Turki: “I am certain that Parliament failed to utilize the constitutional tools available to it. This reality is plainly true in the case of Parliament’s failure to interrogate the previous Health Minister”
Turki: “The existence of a strong legislature reflects positively on Government performance. It isn’t the non-existence of blocs which limits the business of Parliament, but rather the extent of MPs’ satisfaction with the proposals put in front of them”
Chairman of the Accord Bloc (from Oct 2015)
Member of the Permanent Committee for Shari’ah and Legal Affairs
Member of Committee for Supporting the Palestinian People
Turki is one of the four MPs from Hamad Town (8th-11th Northern), a working class area where provision of public services, housing and standards of living are matters of concern.
Over summer 2015, Turki was at the centre of negotiations for forming a parliamentary bloc, mainly consisting of Sunni loyalist figures. Instead of giving rise to a single broad-based bloc, these efforts produced two groupings: The Bahrain National Bloc and the Accord Bloc – the latter headed by Turki.
Turki has emphasized that the core priorities of his new Bloc are strengthening parliamentary monitoring tools, in particular the powers for interrogating ministers; and maintaining standards of living in the context of subsidy reform.
Turki has often supported measures looking to ease the financial burden on Bahrainis. For example, in mid-2015 he proposed halting the 1% unemployment insurance payments made from the wages of Bahraini workers. Around the same time he also tabled a proposal for deferral of payment of home loans for two months to allow for financial hardship.
Turki is comfortable addressing issues related to employment, career opportunities for Bahrainis and labour rights. He has also associated himself with the Palestine issue. Turki voted in favour of the State Budget during the 2 July 2015 parliamentary session.
ACTIVITY DURING 2015-2016 PARLIAMENT SEASON
Housing, services & infrastructure
Home loans: Turki on 20 June submitted an urgent proposal that the Govt allowed the deferral of housing loan payments for two months, given the tight financial circumstances of the Ramadan period.
Land use: Turki on 4 Aug proposed a monthly levy on undeveloped lands which had lain empty for more than three years. Turki called for an end to practices of monopolizing land and for measures to encourage housing developments.
Economy & employment
Domestic workers: Turki on 5 Aug formally proposed new regulations concerning foreign domestic workers, including harsher measures against those abusing the system.
Unemployment: Turki on 26 Aug submitted proposals for amending the law concerning unemployment insurance; obliging businesses to pay 1% for each foreign worker and excusing Bahrainis from payment.
Good governance & public finance
Audit report: Turki on 18 Aug emphasized the importance of following up the Financial Audit Bureau report. He said: “There is no constitutional or procedural stipulation preventing the Council of Representatives from preforming its regulatory duty concerning the violations and abuses cited in the Financial Audit Bureau report”. Turki said that he had submitted a proposal for forcing the Bureau to submit all violations to the Public Prosecution.
Government: Turki on 22 Sep emphasized the importance of the proposed reduced-size Cabinet, for confronting Bahrain’s economic challenges. He said that the new Cabinet would have greater powers to take creative and ambitious measures to address the economy.
Policing & regional security
Security: Turki on 30 July proposed monitoring all areas of Bahrain with security cameras.
Iran: Turki on 24 July condemned statements by the Iranian leadership concerning Bahrain. He praised the Interior Ministry’s comments regarding Iran’s interference in Bahrain’s internal affairs.
Bahrain forces: Following the deaths of 5 Bahraini troops in Yemen, Turki on 7 Sep proposed setting up a foundation to care for military casualties and the families of “martyrs”.
Parliament role & constituent engagement
Parliament Dec 2014-July 2015: Turki during a round-table Al-Wasat interview on 11 July alongside other MPs commented: “Bahrain mixes between a presidential and parliamentary system, which makes it difficult for the Council of Representatives to have a strong role for debating files; along with the fact that the Parliament has two chambers. This makes it difficult for MPs to raise the vital issues concerning citizens in the way they desire…
“I have to say that what we have achieved doesn’t totally fulfill my elections platform and neither does it fulfill the aspirations of Bahraini citizens who want improved standards of living. So we will need to continue working to address the desires of citizens and fulfilling our electoral programmes during the coming parliamentary cycles.
“I see the Prime Minister’s call for public engagement committees as important for forging ties with the public and understanding their needs.”
“The existence of a strong legislature reflects positively on Government performance. It isn’t the non-existence of blocs which limits the business of Parliament, but rather the extent of MPs’ satisfaction with the proposals put in front of them”.
“We look towards the coming parliamentary cycle in order for us to have a tougher oversight role in carrying out our legislative duties. There are numerous ministers earmarked for interrogation”.
Affiliation: Al-Wasat newspaper on 4 Oct signaled that a new parliamentary bloc was likely to be established at the beginning of the new parliamentary term, consisting of MPs Al-Asoumi, Bu-Ali, Qaratah, Al-Bakri, Al-Maarifi, Al-Noaimi, Al-Hammadi, Bin-Huwail and Turki. Al-Maarifi said: “Parliamentary action is collective not individual. A bloc needs to be formed with strength, weight and resonance, which serves the public good.”
