September 24, 2005

development by examples

Another positive step on the road to constitutionalised monarchy has been taken. His Majesty issued Royal Order 20 for 2005 on Wednesday appointing Board of Trustees for the Institute of Political Development. This new organization is tasked with promoting reform and providing political training for MPs, Shura members and municipal councilors, and conduct studies and research on constitutional and legal issues. A fine local solution to a local problem of interference by the NDI and other foreign initiatives in internal affairs.

The order appointed Lulwa Al Awadi president of the Institute, with Dr Bahiya Al Jishi, Dr Hasan Madan, Hamad Al Muhannadi, Taher Hikmat, Fareed Jasim, Mohammed Al Mashehadani, Mohammed Hadi Al Halwachi, and Yousif Al Hashimi as members.

By all accounts, these are fine men and women from the community, and beyond. To be sure, some are obscure, such as Mr. Taher Hikmat (who has the same name as a Jordanian parliamentarian), but my ignorance could be at fault. others, however, are shining stars and illustrious examples for political development at its best.

Dr Al-Meshehadani, an Iraqi who acquired Bahraini citizenship, is just perfect for the job. A distinguished law professor, then Department Chair, then Dean of Law, all the while an abiding loyalist toward his immediate boss ( Chair, then Dean of Law, then Rector of the University): Sh. Dr. Maryam Al-Khalifa. Two years ago, when a group of law students sought a permission to hold a conference for a debate on the constitution, he fatherly but firmly refused. The faculty is a place of learning not politics, he admonished. When the students made a fuss about the university bylaw being an infringement on their rights, he -in all magnanimity- and on gentle prodding of the Shaykha - made a rare descent from the ivory tower to pen a journalistic article. In perfect, crisp Arabic, he explained to all that a legislation regulating a certain freedom is a necessary precondition to exercise that freedom. He quoted a French constitutionalist that “a clause in the constitution is absolutely not sufficient for a freedom to exist. Until the necessary legislation regulating it is issued, a constitutional clause on a freedom is nothing more than a constitutional promise, not apt to be put in practice". The regulation, he said, stands, and if they had a problem with it, they can go all the to the constitutional court.

Mr. Al-Muhannadi’s career showed a similarly remarkable development. He worked since 1986 for the Interior Ministry, first with the prosecution team, then in legal affairs at the Southern Security Command, and organised pilgrimage trips, only to find himself elected as MP. He left a strong impression recently when, as chair of the lower chamber’s legal and legislative committee, was asked by Al-Wasat whether he viewed the current distribution of electoral districts as fair and equal. He offered this answer: “ I think it is fair. Across the world, you don’t look at population density only; you also take into consideration the geographical area and other factors as well’. Kudos to an MP who considers himself representing every inch of sand in his area as well. A new innovative formula is born: one man/meter square, one vote.

Mr. Al Halwachi’s claim to political fame and substantial fortune came from his way with words. He rose from humble positions at the Ministries of Electricity and Justice, when he discovered a knack for “gainful” poetry. He first free-lanced for the purported gift of few thousands Bahraini Dinars per poem, and later became a regular at royal visits and receptions. He was appointed a member of the august chamber of Shura, and became head of its legislative committee, in recognition of his status as a rare breed; A son of the vanquished leaving no praising gem unearthed for the sons of the conquerers. Thus, one king is “ a cloud of love that poured care over all thirsty hearts in the kingdom”, and another royalty is “ the light that beamed over all the quarters of the sultanate” , and whence they both met, “ two suns, one of glory, and one of supremacy, were rising to shine on all”. If the
US can't help in moderating its praise, how could he?

The notable development in all of this is the appointment of Dr. Hassan Madan; a very good writer, an intellectual you could say, one who lived in exile for years, a former ranking member of the first modern –underground- political organization in the country, and a sitting head of a political society. Is this his rightful place? Some would say alas. I wish him luck.


At 6:33 PM, Anonymous Mahmood Al-Yousif said...

hat firmly off sir!


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