Replying to Samy Gemayel

I never thought I’d reach a day where Samy Gemayel gets on my nerves. I thought he represented a future of young MPs who could possibly get our voice across. He had stood up to his family establishment and established his own movement. He had his own voice. Now, the only thing I hear is some very nasal rhetoric that presents absolutely nothing new, is completely unfounded and that people obviously eat up.

He was the MP who advocated the most apparently to increase Lebanon’s MP total to 134 (click here). And he took it to Facebook (click here) to explain his point of view.

Here it is:

Good evening dear friends,
I just wanted to explain my point of view regarding the creation of a seat in the parliament for Lebanese syriacs.
1-This community has 26700 voters and are not represented in the parliament while others like Alaouites (26100) have 2 seats and protestants (11000) have one seat… So as long as the sectarian system is still in place, this Lebanese community deserves to have a seat in the parliament. That is why I proposed to add a seat for them to be represented. I hope one day we will be able to get rid of this sectarian quota in the parliament which can only be achieved through a reform of the Lebanese system. Decentralization, creation of a Senate, neutrality and some reforms of the constitution are our only way out of this corrupt sectarian system. Till then we need to have the best representation of all the Lebanese groups so everyone will feel represented as he should and we will be able to move forward in reforming our political system.
2- The problem is not that we have too much MPs but that most of these MPs are doing nothing for the people. It is normal for a country like ours to have 128 or 134 MPs. What is not normal is that most of them are inactive! They are inactive because they were elected just because some “Za3im” sectarian leader took them on their list and not because people wanted them in the parliament to achieve something. That’s why few months ago I officially proposed a draft law proposing to take off 250.000 LP from an MP salary for every committee meeting he doesn’t attend. So if they don’t want to work people shouldn’t pay them any salary. This way, taxpayers will pay for MPs who are really working.
3- We will keep working for an electoral law that can provide the best representation for all the Lebanese groups and individuals. There are a lot of good solutions. I’m sure it will be a happy ending for all 🙂
Good night
SG

I felt at I, as a Lebanese citizen who is irrelevant compared to Mr. Gemayel, should reply to this utter none sense. I am lucky to have a relatively read platform to voice my opinion and I hope this speaks to those who share the same frustration.

1) Dear Mr. Gemayel, one moment you proclaim that it is detrimental to Christians in the country to go around using the numbers game because we have officially stopped counting with the whole “equal division” affair. One moment you’re using those numbers to show support for “minorities.” Should the sects that got new representatives be represented? Perhaps so. But definitely not through new MPs. Let’s talk a few numbers. The country currently has 700,000 Maronite voters who are represented by 32 MPs. The country has around 900,000 for each of the Shia and Sunni sects. Each one is represented by 27MPs. Maybe those new Christian MPs should have been given out from the Maronite share to bring it closer to what it should be given the over inflation it currently poses? But of course not because that wouldn’t work at all with those many MP voters. For instance, Tripoli currently counts 4000 Maronite voters. Those 4000 voters have an MP to represent them. Isn’t that overdoing it? Why not give that seat to Syriac Orthodox? I’m sure you can find two other seats all over the Lebanese map which you can re-allocate as well.

2) Are you serious, Mr. Gemayel? We are a country of less than 4 million. We have now 134 MPs that represent us in parliament. That’s a ratio of 30,000 people per MP. Let’s consider the United States. Their population is, according to the latest census, 316 million. Their congress and senate combined have over 535 members. That brings their ratio to almost 600000 person per MP. And since the United States may not be a sufficient example, let’s look at other countries. Switzerland has 200 MP for 8 million people. That’s 40,000 people per MP. And Switzerland has arguably similar “diversity” to us. France, a country of 65 million, has a combined congress and senate of 925 members which translates to 70,000 voters per representative. I can go on and on with examples. But I guess this suffices to make the point quite clear: yes, part of the problem is that we have too many MPs. Another part of the problem is that none of the MPs, including you Mr. Gemayel, are doing their job at legislation. And your proposal to remove less than $200 from a salary of several thousand dollars for MPs who don’t attend the many many numerous meetings that our parliament has is not only laughable, it’s you insulting our intelligence. Those extra MPs will cost taxpayers much more money than any of your sanctions would bring back. But that’s not a very appealing idea for voters now, is it?

