Op-Ed by Hamad Al Sanan at Al-Watan Daily: "Taking Pride in Being Muslim"


I understand the author's concern with ensuring unity and not creating secterianism, although I think, on a theoretical level at least, that a country's diversity can be its strength, not its weakness, and that unity must not equate conformity or denying ones' identity--and identity has many rungs of allegiance, not necesarily mutually exlusive. A person defines themselves in different ways relative to their context. In my home region I define myself by my town, in my home country, by my region, in the world by my nationality. We define ourselves as many things: mothers, sons, bosses, Hindus, conservatives, A positive, students, Kuwaitis, Failakers, men, women, citizens, brothers, sisters. We are all these, all at the same time.

Nonetheless, reading this article got me seriously reflecting on the meaning of "pride". Does pride infer superiority, or a belief that you are "better" than others? This never factored into my definition, and I began to start double-guessing myself. Read the op-ed and find below the dictionary answer of "pride". Also, the magnefying glass of scrutiny that has been given to the female MPs has been astounding, belittling and targeting their personal lives in a way that flabbergasts me and is utterly devoid of any sort of reflection on what they should be judged for: their policy and performance.

When a Muslim says that he is proud of being a Muslim, it means that he believes that his religion distinguishes him from the followers of other religions. It is also normal for a man to say that he is proud to be a Kuwait or Emirati because he believes that his country is distinguished from other countries on certain issues. But I cannot understand how a female MP could dare say: "I''m proud of being Shiite" while she holds a PhD degree and represents her people who elected her because she doesn''t support sectarianism.

This statement means that the MP actually meant to say that she belongs to a sect which is better all other sects. Some people resort to flattery to hide a certain fact for a while but soon the facts appear on the surface. This fact shocked colleague Fuad AlـHashem who wants Kuwaiti citizens to be just Kuwaitis without any sectarian or tribal affiliations. I think that AlـHashem also wonders how a graduate from the Colorado University who has specialized in political science can issue such a statement. What sort of reactions can we expect from the general public? Has this statement got anything to do with patriotism?

This female Shiite MP might have the right of being proud of being Shiite but I think that announcing this in public only strengthens sectarianism. A friend of mine has told me that his son''s classmate in the second grade asked him: "Where do you place your hands when you perform prayers?" I wonder how such an innocent child can ask this question. Ali AlـMatouk has published a statistical report which shows that there are 700 million Shiites in the Islamic world. He had earlier published a study indicating that Shiites represent 60 percent of the Kuwaiti population. I don''t actually care about such inaccurate statistics, but the question is: "What is the aim behind publishing such statistics at such a volatile time?"

When a certain community introduces exaggerated statistics they aim at proving that they are not a minority and thus demand more rights or even selfـgovernance as the case of the Chinese community in Malaysia. I don''t think that Ali AlـMatouk considers himself belonging to one of such communities. This talk also strengthens sectarianism.

I''m not calling for Shiites to become Sunnis or vice versa but I''m calling for an end to the conflict existing between the two doctrines because such conflicts weaken Islam. Let us all agree on how to differ but not how to fight each other. We should strengthen our sense of belonging to this land. Let us be proud of being Kuwaitis and not for belonging to the Sunni or Shiite sects.

Superiority is a corrupted form of pride, just as opportunism is a corrupted form of assertiveness perhaps, but to turn to Merriam-Webster:


1 : feeling or showing pride: as a : having or displaying excessive self-esteem b : much pleased : exultant c : having proper self-respect
2 a : marked by stateliness : magnificent b : giving reason for pride : glorious est moment in her life>
3 : vigorous, spirited
4 chiefly British : raised above a surrounding area

I like the idea that proud just means a proper self-respect. And remember, its only until you respect yourself that you can get respect from others.

Message from Oxfam: Where Does the Oil $ Go?


Bidoon of Bidoon: Stateles of Stateless


Really, this is an excellent article by Ahmed Saeid entitled "Bedoons in Predicament" on the Bedoon issue, taking a careful look at the many legal loopholes, citizenship scams and overall endless bush maze of barriers that people with Bidoon status trying to seek something better for themselves face. I myself have heard similar personal accounts to corroborate the anecdotes in this article by the various people interviewed. Normally, I only quote the first couple paragraphs of a long story and allow the reader to click on the link to read the entire article, but I am including it all here. It is wonderful that the legal hitches are looked at through an angle emphasizing the human cost of these traps.

