Buhassan: “Why are citizens the first ones to be harmed by any decisions? I demand that the Government respects the will of the nation”
Buhassan: “The fighters of Daish cannot be categorized as Muslims. They are not Muslims and the followers of Allah will never fall prey to such wrong beliefs”
Member of the Permanent Committee for Foreign, Defence and National Security Affairs
Chairman of the Rotten Meat Investigation Committee (established Feb 2015)
Deputy Chairman of Committee for Investigating Improper Recitation of Quranic verses (Mar 2015)
Member of the Committee for Women and Children (Nov 2014 – Nov 2015)
Deputy Chairman of the Permanent Committee for Foreign, Defence and National Security Affairs (Nov 2014 – Oct 2015)
Buhassan demonstrated his strong Muharraq support base by winning his seat in 2014 against numerous other strong candidates. Loyalty to his constituency’s interests is clearly an important matter for Buhassan. He regularly speaks out on issues close to the hearts of local people.
The issue of food safety and security is clearly a matter Buhassan feels passionately about. Buhassan’s advocacy on the “rotten meat” issue led to his nomination by parliamentary colleagues as the head of the committee to investigate this issue in early 2015. This Committee was awarded a three month extension to its work in October 2015.
Buhassan’s chairmanship of the Meat Investigation Committee and other parliamentary business may be behind his decision to step down as Deputy Chairman of the Defence and Foreign Affairs Committee in October 2015, in favour of Mohammed al-Jowder – although Buhassan remains on the Committee and continues to take an interest in regional and defence issues.
In September 2015, along with other MPs, Buhassan warned the public sector tendering processes had allowed foreign companies to monopolize the advertising business and other sectors.
In debates, Buhassan’s gentle and conciliatory approach often comes across, which appears to earn him the respect of his colleagues. However, many of his public statements and positions indicate a clear inclination towards the Islamic wing of the Parliament.
Buhassan was one of the fiercest critics of the Government’s proposal to halt meat subsidies, rallying his colleagues behind efforts to thwart the move in mid-2015.
During the 19 May 2015 parliamentary debate on the fishing industry, Buhassan spoke passionately about the importance of the fishing industry for ensuring food security for Bahrain. “This industry supports the economy and we should preserve the industry of our fathers and grandfathers;” he said.
As Deputy Chairman of the Defence and Foreign Affairs Committee, Buhassan is one of the most consistent voices on issues of national security, terrorism and regional geopolitics. It was Buhassan who represented the Committee at the press conference to mark the closure of the 2014-15 parliamentary term, citing the achievements of the Committee.
ACTIVITY DURING 2015-2016 PARLIAMENT SEASON
Housing, services & infrastructure
Housing: Buhassan on 21 Nov requested that the Govt set aside lands in his local constituency for a new housing project. He said that previous responses to his queries about using this plot of land had been “contradictory”.
Events hall: During the 24 Nov parliamentary session, a proposal by Al-Jowder, Qaratah, Al-Hammadi, Bufarsan and Bumjaid, for establishing an events hall for women in Qalali, was withdrawn for further consultation, at the request of the Chairwoman of the Women and Children’s Committee, Al-Haiki.
Standards of living, health & education
Retirement: Buhassan on 28 Sep spoke out against possible measures for increasing retirement age, saying that the elderly should be respected and supported.
Food standards: Buhassan said that his investigation committee for meat products would recommend withdrawing the monopoly of the “Mawashi” meat company for the import trade. He said that the Committee would be requesting an extra four months to pursue its probe. He said that the Committee wanted to widen its remit to investigate the situation of meat markets following meat subsidy reforms.
Buhassan on 6 Oct told Al-Bilad newspaper that MPs during the new parliamentary term were ready to take the meat subsidies matter further using the available legislative tools. He said that MPs were united in opposing the Govt’s approach on meat subsidies. He said that he was currently preparing a report to submit to MPs on the meat industry, having previously warned against the monopolization of the industry, which he said should be state-owned, to allow everyone to benefit.
Buhassan on 9 Oct said that the Meat Committee had proposed revoking the license of the Bahrain Livestock Company. He said that the Company had tried to “mislead” the work of his committee and that the committee possesses documents demonstrating violations by the company.
Buhassan on 21 Oct said that there was no truth to rumours about the existence of foot and mouth disease among Bahraini goats. He said that the Meat Committee had investigated the issue with officials.
