Tag Archives parliament

Selective Citizenship, Bahraini-style

Selective Citizenship, Bahraini-style

Parliament is considering legislation by the government to compel Bahrainis with multiple-citizenship to rescind them in favour of the Bahraini citizenship within 3 months of the legislation becoming the law.

I know that many countries in the world have similar conditions for their citizens. What is different in our situation is that I know – through precedent – that if this law sees the light of day, and I believe it is as this parliament doesn’t have the balls to refuse anything the government shoves down its throat, it will be once again selectively applied.

Consider this: most of those affected by this law will probably be many members of the royal family, the “top” merchant families and the rest of the upper echelons of society…. I wonder if they’ll acquiesce to the government’s mandate, or are they going to simply ignore it, like they do with most other laws?

Regardless, I don’t believe that the government will pursue them of course, the law will not apply to them. It’s highly probable; however, that they will enact penalties against those less fortunate, or more appropriately, those the government deems from the opposition, undesirable for some reason, or those that it wants to intimidate or harass to leave.

Fun. And games.

This gives you a flavour of the so-called parliament we are saddled with. A bunch or rubber-stampers. One that instead of protecting the society that has supposedly elected it, are diligently working to rob it of whatever minuscule freedoms that remain. And at the same time haplessly pushing through laws which reduce the parliament’s very own rights too. Despicable.

And this has been forced through by the government in the last few days of their term, capitalising on their “injury time” as they’re about to break and  with elections scheduled for the autumn. Whether those elections will be effective amongst wide calls of boycott is another matter. In any case, I believe that this is the very worst parliament we have ever had in this country and fully agree with Shaikha Mai who wasn’t wrong when she described them as “not men”, or “مو رياييل”, because they’re anything but.

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Global thinking obstructed by parliament

Global thinking obstructed by parliament

What’s wrong with Bahrainis – be they with current jobs or jobless – seeking employment and further career advancement elsewhere in the world?

A whole lot, according to those in the Bahrainis parliament:

Bahrain’s ailing national carrier Gulf Air may be forced to hire 100 unemployed Bahraini pilots despite plans to slash its heacount by as much as 1,800 as part of a proposed US$492m government bailout deal, it was reported.
A parliamentary committee has asked MPs to agree to a new proposal to hire unemployed local pilots, despite a plan to try and reduce losses at the national carrier, said Gulf Daily News.
“We don’t want to see those qualified Bahraini pilots moving elsewhere either to regional or foreign competitors because then we would have lost loyal Bahrainis, spent money unnecessarily on training them and allowed our competitors a marginal cutting edge,” parliament’s legislative and legal affairs committee chairman MP Ali Al Ateesh was quoted as saying. [ArabianBusiness.com]

Is it only me that sees only an emotional rather than a rational objection here? What is Gulf Air going to do with an extra 100 inexperienced pilots when they’re in dire straits and cutting many hundreds of jobs as a step to cope with its situation? Other than directly affecting the safety of its passengers that is?

This kind of thinking is dangerous. Those who find themselves in parliament here or in positions of power would be well advised to encourage Bahrainis to seek good jobs and career advancement where ever they find them, not sequester them into a parochial vision of hell just to ameliorate their own feelings of guilt – probably brought on from their active encouragement of firing those who took even mediocre parts in the ongoing pro-democracy activism.

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The Multitasking Dhahrani

If there ever was a time for the Tim Allen grunt, this is most definitely it!

$9.5m mosque reconstruction deal is signed

Posted on » Thursday, December 29, 2011

Khalifa Aldhahrani striking a pose
A CONTRACT to rebuild the $9.5 million (BD3.6m) King Khalid bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Mosque on a 10,000sqm plot in Umm Al Hassam was signed yesterday at the Saudi Embassy in Bahrain.

Saudi Ambassador Abdul Mohsen bin Fahad Al Mark said the project reflects outstanding Bahrain-Saudi ties, strengthened thanks to the directives of the two countries’ wise leaderships.

He also praised the efforts of His Majesty King Hamad and the government to provide facilities for the project reflecting Saudi Arabia’s dedication in the service of Islam and Muslims.

He also reiterated Saudi Arabia’s keen interest to project the real image of Islam, as a religion of tolerance.

On the sidelines of the signing ceremony, Saudi Finance Ministry’s Ali Al Salman said his ministry would cover the costs of the reconstruction.

Work started yesterday and will last for 20 months. [GDN]

What the local rag conveniently does not mention, and is mentioned in Al-Wasat is that the company which has won that huge contract is none other than the one owned, actively managed and overseen by the effervescent three-time parliamentary speaker Khalifa Aldhahrani!

