Following are excerpts from a TV debate on democracy in Kuwait, which aired on Al-Rai TV, on December 22, 2008:
Kuwait journalist Saleh Al-Shaiji: Kuwait suffers from many ailments. Endless ailments, to be honest. Most importantly, Kuwait is no longer what it used to be. The Kuwait of today is different from the original Kuwait, which lasted until a quarter of a century ago, or less. Kuwait has changed. There is a new Kuwait.
Interviewer: How is this change manifest?
Saleh Al-Shaiji: We used to be free in our country. Today, the Kuwaitis are no longer free.
Kuwaiti journalist Suleiman Al-Fahd: The freedom to eat is the only liberty we have. You also have the freedom to write or say whatever you like, but the officials, for their part, do whatever they like.
Saleh Al-Shaiji: Excuse me, but in my opinion, the freedom to write is also restricted. Freedom of speech, which is guaranteed by the constitution, is also restricted.
[The Kuwaiti Writers Union] commemorates Mahmoud Darwish, who was one of Arafat's men, even though Arafat played a disgraceful role during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. I don't want to open wounds, but this is not what the Union should be doing. Never mind the commemoration of Darwish. The important issue, in my view, is what the Writers Union does in Kuwait. I know them. They play billiards, drink tea, talk on the phone...
Interviewer: Don't forget the cakes...
Saleh Al-Shaiji: They eat cakes and celebrate birthdays. They have become a "birthdays union."
Only one voice is allowed to reach the people – the voice of the Kuwaiti religious political parties, and these parties are multiplying.
Interviewer: In one of your articles – and I think you were sued for it – you called to suspend the constitution. Why?
Saleh Al-Shaiji: I called to abolish it.
Interviewer: To abolish it completely?
Saleh Al-Shaiji: Along with the parliament.
Interviewer: To abolish the parliament as well. Good luck to you.
Saleh Al-Shaiji: Thank you.
The parliament is like gangrene, and the same goes for the constitution. We have tried this constitution for 45 years. The constitution is fine, but its implementation is bad. Nobody defends the constitution. They all keep talking about the importance of the constitution, but when there are a million violations of the constitution, nobody does a thing.