Al-Mulla: “I will not compromise at all in implementing the recommendations against whoever is negligent or whoever delays work of committees and projects. We may even publicly publish the names of absent deputies”
As head of Parliament Al-Mullah has become one of the most visible faces in the Bahraini media, leading parliamentary sessions, engaging with Bahrain’s leadership and meeting foreign dignitaries. Following the 10 February walkout by a handful of Islamist MPs, many deputies spoke out strongly in defence of Al-Mulla, demonstrating that he is a widely regarded figure who enjoys the respect of most of his colleagues.
During late May 2015 Al-Mulla submitted a proposal for updating laws concerning fishing registration and strengthening measures against those violating the law.
During late July and early September 2015 there was extensive media coverage of Al-Mulla’s participation in a global parliamentary conference in New York.
Note that the Parliament Chairman tends to play a very different role to that of other MPs. As the figure with overall responsibility for smooth-running of parliamentary business, the Parliament Chairman does not tend to take a partisan position on individual issues. Most of Al-Mulla’s public statements tend to deal with broader legislative issues and he tends to stand back from the disputes and debates which dominate the concerns of most deputies. As a result, despite the fact that Al-Mulla appears in the newspapers every day, we have only included a representative sample of his public comments below.
ACTIVITY DURING 2015-2016 PARLIAMENT SEASON
Economy & employment
Economy: Al-Mulla on 15 Sep emphasized that the economy and living standards were the principle priorities for Parliament during the coming phase. These comments came during a parliamentary meeting with economic experts. Al-Mulla on 30 Sep said that sacrifices would be required during the coming parliamentary term in order to meet the economic challenges.
Policing & regional security
Terrorism: Al-Mulla on 28 July condemned the recent attack in Sitra which killed 2 policemen. He stressed the necessity of “uprooting terrorism” in Bahrain.
Al-Mulla on 6 Aug called on GCC and international parliamentarians to actively condemn and oppose terrorism in a statement following a mosque attack in Abha Saudi Arabia.
Iran: Al-Mulla on 23 July condemned statements by the Iranian leadership concerning Bahrain, which he described as interference in Bahrain’s internal affairs. Al-Mulla called on Bahrainis to stand together against such interference.
Yemen: Al-Mulla on 4 Sep extended his condolences over the deaths of 5 Bahraini soldiers and other GCC troops in Yemen.
Diplomacy: On 22 Sep, Al-Mulla met diplomatic representatives from India, Jordan and China. He emphasized the importance of trade and political relations with these states.
Rights & freedoms
Human rights: Al-Mulla on 9 July criticized the EU Parliament’s “interference in Bahraini affairs”, saying that foreign officials should be more careful in gleaning their information from trusted sources. Al-Mulla in early August condemned an EU statement regarding the temporary closure of Al-Wasat newspaper, he said that Bahrain was a state abiding by the rule of law.
Civil society: Al-Mulla on 13 Sep pledged parliamentary support to enhance the role of civil society in Bahrain, for strengthening freedom and democracy in Bahrain.
Youth, culture & sport
Technology: Al-Mulla congratulated the Prime Minister on 7 Aug for his awarding of a technology and economic development prize.
Parliament role & constituent engagement
Parliament: In a statement marking the end of the parliamentary season Al-Mulla on 6 July praised levels of cooperation between MPs and ministers. He called for citizens to carefully appraise the achievements of Parliament so far and pledged to continue efforts to protect public money and enhance national unity. He affirmed the importance of MPs engaging with local people for a better understanding of public aspirations.
Delegation: At a New York conference for heads of Parliament, Al-Mulla on 25 Aug reportedly debated international challenges for promoting peace and democracy. Ali al-Aradi is also attending as his deputy. Al-Mulla on 29 Aug during the conference stressed the importance of legislative activity to combat terrorism.
Al-Mulla, during a 1 Sep speech emphasized Bahrain’s refusal of foreign interference. He said that the safety and security of citizens was above all other priorities.
