Al-Shaer: “The National Action Charter is not a memory, but rather the reality which Bahrainis are now living”.
Chairman of Parliamentary Human Rights Committee
Member of the Permanent Committee for Financial and Economic Affairs
Member of Government Action Plan Committee (Jan-Feb 2015)
Member of Committee for Investigating Improper Recitation of Quranic verses (Mar 2015)
Member of Mumtalakat Investigation Committee (April 2015)
Young representative Al-Shaer is a popular personality. Since his election in 2014 he has shown a close affiliation with the human rights file and has been a vocal advocate of Bahrain’s human rights record. Al-Shaer’s frequent comments defending Bahrain’s reputation abroad have been widely covered in the local media.
However, Al-Shaer active on numerous committees and is an active social media networker. In May 2015 he spoke out against the recommendation to increase retirement benefits for MPs, saying that such funds should go to projects which benefit ordinary citizens.
Al-Shaer is an amiable, loyalist MP who clearly enjoys a good working relationship with many of his colleagues. Al-Shaer has a complex relationship with MP Mohammed al-Ahmed who also serves the Isa Town area from his neighboring constituency. The two have co-sponsored a number of health and housing proposals to benefit the local area, although Al-Shaer strongly condemned Al-Ahmed for his public statements criticizing the Parliament Chairman and accusing the Parliament Secretariat-General of improper practices.
ACTIVITY DURING 2015-2016 PARLIAMENT SEASON
Good governance & public finance
Subsidies: Al-Shaer on 16 July called for greater clarity about the proposed measures for subsidy reform. He stressed that these measures would inevitably impact citizens and thus there would be a need for a transparent mechanism for implementation.
Policing & regional security
Terrorism: Al-Shaer on 7 Aug condemned the mosque attack in Abha Saudi Arabia. Al-Shaer 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.Al-Shaer on 29 Aug strongly condemned the Al-Karranah bombing which killed one policeman, which he said was intended to sow divisions.
Iran: Al-Shaer on 23 July condemned statements by the Iranian leadership concerning Bahrain, which he described as interference in Bahrain’s internal affairs. Al-Shaer stressed that Iran’s threats endangered the entire nation.
On 2 Oct Al-Shaer 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.
Yemen: Jamal 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.
Prison conditions: Al-Shaer on 6 Sep praised initiatives by the Interior Ministry for improving prison conditions.
Rights & freedoms
Torture: Al-Shaer on 23 Aug participated in an Asian conference for human rights and participated in a debate discussing international laws against torture.
Media: Al-Shaer on 9 Aug condemned the EU statement on the closure of Al-Wasat newspaper, accusing the EU of double standards.
Parliament role & constituent engagement
Committees: According to Al-Watan newspaper on 6 Oct, Khalid al-Shaer is competing for chairmanship of the Finance Committee, against Abdulrahman Bu-Ali and incumbent Isa al-Kooheji. Al-Shaer told the newspaper that he was supported by Committee members Al-Qaseer, Al-Mahfoudh, Bin-Hamid and one other. Al-Shaer is reportedly giving up chairmanship of the Human Rights Committee in favour of Nasir al-Qaseer.
ACTIVITY DURING 2014-2015 PARLIAMENT SEASON
Housing, services & infrastructure
Housing projects: On 13 March, the Minister of Housing responded extensively to questions submitted by Al-Shaer about housing projects in Isa Town in the locality of his constituency.
During a 17 March debate about housing rights and benefits, Al-Shaer said that housing projects around Isa Town had led to overcrowded areas, and that the changing of municipal boundaries had added to the confused situation.
During the 24 March parliamentary debate on housing Al-Shaer said that he expected the number of housing requests for Isa Town to rise to 4,500 after changes to application criteria.
On 29 April Al-Shaer tabled a question for the Housing Minister regarding the strategic plan for the tendering board in his department.