KUWAIT: While discussion on the bedoon's civil rights draft law in the National Assembly was postponed yesterday due to lack of quorum (for the second time in a row) nearly 100,000 bedoons (stateless persons) continue to fight a 'paper war' in a bid to reflect their physical existence on legal dossiers. Some bedoons think that the government and the National Assembly have been deferring this issue for decades now, and that this 'intentional' policy has pushed some toward facing perpetual hardship.

While many bedoons continue to face the 'regular' difficulties that accompany statelessness, others face a unique situation - they are neither considered to be stateless nor citizens of any country in the world!

The problems of this segment of people begin with being stateless or not belonging to any country. Khalifa Al-Utaibi, Spokesman of the Gathering of Kuwaiti Bedoons, said the Kuwaiti government had founded the Executive Committee for Illegal Residents (ECIR) to naturalize the stateless. This was done so that the government could later claim that they are not stateless but 'illegal residents' who conceal their true nationality.

We have to seek the committee's approval to do any paper work," Al-Utaibi said. "And when we go there, they give us an approval letter stating the citizenship they have conferred on us. In order to receive the approval, you have to sign an pledge stating that you are a holder of a particular nationality. Otherwise they will not allow it," he said.

Al-Utaibi adds that he had once approached the ECIR to seek approval. He was told that he was of a Saudi origin. "I told them okay, I agree. I'll be proud to admit that I am Saudi. Where is my Saudi passport? Can you please give it to me so I can at least obtain a birth certificate for my daughter? They told me "that's your job to find out, not ours." These are the kind of procedures they impose on us," he laments.

According to Al-Utaibi, Kuwaiti government has been imposing pressure on the stateless people since 1986. "We face such restrictions every day," Al-Utaibi said. "We have to struggle to register marriages, register the birth of a child, issue a death certificate. Any kind of interaction where paperwork is involved is a painful experience for us," he explains.

Al-Utaibi took the point further arguing that the only way bedoons can contract marriages is through the help of court orders. The groom files a suit claiming to have had illegal relations with the bride. The judge then issues an order legalizing their marriage contract.

Supporters of these measures argue that they are rewarding. A large number of bedoons have 'adjusted' to their situations and 'recovered' their original passports. The consequences of these restrictions are showing up in far more complicated, inhumane situations.

As one of the aftereffects of this policy, a group of people have now been rendered non-bedoon. They are not citizens of any other country in the world. There are no definitions to describe them; they are simply 'nameless.' They are widely referred to as 'stateless of stateless' or bedoon of bedoon and face dead ends. In addition, they face the misfortune of having to 'come up' with a passport in order to survive.

Abu Abdlallah, a father of six children in his forties, is a former bedoon. Owing to a number of complications, including difficulties related to issuing birth certificates for his two youngest daughters, he had to buy a Syrian passport from a company that had placed an advertisement in local newspapers in 2001. He said that he paid KD 6,000 for the passport, which he then submitted to the ECIR. After doing so, he was able to obtain residence permits for himself and family members. He also obtained other forms of identification and a driving license.

The problem began when my passport expired in 2007," he said. "I went to the Syrian embassy to renew it and they said that they need to consult the Syrian ministry of interior before issuing a new passport to me. After some time, embassy officials told me that the Syrian government does not have any record of our details, and that it does not consider us to be citizens of Syria at all. They took our passports and gave me a paper stating that we are not Syrian citizens," he added.

Abu Abdallah' s life has since, turned tragic. He is unable to obtain a residence permit because he doesn't have a passport. He can't also go back into living like a stateless individual. "I didn't know what to do," he said. "I went back to the ECIR so that I could receive an identification card. They told me that they can't process any documents any more. I was asked to go to the Ministry of Interior. I went there with a group of people who faced similar circumstances. They could offer no assistance and we were told that our situation needs be resolved politically.

He explained that due to their situation, his family or he cannot receive medical care at government hospitals. His sons don't possess any kind of identity card and are vulnerable to police arrests any time. He added that his situation has also inflicted psychological damage on his children. "My 19-year-old daughter has been engaged for almost a year now. She can't get married because she doesn't have any legal documents whatsoever.

