Al-Bakri: “Redirecting financial support guarantees the achievement of the higher requirements of the State and decreases the growing pressure on public finances”.
Al-Bakri: “The large numbers of unregistered workers are the greatest challenge currently facing society”.
Member of the Accord Bloc (from Oct 2015)
Deputy Chairman of Permanent Committee for Public Utilities and Environment (from Oct 2015)
Deputy Chairman of Parliamentary Sub-Committee for Reviewing Subsidy Reform (July 2015)
Member of Committee for Supporting the Palestinian People
Deputy Chairman of the Investigative Committee on Unregistered Foreign Workers (March 2015)
Member of Permanent Committee for Public Utilities and Environment (From Nov 2014)
Member of Government Action Plan Committee (Jan-Feb 2015)
Al-Bakri served as a municipal councilor for two terms and so entered Parliament in November 2014 with a strong record of public service. He won his seat in the second round, coming comfortably ahead of his rival. His activity tends to indicate Al-Bakri’s loyalist credentials. However, he was one of the few MPs who abstained from supporting the Government Action Plan in February 2015, criticizing the Cabinet’s responses to MPs’ suggestions for modifications as “weak”.
After a relatively low-key start to his parliamentary career, by mid-2015 Al-Bakri was speaking out confidently on issues such as housing and levels of public debt. Al-Bakri’s Municipal Council experience sees him taking an interest in mundane issues like rubbish collection, recycling, and employment provisions for Municipal Council employees.
Al-Bakri’s promotion to Deputy Chairman of the Public Utilities Committee in October 2015 represents recognition from parliamentary colleagues of Al-Bakri’s experience and commitment to addressing issues affecting the public. This coincides with the announcement of Al-Bakri’s membership of the new Accord Bloc, a grouping of five Sunni MPs.
As Deputy Chairman of the Subsidies Sub-Committee, Al-Bakri has found his most visible role to date, appearing regularly in the media with updates about discussions of subsidy reform and discussing the evolving positions of ministers and MPs.
His pragmatic approach, occasionally sets Al-Bakri apart from the majority of other MPs, for example; when he criticized the “wasting” of parliamentary time for a discussion on sport in spring 2015 and criticizing a proposal from his colleagues for increasing benefits for nursery staff.
ACTIVITY DURING 2015-2016 PARLIAMENT SEASON
Housing, services & infrastructure
Housing: During a parliamentary debate on 13 Oct in which the Housing Minister was present, Al-Bakri criticized the organizational structure of the Housing Ministry, saying that an ordinary school had better procedural systems in place. He urged the Govt to give greater support to the Ministry to improve its implementation of projects.
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-Bakri stressed that these payments had become an integral part of people’s monthly budgets. Therefore legislation was needed to guarantee continuation of these payments and reassure the public of their continuation.
Public Utilities Committee: Al-Bakri on 21 Oct said that the Committee has agreed proposals for action against those harming marine life through excavating or dumping quantities of sand and damaging fishing methods. The Committee also discussed proposed amendments to Ministry of Transport fees and have asked to meet those proposing the Abu Subh coastal renovation (principally Jalal al-Mahfoudh); along with discussion of a number of other proposals.
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. Al-Bakri said that advertising regulations should be changed to ensure the preference of domestic companies, which he said would encourage the creativity of Bahraini businesses.
Unregistered workers: Al-Bakri on 30 Sep said that there had been shortcomings in addressing the issue of unregistered foreign labour and “free visas”. He said: “The large numbers of unregistered workers are the greatest challenge currently facing society”.
Good governance & public finance
Subsidies: On 5 Aug Al-Bakri said that the Sub-Committee had discussed the possibility of reducing electricity fees to citizens.
On 18 Aug, Al-Bakri said that Committee members had received a proposal for petitioning the PM to delay the meat subsidies measures one month. He stressed the importance of this issue for citizens and the need not to rush these measures.
