I write this article before the Egyptian expatriates cast their votes. I know in advance that they are reluctant to do so, although they have 139 polling stations in 122 different countries around the world. (I wonder how many millions this cost?)
Why are they reluctant?
(Please read to the end of the article because what happened was unbelievable).
The government said expatriates should be represented in the Parliament for them to be linked to their homeland, for the country to benefit from their suggestions and in order to have some sort of a “lobby” abroad.
What have we done for this?
We blew it. We made them angry. And we lost their trust.
According to the election law, an expatriate living in Toronto or Paris can run for the West Delta or Giza constituencies, where voters are residents of those places. These expats candidates are not, however, representing expatriates living in Canada or France.
I suggested the following to Immigration Minister Albert Barsoum Salama in 1984, when I was president of the community in France, and to President Mubarak and Foreign Minister Amr Moussa in 1992:
1. To appoint in Parliament a representative for each continent.
2. Alternatively, to form constituencies for each continent, where a candidate residing there is elected by the respective expatriate communities.
That is why you only see the employees of the embassies casting their votes abroad, while the rest of the expatriates are reluctant and angry because:
1. Whoever runs in their name is a cheater by default under this system.
2. The media portrays Egyptians who have another citizenship as traitors who should not attend the meetings of the National Security Committee so as not to hear the secrets of the country.
The new immigration minister should come up with a plan to rebuild the trust of the sons of Egypt abroad, for they have always proven to be patriots.
Egyptians living abroad remitted some US$22 billion after the January 25 revolution, while others living here syphoned some $13 billion out of the country.
We need an office to help those coming back from abroad invest in their homeland. Morocco did this 10 years ago. It formed the one-window system, where an investor submits his documents and gets approval within 60 days, otherwise it is automatically granted after 90 days. They even have that window at the consulate in Paris. Perhaps that is why many Egyptians who are married to Moroccans prefer to invest there.
What did we do?
Nothing but economic conferences that diagnose our problems, as if we still do not know what our problems are. Our problems need no physician to diagnose. They need a surgeon to fix.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm