Al-Ammadi: “There are potential source of revenue which haven’t been taken advantage of. Levels of funds wasted by the state are high and this hasn’t been addressed. None of this has been taken account of in the Budget, despite amounting to billions of dinars. If this does not stop, we will withdraw from Parliament”
Al-Ammadi: “The reduction in the number of violations doesn’t mean a reduction in levels of corruption”
Member of the Permanent Committee for Financial and Economic Matters
Head of Committee for Supporting the Palestinian People
Member of Mumtalakat Investigation Committee (April 2015)
Member of Parliamentary Sub-Committee for Reviewing Subsidy Reform (July 2015)
Al-Ammadi is an assertive and outspoken MP who, as one of the few survivors from the previous Parliament – is a widely respected voice. Al-Ammadi is an active user of the social media.
Al-Ammadi is the only representative from the pro-Muslim Brotherhood Al-Minbar political society. However, he has been less visibly active on religious issues than many others in the Parliament, preferring to be seen speaking out of issues of tangible concern to constituents like education and housing.
In October 2015 it was announced that Al-Ammadi was joining the Bahrain National Bloc, along with a number of other Sunni MPs.
On several occasions Al-Ammadi has been more than willing to speak and act against the political establishment on populist issues, such as reducing the privileges of Government officials and parliamentarians and demanding action against corrupt officials. In September 2015, Al-Ammadi was among a number of MPs calling for action to ensure preference of Bahraini companies in public sector tendering processes.
Al-Ammadi is one of a shrinking number of MPs who has been consistently and outspokenly opposed to increases in Government borrowing, noting the dangers of high levels of debt.
Al-Ammadi criticized the fact that former ministers could not be summoned for interrogation by MPs and was one of the co-sponsors of a bill proposing simplifications to the interrogation procedure.
Al-Ammadi in May 2015 proposed that MPs have the power to interrogate ministers concerning issues related to the tenure of their predecessors. His proposal noted that current provisions “obstruct the activity of deputies in their constitutional right to interrogate ministers”.
ACTIVITY DURING 2015-2016 PARLIAMENT SEASON
Housing, services & infrastructure
Housing: Al-Ammadi on 8 Oct met the head of the Housing Bank to discuss progress of the various housing projects.
Housing Minister, Bassim al-Hamar, was in Parliament for its first weekly session on 13 October for a highly-charged debate on housing projects and allocation of housing support. Several MPs stressed the need to increase levels of housing support, with Mohammed al-Ammadi arguing that the current level of BD 100 “isn’t enough for young people to rent a flat, or even a lobster cage”. This prompted an intervention from the Parliament Minister who called for Al-Ammadi’s turn of phrase to be struck from the record, but MPs voted him down.
Transport: MPs Mohammed al-Ammadi, Isa Turki, Abdulhamid al-Najjar, Majid al-Majid and Ali al-Aradi have proposed widening the Wali al-Ahad and Hamala roads to ease congestion. Al-Wasat reported on 23 Oct that this proposal was to be discussed in the coming parliamentary session. On 27 Oct, MPs approved this proposal, with Al-Ammadi speaking out in favour.
Standards of living, health & education
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. Al-Ammadi affirmed that legislation was needed to guarantee continuation of these payments and reassure the public of their continuation. He urged MPs to record for future reference the Parliament Minister’s reassurances that these payments would not be halted.
Economy & employment
Economy: In mid-August Ahmed Qaratah, Mohammed al-Ammadi and Abbas al-Madhi participated in a parliamentary delegation to an economic conference for the Asian Parliament Society in Jakarta.
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. Al-Ammadi demanded that advertising regulations should be changed to ensure the preference of domestic companies.
Oil: Al-Ammadi on 28 Oct asked the Energy Minister about sales of oil derivatives over the past two years.
Good governance & public finance
Subsidies: Sub-Committee member Al-Ammadi on 4 Oct accused traders of abusing the subsidy cuts to impose unjustified price rises on meats and increase their profits. Al-Ammadi noted that MPs had preferred the smart card option and said that goods like gas were more suitable to be prioritized for subsidies.
Al-Ammadi on 6 Oct told Al-Bilad newspaper that MPs would discuss the possibility of a ministerial interrogation on the issue. He said that he would support such a move if it could benefit the public.
Remittance fees: During the weekly parliamentary session on 20 Oct MPs discussed a proposal for imposing fees on remittance payments from Bahrain. Al-Ammadi said that the proposal was good, but must only target non-Bahrainis.
Policing & regional security
Yemen: Al-Ammadi on 7 Sep called for Bahraini streets to be named after those troops killed in Yemen.