On 19 Aug Al-Bakri told Al-Watan newspaper that Committee members hadn’t decided whether to adopt the smart card proposal, and that all options were being discussed. He said that the Committee had requested from the Govt a study looking at the various options. He called on the PM to delay implementing measures until the Committee had completed its work.
On 22 Aug Al-Bakri called on the Govt to avoid the “chaotic” experience of Kuwait in subsidy reform. He said that it would be better for Bahrain to gradually implement subsidy reform over a 4 year period.
On 23 Aug Al-Bakri said that the Subsidies Sub-Committee would be submitting its recommendations to the Legal Committee the following day.
On 28 Aug Al-Bakri said that the Govt was minded to support the option of financial payments, not a smart card. However, he noted that many parliamentarians wanted further study of both options.
Al-Bakri on 4 Sep told the media that the Sub-Committee would be meeting the following day and that its conclusions would be announced within the next three weeks. He said that MPs were close to agreement with ministers on electricity subsidy reform so as to reduce fees for citizens and extend support to Bahraini businesses. On 5 Sep Al-Bakri said that no changes had yet been agreed to the proposed compensation payments on meat subsidies and noted that the Govt preferred cash payments over the smart card option.
Al-Bakri on 12 Sep pointed out that measures being put in place for financial compensation on meat subsidies, didn’t mean that this was the only option in front of MPs. He said that the aim of registration was to establish a database of those seeking compensation. On 15 Sep Al-Bakri confirmed that the Sub-Committee had met again with ministers.
Al-Bakri said that the sub-Committee would meet again on 23 Sep to discuss the Govt’s responses concerning the smart card proposal. He said that up until 22 Sep the Committee still hadn’t received an official response on this issue. (However, the same day a source from the Committee said that a response had arrived).
Al-Bakri on 29 Sep said that MPs refused to discuss the issue of meat subsidy compensation because of the “mean” amounts being proposed and the determination of MPs to favour the smart card option.
Al-Bakri on 4 Oct signaled the possibility of interrogating the Industry Minister during the coming parliamentary term, claiming that the Ministry failed to monitor and control prices. Al-Bakri noted that in the context of the removal of meat subsidies some restaurants had increased their prices despite using frozen meat from before the changes. He called for consumers to boycott meat sellers to demonstrate their rejection of the subsidy cuts.
On 1 Oct Al–Bakri said that the Committee would hold its final meeting the following week in preparation to submit its recommendations to other MPs.
On 3 Oct Al-Bakri opposed proposals to abolish the Subsidies Committee, saying this wouldn’t benefit citizens. He said that the Committee would request a further meeting with ministers to clarify their position on smart cards.
Al-Bakri on 9 Oct participated in a round table discussion on the subsidies issue. He stressed MPs’ determination to support the smart card proposal, pointed out that Bahrain was the only regional state providing subsidies for foreigners; and stressed that the Govt should have started with gas and energy subsidies.
On 19 Oct Al-Bakri said that his Accord Bloc planned to question the Parliament Chairman about why the Joint Subsidies Committee report hadn’t yet been put to Parliament. Al-Bakrion 21 Oct repeated his reservations about the benefits of an open parliamentary debate on subsidies the coming week, particularly as the Joint Committee still hadn’t met to formally submit its final conclusions.
Policing & regional security
Terrorism: Al-Bakri on 3 Aug condemned the killing of two policemen in Sitra and called for Bahrain to benefit from the experience of other states in combatting terrorism. In a previous 27 July statement, Al-Bakri praised the decision to recall Bahrain’s ambassador to Tehran in the wake of these incidents. Al-Bakri on 6 Aug called for a unified Bahraini response to the threat of terrorism, stressing shared Saudi-Bahrain interests in facing terrorism.
Iran: Al-Bakri on 23 July condemned statements by the Iranian leadership concerning Bahrain, which he described as interference in Bahrain’s internal affairs.
Yemen: Al-Bakri on 4 Sep extended his condolences over the deaths of 5 Bahraini soldiers and other GCC troops in Yemen.