Al-Mulla on 3 Sep noted the importance of participation in the New York delegation for strengthening ties with parliaments of other nations.
Embassies: Al-Mulla on 6 Sep praised the role of Bahrain’s ambassadors in working to strengthen Bahrain’s relationships with other nations, following meetings with ambassadors.
ACTIVITY DURING 2014-2015 PARLIAMENT SEASON
Standards of living, health & education
Meat subsidies: Al-Mulla on 21 May praised the “re-directioning of subsidies” and called for other basic goods to be dealt with accordingly. He said that concerns would be allayed when the measures were put in place and said that any measures which served citizens were welcomed. However, Al-Mulla called for a number of guarantees before subsidies were lifted and stressed the importance of MPs discussing the issue.
Several MPs were critical of this statement by Al-Mulla. However, in comments a few days later, Al-Mulla stressed the importance of Parliament discussing the issue and reiterated the importance of citizens’ living standards not being harmed. Following a Parliamentary Bureau meeting on 25 May, Al-Mulla stressed the importance of a united Parliament stance with regard to issues associated with the Budget.
Economy & employment
Fishing: On 2 March Al-Mulla pledged that Parliament would do its utmost to support the fishing industry and other traditional Bahraini professions and skills.
On 28 May Al-Mulla submitted a proposal for updating laws concerning fishing registration and strengthening measures against those violating the law.
Good governance & public finance
Action Plan: “This is the first Chamber of Deputies to engage with the Government’s programme following the 2012 constitutional amendments and the results of the agreements made in the National Dialogue. This has given the Chamber of Deputies wide powers, implementing the aspirations of our wise leadership and the nation.”
“We are faced with an important national challenge and a new experience that we are working to accomplish, in order to implement parliamentary principles governed by the constitution for the benefit of the common good.” (16 January Al-Watan interview)
Budget: “Deputies will engage with the Budget in the context of the current situation in order to achieve the desires of citizens. We will aim for a moderate and realistic deal from parliamentarians.” (16 January)
Al-Mulla on 30 March stressed the determination of parliamentarians to cooperate closely with the Government to reach agreement on the upcoming National Budget.
Al-Mulla on 13 May stressed that protecting the benefits due to citizens and “the public good” were the priorities of the Budget.
Audit: “Deputies’ handling of the Financial Audit Bureau report in the current legislative period will be completely different from in the past… The role of deputies is to ensure accountability and oversight in a determined and strict manner when debating this and preparing the report. All parliamentary tools at our disposal will be used if violations and offenses are discovered, in order to protect public funds.” (16 January)
Minister interrogation: During the 5 May parliamentary session an insufficient number of MPs voted in support of interrogating the Health Minister over issues raised in the Audit report (23 supported, below the 2/3 quota of 27 MPs). Al-Mulla abstained.
Policing & regional security
Terrorism: Al-Mulla in a 16 March Al-Arabiya interview: “Many terrorist organizations are working day and night through the social media to seduce young people and turn them into terrorists who undermine national and regional security.”
Yemen: On 28 March Al-Mulla praised the GCC intervention in Yemen. He said that the creation of a “joint Arab force acted as a deterrent to Iran’s foreign ambitions of annexation and interference in Arab and Gulf affairs”.
Saudi mosque attack: Al-Mulla on 23 May issued a statement strongly condemning the attack by ISIS against a Shia mosque in Saudi Arabia, killing around 21 people.
Iran & Hezbollah: In a tough statement on 25 May, Al-Mulla accused Iran of “inciting violence and terrorism in Bahrain”. He also described Hezbollah as a terrorist group.
Rights & freedoms
Quran: Regarding a video that went viral of a student singing verses from the Quran at a talent contest (5 March), Al-Mulla made the following comments: “Quranic verses and Islamic basics shouldn’t be harmed on the pretext of creativity or freedom of expression. All responsible parties should be held accountable.”
