Only 42 members of parliament have emails, according to the directory of Lebanese Parliament which is distributed to MPs and other special persons. This would mean 86 of our representatives, or two thirds of the house, are not connected or reachable via the world wide web.
These figures come from the 2011 Parliament directory which is distributed to MPs and other VIPs, who get their names printed on the front. (I’ve blanked out the name on this copy to keep the owner anonymous.)
I poured through the booklet counting the names several times. Telephone numbers are ubiquitous but on many pages, only one email is listed:
Some MPs have simply listed their boss’s email:
And some reveal the other companies MPs are employed by:
It seems putting together a broken, war-ravaged country was not enough for a day’s work, so many have apparently opted to keep their day jobs.
Those who read this blog will know that Lebanon has one of the slowest and most limited connections on earth, despite the efforts of PR companies that try to convince us otherwise.
While politicians often argue that the bottleneck is “political” that the dispute is between the March 14 and March 8 coalitions, after much reporting I have come to believe it is also cultural. In many cases, the aging men that run this country–from both sides of the political spectrum– simply do not appreciate the importance of having cheap, fast and abundant internet.
A well-connected journalist who sat in on a cabinet meeting a few years ago told me that one minister raised an objection to the rollout of broadband on mobile devices arguing: “Can’t people just wait till they get home to use the internet?”
Then there are the pro-business folks that say the problem is state control. If we could only privatize the market, the private sector would lower prices. But I will never forget when the head of Lebanon’s largest private ISP told me there was “no need” for unlimited internet in Lebanon, adding: “You won’t need more than 3-5 software updates per year.”
On the other hand, a government advisor and Ivy League business school graduate once told me “people are happy with 1 megabit per second.”
This remains the most affordable and common package nationwide and yet one of the absolute slowest worldwide.