Bahrain 2.0

3 May, '06

The Financial Times has an article about Bahrain this morning:

As parliamentary elections approach for the second time in four years, hopes for a political system that gives the Shia a fairer share of wealth, land and power have faded and for young Shia, the prospect of earning a decent wage remains bleak.

At current trends, 35 per cent of Bahrainis will be unemployed by 2013 and 70 per cent in jobs incommensurate with their expectations and skills, according to a report by the consultants McKinsey. “It is this and the gap between wages and the cost of living that gives rise to frustration for the layman, more than constitutional issues,” says Abd al-Aziz Abul, a Sunni opposition leader.
Financial Times :: William Wallas :: 3 May ’06

It’s an interesting read and I would encourage you to read the whole short article which addresses quite a number of sore issues Bahrain suffers from. The main thing that hurt me when reading it is their assertion that hope is slipping away. They might be right.

Look around you, where else in the whole world are there absolute monarchies? Where else do you have complete control of a country’s resources by a few, whose only claim to fame is accidentally being born into a tribe? Where else do you have more than half a government’s cabinet composed of persons or royal parentage? Where else would you find that only 18% of top government jobs are occupied by those whose community exceeds 70% of the population? Where else do you find rife unemployment in the very same sector of society? Where else do you have in the world the bare-faced gerrymandering of electoral districts to further officially alienate the majority of the population?

All of the above does not bode well, does it? Even if you are from the Royal family reading this, are you really happy with what’s happening in this country and how the general feeling is?

Hope should never disappear completely though, it’s like that light at the end of a tunnel, you just hope that it’s not a train coming toward you!

The elections for municipal councils as well as the parliament should happen this year, although no definite date has been set yet, everyone is looking with hope to the new version of those councils. It’s like the parliament and municipal councils of 2002 were really the pre-release beta version of the democracy program, and everyone is hoping that 2006 will be at least the real version, which is something we can all work with if we are honest with ourselves. It’s another step toward the final version release.

So what do I personally hope to see from this new version of the parliament? Here are some unordered and completely off the top of my head thoughts:

  • I want them to concentrate on economic development
  • I want them to concentrate on educational development
  • I want them to enact honest steps toward transitional justice
  • I want them to repeal Law 56 and pay the right dues to those affected by State torture and wrongful imprisonment in the ’90s
  • I want them to bring torturers to justice
  • I want them to ensure the complete independence of the judiciary
  • I want them to fight against sectarianism
  • I want them to fight extremism
  • I want them to criminalise discrimination in all its forms
  • I want them to fight for the freedom of expression
  • I want them to do away with the press & publications law and replace it with a journalistic code of ethics
  • I want them to fight against corruption
  • I want them to hold the government accountable for its actions
  • I want them to approve of ministers before they are appointed to the cabinet
  • I want them to have the guts to hold ministers’ questions publicly rather than behind closed doors
  • I want them to drastically reduce the size of government
  • I want them to approve the Family Law for both sects
  • I want them to find way to make the prime minister’s position an elected rather than an appointed one, or at least made the position’s occupier answerable to parliament, just like any other minister

There are probably a lot more that I can add here, but these are the things off the top of my head at the moment, but that would do for me to get to Bahrain v2.0

One more thing that the government can do immediately: they can ensure that only those with formal higher education stand for election for the 2006 round by activating the elections law already published, rather than let people like Dhahrani and Saidi slip through and they barely finished primary school.

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Comments (11)

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  1. Omar says:

    “One more thing that the government can do immediately: they can ensure that only those with formal higher education stand for election for the 2006 round”

    So far for Mahmood’s view on democracy.

  2. mahmood says:

    Ah, okay I can see your point as the statement above is undemocratic, but being practical don’t you think that this would be a good requirement? Would you rather have uneducated louts creating laws?

  3. mahmood says:

    I was sure that I saw that law which stated that a candidate must have a higher education of some sort before standing for office. However I couldn’t find that reference. Article 57 of the constitution does not make that demand, but, as far as education is concerned it demands just the ability to read and write Arabic and English.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I’ve lost hope for Bahrian long ago, which makes me sad but all evidence have led me to beleive it’s not a place I could progress in the future. I still love Bahrain, and visit when I get the chance, but I couldn’t live there.

