“Cleaner than a white dress”

May 9th, 2008|

Is a bastardisation of the translation of an Arabic idiom which is better transcribed in English as “Cleaner than a white thobe” at least – thobe being the Arabian traditional male garment – which might have taken away the derogatory insinuation given by the use of the word “dress”. This Arabic proverb is akin to the English idiom “pure as the driven snow”, but for reasons not apparent to me, the GDN decided in its own lack of wisdom to translate it as such in relation to the Bahraini minister bin Rajab’s declaration of innocence. My suspicion is that they are taking sides, we do not see the same skew in reporting when they talk about the other minister under investigation by parliament.

Not that it would make any difference whatsoever of course; parliament itself is skewed in its current make up, which is sectarian to the core. Am I at all surprised then that Attiyatallah himself was declared innocent of misleading the country by a committee whose members already amply declared their position, even before he was greeted and led to his plush seat in the investigation committee by beaming members of the investigation panel? Of course not. This is a foregone conclusion.

As is the matter of convicting bin Rajab for his financial and administrative irregularities. In that committee, Al-Wefaq’s has the numbers.

The downside for the future of this country is once again the affirmation of the cloud of sectarianism; one in which a person votes for his tribe and sect regardless of the guilt and culpability of the person or issue in question.

Shamlawi contesting electoral districts

April 15th, 2008|

Lawyer Abdulla Al-Shamlawi suing the government for the iniquitous electoral boundariesLawyer Abdulla Al-Shamlawi suing the government for the iniquitous electoral boundariesOne of the main grievances people of Bahrain have is the iniquitous distribution of the electoral districts. We find that in the 2006 elections for instance, the Northern Governate contains a total of 91,874 voters electing nine members of parliament; while in the Southern Governate, the voters there number only 16,571 but they get to elect six members of parliament. This means that while members of parliament in the Northern Governate average one MP for every 10,802 votes, we find that in the Southern Governate the average is one MP for every 2,761 votes!

This means that one vote in the Southern Governate equals two and a half of those in the Northern Governate. Iniquitous by any standard, but when you consider that this results in direct representation in an elected parliament, one cannot help but think of clear discrimination on the part of the government against a large swathe of the country’s population. Comparing numbers in other districts affirms this clear and unadulterated prejudice.

One person is taking the government to task about these issues where it counts; lawyer Abdulla Al-Shamlawi is suing the government in its own courts [Arabic] for this iniquitous distribution of electoral districts on behalf of a citizen in District 1 in the Northern Governate, a Mr. Mattar Ibrahim Al-Mattar.

Al-Shamlawi’s battle is a winning one logically and he is driving the Legal Department – representing the government – into a spiral of self destruction as he is taking every illogical single point they throw to the fore, deconstucts it and replies with facts and solid logic, especially when you consider that they are trying to defend the indefensible.

Apart form the various seminars and workshops and demonstrations which are almost a weekly occurrence since they drew the illogical and completely illegal electoral boundaries, this, I feel is the cherry on the cake and the most effective method to get this iniquitous situation corrected.

Well done Mr. Al-Shamlawi. Much respect and admiration and God’s speed.

Will it explode?

March 17th, 2008|

If you’re in Bahrain, you must have felt the tension over the past few months. This tension could in large part be attributed to the Bandargate scandal in which some members of the government and royal family have been implicated in disseminating sectarian strife; a conspiracy which has kept the Bahraini political and apolitical scenes alight.

That powder keg is very close to explosion.

Over the last 3 weeks, parliament, at least the House of Representatives part in it, could not be convened due to vociferous demands by Al-Wefaq (+1) to question the main minister involved in Bandargate on financial irregularities which might be enough to impeach him. The other side of the House adamantly refused to let that intrinsic legislative tool be used claiming that the questioning is unconstitutional and using every single trick they can get hold of to hinder it. So much so that the House’s main legal council quit rather suddenly and flew back to his native Egypt – some say due to him being pressured and cajoled to change his position of which he maintained the constitutionality of the motion.

The “loyalists” as they have become known – wrongly in my view – ditched the main legal council’s advice, ridden roughshod on the second council who agreed with the first, and took the advice of the most junior of councils who seems to have given them what they want.

Al-Wefaq and Aziz Abul continue to hold onto the constitutionality of their demand and did not budge from their position. They want to question Ahmed Attiyatallah and have threatened to continue to disrupt the House’s proceedings until they get their demand. According to the Constitution and the Bylaws, they are well within their right to question said minister.

If you have been following the snippets of news over the past few days, there has been several shuttle meetings between Al-Wefaq and the higher powers in society; Al-Wefaq even met first with the prime minister and then the king to share their views with them. Both, apparently, did not want to interfere in the legislative process but gave their overt blessings that any minister – even if from within the royal family – is not above questioning.

Al-Dhahrani, the speaker of the house, still insists on the unconstitutionality of the motion and wants the house to vote on it. A process that Al-Wefaq is completely against due to it being against the House’s bylaws first, and second, because they can never win that vote given that the current make-up of the House is 22 against and 18 for. You will be interested to know that Al-Wefaq is represented by 18 votes in the House, even though they have gained 63% of the actual vote! But that’s another story.

Tomorrow promises to be stellar. Will parliament be dissolved because the intransigence of the proponents and the opponents of the motion, or will it continue to be disrupted without a solution in the offing?

I personally do not believe that it will be dissolved. A magic solution – as is typical in this country – will appear at the last minute and will save the moment. The stakes are far too high for this “democratic experiment” to fail now.

My mind is still boggled as to why the parliament itself is against using a very important tool like questioning a minister. Other than them being interfered with and pushed into their respective positions, I really have no explanation to this laughable situation.

Well, tomorrow is another day. The sun will continue to shine and business will continue to be done and migrant workers will continue to strike and buildings will continue to be built in spite of everything. The “boom” that we are experiencing; however, might well have a different sound to it come tomorrow.

We shall wait and see.

Change at the GDN?

March 11th, 2008|

You know how much I love the GDN, right? And hold it at the highest regards? Yes, I’m being sarcastic here, but even with that, I am really surprised by a few changes in their reportage I have witnessed over the last few weeks; one might even use the adjective “daring” to describe some of the things they printed.

Take today for instance, right there on the front page they trespass on the law and actually use that dreaded word “bandargate“!! It possibly is the only national paper which have had the balls (recently) to print it. I wonder if they now will be penalised and shut down for a while for their temerity!

Have a look yourselves:

bandargate-gdn.png

So the question is, where did the balls come from, or is the guy who usually applies the brakes on holiday?

Parliament suspends its authority

March 11th, 2008|

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For the third week running, parliament abrogates its basic responsibility to oversee the operation of the executive branch by completely negating both the Constitution and Parliamentary Bylines. [audio clip]

I feel that this “experiment” might have reached an impasse now. I don’t foresee an effective way forward other than going back to the drawing board and adopting a new constitution which respects the foundations of human rights and dignity. What we are witnessing now is nothing more than a direct result of the inequities visited upon us by the contentious 2002 constitution and the behind the scene machinations which are further strengthened by the absence of real political will to seek a solution.

If these basic things are not resolved, and resolved quickly, the apparent milk and honey which a few are enjoying will disappear faster than the trust people have put in this new new era.