Buhassan on 28 Oct told the media that his Committee urgently wanted to question ministers concerned with the meat import issue and that there was the intention to refer those officials who had behaved improperly to the Public Prosecutor. On 31 Oct Buhassan called on the Commerce Ministry to regulate the prices of imported meats.
On 14 Nov Buhassan said that his Committee had found evidence of impropriety in administrative forms associated with the rotten meat scandal. He said that the Committee wanted to interrogate the Municipalities Minister because of the Ministry’s failure to properly regulate meat imports.
Education: A motion by MPs Buhassan, Al-Mahfoudh, Dawoud, Al-Jowder and Al-Dossary was rejected during the 10 Nov parliamentary session, calling for a meeting with the Education Minister to “convey the problems and concerns of the public”. Parliament Chairman Al-Mulla declared it to be the strangest proposal he’d ever heard and the Education Ministry itself ridiculed the proposal, saying that the Minister had recently consulted with 21 MPs, including some of the proponents of the proposal.
Economy & employment
Advertising: MPs Jamal Buhassan, Rua al-Haiki, Muhsin al-Bakri and Mohammed al-Ammadi on 6 Sep called for an investigation into what they described as the monopoly of the advertising industry by a foreign company. Buhassan warned against the preferential treatment of foreign companies in bidding processes for tendering such contracts. He said that Parliament was preparing a file of violations of such tendering processes and warned that MPs were inclined to interrogate ministers responsible for these activities.
Buhassan on 13 Sep warned of inconsistencies in the tendering process for awarding a Muharraq advertising contract and said that there should be an investigation of the process conducted by the concerned Govt departments.
Buhassan on 10 Oct said that he was assembling evidence on the issue of alleged monopoly of the advertising market in Muharraq by a “foreign company”.
Buhassan on 22 Nov once again raised the issue of “doubts” over the tendering process for an advertising contract. On 23 Nov, Buhassan called for a parliamentary investigation committee to probe this advertising issue.
Benefit payments: During their weekly meeting on 20 October MPs voted in favour of measures to enshrine counter-inflation payments into law and more clearly define who is entitled to them. Buhassan (one of the sponsors of this measure), affirmed that legislation was needed to guarantee continuation of these payments and reassure the public of their continuation.
Good governance & public finance
Subsidies: Buhassan on 10 July warned officials not to be making statements regarding subsidy reform prior to meetings and agreement between MPs and ministers. Buhassan warned on 12 July that traders had pre-empted meat subsidy reforms by hoarding meat supplies and raising prices.
During the 27 Oct open parliamentary debate on subsidy reform, Buhassan accused the Govt of having harmed citizens with its meat subsidy reforms.
In the Bahrain TV show on the views of MPs following the 27 Oct parliamentary session, MPs Al-Asfour and Buhassan were extensively interviewed on their views on the subsidies issue. Al-Asfour noted the difficult economic circumstances but said that the public should not be adversely affected by measures taken and the Govt shouldn’t act unilaterally. Buhassan’s responses were along similar lines, acknowledging support for subsidy reform, but disagreeing with the manner in which it had been implemented.
Benefit payments: During their weekly meeting on 20 October MPs voted in favour of measures to enshrine counter-inflation payments into law and more clearly define who is entitled to them. Buhassan affirmed that legislation was needed to guarantee continuation of these payments and reassure the public of their continuation.
Remittance fees: During the weekly parliamentary session on 20 Oct MPs discussed a proposal for imposing fees on remittance payments from Bahrain. Buhassan warned that the proposal could have an adverse effect on Bahrain’s reputation and indirectly harm citizens who would be obliged to pay higher wages to domestic staff and foreign employees.
Audit report: Buhassan on 10 Nov was interviewed for the Inside Parliament programme on Bahrain TV. He said that MPs were ready to use their powers for following up the Financial Audit Bureau report, including interrogating ministers and parliamentary probes.
Benefits: Buhassan on 9 Nov questioned the Social Development Ministry about the number of low income families receiving benefits and the criteria for allocation.
Policing & regional security
Terrorism: Buhassan on 6 Aug condemned the mosque attack in Abha Saudi Arabia.
Buhassan on 28 July condemned the recent attack in Sitra which killed 2 policemen, calling it a “cowardly act of terrorism”. Buhassan on 29 Aug strongly condemned the Al-Karranah bombing which killed one policeman. He said that “terrorism has no religion or sect”.
Buhassan on 13 Aug issued a statement praising the Interior Ministry for apprehending those accused of involvement in the recent Sitra attack which killed two policemen.
Iran: Buhassan on 24 July strongly condemned statements by the Iranian leadership concerning Bahrain, which he described as interference in Bahrain’s internal affairs.
On 2 Oct Buhassan voiced his support for the expulsion of the Iranian ambassador, after the discovery of a bomb-making factory in Bahrain linked to Iran and other recent hostile Iranian acts. Buhassan on 5 Oct called for the halting of flights to Iran.
Yemen: Buhassan on 4 Sep extended his condolences over the deaths of 5 Bahraini soldiers and other GCC troops in Yemen. He said that the martyrdom of these troops set an example for Bahrain.
Buhassan on 11 Sep condemned the measures taken by the local municipality against condolences posters for the five Bahraini troops killed in Yemen. The posters were instigated by MP Khalid al-Shaer.
US: On 9 Sep Al-Watan newspaper canvassed MPs’ views about US “interference” in Bahrain. Buhassan said there needed to be a systematic media campaign to address the false claims circulated by sources from the US. He strongly criticized the positions of numerous US officials on Bahrain.
Rights & freedoms
Human rights: Regarding recent EU statements criticizing human rights issues in Bahrain, Buhassan on 10 July said that the EU Parliament had inadvertently set itself up as the protector of those inciting hatred.
On 23 Nov Buhassan strongly criticized the new Human Rights Watch report concerning Bahrain. He said that Bahrain had done its utmost to implement the BICI recommendations and the HRW was biased and unfair.
Women & family: Buhassan on 11 Aug praised the new law for protecting the family which he said provided protection from all forms of domestic violence.
Youth, culture & sport
Quran: Following the scandal of improper recitation of the Quran, earlier in 2015, Buhassan on 10 Oct said that the initiative for reinforcing Quranic teaching in schools was a waste of time, as such a programme already existed in schools. Buhassan said that his Committee had instead wanted to see the introduction of effective deterrents against such abuses.
Parliament role & constituent engagement
Government: In a 25 Aug statement, Buhassan strongly criticized unnamed ministers and officials for neglecting efforts to meet the aspirations of citizens. He said that “some ministers and officials disregard the representatives of the people and ignore their demands… if this is how officials and ministers deal with MPs; how would they deal with ordinary civilians?”
Committees: On 13 October, Buhassan told the media of his intention to step down as Deputy Chairman of the Defence and Foreign Affairs Committee in October 2015, in favour of Mohammed al-Jowder – although Buhassan remains on the Committee.
Sources told Al-Watan newspaper (27 Oct) that there was vigourous competition for membership of the Human Rights Committee, in comparison with the other smaller committees, where membership was relatively settled. Reportedly, the MPs seeking to join the Human Rights Committee are Buhassan, Al-Shaer, Al-Maarifi, Bin-Hamid, Al-Atish, Al-Qaseer, Bumjaid, Al-Muqla, Al-Jowder and Al-Dossary. Al-Maarifi told Al-Watan that there was relative consensus over his candidacy for chairmanship of the committee, while Al-Shaer and Buhassan were competing against him.
Sources told Al-Watan newspaper (27 Oct) that there was consensus over membership of the Women and Children Committee, with Al-Haiki planning to join the Committee and Buhassan planning to leave.
During the 10 Nov parliamentary session, Buhassan successfully argued in favour of extending the investigation period of the Quranic Verses Investigation Committee by four months, rejecting claims from other MPs that an extension was unconstitutional. Al-Bakri said that this Committee was more important than the Subsidies Committee and other such probes, because it was concerned with religion. At the same time MPs voted to extend the Unregistered Workers Committee’s tenure.
Parliament accounts: During their weekly meeting on 20 October MPs approved their annual accounts for the previous year. Ahmed Qaratah argued that the BD 65,000 surplus demonstrated that Parliament was free of corruption. Jamal Buhassan countered that the accounts report had nothing to do with corruption and didn’t prove anything either way; Abdulrahman Bu-Ali agreed, adding that this was about finances not administration and Parliament shouldn’t be raking over the past. Abdulhalim Murad added that various allegations of corruption had been raised, but evidence was never submitted. He noted that the Administration never took any action without consulting the Financial Audit Bureau.
Private bills: During the 3 Nov parliamentary session, MPs reacted angrily to the Govt’s rejection of a number of private bills put forward by MPs. Buhassan criticized the rejection of the proposal to halt the “un-Islamic” profits made on retirement funds. He said that the State should protect the rights of the public and invest their wealth in a manner suitable with their beliefs, which will encourage them to invest.