Construction: During the 19 May parliamentary session, the Housing Minister responded to an “urgent” bill submitted by a number of MPs, including Isa al-Kooheji calling for a halt to the project, because it was causing congestion around the nearby mosque. The proposal to halt the project was criticized by MP Adel al-Asoumi and two MPs, Khalid al-Shaer and Dhiyab al-Noaimi withdrew their co-sponsorship of the proposal. Shortly afterwards, Al-Shaer accused another unnamed MP of threatening to “expose” him through Twitter after withdrawing his name.
Internet: Al-Shaer on 18 May proposed activating WiFi across all of Bahrain. Ahmed Qaratah, Jalal al-Mahfoudh, Mohammed al-Jowder and Isa al-Kooheji supported the proposal.
Traffic: Al-Shaer on 22 May submitted a proposal for extendingthe period within which traffic violations can be paid off at the reduced rate – from a week to one month.
Standards of living, health & education
Education: During a 17 March parliamentary discussion about building new schools Al-Shaer angrily interjected: “How can we discuss building new schools, when with the flick of a pen the Minister can halt the study of 1,005 pupils at one school?”
During the 9 June parliamentary session the Education Minister responded to questions from Al-Shaer concerning his Ministry’s strategy for preparing education graduates for teaching careers.
Health: Parliament on 21 April approved a joint bill submitted by Mohammed al-Ahmed and Khalid al-Shaer for a comprehensive health centre in their Isa Town locality.
Al-Shaer on 7 June proposed the setting up of a secretariat general for addressing health complaints.
Overseas treatment: Al-Shaer on 7 May proposed a private bill for extending the leave of those accompanying people abroad for overseas health treatment.
Good governance & public finance
Public debt: During the 24 March parliamentary session to discuss a possible rise in the debt ceiling, Al-Shaer was one of only six MPs who abstained and did not support the measure to reject an increase in the debt ceiling. Al-Shaer said that this issue had “extreme importance for the benefits obtained by citizens” and that the proposals put forward by MPs in the Government Action Plan would require 3-4bn BD.
According to Al-Watan on 14 May Al-Shaer was one of the 20 MPs who said that they would give conditional support to raising the debt ceiling to 7bn BD.
Al-Shaer on 3 June said that a joint Parliament and Shura Finance Committee agreed on limiting the debt ceiling to BD 7.5. He said that the body had agreed on a number of measures for reducing spending, including delaying projects. He said that the Government had provided assurances with regard to the meat subsidies issue of a “compromise” solution.
Audit report: During the 14 April parliamentary debate concerning the annual Financial Audit Bureau report, Al-Shaer criticized the fact that ministers who had left their posts could not be summoned for questioning by MPs, as a result of “constraints imposed by the previous Parliament”.
Al-Shaer on 15 April issued a statement praising the Parliament’s successful handling of the Audit report and referring those accused of violations to the Public Prosecutor. Al-Shaer noted that his own election promises had included reducing wastage of public funds. He spoke of the need for an “iron hand” in dealing with those culpable of violations.
Minister interrogation: Al-Shaer was one of the 26 MPs who signed a motion calling for the Health Minister’s interrogation; however, he abstained during the 5 May vote. During the 5 May parliamentary session an insufficient number of MPs voted in support of interrogating the Health Minister (23 supported, below the 2/3 quota of 27 MPs).
Budget: Al-Shaer on 4 May said that the Financial Committee had put a procedure in place for studying the annual Budget, in order to “approve the Budget rapidly while preserving public wellbeing”. He said that the Committee would address it as an urgent bill within two-three weeks ready to place their recommendations with the full Parliament.
Al-Shaer told the media on 6 May that any delay in submitting the Budget to Parliament would be unconstitutional. He said that he expected it to be handed over in the following 24 hours.
Al-Shaer on 1 June said that the Finance Committee intended to save around BD 350 million from funds being spent on projects. He said that BD 175 million had already been identified. He questioned why BD 10m was being spent on new cricket pitches at a time when funds were supposed to be prioritized on the needy.