3) It would have been more honorable, Mr. Gemayel, if you and your MP friends had actually agreed on an electoral law to elect those extra MPs and the original 128 before you actually increased the number. You keep talking, Mr. Gemayel, about elements to be applied of the Taef agreement while that agreement specifically called for much less MPs than we currently have. Wasn’t the number 108? Let’s not hide behind our fingers and say that everything will have a happy ending for us, the people, because it won’t. The only thing you and your MP friends are attempting to do is come up with a formula to bring you back to power, to enable you to turn your speeches into an auction to attract people by making them believe you are fighting for their rights and to make us pay for more people who have nothing better to do than fight with each other, racing the country in a Maserati down a dead end street.

Good morning.
EF

I find it sad that an MP as educated and young as Mr. Gemayel cannot come up with better arguments as to the increase of the MP number. What a hopeless future we have ahead of us.

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20 thoughts on “Replying to Samy Gemayel

  1. I see you read my comment on the other post. Thank you! It’s exactly what I thought and I had people all over Facebook that were sharing his status saying behold his greatness. No. Just no.

    Reply
      • It baffles me how easy it is for you people to start running down on others.
        How about you see the good calls Samy Gemayel made over the last year?
        The abolition of Honor Killing in Lebanon? Supporting battered women’s rights?? His reaction to the Achrafieh explosion? His reaction to the Fattouch $500 millions? Supporting the teachers strike?? i can go on…
        You know Mr. Fares, being critical is good, being critical is very good. It’s is also very easy.
        You find Samy Gemayel “on the fast-track to monumental disappointment”?
        So out of all the corrupted minds of Lebanon, out of all the “laughable” (yes i am quoting you) behaviors and out of all the poor propositions politicians make everyday, this is what you decide to criticize? Is your intelligence really being insulted by what may one of the first meaningful propositions any MP’s made lately? Questioning Mr. Gemayel’s honorability is what’s insulting. SG may be the only person motivated to find solutions for our country today, what’s “sad” is that people like you aren’t able to appreciate initiative.
        Don’t get me wrong Mr. Fares, i respect your right to disapprove of Mr. Gemayel’s ideas and I of course encourage you to bring your words public; Lebanon is a free country, or at least this is what we (and Mr Gemayel for that matter) aspire for. But your accusations go beyond the creation of parliament seats and I find your third paragraph rude, not to say totally irrelevant. Do you genuinely believe all Mr Gemayel is “attempting to do is come up with a formula to bring him back to power, to enable him to turn his speeches into an auction to attract people by making them believe he is fighting for their rights and to make them pay more” ??
        I understand your anger towards the government and the big big joke that is personifies, but i believe you are taking it out on the wrong people because from what I see, Mr. Gemayel’s involvement in our country’s future and the work he is doing is remarkable given the circumstances.
        PS: i find unfair that you involve Mr. Gemayel in your critic towards the MPs responsible for voting the electoral law since he was one of the (very) few who dropped their 1st proposition (orthodox law) and worked in order to find something all would agree on – while other stubborn parties sat there watching these attempts fail.

        Oh and for what it’s worth, it is always a good thing to believe in happy endings.

        S.

        Reply
  2. So basically he said “Our system is corrupt, so we’ll add more corruption to it until it gets fixed by some kind of miracle.”
    It’s disgusting. He’s talking about removing the sectarian system but all he’a doing is reinforcing it.