    Although saying this Bahrain has improved for the better since I last lived there, it’s not encouraging enough. Employment is still hard to come by, and even when it is available the jobs are mostly dead end, low wage jobs. It’s becoming harder to get into university, especially if you’re shaiia, regardless of how good your grades are. People are so disillusioned they’ve lost much of that community spirit I grew up in and loved.

    All of this makes me think I don’t live there and feel this way, imagine how those who live there feel, having hope desert them day after day.

    Shroof

    p.s. Mahmood I can’t seem to be able to log on anymore since you’ve revamped the site, I’m not sure if I was supposed to join again or something.

  5. mahmood says:

    you need to join again I’m afraid.

  6. As a point of reference the US has NO education requirements to hold federal office. We do have AGE requirements to be a Representative, Senator and of course President.

    While I understand your point wanting elected officials to have Higher Education it isn’t really practical in most settings but it just might work in Bahrain due to the smaller size of the country. Properly set up this requirement could help bring a better candidate to stand for elections and eliminate some massive BF’s. Come to think of it maybe the REVERSE could work in the US…You can’t run for office IF you have a higher education. Lord knows we could use a few less BF’s in this country on all sides of the political spectrum!

  7. tooners says:

    I feel disillusioned… I think that economical issues and educational issues will be tackled, as well as health issues. It is my hope, for the ppl of this country, that many more off of your list are addressed in a serious manner.

    I also think corruption in the govt. should be stopped because it runs rampant but how can it be when leading officials are involved?

    The Prime Minister answering to Parliament – now that’ll be the day. I hope it happens soon.

    Discrimination is a big one too…. I really really hope they do something about this.

    You have some really good items on your list. Have you thought about running for office?

  8. Anonymous says:

    I think the primer minister and the king are two cheeks of the same arse. Their democracy is what is in the middle, and the parliament is what comes out of it. Disgusting but true!

  9. Ali says:

    I have a small question for people that started working around 1995 +/- 3

    I noticed that when one applied to work then…The interviewer would say things
    “You do not have experiance”…1993 to 1996

    then it was
    “You Are over qulified”…1995 to 2000

    After that

    “They will not Reply to your application”…1999 to 2004

    Few years later
    “They will Reply to your application after 3 years”…2003 to Now

    almost 85% of the Handlers of such applications for employment are Indians
    or are Involoved in the filtering.

    almost 10% UK.

    5% Bahrainis of which 60% of those are Not Born Here.

    My Question is….
    =========================================
    What Do you think the Next trick will be?
    =========================================
    Thanks to all and Mahmood.

    Yours
    ALI

  10. Kumar says:

    Try this as economic progress
    the Business Man In Bahrain is a Major…oh well you make up your mind.

    for example Papa Johns Pizza

    Bahrain $ USA $
    Revenue 13.26259947 9
    Cost of Materials % of Revenue 6.1% 7.8%
    Labour $ / Hour 2.7% 66.7%
    Income Tax % 0 20%
    Profits as % of revenue 91.4% 24.6%

    Facts
    AVG Price of Pizza is 8- 10$ USA
    AVG Price of Pizza is 12-14$ Bahrain
    cost of Material both ad 15% for Cargo 70% of Reveune
    Labour / Hour USA 6$ in USD
    Labour / Hour Bahrain 150 BD / Month
    the same for:
    Dairy Queen
    KFC
    All Resturants and Clubs
    JJ’s BJ’s
    GUlf Hotel…etc

    this is not a Business Man… He is Busy Ripping Bahrain Off
    Comments are not Welcomed any time…cause I am right!!!

    Yours
    Kumar

  11. Kumar says:

    clearer

    Bahrain $ +++++++++++++++ USA $
    Revenue 13.26 +++++++++++++++ 9
    Cost of Materials % of Revenue 6.1% +++++++++++++++ 7.8%
    Labour $ / Hour 2.7% +++++++++++++++ 66.7%
    Income Tax % 0 +++++++++++++++ 20%
    Profits as % of revenue 91.4% +++++++++++++++ 24.6%

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