MPs’ benefits: The Services Committee on 11 May recommended the approval of increases in retirement benefits for MPs, as proposed by the Shura Council. However, Al-Shaer said that there was an inclination in the Parliament to reject these proposals. Al-Shaer said that it was “better to use these funds for projects which benefit citizens”.
On 12 May, Parliament voted to delay two weeks the vote on modifying retirement payments for MPs. Al-Shaer noted that “ministers receive their retirement payments after a year, and previously after one day. The (2011) by-election MPs made sacrifices for the sake of the nation. Some of them now are living on nothing. However, we reject raising the benefit ceiling above 4,000 BD. Regrettably, there are entities agitating against deputies, who are themselves employees of the Parliament.
Policing & regional security
Terrorism: Al-Shaer in mid-February chaired a parliamentary delegation to Geneva for a counter-terrorism conference. Anas Buhindi and Hamad al-Dossary also participated.
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.
Rights & freedoms
Human rights: On 11 January Al-Shaer spoke positively about the human rights record of Bahrain’s Interior Ministry, saying that it had made a lot of progress in bringing its activities in line with human rights norms.
On 19 January Al-Shaer said that further measures needed to be taken to guarantee the independence of the National Institution for Human Rights.
During a 24 February Human Rights Committee meeting, Al-Shaer stressed the efforts being made by the state to introduce human rights reforms. Al-Shaer on 13 April called for “real cooperation” between Bahraini human rights bodies. He said that his Human Rights Committee had discussed the private bill proposing a national human rights strategy.
At the Human Rights Council in Geneva on 8 March, Al-Shaer defended Bahrain’s human rights record and criticized those who exploited the issue of human rights to “undermine security and stability”. Al-Shaer’s comments in Geneva were widely covered in the Bahraini press. Al-Shaer later raised a complaint against a “grouping” which prevented him and MP Nasir al-Qaseer from participating in one of the Geneva sessions. (12 March) On 11 March in Paris Al-Shaer spoke at a conference for promoting international dialogue, highlighting the dangerous consequences of terrorism.
Al-Shaer on 19 April strongly criticized the recent Amnesty International report coinciding with the Grand Prix, which he said was full of errors and politicized. “They depend on the hardcore opposition for information” Al-Shaer noted. He told a press conference that efforts were underway for a new and comprehensive human rights strategy, in coordination with the relevant departments.
Al-Shaer on 31 March said that his committee had discussed a proposal for a national strategy for dealing with human rights-related reporting concerning Bahrain.
Al-Shaer in a 21 May statement denied that there were prisoners of conscience in Bahrain and welcomed the cooperation between the various Bahraini entities concerned with human rights.
Al-Shaer on 6 June noted that Parliament would continue to follow up the work of the Ombudsman’s office and the Prisoners’ Commission in ensuring the highest standards of human rights and addressing violations.
National Action Charter: Ahead of the 14 February anniversary of the National Action Charter, Al-Shaer stated that the 2002 Constitution is not a memory, but rather the “reality which Bahrainis are now living”.
Royal pardon: Al-Shaer on 9 May praised the announcement of a royal pardon, saying that the King is “the protector of the culture of forgiveness, tolerance and social reconciliation”.
Youth, culture & sport
Sport: Al-Shaer on 6 June said that the Finance Committee had called for the BD 10m assigned in the Budget for 4 cricket pitches be spent on 40 sports pitches across Bahrain.
Parliament role & constituent engagement
Private members’ bills: During the 7 April parliamentary session MPs voted to commit the Government to a time limit for implementing proposals submitted by MPs and agreed on by Parliament. Al-Shaer questioned the purpose of the proposal, warning that the Government would be likely to reject private bills in the future. He stressed the greater need for cooperation between Parliament and Government. Al-Shaer said that Government Action Plans and annual budgets would not be agreed unless they contained pledges for implementing private bills.