How the (*)^(*^%&($&(%*( is that not a conflict of interest?

Oh, sorry, that could be a reward for loyalty? Or maybe the contract is fairly won? Who were the competitors and where was this bid announced for general participation? nine point five million smackeroos! Just like that!

Now that’s a Bahraini success story isn’t it?

Just for the record, here are the parliamentarian’s responsibilities as outlined in the Parliamentary Bylaws as well as the chairman’s responsibilities [Arabic].

How Dhahrani’s personal representation in this deal (and others I’m sure) is not a slap in every single citizen’s face, is way beyond me. And I have no doubt that he’ll be “elected” again and again to continue to fill that seat until the day he finally dies.

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Wall of WHAT?

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I know I know, I’m a glutton for punishment. That’s why even while on holiday, I can’t help but follow the news in Bahrain; but then I give myself a break and some hilarity by reading the Bahraini local papers online and chief amongst those providing me of some merriment of course are the sycophantic Gulf Daily News and the incredibly unimaginative and obsequious Daily Tribune. I tend to not look at Akhbar Alkhaleej, Alwatan or Alayam unless I feel that my blood pressure is on a low side that particular day, leaving my edification of all things news about my little spit of a country to international online sources of repute.

As to the “noos”, it’s no surprise that all local papers are leading with something or another about the forthcoming by-elections, with a continuous articles and bylines “encouraging” the electorate to go to the ballot boxes and submit their votes. The areas affected of course are those vacated by the Al-Wefaq 18 who were responsible for over 187,000 voters accounting for 48% – 65% of the eligible electorate, depending on who you talk to.

I use the term “encouraging” with poetic license here of course, because all I’ve read so far does not entice voters to participate, but threaten them almost with ex-communication if they don’t! The regime, not unsurprisingly, wants this “political experiment” to succeed, or at least give the impression of success; hence, they seem to be using their usual mouth-pieces and threat of arms – as in police protection to voters – to do so.

The “encouragement” is somewhat contradictory though. Consider this from the Al-Mahmood who intriguingly called for the dismissal of the reigning prime minister – one of the ubiquitous red lines the country is filled with – only to now make concerted and continuous efforts to retract those statements by espousing even more extreme – and sometimes farcical – positions, like this one for instance, to probably compensate for his error in judgement, ehm, sorry, the Washington Times misrepresenting his statements:

A total of 187,080 people will be eligible to cast their ballots during the September 24 election being held to fill seats vacated by members of opposition group Al Wefaq. Authorities have pledged to do their utmost to safeguard voters and candidates after several candidates said they were threatened by groups opposed to the process.

Dr Al Mahmood condemned those who were seeking to pressurise Bahrain’s silent majority in the name of religion or sect.

Okay… strange that a cleric opposes using religion for anything, it’s their stock-in-trade and the reason for their existence in any case.

Quoting the Quran, he said Muslims must cherish the values of uprightness and probity while assuming their duties towards their well-being and that of humanity. [source]

Ah, that’s better! He’s quoting the Quran. So it’s okay for him but not for the others. I understand.

I don’t particularly care what any cleric says in regards to pluralism and democracy because we already know their positions intimately. What I do care about is the position of the state in this; if it censures one cleric for meddling in politics, why doesn’t it for this guy as well? Or is censure only reserved to those who oppose it?

As to participation in any elections, isn’t my decision whether to vote my democratic right? Why then all these shenanigans with ministers, other officials and paid-for journalists continuously harping on, threatening, urging and cajoling us to do so? My suggestion to all of them is to simply leave us alone to practice the democracy they’re so hung up on and be prepared to accept the free and unfettered result of our actions.

Getting people to believe in the democratic process and be active participants in it do not require all these machinations. All it does, is having a fair and equitable platform off of which we can leverage the powers of democracy to better ours and the country’s lot. Those don’t include threats and a concerted effort to lay the blame of your failures on your opposition.

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No Improper Names Allowed!

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It’s 11.1.11! I wish you the best of the best of the best on this auspicious day my friends. Yes, we Bahrainis ARE numbers mad. Or just mad. Whichever makes you happy.

In that stream, here’s some hilarity for you, courtesy of the doyen of journalism and the protector of the National Honour™

PARENTS in Bahrain could soon be banned from giving their newborns names that are deemed unacceptable by the government.

The aim is to prevent children being ridiculed for having an “improper” name, which MPs believe could cause psychological strain.