Palestine: Al-Ammadi on 25 Oct was selected as a member of the central administration for the “Parliamentarians for Jerusalem” League, at their meeting in Istanbul.
Parliament role & constituent engagement
Social media: Al-Watan newspaper on 21 July reported that Abdulhalim Murad was the MP with the most Twitter followers (32K); while Mohammed al-Ammadi was the most active user of Twitter (17K tweets), with the second largest number of followers (20K). Abdullah Bin-Huwail (5K followers) and Isa al-Kooheji (6K) also performed respectably, while many MPs were seen as having little social media presence.
Affiliation: On 17 October 2015 the media reported the emergence the establishment of the Bahrain National Bloc, whose existence had been reported several months before, but effectively came into being for the negotiations around the elections for chairmanship of the committees. The bloc is to be headed by Abdulrahman Bumjaid. The bloc will reportedly include Mohammed al-Jowder, Ali Bufarsan, Ibrahim al-Hammadi and Ahmed Qaratah – all of whom were previously reported as being part of such a bloc – along with new additions Mohammed al-Ahmed and Mohammed al-Ammadi.
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. Al-Ammadi criticized Parliament for its approach in dealing with the Govt, saying that MPs were protesting against decisions which they had failed to address in previous legislation. He noted that the Govt claimed that many private bills were too expensive, but that MPs had failed to allot funds for such proposals in their discussion of the Budget “now we have missed the current Budget, but we can discuss this in the next Budget”. He noted the lack of youth facilities in his Hamad Town locality, which led some young people to resort to drugs and terrorism.
ACTIVITY DURING 2014-2015 PARLIAMENT SEASON
Housing, services & infrastructure
Housing: In the 27 January parliamentary session Al-Ammadi requested further information from the Housing Ministry concerning its dealings with requests for housing provision.
Planning: Al-Ammadi spoke in Parliament on 20 January about the urgent need for establishing a governmental institution for planning.
Sea taxi: Al-Ammadi called for the establishment of a sea taxi programme to ease road congestion. (8 March)
Property registration: Al-Ammadi proposed amending legislation for building homes, noting the difficulties many families had in obtaining housing. (16 March)
Housing benefit: Al-Ammadi was one of 5 MPs who proposed increasing housing allowance from 200 BD, the proposal was approved in Parliament on 17 March.
Graveyards to housing: On 24 March Al-Ammadi suggested to the Minister of Housing that “wide areas” which had been reserved as graveyards should be leveled and used for housing. “We support culture, but the living is prioritized over the dead;” he stated. The Minister responded that “villages had their particular characters and that preserving the social structure is our highest priority… violating the villages could result in problems which couldn’t easily be resolved”.
Services: On 16 May Al-Ammadi complained to Al-Watan newspaper about the lack of services in Hamad Town and the Northern Governorate, he said that it should be renamed the “forgotten town”.. He discussed the housing backlogue and argued that the extensive archaeological grave sites in the area should be converted into housing land. He noted the lack of public lighting, the poor state of the streets and the absence of leisure facilities.
Standards of living, health & education
Street vendors: During the 3 March debate on modifications to the public health law, said that street vendors should be banned altogether.
Girls’ school: Al-Ammadi’s proposal for setting up a girls’ school in Hamad Town was accepted in a vote by MPs on 17 March.
Public services: Al-Ammadi on 15 April praised the Prime Minister’s initiative in putting forward detailed plans for renovating the infrastructure in parts of Hamad Town, including two schools, a health centre, a sports centre and a mosque.
Meat subsidies: Regarding the proposed changes to the meat subsidy system, Al-Ammadi said: The Finance Minister confirmed to us in the Government-parliamentary meetings that support to citizens would not be infringed. However, the very next decision taken throws this promise out the window”. Al-Ammadi’s comments came as Parliament voted in favour of a private bill emphasizing the inviolability of the benefits due to citizens and stating that citizens should not be made to incur any further costs as a result of the removal of meat subsidies.
During the 26 May parliamentary discussion, a majority of MPs spoke out against the Govt’s plan for halting meat subsidies. Al-Ammadi said: “We have grown used to the Government dropping a bomb on us at this time of year…the Budget is being debated in one corner and this [subsidies] decision is then issued in another corner for the sake of diverting the attention of public opinion and Parliament… They say that they will halt subsidies and give citizens some small change”. He added: “There are potential source of revenue which haven’t been taken advantage of. Levels of funds wasted by the state are high and this hasn’t been addressed. None of this has been taken account of in the Budget, despite amounting to billions of dinars. If this does not stop, we will withdraw from Parliament”.