Security: Al-Bakri on 1 Sep pledged that MPs would support the security services with the necessary legislation and praised their vital role in guaranteeing public safety.
Syria: On 2 Oct Al-Bakri condemned Russia’s growing interference in Syria, saying that this would worsen the crisis.
Parliament role & constituent engagement
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-Watan had already reported this proposal on 23 Jul, Al-Bakri stressed the effectiveness of collective vis-à-vis individual action and noted the need for MPs to be a more effective lobbying force in response to ministers.
On 15 Oct MP 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 (superintendent – amin sir), Osama al-Khajah and Dhiyab al-Noaimi. Al-Bakri stressed the blocs intention to “activate the available constitutional tools” for use by MPs. He strongly criticized the previous Parliament for restricting the usage of ministerial interrogation, saying that the Accord Bloc advocated the need for only one MP calling for an interrogation. Al-Bakri noted the bloc’s coordination with other MPs for agreeing on the composition of the main five committees. He said that there was close coordination with the National Bloc and “three other MPs”.
According to Al-Bakri on 19 Oct Al-Khajah is the Accord Bloc’s candidate of choice for chairman of the Youth & Sports Committee, after reaching agreement on this with the National Bloc, headed by Abdulrahman Bumjaid.
ACTIVITY DURING 2014-2015 PARLIAMENT SEASON
Housing, services & infrastructure
Housing: During the 24 February parliamentary session Al-Bakri praised the Housing Ministry’s efforts to address the housing issue, but criticized the length of time it had taken for housing requests from Southern constituencies to be addressed.
Services: On 9 March Al-Bakri praised the Prime Minister for his intervention to demand immediate action to improve services in Zallaq (in Al-Bakri’s constituency). Al-Bakri criticized the bureaucracy that had stalled progress in the past and promised to complain directly to the Prime Minister if promises weren’t fulfilled.
Standards of living, health & education
Health fees: Al-Bakri (17 February) said that the new fees would “deter foreign investors was well as Bahrainis who would look for somewhere better to invest their wealth”.
Treatment abroad: Adel al-Asoumi, Dhiyab al-Noaimi, Muhsin al-Bakri, Jamal Dawoud and Abdulhamid al-Najjar on 18 May submitted a proposal for removing the budget for treating Bahrainis abroad from the Health Ministry. Al-Bakri noted substantial increases in expenditure by the Ministry over the allotted budget.
Rubbish: On 30 March Al-Bakri tabled a formal question for the Minister of Works about rubbish collection services. On 15 May the Minister of Works responded to questions by Al-Bakri concerning levels of waste in Bahrain and how this was managed.
During the 19 May parliamentary session, Al-Bakri criticized Bahrain’s refuse disposal system as “primitive and dangerous”. He criticized the “brief responses” given to him on the issue by the Ministry of Works, saying that he already had far more information than this on the issue in his possession. He noted the dangers of methane emissions from rubbish disposal.
Al-Bakri put forward a proposal for establishing a factory for recycling waste products in Bahrain on 13 April. Khalifa al-Ghanim, Ali al-Muqla, Ali Bufarsan and Nabil al-Balooshi supported his proposal.
Schools: During the 28 April parliamentary session, Al-Bakri criticized growing class sizes and called on the Government to clarify where and when it would build the 10 schools promised in the Action Plan.
Meat subsidies: Al-Bakri on 21 May criticized the low levels of payments which families are reportedly to receive following the removal of meat subsidies. He called for clear criteria to define how much each family should be entitled to. He noted that many MPs were unhappy with the “unilateral” decision taken on this matter by the Govt.
In a 25 May statement Al-Bakri warned of the “lack of a clear vision” for removing subsidies. He said that the mechanisms for new measures regarding meat subsidies were vague and hadn’t been properly explained.
During the 26 May parliamentary discussion, a majority of MPs spoke out against the Govt’s plan for halting meat subsidies. Al-Bakri said: “We believed the promises of the Government about citizens not being adversely affected by the removal of subsidies. Are the payments – that one is embarrassed to mention – even true? 5BD to citizens and 3.5 BD for the wife?”