Members of the Shura Council voted in favour of the proposal yesterday as they debated a draft law to protect the rights of children.

The vote means that all newborns’ names will have to be registered with the government, which would issue a birth certificate stating that the child’s name had been accepted.

Shura Councillors approved the relevant article in the child protection law, but did not discuss punishments for parents who choose “improper” names – or whether children will be able to take against their parents if they are unhappy with their name.

The article states that parents will not be able to select names that contradict religions or are likely to cause psychological problems for children.

GDN 11.1.11

ALL TOGETHER NOW… READY?

WTF!

No matter, let’s play a game – as this is 11.1.11 – and name a few names that you have come across in Bahrain that you think the government will think inappropriate.

While we’re at it, let’s consider the following respected Bahraini citizens and vote on the possibility of their names being sanctioned had they been born in this great country:

Khathlan Dabh Jalood Rowaili - خثلان ذبح جلود رويلي

and

Abed Ajham Anfoos Anfoos - عبد اجهم عنفوص عنفوص

For the record, my serious position on this is that this is a germane individual freedom issue and the government has no right to interfere in it. I hardly think that any person would name their child improperly, but if they do, then allowing the child to change that name to anything else s/he wishes should be made significantly easier. I know at least one person who change his name from “Sameer”, which he found frivolous and “light” to “Ahmed”. I rather like Sameer actually, much more than the plain Ahmed. But that’s me. I’m sure you came across many who changed their names for one reason or another too. Having the government poke their nose into this as well, is, well, improper.

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The price of petrol… and beans

Both, it seems are about to rise. And rise appreciably. The government – bless their souls – have had enough pumping good money into various subsidies which – they finally realised – benefits both the haves and the have-nots.

In fact, they just benefit the haves and even finance various businesses too via the subsidised goods, the price of shawarma for instance remains “reasonable” due to the ready availability of subsidized meats, bread and vegetables too.

So, the test balloons have been released over the last couple of weeks via “judicious” press leaks – well, if you consider four-pound hammers cracking a walnut judicious, that is – and now over the last couple of days, they just came out and said it: the subsidies will be of the past very soon. The government no longer has the luxury of dedicating some BD200 million a year to do just that. The first commodity to be hit will be the Mumtaz fuel it seems. Then it will roll down on to other commodities.

The premise the government is throwing at us is that they will ensure that those in need will be taken care of and subsidies will be routed appropriately. They’re a bit sketchy on this little detail of course, but I’m sure the CIO will once again pull that proverbial rabbit out of their hat. Or, maybe, they’ll put the “smart card” to use. Coupled with the deep data mining they are capable of, they wouldn’t be too taxed in finding those who are actually in need.

Some skeptics are not convinced of the motives and are less so about the implementation. I can’t say that I don’t agree for the details are anything but crystal. I would be very happy if this newly elected parliament with its greater number of “independents” a lot of whom are businessmen would look at the budget and plans acutely. They need to, and they need to hold the government to account and press it for full transparency – especially the black hole which is the CIO – to ensure that funds are put where they belong, and routed to those who deserve them.

The ballpark is now set for the next four years of parliament I think… it will be a more vociferous fight about money, which is distasteful if not coupled with real demands for full governmental disclosure and transparency.

Let the games begin, I say. It should be fun.

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MUHARRAQ! Forgive me for leaving!

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I wish I never left Muharraq.

We lived in Arad for about 5 years in the 90s and it was great there. True, a rented house, but the neighbourhood, the people, and the feelings were unique, like no where else in Bahrain. It is not strange, therefore, that the island boasts the most integrated, and least sectarian atmospheres between Bahrainis. Even their cemetery is shared between Sunnis and Shi’as without a wall in between the graves. Nothing reminds me of my father like Muharraq. Although he lived most of his life in Manama, he was born there and it was there that incubated his most precious memories. Just looking at his paintings would immediately transport you to the magical narrow Muharraqi neighbourhoods he grew up in.

With the elections only a couple of days away, I just look at my brothers and sisters in that beautiful island with envy for their real chance at effecting positive change in this country. With candidates like Ebrahim Sharif and Sami Siyadi, their choice should be easy when they tick the box. The same for those lucky voters in Isa Town as they have Munira Fakhro and they should proudly tick her box on Saturday. With these three, salvation for this country’s ills is at hand if they are given the slim chance to effect change.