During the 2 June open parliamentary debate on planned subsidy cuts, Al-Ammadi said that the subsidy proposal has succeeded in diverting Parliament’s attention away from pressing issues in the Budget. He added: “We have become a source of sarcasm in the social media as a result of the meat subsidy cuts announcement”. He called on MPs to hold firm in rejecting the meat subsidy proposal. He said that there was agreement on subsidy reform but only through coordination between Parliament and the Government. The Parliament Minister later criticized Al-Ammadi’s comments, saying that they painted a dark picture of the relationship between MPs and ministers.
Benefits: During the 23 June parliamentary session MPs delayed discussion of a bill on increasing benefits for further study. Al-Ammadi called for great care in studying the proposals to ensure key benefits were enshrined in law.
Pensioners: Al-Ammadi on 1 July proposed a new system of health insurance for pensioners to increase their access to health services.
Economy & employment
Bahraini workers: During the 24 February parliamentary debate concerning the Shura Council’s rejection of proposals to prefer Bahraini workers for jobs, Al-Ammadi expressed his “astonishment” at the Shura Council’s decision, saying that all states were entitled to give preferential employment terms to their nationals.
Pearl monitoring: During a stormy 10 March parliamentary debate over a bill for privatizing monitoring the quality of pearls and precious stones, Al-Ammadi said the bill hadn’t been approved by the Finance Committee, because it “wasn’t urgent”. Al-Ammadi said that he agreed with MP Abdulrahman Bu-Ali’s comments that Bahrainis possessed the necessary skills for this work, so it shouldn’t be “handed over to foreigners”.
Employment: On 11 April Al-Ammadi called on the local authorities to speedily address the issue of employees of the cancelled Central Governorate.
Oil: Al-Ammadi on 5 May questioned the Energy Minister on new technologies for extracting further quantities of oil and gas. The Minister explained a number of initiatives underway for exploiting existing reserves.
Markets: Al-Ammadi on 21 May tabled a question asking why the “Committee for Confronting Behavioural Violations in Markets” had been abolished.
The Trade Minister told Al-Ammadi on 30 June that there was believed to be no need for a committee for combatting violations in behaviour in Bahraini markets, which was why the 2008 proposal was cancelled. Al-Ammadi responded by disagreeing that there was no need for a separate committee for dealing with “those who don’t respect our customs and traditions”.
Good governance & public finance
Action Plan: In the 3 February parliamentary session for voting on the Action plan, Al-Ammadi abstained from voting; saying that the Action Plan was “unclear”. Al-Ammadi was one of only three MPs who didn’t vote in favour of the Action Plan. Al-Ammadi said: “The Plan does not include clear initiatives or use statistics to define the current situation. It lacks any realistic proposals that can be measured. We don’t know our current situation vis-à-vis the situation we’re aiming for”.
On 20 April, Al-Ammadi stressed that the Government remained capable of fulfilling its pledges set out in the 2015-18 Action Plan by means of resources available to it not cited in the annual Budget. Al-Ammadi noted the large companies which benefitted from supplies of gas but didn’t contribute to the State Budget.
Parliamentary privileges: On 26 January, Al-Ammadi spoke out against the Shura Council proposal for increasing retirement privileges for former parliamentarians, saying that such a proposal would “arouse the anger” of citizens, and that ordinary pensioners were more deserving of this assistance.
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; Al-Ammadi said that there was attempt to “flee from responsibility – we will not accept this”.
During the 14 April parliamentary debate concerning the annual Financial Audit Bureau report, Al-Ammadi said that the Finance Minister’s claims of corruption levels being reduced by 80% were “inaccurate… The reduction in the number of violations doesn’t mean a reduction in levels of corruption”. Al-Ammadi called for a review of the constitutional provisions which dictated that a minister could not be summoned for questioning by MPs after leaving his post.
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-Ammadi voted in favour of the interrogation.
Ali al-Atish, Ali al-Aradi, Mohammed al-Ammadi, Ahmed Qaratah and Mohammed Milad on 8 May submitted a bill for simplifying the provisions for interrogating a minister, including removing two stages of the approval process and cancelling the need for a two-thirds majority.
Al-Ammadi is proposing that MPs have the power to interrogate ministers concerning issues related to the tenure of their predecessors. The proposal noted that current provisions “obstruct the activity of deputies in their constitutional right to interrogate ministers”.
Public debt: Al-Ammadi said that Bahrain had “approached the borders of danger” and must take a serious look at addressing the national debt which had passed the 5bn BD ceiling. He expressed his amazement at the proposal to increase the debt ceiling to 7bn BD. “Bahrain doesn’t need to borrow;” he said.