Affiliation: On 14 November 2015 Hamad al-Dossary announced that he had been selected as the leader of a new bloc, with Adel Bin-Hamid as his deputy. Bin-Hamid told Al-Ayam newspaper that the bloc was “non-political” in its orientation and sought to focus on services and economic issues.
This bloc straddles the sectarian divide, because as well as including many Shia MPs (Jalal al-Mahfoudh, Ghazi Al Rahmah, Nasir al-Qaseer, Shaikh Majid al-Asfour, Shaikh Majid al-Majid, Jamila al-Sammak and Adel Bin-Hamid); the bloc also includes several Sunni MPs, Hamad al-Dossary, Jamal Buhassan and Khalid al-Shaer.
Jamal Buhassan’s name had not been included in earlier reports about the possibility of such a grouping being formed.
ACTIVITY DURING 2014-2015 PARLIAMENT SEASON
Standards of living, health & education
Food security: On 14 January, Buhassan spoke out about the need for achieving “food security” in Bahrain and keeping prices of essential goods low. He criticized the levels of attention that Government ministries had given this issue.
On 24 February Buhassan submitted a formal question to the Planning Minister concerning the Ministry’s strategy for food security. On 3 March Buhassan once again questioned the Minister on the same issue. On 12 March he raised a further question about contingency planning for food security for crisis situations.
During the 14 April parliament session, Buhassan responded to comments by the Works Minister on food security strategy. Buhassan said he was “appalled” by the response because it revealed that there were no emergency food supplies.
Rotten meat: On 2 February Buhassan praised measures taken by the Crown Prince to address the “rotten meat” issue and improve monitoring of imported meats. On 8 February, Buhassan stressed that he would vote in favour of the creation of a parliamentary committee to address the rotten meat issue.
On 16 February it was announced that Buhassan would head the committee to investigate the rotten meat issue. He pledged to work with “independence and transparency” to discover whether companies had deliberately imported meat that they knew to be unfit for consumption. On 9 March Buhassan said that the committee had written letters to ministers, summoning them to answer questions on the issue. On 18 March Buhassan’s committee met the Minister of Health. Buhassan praised the Ministry’s cooperation on the issue.
On 1 April Buhassan said that the rotten meat Committee had discussed measures for increasing penalties against companies which import meats unsuitable for consumption. Buhassan on 13 April said that officials had notified him of plans to include support for the public in purchasing meat products in the upcoming annual Budget. Buhassan denied quotes attributed to him claiming that recipients of inflation support would receive subsidized meat. (18 April)
Buhassan on 6 May said that the Committee would complete its work within a month. He noted that the Committee had already prepared a number of recommendations, including financial support and changing the sources from which meat was imported.
Buhassan on 14 May said that the Committee had met with a number of representatives from meat importing companies. He said that it was “becoming clear to the Committee that there are hidden hands behind the decline in the trade and rearing of livestock in the Kingdom of Bahrain”. In comments made on 16 May, he noted the absence of mechanisms for testing for meats treated with hormones.
Buhassan on 17 May said that the Committee was drawing up recommendations for strengthening punishments against those who violated importing laws.
Buhassan on 18 May discussed the recent Government decision for providing support to Bahrainis for purchasing meat. He said that the Trade Minister had told him that this would take the form of direct cash payments to all Bahrainis.
Buhassan said that the Committee intends to request a 4 month extension to its investigation.
On 10 June Buhassan justified the extension of the work of the Rotten Meat Committee. He criticized those who said the move was unconstitutional.
Meat subsidies: Regarding the Govt’s plan to halt meat subsidies and replace them with cash payments to Bahraini citizens; Buhassan on 20 May said that he had called for an open parliamentary discussion on the issue in order to halt the measure which he described as “unfair” and questioned the constitutionality of the move. In separate comments he criticized the fact that MPs only learned about these measures in the media. He said that such a measure could only be approved if all Bahrainis stood to benefit.
During the 26 May parliamentary discussion, a majority of MPs spoke out against the Govt’s plan for halting meat subsidies. Buhassan said, “It’s not the first time the Government would break its promises to the Council… They confirm to us that they will consult us, yet, they turn back and take unilateral decisions. This happened a few months back when the medical fees were increased without discussing the matter with the MPs”. Buhassan stated: “There are officials in the Government who don’t respect the people. They tread on the stomachs of the nation.” The Chairman at this point told him to use more appropriate language. Buhassan responded: “Why are citizens the first ones to be harmed by any decisions? I demand that the Government respects the will of the nation.”