Adel is another individual who has been trapped in a similar situation. Apparently, the secretary of the ECIR informed him that his file had been 'closed' and that he should submit his 'original passport' in order to be able to process any paper work related to the government. "I searched for the cheapest passport available," he said. "The Somali passport could be bought for KD 150 then," he added. He explained that it wasn't too difficult to buy one. "The advertisements placed by passport selling agencies were common in many newspapers back then. Several notices were placed inside the ECIR premises itself," he claimed.

Adel said that after he submitted the Somali passport to the ECIR, before a civil ID with a valid Kuwaiti residency as a Somali citizen was issued to him, a government official in Somalia declared that the passports issued in Kuwait were illegal. The Somali government had taken measures to change passports to prevent forgery. "It was then that I stopped. But now I'm registered with the ECIR as a Somali citizen. It's not only me, all my brothers and sister, and their sons and daughters face the same situation," he said. He argued that the ploy was part of the of the ECIR's strategy to trap bedoons. This is because as soon as anyone buys a passport the nationality is applied on all the relatives in government records.

Abu Ghazi, another bedoon, says that had he known he would have had to face such a situation, he would've left Kuwait a long time ago. "Why didn't they tell us that they don't want us, back in the '60s? We would've managed to fit into another country in the region while it was possible. Why did they wait for forty years to tell us that they don't want us?" he questioned.

Local Coverage of Human Rights Watch Report Omits HRW's Focus on LGBT Issues Brought Up in Report


Just after reading an article by The Kuwait Times entitled "HRW Slams Treatment of Labourers, Bedoons", I am realizing that they have neglected the fact that the report also spoke of the countless harassment and discrimination against the LGBT community!

Human Rights Watch 2010 World Report Now Available


You may access the pdf version of the entire report, which gives a summary of the status of human rights in each country, by clicking here. Regarding Kuwait in particular, here are some highlights of the findings:

-Kuwait has made improvements in women's political rights, particularly with the election of four women in Parliament, although women still face significant discrimination in all aspects of daily life. These legal forms of discrimination include: the right to pass on nationality to children, access to low-interest housing loans, and divorce settlements. Perpetrators who commit violence against women are rarely arrested.

-Kuwait hosts several stateless people, known as Bidoun, who amount to around 120,000 of the population in Kuwait. A 2007 draft law would grant the Bidun civil rights, but not nationality, although this has not yet passed. Children of Bidoun are also exempt from being able to have any eligibility for nationality. The Bidoun face several travel restrictions, legal loopholes and civil rights discrimination limiting their access to services and employment.

-Kuwait freedom of expression in the media is often thwarted by fines and bans for slandering the government. In one case in October 2009, two Kuwaiti members of parliament were fined for criticizing the Interior Ministry's treatment of the Bidoun.

-Kuwait continues to discriminate against the gay, lesbian and transgender community. Homosexual conduct is a criminal act in Kuwait under Article 193 of Kuwait's penal code. Men who engage in consensual sexual intercourse between men over age 21 are sentenced for up to seven years imprisonment. If the conduct involves persons under the age of 21, the sentence is increased to 10 years. Transgender people are often sent to prison or fined for "imitating the appearance of a member of the opposite sex." They are also subject to harassment.

-About 80% of the country is comprised of expatriots, many of whom face high residency fees leading to unpayable debt, and whose rights are not adequately covered by the existing labor law. Due to the abuse of several domestic workers and unskilled labor, several embassies have placed bans on the entrance of their citizens to Kuwait for employment. The source of the problem lies in the current sponsorship system (kafala), which trap workers in averse situations and keeps abusive sponsors out of the gamma of law enforcement.

Whassup with Adidas and Authoritarian Regimes?


Some time ago, I noticed Fidel Castro's odd golden years fashion choice of Adidas track suits, complete with his printed name and everything. Suddenly, yesterday I saw pictures on Mideast Youth of Iran's president Ahmadinejad during Clean Air Day...whose turn is it next to get the Adidas sponsorship?

Afghanis Pay 1/4 of their GDP in Bribes, Says BBC Quoting UN Report


For full BBC article, entitled "UN Afghanistan Survey Points to Huge Scale of Bribery", click here.

Afghans paid $2.5bn (£1.5bn) in bribes over the past 12 months, or the equivalent of almost one quarter of legitimate GDP, a UN report suggests.

Surveying 7,600 people, it found nearly 60% more concerned about corruption than insecurity or unemployment.

More than half the population had to pay at least one bribe to a public official last year, the report adds.