During the 24 March session to discuss a possible rise in the debt ceiling, Al-Ammadi rejected sending the proposal back to the Financial Committee for further discussion and voted with the majority of MPs to reject an increase in the debt ceiling. He said that “we have exceeded danger levels with the public debt”.
According to Al-Watan on 14 May Al-Ammadi was one of the 9 MPs who said that they would reject increasing the debt ceiling to 7bn BD. During the 2 July parliamentary session when a majority of 18 MPs approved an increase in the debt ceiling to BD 7bn, Al-Ammadi was absent from the session.
Budget: Al-Ammadi on 5 April questioned why the entity Mumtalakat was not included in the estimation of incomes for the State Budget.
Al-Ammadi on 24 June criticized the delays in issuing the Budget and the failure of the Govt so far to respond to queries and proposals by the Joint Finance Committee.
Al-Ammadi was absent for the 2 July vote on the Budget.
Subsidies: In a 15 June statement Al-Ammadi said that the Finance Committee was inclined to agree to a proposal for halting electricity subsidies for non-Bahrainis. He said that the details of subsidy proposals were up to the joint Shura-Nuwab Committee to address.
Upcoming generations fund: Parliament on 12 May approved the closing budget for the fund, as directed by the Finance Committee. Al-Ammadi complained that previous parliamentary recommendations had never been implemented for improving standards of investment.
Rights, freedoms & religion
Palestine: Al-Ammadi said that the Parliamentary Committee for Palestine on 12 March discussed establishing a parliamentary conference for supporting Palestine.
On 5 April Al-Ammadi said that Parliament welcomed Palestine’s recent accession to the International Criminal Court. Al-Ammadi’s committee discussed a proposal outlawing all forms of contact or normalization with Israel.
In a 7 July press conference to mark the end of the parliamentary year, Al-Ammadi discussed the achievements of his Palestine Committee over the past year. He cited the proposal being worked on by the Committee banning any contact with the “Zionist entity” and noted the Committee’s engagement with a number of international organizations to mobilize support for Palestinians.
Youth, culture & sport
Sport: Al-Ammadi was one of 10 MPs who on 16 March proposed an open parliamentary debate with the relevant minister to discuss what the Government was doing to promote Bahraini sport and athletes.
Al-Ammadi on 24 May put forward a proposal for first aid facilities available at major sports pitches and centres.
- Standards of living, health & education – 6
- Housing & services – 6
- Policing & regional security – 4
- Good governance & public finance – 7
- Economy & employment – 6
- Supporting constituents & youth – 5
- Rights & freedoms – 5
- Constructive Parliament role – 6
- Public visibility – 6
- Progressive/reformist credentials – 4
Results of 2014 elections – 10th Northern
Areas covered: Hamad Town
Housing blocks: 1218, 1214, 1212, 1208
Registered voters: 10,552; Percentage 1st round voter turnout: 73.5%
First round vote:
Mohammed al-Ammadi – 3643 (49.1%); Khalid al-Maloud (MP Asalah) – 2138 (28.8%); Sima al-Lengawi (NUG) – 798 (10.8%); Hisham Rabeah – 334 (4.5%); Saad Sultan – 317; Abdulqadir Abduljalil – 137; Khalid al-Zubari – 57
Second round vote:
Mohammed al-Ammadi (MP Minbar) – 4551 66.7%)
Khalid al-Maloud (MP Asalah) – 2275 (33.3%)
Profile of election campaign: Mohammed Ismail Abbas Ahmed al-Ammadi
Incumbent MP Mohammed al-Ammadi is the only representative of the Sunni political society Al-Minbar al-Islami to win a seat in the 2014 parliamentary elections. He defeated the candidate for rival Sunni society Al-Asalah, MP Khalid al-Maloud, in the second round run-off. With 66.7% of the vote and coming nearly 2300 votes ahead of his rival, Mohammed al-Ammadi scored one of the most convincing wins of the second round.
Al-Ammadi said that his society’s campaign would focus on how public funds were spent.
Al-Ammadi added that in his own constituency he wanted to address the issue of service provision, particularly improving access to local health centres and power supply.
The 10th Northern constituency is a long, narrow strip running north to south through densely-populated Hamad Town. Working-class families experiencing growing costs of living and struggling with issues of housing and service provision will be looking for candidates who can deliver on their promises.It is significant that both Asalah and Minbar have played down religious agendas, focusing on issues like housing, jobs and services.
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