During the 2 June open parliamentary debate on planned subsidy cuts, Buhassan said that the public and MPs agreed on the need to halt the decision which he said would primarily harm the citizen. He said that the differences in payments to men and women under the proposed system were unconstitutional.
Buhassan on 2 June told Al-Watan newspaper that MPs were considering a number of options to halt the meat subsidies measures, including boycotting the forthcoming session.
Health fees: Regarding the imposition of health fees on Bahraini firms with foreign workers, Buhassan said: “Imposing these fees is constitutionally questionable. The constitution guarantees the right of citizens to health treatment”. (17 February)
Education: During the 24 March open debate on Bahraini teachers, Buhassan complained that “we’ve wasted the time of the Parliament and the Minister for an issue which doesn’t even concern the Minister”. Buhassan stated that he was unconcerned whether teachers were Bahrainis “or from any other Arab state”.
The media noted on 28 April that the Education Minister had attended Parliament to respond to a Buhassan related to the teaching faculty at Bahrain University, but Buhassan had failed to attend (he apparently attended later).
During the 9 June parliamentary session the Education Minister responded to questions by Buhassan regarding its employment criteria for teaching personnel graduating from the Bahrain Teaching Faculty.
Public Utilities: Buhassan said that the Utilities Committee on 22 April discussed private bills for establishing a fishing port in 3rd Capital; for building an events hall in Arad; and for excusing youth clubs from paying utility bills.
Economy & employment
Foreign workers: During the 3 March debate on the so-called “free visa” system”, called for the formation of a permanent public committee to monitor the issue.
Public sector employees: During the 19 May parliamentary session a proposed bill for making the public sector fully Bahraini within five years had to be withdrawn for further discussion after many objections from MPs. Buhassan said that it would be impossible to implement the proposal because “Bahrainis aren’t suited to certain roles, however much we train them”.
Qatar Causeway: Buhassan on 29 April tabled a question to the Finance Minister about progress regarding the Bahrain-Qatar Causeway.
Fishing: During the 19 May parliamentary debate on the fishing industry, Buhassan said that “preserving the fishing industry means preserving food security for Bahrain. This industry supports the economy and we should preserve the industry of our fathers and grandfathers”.
Good governance & public finance
Action Plan: On 19 January, Buhassan stressed that deputies should not approve the Government Action Plan without further details being added about proposed projects.
Public debt: During the 10 March parliamentary session Buhassan called for a clear plan to deal with rising levels of government debt. He said: Every time the debt increases, the Government imposes plans, but public debt does not decrease”.
According to Al-Watan on 14 May Buhassan was one of the 20 MPs who said that they would give conditional support to raising the debt ceiling to 7bn BD.
Audit report: During the 31 March parliamentary debate in which it was decided to delay further discussion on the Financial Audit Bureau report because key ministers had failed to attend; Buhassan demanded the attendance of ministers to discuss violations in their departments.
During the 14 April parliamentary debate concerning the annual Financial Audit Bureau report, Buhassan said that the Finance Minister shouldn’t play down the significance of the levels of corruption cited in the report. He stressed the levels of corruption cited for the former Culture Ministry.
Minister interrogation: Buhassan on 3 May said that the “weak performance” of the Health Minister necessitated his formal interrogation by MPs. He criticized the proposed subject areas proposed for the interrogation by the parliamentary investigation committee, saying they weren’t sufficiently well-prepared for a “serious vote”.
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).Buhassan voted in favour of the interrogation.
Bonuses: On 9 May, Isa al-Kooheji, Jamal Buhassan, Ahmed Qaratah and Mohammed al-Jowder proposed outlawing annual bonuses in government departments.
MPs’ benefits: On 12 May, Parliament voted to delay two weeks the vote on modifying retirement payments for MPs. Buhassan said that the ceiling for benefits should not be raised above 4,000 BD, but that measures should be taken to assist the 2011 by-election MPs who weren’t entitled to benefits “they deserve this for what they have done for their country, but God knows that we must not benefit from this law”.
Upcoming generations fund: Parliament on 12 May approved the closing budget for the fund, as directed by the Finance Committee. Buhassan said that the fund was “improperly managed”. He criticized the competence of those managing the fund and the low levels of revenues generated. Buhassan stressed the need for a dedicated and skilled staff to manage the fund.