    Reply
  3. well you obviously chose the facts that go along your conclusion of thinga in order to reply to wht MP gemayel said, as a fast correction.
    1. comparing apples to oranges, shiite to maronites or sunnis to maronite, thats not how they should be compared.
    Lebanon’s parliament is divided 50/50 between christians and muslims regardless of numbers, and the constituion says that the seats “within” each community are disperssed proportionaly, so the maronites which are 700 thous represent more than 2/3 of the christians in lebanon yet they have less than half the christian seats in parliament, so in other words their representation is deflated no inflated.
    the balance within each community is delicate, and still no matter how you look at it, the christian minortites( 60 thousand voters with no voice in parliament) have the right to be represented in parliament, its in the best interest of the country, and the easisest way to do it is to increase the seats and allocate them, knowing now with this increase the maronites proportions within the christians is even more deflated, which brings us to second point in your rhetoric.
    2. you clearly chose the countries that suits you rhetoric more, and used basic arethmetics to emphasize your point of view, in order to reach the conlusion you wanted to reach,you should know that Lebanon cant be compared to any other country because it is not a homogenous country with different sects forming it and this representation is a delicate balnace which could make or break the country fragle civil peace, anyways to play along your logic whether usa or switzerland they are both federal countries, they have local parliament that represent each canton or state plus a federal house of representatives and senate, so if you total up the numbers of parliamentarians in both these countries, i m sure you ll reach a ten fold number of the numbers you have claimed.
    France is a different issue, cause when a country has such a larger population than Lebanon, and the reprsentation issue in not a proportional head count.
    you want to compare countries, lets compare countries (democratic) with the same number of population with Lebanon, countries between 4 and 5 million inhabitans, knowing that these countries are homogenous and dont have the same diversity Lebanon has:
    Norway pop: 5million parliament :169 seats
    Ireland pop:4.5 million parliament :166 seats senate:60 seats
    Georgia pop 4.5 million parliament: 150 seats + local parliaments
    New zealand pop 4.4 million parliament: 120 seats prposed senate of 32 members
    anyways, to cut things short, the number of seats in any country is not a golden rule, its a number agreed on which goes along the best interest of the country, and that could represent the diversity of the populations of these countries, so EVERYONE has a say in parliament in one way or another.
    Now about the cost, in a democratic country, anyone should be able to to run for parliament and win if peope are conviinced and vote hi/her in.
    so it is normal that a person with no legal background could be voted in parliament, so this is why in and advanced country, the people give their representatives the tools of work in order for them to be performant.
    they usually have a representation fee (salary)
    a budget for staff
    office expenses
    it expense
    travel expenses
    etc…
    concrete example
    Ireland
    Basic Salary: €92,672[3
    Mobile Phone Allowance: A maximum of €750 every 18 months
    Constituency Office maintenance allowance: €8,888.17[
    Constituency Travel Allowance: ranging from €2,475 to €8,782 depending on size of constituency
    Daily Allowance: €61.53 for members who live within 24 km of Leinster House
    Miscellaneous expense allowance: €5,489.08
    and its almost basically the same for every democratic country in the world.
    In Lebanon, since you dont have all these budgets, the only MP doing the legislative works are the MPs who have a personal fortune and can afford these esxpertise from their own pockets or the MPs orignating from big political parties who have onboards experts backing them up.
    You cant expect from a lebanese mp to live pay for all these expenditures from a salary of 10 million Lbp, so when compared the Lebanese mps are underpaid for the job you ae judging them to do, unless you want all your mps be rich ppl than thats something esle to be discussed.
    As they say democracy needs instituitons, so democracy costs money, and looking at this from the mere perspective of how much it costs, is actually an out of touch childish outlook on things.
    3.Last point of your rhetoric, its easy to throw the whole problems of the country on 128 members of parliament and blame them for all the problems in the world, above all parliament is a forum of opinion, its a forum of opinion that represents the point of views of the society, and when these societies are in clash its normal that these clashes are reflected in parliament, you only have to do a simple poll on any social media asking the Lebanese what electoral law they want, and you ll see what i meant.
    Bottom line, its the lebanese society which is disfunctional, and as long as it is this way, these problems and confilcts will be rreflected in parliament, which is normal cause isnt parliament supposed to be the refelction of the peoples voices.

    excuse my really long reply

    Reply
    • Hey Samer, no worries about the reply length. Thank you for commenting. Anyway, here it goes:

      1) Seeing as the whole argument which was advanced by the MP that we were discussing was to stop counting, I personally find it weird that we choose to count whenever it helps us in one way or another. 60,000 Christians don’t have a parliament member? I’m pretty sure there are many, many on the other side which suffer from the same scenario as well. Separating both sides of the Lebanese equation just to make the argument plausible is not acceptable to me. Compared to the other 2 major sects in the country, Maronite representation is inflated and there’s no escaping that. Whether it is inflated or deflated within the Christian community is another point entirely, one which I did not address here. However, there are Christian – not just Maronite – seats across the country which don’t represent a corresponding community. I gave the example of that in Tripoli because it’s the easiest. Those 4000 Maronites get an MP. The 60,000 Christian minorities don’t. It’s as simple as that.