Not so when it comes to my chosen area of abode now. Now, I have half-wits and nincompoops to choose from! Two women who’s electioneering campaign ran on subjugating their women-kind even further by categorically declaring that they will not support Personal Status Law as that is against their religion. I doubt that they believe that, but they’re pandering to their electorate the majority of whom live within a stone’s throw of Isa Qassim, the supremo religious cleric in the area. The others include Al-Mitghawi from Diraz who appears to have spent the last four years in a coma on his bench in parliament, and then we have a couple of others trying their luck at the jack-pot; hey, they get 40% of their salary as pension after four years, so why not!

So who am I going to cast my vote for this time? Not much of a choice, and as I object to every single one of them in my area, I won’t bother. Not because I’m boycotting or abrogating my national duty, not at all, it’s because I genuinely don’t think that any of those running in my area deserve my vote. And there are no alternatives.

Of course this is exactly what happens if a country as small as ours has such an impotent way of districting. With a country not much bigger than a provincial town in India, wouldn’t you think that someone would think it better to declare the whole country as one district and then allow us voters to choose on anyone we think is best to represent us rather than having to be lumbered with what we have in our own little districts?

So my friends, although I’m not casting my vote this time, I throw my full weight unabashedly behind the three people whom I think can make a difference to this country’s future, and would do so without any sectarian or overt religious dogma.

I throw my full weight behind Ebrahim Sharif, Sami Siyadi and Muneera Fakhro.

Good luck, and just by running and engineering an election program which has educated the multitudes in this country, you have already won the hearts and minds of your fellow Bahrainis. I’m sure that if the elections are unbiased, true and fair, we shall see you in parliament soon.

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Eejit MP calls for new UN without USA

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That eejit is MP Al-Moawdah (hopefully soon to have the ex- prefix prepended to that nomenclature) forgets that the UNITED NATIONS is an inclusive body, and more importantly, cannot function without the USA in any case. I guess like the majority of the world, he is rightly incensed at the atrocities committed by Israel against the Freedom Flotilla. What is inexcusable; however, is that his office dictates that he should have a calm head and engages said head before opening any other orifice to not only declare such an idiotic claim, but compound it with this raspberries too:

“How can we have world peace with a country like the US in the Security Council? Nothing will ever come of it and there will be no peace in the world.

Lovely.

He should tell our prime minister that.

مضيفا سموه لدى استقباله السفير الأميركي أن الأمن والاستقرار مطلب أساسي وتحقيقه يستدعي تعاوناً وتنسيقاً دولياً، وإن للدول الصديقة دور كبير في هذا الشأن باعتبارها شريكاً في إحلال السلام.

His Royal Highness added when he received the American ambassador that security and stability is a prerequisite to achieve and requires cooperation and coordination internationally, and that friendly countries a significant role in this regard as a partner in peace.

Almoawdah also made a public promise to:

“The first action I have in mind is taking Israeli leaders to the International Court of Justice.”

Good luck!

Can anyone other than I smell the electioneering crap in these statements?

Ahhh, the parliamentary elections in October are nearing fast, and these MPs are baying at the moon and salivating once again at the sounds of coins and benefits awaiting them.

Are they worth electing once again? Did Bahrain not learn from the lessons?

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Ooooof!

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I know, I know, I’m a news junky. Sue me.

But for hilarity, I always turn to our local rag, the illustrious GDN, aided and abetted by our Parliament or honorable parliamentarians.

Her Royal Highness Princess Sabeeka bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa, wife of His Majesty King Hamad:

It is the duty of the young to stand up and vote women into parliament, to ensure the country’s political, social and economic progress, said Princess Sabeeka, who chairs the Supreme Council for Women.

She was speaking as she opened and led a three-hour debate at Bahrain University’s Sakhir campus on the role of women and young people in politics.

Khalifa Al-Dhahrani Chairman of the Council of Representatives (2002-2010):

BAHRAIN is not ready for women in politics, says parliament chairman Khalifa Al Dhahrani.

He spoke out after Princess Sabeeka asked the students if they would vote for a well-qualified woman in parliament.

The majority in the room raised their hands, while others said they had yet to see women prove their capabilities in the political arena.

This prompted Mr Al Dhahrani to say that Bahraini society is not ready for women in politics.

“We have to look at our society in a realistic way and I don’t believe that it is ready for women in politics.

“Our parliament is run by religious factions and blocs, which all support women but I don’t think that as a society we are ready for this.”

But Princess Sabeeka and other panel members interjected, saying Bahrain was not completely run by religious factions.

Can you smell it?

Do we really want the right honorable MP Khalifa Al-Dhahrani and his like for yet another term?

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