Media: On International Press Freedom Day, Al-Mulla congratulated Bahraini journalists. He praised the “soldiers of honest and influential words in the cause of protecting national security”. (2 May)
Monarch: Al-Mulla on 21 May in a statement said that the King had received Arab and international recognition for his efforts, after the King was chosen by the Arab Creators Union as the Best Arab National Personality for 2015.
Women’s rights: During a parliamentary women’s forum on 21 May, Al-Mulla said that Parliament was committed to securing the needs of Bharaini women and achieving their aspirations within the context of the current discussions on the Budget.
Disabled: At a 28 May parliamentary event dedicated to considering the needs of the disabled, Al-Mulla spoke of a vision for setting up care centres across Bahrain to increase the facilities available to those with special needs.
Parliament role & constituent engagement
“Citizens’ perceptions of Parliament have changed…there is widespread satisfaction among citizens towards the Parliament’s performance so far” (9 March)
Underperforming MPs: “We are dissatisfied with what went on previously. We are working to develop parliamentary performance in all areas… We are confident that deputies have responsibility and integrity in going about their duties. However, I will not compromise at all in implementing the recommendations against whoever is negligent or whoever delays work of committees and projects. We may even publically publish the names of absent deputies.” (16 January)
Al-Mulla has condemned MPs who fail to regularly attend parliamentary sessions. He stated: “MPs are here to serve the people and it is their responsibility to show up if they are concerned about the welfare of those who have elected them,” Al-Mulla said, warning that there would be pay deductions for those who failed to attend without valid excuses. (17 February)
Coordination with municipalities: Al-Mulla has pledged that the coming months will see greater coordination between MP and municipal councils. He pledged that Parliament would do its utmost to facilitated projects that benefitted the councils. (12 March)
Opposition boycott: Al-Mulla in a 16 March interview: “The opposition’s boycott has no effect on the Council of Representatives, which represents the whole society. Whoever wants to embark on the democratic train is very welcome”.
Delegation: On 25 April Al-Mulla stressed the importance of support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. Al-Mulla at an event in Jakarta stressed the importance of MPs around the world in cooperating to address international challenges.
- Standards of living, health & education – 5
- Housing & services – 5
- Policing & regional security – 6
- Good governance & public finance – 7
- Economy & employment – 6
- Supporting constituents & youth – 6
- Rights & freedoms – 5
- Constructive Parliament role – 8
- Public visibility – 9
- Progressive/reformist credentials – 5
Results of 2014 elections – 10th Southern
Areas covered: Southern Bahrain, Dawr & Hawar islands
Blocks: 961, 967, 971, 973, 987, 988, 989, 995, 997, 998, 999, 1101, 1102, 1103, 1104, 1106, 1107, 1108, 1110, 1111, 1112, 1113
Registered voters: 2,368; Percentage 1st round voter turnout: 45.3%
Contest decided by outright win in the first round of voting.
First round vote:
Ahmed al-Mulla – 834 (80.27%)
Khalid al-Dossary – 205 (19.7%)
Profile of election campaign: Ahmed Ibrahim Rashid Rashid al-Mulla
Ahmed al-Mulla won this contest outright in the first round, having gained more than 80% of the vote against his only opponent, Khalid al-Dossary. Latifa al-Gaoud, who was Bahrain’s first female MP in 2006, had long held on to this constituency, although she did not register to participate this time around.
Al-Mulla had originally been set to stand in the 7th Southern constituency. However, he told journalists that he had not wanted to stand against head of the “Independents Bloc” Abdullah Bin-Huwail. The contest began in court with Al-Dossary petitioning that Al-Mulla wasn’t eligible to stand in this constituency. The court ruled in Al-Mulla’s favour. After the vote Al-Mulla’s rival was reportedly threatened with court proceedings by members of the Dossary tribe who contested that Khalid wasn’t a Dossary at all!
Al-Mulla said that in the coming Parliament he wanted to concentrate on economic legislation to promote growth. He commented that the previous Parliament had spent a far greater portion of its time on criminal and judicial matters.