Al-Watan had already reported this proposal on 23 Jul, citing several of the deputies pointing out the effectiveness of collective vis-à-vis individual action and noting the need for MPs to be a more effective lobbying force in response to ministers. Turki said that the failure to interrogate the Health Minister and the adoption of the Budget were the triggers for establishing this bloc.
On 15 Oct Isa Turki announced the formation of a new parliamentary alliance to be called the “Accord Bloc”, with Turki as the head of the grouping. Other members are Muhsin al-Bakri, Dhiyab al-Noaimi, Mohammed al-Maarifi, Osama al-Khajah and Khalifa al-Ghanim. Most members are Sunni loyalists from the southern constituencies of Bahrain. Turki said that the bloc had been established with a view to influencing the composition of the parliamentary committees at the beginning of the new parliamentary term and “installing new faces from the bloc capable of greater achievements”. However, it is notable that the new bloc has no chairmen on the five permanent committees and only two deputy chairmen – Al-Bakri (Public Utilities) and Al-Maarifi (Services)
Turki said that he and other members had been unsatisfied with the performance of Parliament to date. He stressed the importance of improving standards of living and strengthening Parliament’s regulatory role and noted that bloc members were dissatisfied with the Govt’s proposals for subsidy reform.
The Accord Bloc on 18 Oct held a press conference to officially announce its launch as a five-member alliance, headed by Isa Turki – also including, Mohammed al-Maarifi (deputy chairman), Muhsin al-Bakri, Osama al-Khajah and Dhiyab al-Noaimi.
Turki criticized the previous parliamentary term for not being sufficiently effective. He added: “I am certain that Parliament failed to utilize the constitutional tools available to it. This reality is plainly true in the case of Parliament’s failure to interrogate the previous Health Minister”. Turki said that the bloc had played a role in securing the election of Al-Madhi and Al-Atish for the Services and Legal Committees, while noting that two members – Al-Maarifi and Al-Bakri held deputy chairman positions. He refused to directly answer journalists’ questions concerning whether the bloc played a deliberate role in removing Isa al-Kooheji from the Finance Committee, but said that the bloc had supported Abdulrahman Bu-Ali’s successful election.
ACTIVITY DURING 2014-2015 PARLIAMENT SEASON
Housing, services & infrastructure
Construction: Turki on 13 April asked the Minister of Works about efforts to implement 2014 measures concerning planning and construction licensing.
Ownership: Turki on 29 April proposed legal changes regarding property ownership rights of GCC citizens in Bahrain. His proposed amendments stipulated a time period in which bought land must be built on.
During the 26 May parliamentary session Turki complained that the Justice Minister’s responses to his queries didn’t cover his question about the proportion of property in Bahrain in foreign hands.
Standards of living, health & education
Education: Turki on 14 May tabled a formal question for the Education Minister on Bahrain’s international ranking in standards of education.
University: Turki on 16 May proposed an increase of 60BD monthly allowances for university students, noting the increasing difficulty of affording fees.
Meat subsidies: During the 2 June open parliamentary debate on planned subsidy cuts, Turki demanded that MPs use parliamentary powers to interrogate MPs or reject the Budget in order to halt the meat subsidy proposal.
Economy & employment
Economy: Al-Turki on 23 February praised the PM’s success in creating “perpetual economic development, enhancing democracy and preserving security”.
Foreign workers: During the 3 March parliamentary debate on the so-called “free visa” system”, said that they had to distinguish between a legitimate need for foreign labour, and improper use of foreign labourers.
Public sector employees: The Parliament Minister on 13 March responded extensively to a formal question by Turki about employment benefits due to personnel in civil service roles, as well as educational criteria for recruitment.
During the 17 March parliamentary session there was a sharp exchange between Turki and the Parliament Minister over questions Turki had raised regarding public sector career opportunities. Turki said that many young Bahrainis had spent considerable amounts of money gaining the necessary training in order to be suitable for official roles, but that the Government hadn’t taken action to find them the positions and remuneration suitable for these qualifications. Turki said that many had abandoned the public sector as a result of this. Turki said that the scrapping of financial incentives for increased qualifications robbed the Government of valuable talent.
Employment: Turki on 25 May proposed amendments to the labour market regulatory laws related to the spouses of Bahrainis.
Schools: Turki on 17 May submitted a proposal for increasing wages at government schools.
Private sector: On 18 March Turki questioned the Minister of Labour about efforts to guarantee labour stability in the private sector and regulate working conditions.
Good governance & public finance
Action Plan: In the session for approving the Plan Turki stressed the responsibility of deputies in monitoring implementation of the Government Action Plan.
