Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud (L) and Saudi Crown Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud
The world celebrates after the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and Saudi Arabian King Abdullah successful surgery for the removal of a blood clot and adjustment of the King’s slipped disk. The King’s health is not only of great importance to the Saudi’s and Muslim world but a global concern as well. Saudi Arabia under the King’s leadership controls more than a fifth of the world’s crude oil reserves.
Most online news item carries the story of the “successful surgery” done in New York. “May God the Almighty protect the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and grant him good health and a speedy recovery.” Long live the King!
Customarily, the Royal family circle who governs this blessed nation gives thanks to ALLAH by way of sharing HIS goodness to other people. Last year, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah ordered the release of some prisoners held for public rights who do not pose any danger to public security. This was announced after the Crown Prince Sultan, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense and Aviation arrived from successful medical trip abroad.
Also, September of this year, a royal pardon by His Highness Saudi King benefits illegal migrants, particularly those who violates the country’s residency laws, that includes Umrah, Haj and other holders of visit visa who overstays in the Kingdom. The King ordered the royal pardon after Riyadh Governor, Prince Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud underwent spinal surgery in the United States in August.
While, the world celebrates the King Abdullah’s successful surgery, the Saudi authorities have detained 32 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in the Eastern Province after conducting early morning raids on various villas and flats in the Thuqba area, Alkhobar, on Wednesday, Arab News reported.
According to the report, 26 of the 32 were women. The Philippine Embassy Charge d’Affaires Ezzedin H. Tago assures that they are closely coordinating with authorities in the Eastern Province to find out what charges will be filed against them and their rights will be fully protected. Those arrested are mostly absconders who ran away from their employers, claiming contract substitution, abuses, maltreatment and other labor malpractices.
The embassy and the Philippine Overseas Labor Office are doing their best to help hundreds of complains from our distressed OFWs. POLO finds ways to talk to employers on their behalf to reach for an amicable solution. In cases where amicable settlement is not possible, the embassy find ways to have them repatriated back home. On the other hand, POLO assists the aggrieved OFWs to file formal complaint with the Saudi Labor Office where the process takes months and even years.
Honorable Khalid Abdullah Al-Dawud, a judge at the Court of Grievances, referring to major reasons that lead to the delays of delivering justice in this country said “inaction on the part of any one of these agencies (police, the public prosecution, prison authorities and judges) could lead to prolonged court proceedings, even if the case involves a petty crime and insufficient number of qualified court translators is another reason behind some delays.”
Sponsorship System and Saudization
Saudi Arabia under the sponsorship of specific employers, the foreign worker is at the mercy of his employer. Even when sponsors did participate in an attempt for a possible settlement or negotiations, kafil or sponsors sometimes bargained for repayment of recruitment fees, visa fees and others in exchange for unpaid salaries; or to provide an air ticket home in exchange for a full settlement of the case. The distressed OFWs again with no choice accept the offer in exchange for home or without the sponsor’s approval, longing for home would be in vain.
This year’s report says that there is an estimated three million illegal residents in the Kingdom in various nationalities. I cannot say that these counts only runaways but the figure is very alarming and the number of such absconders has increased and constitute a real security threat to the Kingdom. Not to mention that Saudi Arabia today has its own problem of unemployment and reining in inflation are the major challenges facing the Kingdom’s economy, Saudi economic experts says.
Arab news item says “the Kingdom also draw attention to the need to extend improved government support to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to check the influx of foreign workers in the Kingdom’s job market.”
In the same news, the labor Minister H.E. Adel Fakieh admits that serious efforts is needed to employ qualified Saudis in the place of foreigners who dominate most local sectors.
And why prolong the agony and failure of Saudization? The answer is just very simple – “abolished Sponsorship system” and let the Saudi government or private companies under the supervision of the Saudi government should act as sponsors of foreign workers. In this manner the government can control the flow of foreign workers and give way to its Saudization effort.
If this happens, everybody happy, there will be Saudi’s in all government and private institutions and once and for all eradicate sponsorship (kafala) system that protects employers from legal responsibility to respond to charges of contract substitutions, non-payment of wages, forced labor, or abuse and maltreatment to expatriates.
Bahrain abolished the system in 2009, and Kuwait reportedly plans to do so by February 2011 and just recently Qatar is considering ending the sponsorship system. Saudi Arabia will soon follow and the rest of the GCC member countries.
A prayer for the King
But how about those three million illegal residents in the Kingdom? My favorite idiomatic expressions is the answer - “separate the grain from the chaffs” and give them a “Royal Pardon” once and for all; and those found worthless should be totally banned from entering the country.
WE (OFWs) pray for the speedy recovery of His Majesty, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and his safe return to the Kingdom and so with the future announcement of the most awaited “Royal Pardon.” LONG LIVE THE KING! -end-
By: Bong Amora