveillance using radars. The Assistant Undersecretary disclosed the GTD has recovered KD 42 million of the KD 51 million in traffic fines. He added, the ministry is in the process of collecting remaining money. He disclosed the Ministry of Interior and the General Immigration Departments are linked through a network to prevent expatriates and citizens from completing their transactions before paying the fines. He went on to say more than 10,000 Kuwaitis have been informed through different channels to pay their traffic fines. If they fail their files will be referred to the Public Prosecution. He stressed the traffic campaigns will continue in all areas of Kuwait to control the traffic and the law will be applied on all without discrimination.
KUWAIT: In a bid to counter criticisms levelled at Kuwait over human rights and expatriate labor issues, the Interior Ministry’s assistant undersecretary for passports ad citizenship affairs Maj Gen Sheikh Faiasal Al- Nawaf recently sent a report to deputy PM and Interior Minister Sheikh Mohammed Al- Khaled on expatriate labor in Kuwait including the total numbers of illegal residents and “free” laborers and suggested solutions. Security sources said that the report also included a plan that would help solve the problem for a decade involving around 100,000 expats.
They added that according to the report and the immigration department database, the total number of expats in violation of residency visa laws almost hit 115,000 and that Kuwait has around 35,000 marginal and loose laborers who have been victimized by visa traffickers. “The report demanded setting strict legislations to apprehend both sponsors and laborers,” stressed the sources.
The sources added that the report warned that the spread of marginal labor posed a threat to national security, especially in view of certain ethnic groups residing in certain areas such as Jleeb that are many-atimes inaccessible for security forces unless backed up by special forces. “This is a main reason behind the spread of various forms of crimes such as bootlegging, murders, sexual abuse, drug trafficking and robberies that vary from stealing manhole covers or parts of power plants,” said the sources. The sources added that the report includes detailed statistics on crime rates per nationality as well as illegal residents as per entry visa type, nationality and areas certain expat communities inhabit.
The report also called for fighting visa traffickers as well as establishing liaison offices with embassies of the countries that have illegal residents to jointly coordinate transferring them to special shelters instead of leaving them in embassy premises in order to eventually issue special travel documents pending deportation. In addition, the report recommended forming tripartite committees to pursue and apprehend illegal residents round the clock.
Moreover, the sources highlighted that the plan includes suggestions to reduce the total numbers of some communities by setting an annual quota per nationality to prevent uncontrolled increases. The sources also denied Kuwait’s intention to get rid of expatriate labor. “What is happening is rationalizing their presence and imposing the law in a way that would achieve Kuwait’s best interests,” said the sources, noting that the plan also aims at internationally improving Kuwait’s image in terms of human rights. —Al-Rai