Secretariat General: Al-Shaer on 17 April strongly criticized comments by MP Mohammed al-Ahmed regarding the Parliament’s Secretariat General. Al-Shaer said that MPs shouldn’t interfere in the process of “change and development” and added that Al-Ahmed should “avoid illogical actions and reactions or extremist statements and positions which do not serve the national good for Bahrain and Bahrainis. He should not threaten anyone, so that others don’t accuse him of having a victim’s complex and harbouring conspiracy theories”. Al-Shaer strongly praised the Chairman of the Parliament as an “independent national figure, a man of the law and previously a judge with experience of parliamentary work”.
Al-Asalah attack: A Parliament Bureau meeting on 20 May discussed the issue of parliament employees sacked from their posts during the 2011 unrest. Al-Asalah in a 21 May statement strongly condemned comments attributed to Ali al-Aradi during this meeting calling for compensation for these employees. Al-Shaer attacked Al-Asalah’s comments saying that their statement contained language which was “abusive and rejected”. He said that accusing people of being traitors was divisive.
- Standards of living, health & education – 5
- Housing & services – 4
- Policing & regional security – 5
- Good governance & public finance – 6
- Economy & employment – 4
- Supporting constituents & youth – 5
- Rights & freedoms – 7
- Constructive Parliament role – 5
- Public visibility – 4
- Progressive/reformist credentials – 6
Results of 2014 elections – 1st Southern
Areas covered: Isa Town
Housing blocks: 718, 720, 801, 802, 803, 804, 805, 806, 807, 808, 810
Registered voters: 7,998; Percentage 1st round voter turnout: 71.3%
First round vote:
Khalid al-Shaer – 1797 (33.1%); Adnan al-Maliki (MP Asalah) – 1198 (22.1%); Ahmed al-Amer – 984 (18.5%); Khalid al-Qattan (Minbar) – 775 (14.3%); Jehan Mohammed (NUG) – 300 (5.5%); Jaffar al-Kharaz – 140; Abdulrahman Abdullah – 85; Salman al-Shaikh (MP) – 69; Anwar Qambar – 43; Abdulghani al-Haiki – 31
Second round vote:
Khalid al-Shaer – 3281 (67.8%)
Adnan al-Maliki (MP Asalah) – 1559 (32.2%)
Profile of election campaign: Khalid Abdulaziz Yousif al-Shaer
Khalid al-Shaer is a young and popular figure and he gained widespread sympathy for the energetic way he competed in unsuccessful previous rounds of elections.
Al-Shaer’s victory is particularly significant given the abnormally tough nature of the competition in this 1st Southern constituency. Al-Shaer has come out ahead of two standing MPs, and he has outperformed the representatives of no less than three Sunni political societies: Asalah, Minbar and the National Unity Gathering. In second place is MP and Asalah representative Adnan al-Maliki.
During his candidacy Al-Shaer told Al-Bilad newspaper that he had gained a lot of political experience since his failed candidacy in the previous elections when he came second against Isa al-Qadhi (now 2nd Southern). Al-Shaer said he would focus his campaign on developing human capital, housing and security.
Al-Shaer has proposed a mandatory period in which housing requests must be granted or the Housing Ministry would face fines. At the opening of his campaign tent on 8 November, Al-Shaer promised “contemporary solutions” to the housing issue and stressed the need for a more systematic approach to improving standards of living.
Al-Shaer has called for the new Parliament to pay greater attention to “food security” noting recent shortages in meat and other goods, leading to price inflation. He has also urged better conservation of Bahrain fishing stocks and better regulation of the fishing industry. Al-Shaer said that the involvement of young people in politics “strengthens the democratic process and enriches the work of Parliament”.
Moderate independent candidates have tended to perform well in this central area of Bahrain. However, the first round of the contest was distinguished by being a three-way battle between three prominent Sunni/loyalist political societies: Al-Asalah, Al-Minbar and the National Unity Gathering.
This convincing win for Khalid al-Shaer will undoubtedly leave the societies wishing they had made more effort to coordinate their campaigns and avoid splitting the vote.
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