Budget: During the 2 July special parliamentary session in which a small majority of MPs voted to approve the State Budget, Buhassan acknowledged the difficult financial climate in which the Budget had been passed, but stressed the importance of preserving benefits allotted to citizens and praised the additional funding granted to senior citizens and the disabled.
Policing & regional security
Defence: Buhassan on 18 February welcomed comments by King Hamad praising the role of Bahrain’s Defence Forces. Buhassan praised the role of the Interior Ministry and the security forces in guaranteeing security and stability during the difficult period Bahrain had faced.
Ex-Military restrictions: In the 24 February parliamentary vote preventing former army personnel from taking military jobs overseas, Buhassan stressed the fundamental importance of protecting national security.
Defence Committee: Buhassan said that on 2 March the committee discussed a new draft legal regime for registering births and deaths. Buhassan on 10 March said that his Foreign Affairs Committee had continued to discuss new measures for registering births and deaths.
Buhassan on 20 May said that the Foreign Affairs Committee had discussed new measures concerning sea rescue and Jamal Dawoud’s proposal for a race track for young people to use their cars on.
Buhassan on 3 June said that the Committee discussed proposals related to domestic abuse; and banning lorries from major roads during peak hours.
Buhassan on 8 June said that the Committee had discussed a planned public engagement programme by military personnel; and regulations concerning passports for military personnel.
In a 7 July press conference to mark the end of the parliamentary year, Buhassan cited the achievements of the Defence and Foreign Affairs Committee. He noted the Committee’s continual high level contacts with international organizations; meeting numerous foreign delegations; and consultations with the Bahraini Defence and Foreign Ministers about regional affairs. He said that the Committee had dealt with 12 major files, including four statutes, one Shura Council proposal and seven draft bills.
Iran: Buhassan on 25 February warned of Iran’s activity against Bahrain, saying: “Bahraini is just a first step and key for Iran to execute its plans against the GCC”.
Buhassan on 18 May called for a unified GCC decision to impose sanctions on Iran in response to its interference in the region.
Daish: Buhassan told the media: “The fighters of Daish cannot be categorized as Muslims. They are not Muslims and the followers of Allah will never fall prey to such wrong beliefs”. (17 March)
Yemen crisis: During the 31 March parliamentary debate Buhassan said the intervention in Yemen had been a long time coming “because Iran wants to undermine security and cause divisions”.
Following his EU Parliament delegation role, Buhassan on 27 April noted the EU Parliament’s support for the Saudi-led efforts in Yemen.
Prison riot: Buhassan praised the security forces on 13 March for dealing with the recent rioting in Jaw Prison.
Security: On 5 April Buhassan in a press statement welcomed the recent visit of the Interior Minister to the National Assembly to discuss security issues.
In a Tribune interview on 25 May, Buhassan blamed the US, Israel and Iran for many of the problems facing the region as part of a secret pact to destabilize the Arab world.
On 25 June Buhassan stressed Bahrain’s readiness to respond to terrorist threats, along with other GCC states.
US statements: On 11 April Buhassan criticized the recent US statement concerning Nabeel Rajab, and voiced his “astonishment at “continuing American interference in our domestic affairs”.
Foreign Policy: Buhassan on 12 April attended a meeting between the Bahrain Foreign Minister and MPs. Buhassan said that there had been a discussion of US foreign policy towards the region. Buhassan reiterated his condemnation of US “interference” in Bahraini affairs. Buhassan welcomed the Minister’s readiness to discuss the full range of current issues.
Egypt security: Following joint Egyptian-Bahraini military exercises on 22 April, Buhassan noted the crucial role of Egypt in regional security.
Schengen visas: Buhassan on 12 May supported the proposal for obliging the Government to lobby for Bahrainis to be exempt from the Schengen visa. Buhassan noted the “suffering” of many Bahrainis in trying to obtain these visas, particularly those travelling for treatment abroad. Abdullah Bin-Huwail, Ali al-Aradi, Isa al-Kooheji and Abbas al-Madhi co-sponsored the proposal.
Saudi mosque attack: Buhassan on 30 May condemned the terrorist attack against a second Shia mosque in Saudi Arabia. He warned against efforts to trigger sectarian conflict.