The 10th Southern district encompasses a large area of Bahrain’s southern landmass, but is sparse on population. With 2,368 registered voters, this is the constituency with by far the smallest number of voters in Bahrain (next smallest 9th Southern with 5,090 voters). However, prior to the electoral reforms this region only had around 1,175 voters.
10th Southern includes the Hawar Islands whose ownership was previously contested with Qatar. The low turnout compared to other Southern constituencies, can perhaps be put down to the scattered nature of local populations, and the lack of serious competition for incumbent MP Ahmed al-Mulla.
An additional factor is that with Latifa al-Gaoud winning by default in both 2006 and 2010, there is no strong tradition of democratic participation in this rural and tribal area. In contrast to other areas of Bahrain, there has been no media coverage of this contest, so there is little sense of what local people think of their candidates or the issues they want to see addressed in the 2014 Parliament.
Know your deputy: Profiles of other Bahrain MPs
Adel al-Asoumi – 1st Capital
Ahmed Qaratah – 2nd Capital
Adel Bin-Hamid Abdulhussain – 3rd Capital
Deputy-Head of Parliamentary Human Rights Committee
Abdulrahman Bumjaid – 4th Capital
Nasser al-Qaseer – 5th Capital
Deputy Head of the Permanent Committee for Financial and Economic Matters
Ali al-Atish – 6th Capital
Osamah al-Khajah – 7th Capital
Shaikh Majid al-Asfour – 8th Capital
Mohammed Jaffar Milad – 9th Capital
Nabil al-Balooshi – 10th Capital
Ali Bufarsan – 1st Muharraq
Head of Committee for Youth and Sports
Ibrahim al-Hammadi – 2nd Muharraq
Jamal Buhassan – 3rd Muharraq
Isa al-Kooheji – 4th Muharraq
Head of the Permanent Committee for Financial and Economic Matters
Mohammed al-Jowder – 5th Muharraq
Abbas al-Madhi – 6th Muharraq
Ali al-Muqla – 7th Muharraq
Abdulrahman Bu-Ali – 8th Muharraq
Fatimah al-Asfour – 1st Northern
Deputy Head of the Committee for Women and Children
Jalal Kadhim al-Mahfoudh – 2nd Northern
Deputy Head of Committee for Youth and Sports
Hamad al-Dossary – 3rd Northern
Ghazi Al Rahmah – 4th Northern
Deputy Head of Permanent Committee for Public Utilities and Environment
Ali al-Aradi – 5th Northern
Deputy Head of Parliament
Rua al-Haiki – 6th Northern
Shaikh Majid al-Majid – 7th Northern
Head of the Permanent Committee for Shari’ah and Legal Matters
Dr. Isa Turki – 8th Northern
Abdulhamid Abdulhussain al-Najjar – 9th Northern
Deputy Head of Committee for Supporting the Palestinian People
Mohammed al-Ammadi – 10th Northern
Head of Committee for Supporting the Palestinian People
Jamal Dawoud – 11th Northern
Head of Permanent Committee for Public Utilities and Environment
Jamila al-Sammak – 12th Northern
Head of the Committee for Women and Children
Khalid al-Shaer – 1st Southern
Head of Parliamentary Human Rights Committee
Mohammed al-Ahmed – 2nd Southern
Abdulhalim Murad – 3rd Southern
Second Deputy Head of Parliament
Mohammed al-Maarifi – 4th Southern
Deputy Head of the Permanent Committee for Services
Khalifa al-Ghanim – 5th Southern
Anas Buhindi – 6th Southern
Deputy Head of the Permanent Committee for Shari’ah and Legal Matters
Abdullah Bin-Huwail – 7th Southern
Head of the Permanent Committee for Foreign, Defence and National Security Affairs
Dhiyab al-Noaimi – 8th Southern
Mohsin al-Bakri – 9th Southern
Ahmed al-Mulla – 10th Southern
Head of Parliament