The findings contrast sharply with a recent BBC survey in which the economy appeared to top Afghan concerns.

The survey commissioned by the BBC and other broadcasters in December suggested that fewer Afghans (14%) saw corruption as the biggest problem than the economy (34%) and security situation (32%).

According to the UN survey, bribes averaged $160 (£98) in contrast to an average Afghan annual income of $425.

Bribes were most often paid to police, judges and politicians but members of international organisations and NGOs were also seen as corrupt, the survey said.

Graph showing amounts paid in bribes to particular types of officials

Trip to Bahrain


I left for Bahrain and flew back this evening. I wanted to comment on a tour I took of various old houses in Muharraq, Bahrain's second largest city, located on the same island as the airport. It actually used to be the capital of Bahrain until 1923. We went to see various old houses, cultural institutions and restored buildings that have been turned into a variety of functions: theatre halls, children's libraries, art galleries, handicraft houses, cafes...really it was the best restored job I have seen so far in the Gulf (although I have many places yet to see in the region). I will put of photographs later when I receive them so you get the idea.

Most of these institutions, located in old houses, are under the organizing umbrella of the ShaikhEbrahim Bin Mohammed Al-Khalifa Center for Culture and Research, a commendable institution that other Gulf countries should really take a closer look at and try to learn from.

Why was this experience so amazing? Because these various heritage houses were connected together into a neighborhood, a street, where maintaining the outdoor space was just as important in the renovation. For example, in the streets there were various painted murals, the brick roads were in good condition and one could tell that the street space was pro-actively utilized. There were many pedestrians, they were child-friendly streets as we saw many kids walking around on their own, and they even had artwork by children as well. Because in between these different cultural spaces there were also residential areas where people lived, allowing for mixed use in the urban dynamic.

Because within these renovated buildings there was a fine-tuned, elegant combination of the old and the new to a degree I have not seen in the Gulf. Because the people who worked on the renovation were able to see value in deteriorated buildings that in many other countries would simply have gotten demolished, and turned it into something beautiful. Because these restored areas were not simply museum or heritage pieces, but continued to live in the present and have an active function: art galleries, workshops, lectures, music events, films, etc. I could go on forever, but please learn for yourself by visiting their website. If you go to Bahrain and do not stop by this area, you are really missing out.

For anyone who thinks this kind of thing simply could never happen in Kuwait, think again. There are PLENTY of old houses that can be restored. Nothing is impossible. I saw some before/after photographs of the houses they chose for renovation and I was in shock. At first glance these houses seemed so similar to the type of beautiful, but derelict buildings you see in Kuwait all the time. Bahrainis have reason to be proud of their history and how they have managed to see that modernity does not have to displace it.

The Washington Post: "Work begins on first planned Palestinian city" by Ben Hubbard


ATARA, West Bank -- Work crews have broken ground on what they hope will be the first modern, planned Palestinian city - a step officials say will help build an independent state in spite of the current deadlock in the peace process with Israel.

But without Israeli approval of a short stretch of road, the $500-million project may never get off the ground.

"We could build the whole city, but the question is, would people live in a city that doesn't have an access road?" said Bashar Masri, managing director of the company behind the project.

"Obviously, the answer is no."

Since last week, machine operators have been hard at work, taking chunks out of a rocky hillside near this West Bank village. If the project goes according to plan, it will provide 40,000 Palestinians with homes in an American-style development.

Palestinians say Israel has not responded to their requests about the access road. The Israeli Defense Ministry, which is in charge of the area, did not return calls from The Associated Press about the issue.

Israel's stated policy is to promote economic development in the West Bank, and construction of the new town would appear to fall within that goal. But two miles (three kilometers) of the road would have to be built through a part of the West Bank that Israel controls, within view of a Jewish settlement, raising possible complications.