      2) Similarly to the US and Switzerland, we also have mini governing bodies spread across the nation. They are called municipalities and then you have the aggregation of municipalities for a given caza. The members get paid. The mayor gets paid. Everyone gets paid. If we were to include all the members of all those small governing bodies in Lebanon with the 128 MPs, then the US approach would be valid. The examples you gave, notably Ireland, New Zealand and Norway are countries whose economy is leaps and bounds ahead that of Lebanon. Georgia is the only country which isn’t much better and I’d suggest they lower their MP number as well but I’ve never been to Georgia. So while the entire country is frozen with the ongoing strike because of the series that isn’t being ratified, we are adding 6 MPs that will cost the country, in their 4 year term, assuming $5666 in salary per month, more than $1.5 million. That’s not to mention all the extra expenditures which MP get. As far as I’m concerned, 128 for Lebanon was more than enough considering the job parliament does is next to minimal. I’m sure you’ve read the study which shows statistics about how many laws are actually passed in Lebanese parliament per MP. We’re electing more to pay more in order to do less.
      In order for someone to be voted in to parliament in Lebanon, they must have at least some means. I’m sure that those 128 MPs can pay the near $10,000 nomination fee which makes them automatically much better off than most of the Lebanese average when it comes to income. Some of our MPs are super billionaires, there’s no denying. But I’m sure none of them are actually poor. I am not against giving MPs a fee for their representation. The problem is that giving our MPs money for doing nothing is akin to giving a doctor (I’m giving the example here because I’ll soon become one) money for an operation they didn’t do. And there’s talk about increasing their salary as well. Where is that money coming from?
      Our MPs also get money for the rest of their life which ranges from 50% of the MP salary to 75% if they win several rounds. Is that acceptable when someone is no longer an active member of parliament as is as irrelevant as the aforementioned doctor?
      Also I’m sure that most Lebanese MPs have their jobs on the side as well. I know Boutros Harb has a huge law firm. Antoine Zahra is into advertising or something like that. Gebran Bassil is a contractor. Neamtallah Abi Nasr has his coffee thing. The list goes on. Our list of MPs is already getting paid way above the national Lebanese average. So compared to everyone, yes they are overpaid. I don’t want all my MPs to be rich people. I want people who are qualified, regarding of financial means, to be able to win. But given ALL the current electoral laws being discussed, that is not plausible.

      3) I didn’t say the entire country’s problems rest on the MPs. But a chunk of our problems rest on our very dysfunctional parliament that cannot ratify laws and has politicians who are so unwavering that either their way goes or no way at all. So we are left with no laws being passed or laws that bring forth worse conditions than their attempt at solutions, which also reflects on the society that you speak of. Let’s talk about the electoral law. The FPM was originally against the Orthodox law. So were the LF and Kataeb. By association, so were their supporters. When these three parties switched, so did the view of their supporters. Our MPs control how society works, not the other way around. At least that’s how I see it. And it shouldn’t be this way.