National unity: A joint statement from Jamal Buhassan and Khalid al-Shaer on 30 May stressed the unity of Parliament and the need to consolidate Bahrain national unity. They warned of the challenges facing the region and efforts to spread divisions, in the context of attacks against to Shia mosques in Saudi Arabia.
Assault: Buhassan on 7 June strongly condemned an attack by US citizens on a Bahraini taxi driver.
Terrorism: In a 8 June statement responding to the arrests of the Iran-sponsored Al-Ashtar Brigades, Buhassan condemned Iran’s “attempts to force Bahrain into sectarian bloodshed”.
Sea rescue: During the 9 June parliamentary session Buhassan responded to queries by MPs Adel al-Asoumi, Mohammed al-Jowder and Khalid al-Shaer about Bahrain’s inclusion to an international treaty for rescue at sea, as recommended for approval by his Defence Committee.
Rights, freedoms & religion
Quran: Buhassan said that he was one of 5 MPs petitioning for a committee of inquiry about the recitation of Quranic verses during a school talent contest. He said: “Insulting the Holy Quran is an insult to all Muslims and to Bahrain”.
During the 17 March parliamentary debate about the proposal for setting up an inquiry committee over the reading of Quranic verses during a talent contest, Buhassan said that it wasn’t the child’s fault. Rather, the organizers are the ones who must be held accountable, “we don’t accept the violation of our religion”… “The Ministry of Education has become a fertile pasture for insulting religion”. The Parliament Minister insisted that the latter comments be struck from the official record of the debate.
When Deputy Chairman of Parliament Ali al-Aradi spoke in favour of setting up the committee, Buhassan kissed him on the head.
On 4 May Buhassan complained that the Education Ministry had “obstructed” efforts by his Committee to investigate the Quran recital issue. He said that there had been numerous contacts made with officials “without getting any interest from them, which can be considered absence of cooperation from the executive branch”.
Buhassan on 11 May said that his Committee had met with the Education Minister and officials and discussed ways to avoid a recurrence of such incidents.
Usury: During the 17 March parliamentary session Buhassan spoke out strongly against social insurance and government agencies benefiting from non-Islamic finance, calling this unconstitutional and tantamount to “waging war against God”.
Human rights: Buhassanduring the 16 June parliamentary session expressed his astonishment at the “vicious attacks” against Bahrain at the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Youth, culture & sport
Youth: During a mass wedding event, Buhassan made a speech stressing the importance of young people and parliamentary efforts to ensure the youth were prioritized in the Budget.
Parliament role & constituent engagement
Affiliation: On 21 February Buhassan categorically rejected any prospect of affiliating himself with any political society. He said that he would remain loyal to the pledge he made to voters to stand as an independent.
Delegation: Buhassan on 24 April during a delegation to Brussels stressed the importance of widening ties between the GCC and the EU Parliament. He noted the impact of the democratization process in Bahrain.
Urgent bills: During the 28 April parliamentary debate on the Finance Committee’s recommendation to reject 4 government bills marked urgent, Buhassan said that both MPs and ministers agreed on the national interests, but that 4 urgent bills at one time “disturbed” the business of Parliament.
Government: Buhassan on 7 May met the Secretary-General for the Government. Both stressed the need for close cooperation between MPs and the Cabinet.
Chairman of Parliament: Majid al-Majid and Jamal Buhassan on 28 May issued a joint statement stressing the central role of the Parliament Chairman in focusing the role of Parliament and ensuring the national interest. They condemned efforts to “cause divisions” and “undermine the Chairmanship of the Parliament”. This statement is possibly in response to attacks made against the Chairman of Parliament and his Deputy by the Salafist society Al-Asalah in response to a discussion held by the Parliament Bureau reportedly concerning possible compensation for some of those adversely affected by the 2011 unrest.