(For full link, click here)

Event: Pecha Kucha Night #4


Thursday, January 14, 2010
7:30pm - 9:30pm
Scientific Center
Ahmad Al-Majed & Rabaa Al-Hajri
Alia Al-Ghunaim
Maryam Al Hamad
Barrak Al-Babtain
Reham Al Sharif
Roa Al-Shaheen
Valerie Buchheit
Zed Alrefa

Event: A Night for Architecture


Wednesday, January 13, 2010
6:00pm - 9:00pm
The Americani Cultural Center, (on Gulf Road, next to the parliament)
"A Night for Architecture"
The night will consist of three events:

T-Square Magazine will host various Architects and professionals of the design field to discuss the theme of the upcoming 8th issue:

"Why Design? Cause and Effect"

KASA will present a mini-exhibition showcasing a sample of this academic yearʼs design work

AIAS will showcase a timeline of Kuwait Universityʼs Department of Architecture

Al-Watan Daily: "Saudi ''morality police'' head causes theological uproar" by Ahmad Zakariya


A number of Kuwaiti religious scholars have severely condemned a statement made by the Saudi Arabian director of the Committee for Protection of Virtue and Prevention of Vice in Mecca, Dr. Ahmad AlـGhamidi, who said that the hijab (head scarf) was only meant for the wives of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) and is not applicable to other women.

His statement has come as a blow, he being one of the top officials of Saudi Arabia''s so called "morality police," and having already stated that
men and women can mingle together and therefore segregation is not a necessity.

The Head of the Kuwaiti organization Human Rights Essentials, Dr. Adel AlـDamkhi, responded immediately to the statement, saying that AlـGhamidi is not a religious scholar and therefore is not in the position to pass religious judgment of this nature or otherwise.

"He is not even a student of Islamic jurisprudence, and therefore he is not entitled to delve into such matters. What AlـGhamidi is stating has a resonance in the writings of orientalists who have long raised their doubts over the hijab," he said to Al Watan, adding that the hijab is a wellـestablished tradition in Islam.

Similarly, Islamic Sharia Law Professor at Kuwait University Saud AlـRabia said AlـGhamidi''s views are very much contradicted by what Muslim scholars have been saying for so long.
"There is no doubt that his argument is utterly illogical," he stressed, adding that the number of Quranic verses as well as Prophetic sayings regarding this particular point are too numerous to simply brush them off in such manner.

Another Muslim preacher, Hay AlـHay, condemned AlـGhamidi''s statement that there is no need for gender segregation. " AlـGhamidi''s statement causes sedition within the Islamic nation, and his evidence is nonsensical," he remarked. AlـHay further added that it would have been much better on the part of AlـGhamidi
to remain silent over this issue. He urged scholars to double check and investigate matters before discussing them and passing their own legal opinions publicly.

AlـHay admitted, however, that AlـGhamidi''s statement could have an unpleasant impact "because he is one of the leading figures in the field of Islamic propagation in Saudi Arabia. Indeed, when I read his statement, I was totally shocked."

For his part, member of the World Islamic Union Dr. Ahmad Hussein said that all Muslim schools of thought agree that the hijab is an Islamic duty, but significantly added that for the two genders to mingle with one another is permissible as long as the motive to be promiscuous does not exist.

Good Song and Definately Amazing Bicycle Skills


UAE Commits An Insult to Humanity


A couple months back, I posted a torture video that got leaked clearly showing a member of the UAE ruling family, Sheikh Issa bin Zayed al-Nahyan (or SIN for short), committing heinous psychological and physical brutality to a poor Afghani merchant who he accused of stealing from him a measly 5,000 USD. These acts including firing bullets at his feet, RUNNING him over with a car, and beating him with a spiked stick. Now he claims he was drugged and thus he can't be held at fault for his actions, according to an article by the BBC. WTF!!

Please tell me what drug causes people to become sadistic monsters? The UAE considers this a symbolic gesture, as his trial demonstrates that no one is above the law. All that this insult to justice proves is that courts are a mere farcical veneer of legality, justice and accountability and that if you are poor, you will get trampled on...literally. I wish the European Union would place a travel ban on him. In the words of Spiderman: with great power comes great responsibility.

A member of the ruling family of the United Arab Emirates has been cleared of the torture of a business associate.

Lawyers for Sheikh Issa bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the president's brother, said the court ruled he had been drugged and so was "unaware of his actions".

The incident came to light when a videotape was circulated showing the violent beating, said to have taken place in 2004.

It was the first reported investigation of a UAE ruling family member.

His lawyer, Habib al-Mulla, said the ruling had "clarified Sheikh Issa's position that he was a victim of conspiracy" over the torture of Mohammed Shah Poor.

"At the same time, it's proven justice to Mohammed Shahpoor and it showed who were the actual people who were behind whole saga," Reuters quoted Mr al-Mulla as saying.