      Reply
      • 1. the count was stopped between muslims and christians, in order to keep the balance between these two communities, the count has nothing to do with the logic that you have 60 thousand lebanese with no voice in parliament, the example of tripoli is true, but its only true in the logic of relocating the seat not completly crossing it out of existance, that is placing it in another region.
        the matter of fact remains that the constitution says that the christian seats are allocated proportionaly withing each community, so are the muslim seats and that the maronites in lebananon are 2/3 of the whole christiand comunity, so 34 seats are a number lower than the number they are supposed to have, this is why while the sunnis or shiites have a bigger number in absolute value compared to the maronite community they still have a lower number of seats in parliament, that is because the seats are alocated proportionaly within the muslim community.
        as for the muslim community, we had the problem of the alawites with 27 thousand voters, and they were allocated 2 seats when parliament was increased to 128.
        whats 1.5 million a year compared to correcting the representation, where is the interest of the country in 1.5 million or bringing stability?
        2. municipalities and mayors dont count, for first these positions are non renumerated in lebanon, u have municipalities and mayors in ever country in the world, i m talking about local parliaments like in germany or switzerland these are parliamentary seats renumerated with the prerogatives to pass laws, example landtag of bavaria, local parliament of bavaria, 187 seats and the senate of bavaria 60 seats, these are a local parliament in the state of bavaria in germany, which also has a federal parliament the bundestag 622 seats.
        whether mps are millionaires billionaires or poor, has nothing to do with legislation, you legislate according to general guidelines not according to special cases, i can name you a number of mps which cant make ends meet at the end of the month.
        the fact remains when you dont give ppl the tools of work you cant judge them on that work, its like you sending a surgeon into surgery without a scalpet and expect him to do a heart surgery.
        the mps that can afford these tools whether from their own pockets or from their political parties are overperforming while the other are not.
        an mps who is from an engineering background can easily understand a law related to engineering, but when he is faced with a law related to the medical sector, cant understand it if he cant afford a medical expert to explain the details to him.
        an mp who is from legal backgroung can easily draft a law, while a dr mp, needs a lawyer on his staff to draft the idea into a law.
        not to mention mps who are normal ppl with no expertise, which would need a full staff of experts on every issue
        plus if you had a qualified staff, then you could read discuss and comment on dozens of laws at the same time, while when you are understaffed or the mp is relying on only himself, then u study one law at a time, and parliament works at the pace of the slowest not the fastest.
        this is why in everyhouse of represntatives these budgets are offered for staff and expenses.
        It has nothing to do with the economy of the country, it has to do with making things works, else lets discuss the army and how many generals this army needs etc…, an army is built on the basis of how large it should be to protect your bouders not on how big or small your economy is, so is parliament, these are necessities not luxuries.
        in the us senate there are 40 multimillionaires, who most are ceos or on the boards of multin-nationals, and still these expenditures are part of the senates budget.
        its easy google every parliament in the democratic world, i bet you wont find any single exception.
        how much a good legal expert cost? or how much does a specialised expertise cost? do you think they can be afforded on 10 mill/month?
        lets be fair and logical
        3. parliament ratifies all the technical laws in a fast regular pace, but when the laws are related to politics and the interest of the communities, parliament always reflects these interest and the division within the lebanese society or communities, same as in belgium where they stayed 2 years without being able to form a government, its a reflection of the dysfunctionality of the lebanese society itself, parliament is just the side effect not the problem, and many issues presented are either this or that issues, when its not many corners are rounded the lebanese way and passed.
        ps: kataeb and LF were never against the orthodoxe law, and in anyways, whether kataeb lf or any other party, they are part of the Lebanese society and in that case my logic still stands when these societies are in clash the parliament will reflect that.

        Reply
        • 1) The Maronite seat in Tripoli sure needs to be re-allocated. But the point is that Christians have 64 MPs. And Muslims have 64 MPs. Include the minorities that need to be represented in the mix and re-allocate seats accordingly by remaining within the limits of 64. That doesn’t strike me as very complicated. The analogy of the Shia/Sunni dichotomy is example to this. Everyone is happy. After all, didn’t the Taef agreement specifiy that parliament should have 108 MPs? I could be mistaken. And if we initiate a senate, what will happen to those seats?

