Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Changes needed

There are stories in the papers today which caught my attention although they have no real connection other than that they contain things I really don't like and which really need changing.


The first is that two senior former Nakheel Australian executives have been charged after a corruption investigation. They were arrested when they were accused of attempting to bribe a public official.

I have no way of knowing the truth of the issue, and that isn't the point. My beef with it is that they've been in jail without charge since they were arrested in January.

Holding people in jail without charge and without a strict limit on the time they can be held is totally indefensible.

Whether it's at Guantanamo Bay, in a Dubai jail or anywhere else, it's simply unacceptable but we see it far too often here for all kinds of alleged offences.

The presumption of innocence until and unless proven guilty must be paramount. It really is an area of the law which needs urgent top-level attention.


Then there's the murky Etisalat spyware story. They sent BlackBerry users a patch to install to 'improve performance'. It caused all kinds of problems but the real story is that after investigation BlackBerry have said that "etisalat appears to have distributed a telecommunications surveillance application"

At least the media here is giving exposure to the scandal - I've seen prominent stories in 'Gulf News', 'The National' and 'Khaleej Times' - and so is the international media.

A statement says: "RIM confirms that this software is not a patch and it is not a RIM authorised upgrade. RIM did not develop this software application and RIM was not involved in any way in the testing, promotion or distribution of this software application."

I have two problems with the story, one obviously being the alleged spying on users.

The other is that Etisalat has not commented on RIM’s statement.

Typical of the attitude of companies here, 'we do what we want to do and we don't have to explain anything to anyone'.

So, as usual, with this scandal there's no transparency, no explanation, no information.

Who authorised distribution of the patch? Was it official policy or a rogue group? Where did the patch come from? How secure is the BlackBerry for use in the UAE?

This goes much further than inconveniencing individuals, it's another huge blow to Brand Dubai's reputation as an honest and safe place to do business. If companies have any doubts that their confidential commercial information is secure they'll stay away, and Dubai's future depends on them operating here.

The only way to give confidence to business is to have complete transparency. There needs to be an urgent statement that an immediate enquiry by an outside independent consultant is under way. Whatever the outcome the results must be published in full and responsible heads must publicly roll because this is either a monumental error or a deliberate spying campaign.


The last story is from Sharjah where young men are being detained by police for wearing jewellery which is then being confiscated.

Apparently there's an eight year old 'decency' law that says men are not allowed to wear bracelets or any fashion accessories in Sharjah malls.

I don't even begin to understand what that's all about but I'm not querying the law itself.

What I have a problem with is that it seems to be another of those vague, sweeping generalised laws which are open to interpretation depending on the whim and the mood of the official.

What exactly is a 'fashion accessory'? When does a watch become one, when it has diamonds on it? When does a wedding or signet ring become one, does it depend on size or weight or design? Is a man's tote bag a fashion accessory?

That obviously depends on the individual opinion of the officer.

And I wonder what happens to the confiscated jewellery.

The other infuriating thing was the statement by 'a senior CID official', something we've heard so many times before:

"Men are not allowed to wear such accessories. Everybody is aware of that."

Everybody is aware. Yeah, like we were all aware of the ID Card deadlines and the Salik system.

Enact a law in secret, shelve it for years, don't tell anyone anything but suddenly start punishing them for breaking it.

The National's Nakheel story.

Khaleej Times' BlackBerry story.

Gulf News' Sharjah story.


Anonymous said...

Well, it seems that the native population is cheering the Sharjah move, so maybe thats all that matters...

Keefieboy said...

'Tain't just the law, it's the application thereof, all the way through from police officers and other officials right through to the courts. The judicial system is so far from working properly that describing it as 'broken' doesn't even begin to cover it. It is capricious, whimsical, deeply unreliable, secretive, obscure, racist, sexist, utterly illogical and nine times out of ten just plain unfair.

Etisalat: I can't say I'm remotely surprised at what they've done and how they (mis)handled it. They lied to me for thirteen years when I was one of their customers. Why should they change now?

Sharjah? Don't get me started.

Media Junkie said...

what about Sikhs who wear the Kada - a silver bracelet? are they now forbidden?

this law really is ridiculous.

Dave said...

Once again brand Dubai has hit the self-destruct button - little sympathy this time for these ridiculous acts....

Anonymous said...

First of all: SeaBee congratulations on putting things together again in a very good order like always.

Detention without Charge is something I don't like too if I was in there shoes but I understand that it could be becaues of the lack of resources or the length of collecting evidence or invistigation, but yet again it is not a good reason for not constraining it with time limits.

the blackberry application is another scandle Etisalat involves in at it's flagship and headquarter market, like others I am not surrprised but always feel victimised by this telecomunications operator despite not having enough reasons for a total ban on them from my end as a user of there services.

Sharjah conservative relegioues lead opinions are nothing new to the place, but the funny part is that the accessories per say are restricted in malls , well what happens in warship areeas would they hang men for wearing them there or on the beach!
The irony is that Sharjah used to be very open minded and liebral for a long while and all of a sudden it changes the look and starts looking less attractive as if it is a city that wants to promot itself for it's own version of being conservative but yet live... it does not work this way though in my opinion.

Sorry to all if I speak too bold and too frank from the heart, but I am part of this country and I feel committed to highlighting things when they come across my eyes; sometimes.

Anonymous said...

they are all going from saudi pumped in to support the system here is obviously coming to roost in the form of more wahabi " human happiness control" systems. apparenly everyone needs to be sad and morose, in order to be happy.