Economy & employment
Foreign workers: During the 3 March parliamentary debate on the so-called “free visa” system”, Al-Bakri called for tough punishments and efforts to “fill the legal void”.
Foreign teachers: Al-Bakri was one of six MPs on 16 March who proposed an open parliamentary debate about the Government’s policy on recruiting foreign teachers.
Nursery staff: During the 17 March parliamentary session Al-Bakri spoke out strongly against the proposal for increasing the wages of nursery employees, asking how this would be funded, and said that nurseries were a place of “play not study” and so didn’t require qualified teachers.
Beaches: Al-Bakri on 22 April formally questioned the Transport Minister about price increases for Jazair beach chalets.
Good governance & public finance
Action Plan: In the 3 February parliamentary session for voting on the Government Action plan, Al-Bakri abstained from voting; saying that he was the only Action Plan Committee member who had opposed the final draft, claiming that the agreements reached with ministers were “weak”. Al-Bakri was one of only three MPs who didn’t vote in favour of the Action Plan.
On 20 April, Al-Bakri stressed that the Government remained capable of fulfilling its pledges set out in the 2015-18 Action Plan. He denied that the parliamentary refusal to raise the debt ceiling would affect this.
Public debt: During the 10 March parliamentary session Al-Bakri warned that if public sector debt levels continued to rise, Bahrain could end up like certain state that had become “almost-occupied” because of losing control over their finances.
According to Al-Watan on 14 May Al-Bakri was one of the 9 MPs who said that they would reject increasing the debt ceiling to 7bn BD.
Vision 2030: During the 31 March parliamentary debate the Minister of Works responded to a question by Al-Bakri about its strategic vision. Al-Bakri aired his concern that by 2030 the planned aspirations for Bahrain wouldn’t have been followed through. Al-Bakri criticized the lack of planning over strategic land use.
Municipal Councils: Ibrahim al-Hammadi, Ali al-Muqla, Muhsin al-Bakri and Mohammed al-Jowder put forward a draft bill on 20 April for improving the work benefits for members of the municipal councils.
Audit report: During the 14 April parliamentary debate concerning the annual Financial Audit Bureau report, Al-Bakri stressed the need for the report to be handled differently on this occasion due to complaints from the public about lack of action in previous years and “lack of accountability”. Al-Bakri said that he hoped to see parliamentary committees of investigation formed and ministers being interrogated.
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-Bakri voted in favour of the interrogation.
Planning: A majority of parliamentarians on 21 April voted in favour of the Legal Committee’s recommendation to reject the proposal for a new Planning Authority. Al-Bakri said the Committee’s recommendation was too brief and he criticized the Committee’s failure to solicit opinions from relevant entities.
Budget: Al-Bakri on 20 May said that Parliament in principle supported the need for more carefully targeted spending, while taking on board “humanitarian considerations”. He said: “Redirecting financial support guarantees the achievement of the higher requirements of the State and decreases the growing pressure on public finances”.
Policing & regional security
Iran: During the 24 March parliamentary debate 21 MPs supported issuing a statement condemning Iranian interference in Bahrain. Al-Bakri said: “Why don’t we talk about Ahwaz? …Iran wants to reanimate Persian nationalism and some want Baghdad to be their capital… we should cut economic and diplomatic ties with Iran.
Yemen: Al-Bakri on 28 March said that Operation Decisive Storm in Yemen had put an end to “Iran’s hoped-for empire” and had restored the dignity of the Arab nation.
During the 31 March parliamentary debate Al-Bakri said that prior to the intervention, the Arab states had been in “the most shameful situation. They have now regained their confidence in their leadership”.
Terrorism: In a 8 June statement responding to the arrests of the Iran-sponsored Al-Ashtar Brigades, Al-Bakri praised the actions of the security forces in preventing attacks in Bahrain.
