Transfiguring old ministries: Culture/Environment/Displaced
Posted by worriedlebanese on 27/06/2009
Let’s start by looking at the relatively “new” ministries that were created in the 1990s and that look ancient already. What I’m suggesting here is not a simple “lifting”, a kind of plastic surgery. It’s genetic manipulation and engineering that I have in mind. It’s time for these ministries to mutate! Basically , we’re looking at the Ministry of Culture (established in 1993), the Ministry of the environment (an Office of a Minister of State since 1981 established as a ministry in 1993), the Ministry of the Displaced (an Office of a Minister of State since 1992, established as a Ministry in 1993).
- Ministry of Heritage, Cultural innovation, Media and Communication. The Ministry of Culture is probably the most underfunded ministry in the land. But that’s not its only problem. Most of the ministers who headed it seem to have looked down on it and failed to take it very seriously. Their vision of what this Ministery should or could do was rather limited. That is particularly true for the better ministers such as Ghassan Salamé (who was preoccupied with the Francophonie Summit), Tarek Mitri (who preferred to play Minister of Foreign Affairs), and Tamam Salam (who is completely taken by the project “Beirut, world book capital” that was totally neglected by his predecessor). So I suggest we expand this ministry and merge it with another ministry that seems better sooted for a totalitarian state: the Ministry of Information.
- Through this merger and expansion, we’ll have a ministry that is better suited to guide Lebanon into the information age where culture not only matters, but is an important (and ever expanding) economical sector. two other ministries: The Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Information. This new Ministry will concentrate its effort on innovation, and making Lebanon a platform for artistic creativity in the Middle East. We already have a very productive audiovisual sector, and Lebanese youth are quite good in software and internet production… With a little push… and an energetic Minister, we could play wonders.
- Ministry of Green economy and environmental affairs. The green economy is starting to grow in Lebanon, with organic farms, organic markets, eco-tourism, natural reserves…
Unfortunately, the government’s approach to the environment hasn’t changed much. It is still focused on “natural reserves”, forestation and awareness. It’s high time somebody took it a step further. Having a ministry in charge of an expanding economical sector is not only relevant, but necessary. It should be given the means to propose important changes in the Legislation (on imports of pollutants) and it should have a special office in charge of converting polluting industries in Lebanon.
- Ministry of Remembrance & Reconciliation. Our Ministry of the displaced has a dreadful record. It was basically used as a tool to reintegrate Lebanese nationals into two clientelistic networks (notably, Walid Jumblatt’s and Nabih Berri’s). It’s time things changed.
Instead of simply abolishing this ministry (as former minister Nehmé Tohmé suggested, its mission should be expanded to deal with non-financial issues, and more specifically, social and psychological issues. Lebanon is deeply marked (and scarred) by intercommunal strife. Lives have been shattered, families broken up and destroyed, villages and neighbourhoods wiped off the map, livelihoods ruined… And very little has been done to deal with it, except giving money to two categories of people: those who are living in properties belonging to “displaced” (i.e. expelled) people, and displaced people whose property has suffered damages). A ministry that has to deal with this memory is probably what the country needs to heel its wounds. Such a ministry will help us go beyond the current cult of martyrs.