He said the court had "accepted our defence that the sheikh was under the influence of drugs that left him unaware of his actions," the AFP news agency reported.

The defence had previously claimed Sheikk Issa had been drugged by two men - American-Lebanese brothers Ghassan and Bassam Nabulsi - who recorded the beating in order to blackmail him.

A screengrab of the video showing a man shooting near the victim
The video showed a man shooting the ground near the sitting victim

The Nabulsi brothers were sentenced in their absence to five years in prison for drugging Sheikh Hassan and fined 10,000 dirham ($2,723:£1,700).

Three other men were sentenced to between one and three years for their role in the torture.

'Equality sign'

The video, circulated last year, shows Sheikh Issa repeatedly beating Mr Poor, a grain merchant of Afghan origin, and running him over with a car.

Several other men assist in the tape, including one in a uniform of the security forces. The incident came to light after US television network ABC broadcast clips of the tape, which was smuggled out of the UAE by a former business associate of Issa bin Zayed al-Nahyan.

Reports say the merchant had lost a consignment of grain belonging to Sheikh Issa worth $5,000 (£3,300). He survived the abuse, but needed extensive hospital treatment.

Mr al-Mulla said the fact the trial had taken place was "a sign that the UAE is showing that everyone in this country can be put in front of law and judged".

The BBC's Christian Fraser in the region says the verdict will do little to satisfy those who have long criticised the Emirates abject human rights record.

They will argue it proves once again that the extended royal family and those Emiratis in positions of power are often above the rule of law, says our correspondent.

The UAE is a federation of seven wealthy emirates with substantial oil reserves and a large expatriate population. Each emirate is run by a ruling family and citizens are granted few political rights.



A new taxi service will begin operating, made by women for women. The taxi service will have female drivers and will pick up only female passengers. While I think this is a valiant gesture to ensure more safety for female taxi passengers, who are often victims of abuse or even kidnappings, I do not think the color pink does them much of a service.

First, why pink? Just because they are women? I find this insulting. Secondly, it makes these taxi cabs vulnerable to harassment from other cars. Then, why can't female taxi drivers exist who can service people regardless of their sex? When I lived in Central America, my taxi driver was a woman, and she had all sorts of clients. She was valued for her service, regardless of whether she had ovaries.

Do the new force of policewomen not attend to their duty if it concerns men? I am FOR promoting women's safety, but AGAINST reinforcing even more segregated spheres for the sexes.

Israel/Lebanon Dish it Out for the Silliest Battle Ever: Hummus Wars Continue Strong


From the Foreign Policy Blog:
A giant serving of hummus weighting 4,087.5 kilos (8992.5 pounds) is seen resting on a six-meters (20 foot) satellite dish while attempting to break a new world record in the Arab Israeli village of Abu Gosh on January 8, 2010. Fifty chefs in the Arab-Israeli village of Abu Ghosh mashed up over four tonnes of hummus, beating the Guinness World Record set in Lebanon just months ago. The weight is about twice as much as the previous record set in October in neighbouring Lebanon, Israel's political and culinary rival.

156 Countries Sing Beatles Love for Africa AIDS Love


If only it weren't Starbucks....! Don't miss the Qatari dude rocking the oud. For those of you unfamiliar with the song "All You Need is Love" (are those of you out there?) then here is the original Beatles version below.

Indonesia Lifting Ban on Workers in Kuwait: Bad Idea


I just read an article in The Kuwait Times about Indonesia and Kuwait being in the talks on lifting a ban to allow domestic workers to come back into the country...what has happened in Kuwait to send positive signals that the climate for domestic workers has improved?! Zilch. Rather it has gotten worse (thanks to Ben Garcia for his IN-DEPTH and POIGNANT reporting and interview with two maids hospitalized after falling from buildings). More alarming is the nature of reaching agreement that they would seal the deal-a memo of understanding:
The memorandum could include the introduction of a mandatory monthly minimum wage and weekly day's holiday for Indonesian workers and an end to employers being allowed to retain their passports.

How would this become "mandatory" when wages and holiday leave allowance are largely dictated by the decision of the families themselves? To what authority would the maid be able to report to if these allowances have been denied to her by her employer? The embassy?! This is not the duty of an embassy and and "MoU" shows no real commitment to enforcement, in fact its absurd. Indonesia should only lift the ban upon legal reforms and demonstrated trial of success in the implementation of these legal changes in the sponsorship system.