- Standards of living, health & education – 9
- Housing & services – 4
- Policing & regional security – 8
- Good governance & public finance – 7
- Economy & employment – 5
- Supporting constituents & youth – 6
- Rights & freedoms – 4
- Constructive Parliament role – 7
- Public visibility – 6
- Progressive/reformist credentials – 3
Results of 2014 elections – 3rd Muharraq
Areas covered: Muharraq central, Qalali
Housing blocks: 202, 204, 208, 210, 223, 224, 227
Registered voters: 7,563; Percentage 1st round voter turnout: 77.6%
First round vote:
Jamal Buhassan – 1219 (21.6%); Ahmed Al Binali (Wasat) – 1061 (18.8%); Mohammed al-Mutawwa – 1032 (18.3%); Adel Bu-Anq – 693 (12.3%); Mohammed Murad – 631 (11.2%); Abdulnasir al-Mahmeed (Asalah) – 555 (9.8%); Yusuf al-Awadhi – 176; Abdulrahman Fakhro – 170; Mohammed Ahmedi – 61; Abdallah Saad – 52
Second round vote:
Jamal Buhassan – 2568 (52.3%)
Ahmed Al Binali (Wasat) – 2341 (47.7%)
Profile of election campaign: Jamal Jassim Ali Buhassan
Jamal Buhassan’s win is remarkable against popular contestants like Mohammed al-Mutawwa, Adel Bu-Anq and Asalah’s candidate Abdulnaser al-Mahmeed. However, Bahassan has experience of fighting elections contests: Buhassan gained 667 votes in 2010. His Minbar opponent Ali Ahmed beat him with 983.
Buhassan in comments to Al-Ayam noted the poor performance of political societies in previous rounds of elections, stating his hope that he would perform well among other independents. Buhassan’s defeated rival – Secretary-General of Al-Wasat Ahmed Al Binali – is a prominent face in this contest and had been predicted to perform well.
This is a staunchly loyalist area sprawling across the heart of Muharraq island. The district expanded as part of the 2014 boundary changes to take in two blocks from the 1st Muharraq constituency and parts of Qalali. The decision of the Minbar MP Ali Ahmed not to contest this seat caused widespread surprise, but is perhaps an indicator of the wining regional fortunes of pro-Muslim Brotherhood groups.
Know your deputy: MPs profiles
Adel al-Asoumi – 1st Capital
Chairman of Permanent Committee for Public Utilities and Environment
Ahmed Qaratah – 2nd Capital
Adel Bin-Hamid Abdulhussain – 3rd Capital
Abdulrahman Bumjaid – 4th Capital
Nasser al-Qaseer – 5th Capital
Chairman of Parliamentary Human Rights Committee
Ali al-Atish – 6th Capital
Chairman of the Permanent Committee for Shari’ah and Legal Matters
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
Ibrahim al-Hammadi – 2nd Muharraq
Jamal Buhassan – 3rd Muharraq
Isa al-Kooheji – 4th Muharraq
Mohammed al-Jowder – 5th Muharraq
Chairman of the Permanent Committee for Foreign, Defence and National Security Affairs
Deputy-Chairman of Parliamentary Human Rights Committee
Abbas al-Madhi – 6th Muharraq
Ali al-Muqla – 7th Muharraq
Abdulrahman Bu-Ali – 8th Muharraq
Chairman of the Permanent Committee for Financial and Economic Matters
Fatimah al-Asfour – 1st Northern
Deputy Chairwoman of the Committee for Women and Children
Jalal Kadhim al-Mahfoudh – 2nd Northern
Deputy Chairman of the Permanent Committee for Financial and Economic Matters
Hamad al-Dossary – 3rd Northern
Deputy Chairman of Committee for Youth and Sports
Ghazi Al Rahmah – 4th Northern
Chairman of Committee for Youth and Sports
Ali al-Aradi – 5th Northern
Deputy Chairman of Parliament
Rua al-Haiki – 6th Northern
Chairwoman of the Committee for Women and Children
Shaikh Majid al-Majid – 7th Northern
Dr. Isa Turki – 8th Northern
Abdulhamid Abdulhussain al-Najjar – 9th Northern
Mohammed al-Ammadi – 10th Northern
Chairman of Committee for Supporting the Palestinian People
Jamal Dawoud – 11th Northern
Jamila al-Sammak – 12th Northern
Khalid al-Shaer – 1st Southern
Mohammed al-Ahmed – 2nd Southern
Abdulhalim Murad – 3rd Southern
Second Deputy Chairman of Parliament
Mohammed al-Maarifi – 4th Southern
Deputy Chairman of the Permanent Committee for Services
Khalifa al-Ghanim – 5th Southern
Anas Buhindi – 6th Southern
Deputy Chairman of the Permanent Committee for Shari’ah and Legal Matters
Abdullah Bin-Huwail – 7th Southern
Chairman of the Permanent Committee for Foreign, Defence and National Security Affairs
Dhiyab al-Noaimi – 8th Southern
Mohsin al-Bakri – 9th Southern
Deputy Chairman of Permanent Committee for Public Utilities and Environment
Ahmed al-Mulla – 10th Southern
Chairman of Parliament