Assault: Al-Bakri on 7 June strongly condemned an attack by foreign citizens on a Bahraini taxi driver.
Rights, freedoms & religion
Quran: 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, Al-Bakri claimed that a senior figure from the Ministry of Education was present at the event, but failed to intervene. Al-Bakri is one of the submitters of the proposal for a committee.
Exclusion: Al-Bakri on 18 March called on the Ministry of Works to prevent the Lebanese writer Jumana Haddad from entering Bahrain as part of the Spring of Culture events. He said that to accept Haddad amounted to an “attack on Bahrain’s religion and established culture and an assault against Islamic culture… public atheism and pornography in culture and hosting spokespeople who deny the existence of God and who demand the unleashing of depraved bodies are a grave threat.”
Monarch: Al-Bakri on 21 May in a statement praised the selection of the King of Bahrain by the Arab Creators Union as the Best Arab National Personality for 2015.
Sudan: Jamal Dawoud, Anas Buhindi and Muhsin al-Bakri on 30 May departed Bahrain as part of a delegation to inspect agricultural land purchased by Bahrain in Sudan.
Youth, culture & sport
Sport: During a 7 April open parliamentary debate about sport in Bahrain Al-Bakri complained that MPs should have been discussing “important issues” like housing and living standards.
On 17 May Al-Bakri met the Youth and Sport Minister who told him about a number of initiatives to be implemented.
Parliament role & constituent engagement
King’s speech response: “Deputies should support [the King’s] reform process through cooperation with the executive branch. We hope to see rapid steps towards a Gulf Union”. (17 February)
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-Bakri said that the proposal was “weak” and should be modified, but expressed his hope that the Government would implement it. He challenged comments by the Parliament Minister that the proposal infringed on the Government’s business.
- Standards of living, health & education – 5
- Housing & services – 6
- Policing & regional security – 5
- Good governance & public finance – 6
- Economy & employment – 6
- Supporting constituents & youth – 4
- Rights & freedoms – 4
- Constructive Parliament role – 5
- Public visibility – 5
- Progressive/reformist credentials – 4
Results of 2014 elections – 9th Southern
Areas covered: Southwest coast; Sakhir
Housing blocks: 944, 947, 976, 986, 1048, 1051, 1052, 1054, 1055, 1056, 1057, 1058, 1061, 1062, 1063, 1064, 1067, 1068, 1069, 1070, 1099
Registered voters: 5,090; Percentage 1st round voter turnout: 77.7%
First round vote:
Mohsin al-Bakri – 1784 (46.6%); Mohammed al-Dossary – 785 (20.5%); Mohammed al-Quwwati (NUG) – 599 (15.6%); Mutib al-Dhawadi – 358 (9.3%); Yousif al-Dossary – 306
Second round vote:
Mohsin al-Bakri – 2144 (60.3%)
Mohammed al-Dossary – 1409 (39.7%)
Profile of election campaign: Mohsin Ali Mohammed Abdullah al-Bakri
Municipal councilor Mohsin al-Bakri emerged from the first round of voting with more than twice the number of votes of his closest rival and just a few percentage points short of winning the seat outright. Unsurprisingly, he succeeded in winning comfortably in the second round with over 60% of the vote.
Al-Bakri served for two terms as a municipal councilor and was head of the council during his second term. Al-Bakri promised to prioritize improving standards of living and greater scrutiny of spending of public funds.Al-Bakri praised the King’s initiative for building 40,000 new homes, but has called for existing projects to be accelerated.
This 9th Southern contest changed dramatically after incumbent MP for three terms, Abdullah al-Dossary, was appointed by the King as Parliament Secretary-General, necessitating Al-Dossary’s withdrawal from the contest.
The 9th Southern district is one of the three sparsely populated but geographically large southern constituencies that will certainly go to a loyalist candidate.
Independent candidates have always performed strongly in the constituencies of the Southern Governorate. Tribal and familial ties are everything in these traditionally-minded locations, hence the prevalence of certain family names among the candidates.
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