          2) Again, if a country can pay for their MPs, then let them have as many MPs as they want. Germany, France, Switzerland, Norway, New Zealand, USA are all examples of countries that I hope Lebanon can remotely approach be it economically or socially especially when it comes to liberties. Germany is the only country in Europe which has withstood the economic meltdown. However, Germany can afford its MPs and politicians. We simply can’t. The strike currently taking place is proof enough of that.
          Regarding your second point, fair enough. But are our MPs voting on laws based on their personal conviction or based on the collective decision of their parties which have more than enough money to hire all those experts you are referring to? Do we currently have MPs in parliament who do not belong to a major political establishment and are only there because they got lucky when it comes to the votes? Frankly, I cannot think of any relevant MP who is not part of a major political party or was on one of the two major lists competing in 2009. Moreover, according to this article: https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/reportsfeatures/the_perks_of_parliament MPs also get money for extra expenditures when it comes to bodyguards and whatnot, outside of the 10 million they get per month. I’m not sure how credible that is or not.
          ANother thing, how about parliament ratifies a law whereby all our previous MPs who are not MPs anymore and are still getting paid stop receiving money and have this money referred to those who are currently in parliament?
          I am fair and logical but I can’t pretend that our parliament and government and all governing bodies are not using much much more money than they should.
          Senates and congresses across the developed world are functional compared to here. Even when it came to the big laws, such as healthcare in the US, they managed to get it down to a vote. If the congressmen and women fail to do their job, they answer to their constituents. They have offices which voters can call to voice exactly how they want their MP to vote on a certain proposal.
          We have none of that here. And frankly, I wouldn’t mind money flowing in parliament if that meant a functional parliament can restore life to the country and eventually bring back this money unto me.

          3) The small technical laws are not the ones that have such a negative or positive effect on my daily life as a citizen. Election laws, personal status laws, the smoking ban, etc… all these laws are the ones that matter to me. The parliamentary division on these laws isn’t, in my opinion, caused by the division in society. I believe the divisions among our politicians are what reflect on society. I gave the example of the electoral law to illustrate the point. Try to convince a Christian voter who is deeply affiliated with the FPM today that the Orthodox law isn’t the idea law for Christians and you might as well be talking to a brick. If the FPM changes opinions, the brick changes color.

          I know the LF and Kataeb were not against the law entirely but they also were not supportive of it and I believe they committed to it for political, not electoral reasons. But that’s another discussion.

          Reply
  4. 1. well if you want the smaller communities to be represented in parliament, it will be very hard to reduce the number of seats in parliament and maintain the balance, if u want to give the allawites 2 seats for 27 thous voters, and 27 for the sunnis who have a million voters, if u reduce these numbers you ll have to completly smaller minorities, especially on the christian side which is more diversified
    2. is 10 million all included, with 4 bodyguards from the state thats it, these country pay much more per mp than Lebanon does, the general idea that all mps are well off multi millionaire is very flawed, the “salary” an mp gts with all the expenses that comes with the job is not sufficint for a decent way of life.
    now about the retirement and is paid for life, that can be discussed, but its not 75% of 10 mill, its on the basic salary which is 4 mill, some countries offer it some countries offer in another way, its a whole different discussion/
    3. with all respecy tobacco law may be a technical issue, but the electoral law, or personal laws are not it has to do with the foundation of the lebanese society, and these are the issues that the lebanese dont agree on, and i say lebanese not mps.
    anyways i think this subject has been discussed profoundly, and if i ddnt manage to convince you, then lets agree to disagree

    Reply
  5. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. To go back to your original post, I really think that Sami Gemayel is a good sample to study representing the BS that has been flying through the roof lately. I don’t think he went too far with it though for such a reply. I know you’ve seen worse.

    Reply
    • The problem with what he said that I believe warranted such a reply is that it is the type of rhetoric which, despite seeming mundane and simple, resonates with the people susceptible to the message and sort of extrapolates inside them. So I figured nipping it in the bud is best.

      Reply
  6. Ce sont les métiers dit sales (comme éboueurs ou égoutiers…..) qui contribuent le plus à la propreté, et, paradoxalement, ce sont les professions de prestige (comme Politiques, financiers, haut responsables,….) qu’on trouve le plus d’ordures.

    Reply
  7. Tout ce que tu peux faire dans la vie, c’est être toi même.
    Certains t’aimerons pour qui tu es.
    La plupart t’aimeront pour les services que tu peux rendre.
    D’autres ne t’aimeront pas.

    Reply
  8. Dans la vie il faut répondre aux imbéciles par le silence et aux cons par la patience.

    Reply

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