Audit report: Turki said that the Financial Audit Bureau’s report was being widely discussed by MPs ahead of a decision on the next steps. He said that there had to be careful preparation for questioning of officials, so that the opposition didn’t exploit this process. Turki said that the audit report was the “oversight arm” of the Parliament for monitoring the business of government. (4 March)
On 5 April Turki stressed the need for the audit report to be handled during the upcoming parliamentary session, warning that further delays could harm the ability of Parliament to exercise its monitoring powers. During the 14 April debate on the Audit report, Turki criticized Bahrain’s “culture of looking at the negatives, not the positives” and asked why nobody was looking at the positive aspects of the report and the action taken by certain ministries.
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). Turki voted in favour of the interrogation.
Turki sponsored a proposal for amending the Parliamentary Code to simplify the interrogation process. On 12 May, Al-Aradi supported giving priority to Turki’s draft in favour of a similar rival draft submitted to the Legal Committee.
Public debt: On 9 April Turki noted that the law allowing the Government to raise public debt levels to 7bn BD was still in force despite Parliament voting against it. It would require a Shura Council vote to be invalidated.
According to Al-Watan on 14 May Turki was one of the 20 MPs who said that they would give conditional support to raising the debt ceiling to 7bn BD.
Policing & regional security
Ex-Military restrictions: In the 24 Feb vote preventing former army personnel from taking jobs overseas, Turki said that given the international challenges, Bahraini laws had to take into account security considerations.
Rights & freedoms
Women’s rights: Turki was one of a clique of MPs who advocated an allowance for women who refrained from working. Their controversial and much-criticized proposal asserted that they should “encourage women to remain in the home”.
Turki praised the King’s initiatives for promoting the position of women in society; particularly the recent measures for granting divorcees and widows full housing rights. (5 March) Turki on 24 April during the delegation to Brussels stressed the central position of women in Bahraini society.
Sexual abuse: During the parliamentary debate on 7 April concerning a new Domestic Violence Protection Law, Turki warned that measures to restrict the use of violence against children could break up families. He asked who would support the family if the father was locked up and said that such measures would diminish the “authority of the father over his family”.
Nationality: Turki on 14 May submitted a private bill proposing recognizing the children of a Bahraini woman married to a foreigner as having equal citizenship rights.
Palestine: Turki on 1 April attended the Palestinian Embassy’s ceremony marking Earth Day. Turki in a 17 April (Prisoners Day) statement noted the 6,000 prisoners held in Israeli jails and condemned conditions in Israeli prisons.
Turki on 10 May said that the Palestine Committee had discussed the Govt’s response to the proposal for rejecting all forms of normalization with Israel, without giving further details.
Youth, culture & sport
Youth delinquents: Turki praised proposals by the Interior Minister for amending the legal process for dealing with minors involved in crime. He said that the measures both protected society and helped reform youngsters involved in crime.
Parliament role & constituent engagement
National Assembly: During the 17 March parliamentary session Al-Turki demanded a full session of the National Assembly (both houses of parliament) to address the proposals from the Council of Representatives which had been struck down by the Shura Council.
EU Parliament: At a joint EU Parliament-GCC event in Brussels on 21 April, Al-Aradi and Isa Turki stressed the importance of close ties with the EU.
Urgent bills: During the 28 April parliamentary debate on the Finance Committee’s recommendation to reject 4 government bills marked urgent, Turki argued that the Dispute Resolution bill was important and urged MPs not to reject it.
- Standards of living, health & education – 4
- Housing & services – 4
- Policing & regional security – 4
- Good governance & public finance – 5
- Economy & employment – 7
- Supporting constituents & youth – 5
- Rights & freedoms – 4
- Constructive Parliament role – 4
- Public visibility – 5
- Progressive/reformist credentials – 4
Results of 2014 elections – 8th Northern
Areas covered: Hamad Town
Housing blocks: 1206, 1204, 1203, 1016
Registered voters: 8,521; Percentage 1st round voter turnout: 71.9%
First round vote:
Isa Turki – 2158 (36.9%); Adel al-Dhawadi (Minbar) – 1848 (31.6%); Jassim Hijris – 1352 (23.1%); Maryam al-Mahrous – 344; Badr al-Dossary – 143
Second round vote:
Isa Turki – 3101 (58.5%)
Adel al-Dhawadi (Minbar) – 2202 (41.5%)
Profile of election campaign: Isa Ahmed Mustafa Turki
Isa Turki did well to come out comfortably ahead of the Al-Minbar candidate. Turki criticized the failure of societies for failing to agree on unified lists, saying that this was “evidence that their approach was based on blind loyalty, not on competence or skills”.Al-Minbar’s funding helped make Adel al-Dhawadi one of the most visible candidates in this race and Al-Dhawadi was the first to open his campaign headquarters. However, by trailing second in both rounds, Al-Dhawadi has illustrated what has been obvious in many other constituencies – that public trust in the political societies has been draining away.
Hamad Town is a sprawling working-class region of Bahrain that expanded significantly over recent decades. The mixed population and changes to constituency boundaries make election results difficult to predict, however the 8th Northern district is predominantly Sunni and loyalist, hence a turnout of over 70 percent. People were said to be looking for deputies who could make credible promises for improving services, housing provision and jobs. Islamic candidates have tended to perform well.
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