PARLIAMENT’S session descended into chaos as MPs formed a probe committee into an alleged land grab by a senior Cabinet official.
The official has been accused of grabbing a plot of land in East Riffa, which was originally earmarked for a public school, and turning it into a private shopping complex.
An urgent request to form the probe committee was presented by five MPs, led by Khaled Al Shaer, which was discussed at parliament’s weekly session yesterday.
A heated debate erupted during the session as some MPs claimed parliament did not have the jurisdiction to investigate the allegations because it did not involve a government minister.
Thirty-six MPs were originally present at the session, but two of them left the chamber during the vote.
Nineteen MPs voted in favour of forming the committee, including parliament chairman Ahmed Al Mulla, 12 rejected it and three abstained.
“There is a clear accusation of theft towards an individual and since there are no ministers involved this means parliament has no right to investigate the matter,” said parliament second vice-chairman Abdulhaleem Murad.
“Whenever someone accuses the other, and out of justice, it should go to the Public Prosecution and should not be addressed in parliament.
“Mr Al Shaer has a known grudge towards the individual at the centre of the allegations and he shouldn’t be allowed to form the probe committee or even be part of it.”
However, Mr Al Shaer argued that the probe was within parliament’s power because it involved public property.
“We will start with this case and then go on to others, I am also planning to submit another request next week against an MP who stole municipal property and turned into his own,” he said during the session.
“The case we want probed is not against an individual as much as it is investigating how government property turned into private property – this falls within our rights.”
Parliament first vice-chairman Ali Al Aradi said the probe was necessary to clarify how the classification of land changed.
“MPs have the right to know what has happened to a planned public school and how the property became private – this is not personal,” he said.
“This is part of MPs monitoring duties and doesn’t contradict it.”
Parliament’s legal opinion commission head Dr Saleh Al Gatheeth also explained to legislators that even if an MP had a personal interest in an issue it did not prevent them from taking part in an investigation.
“Mr Murad’s notification is right about personal involvement, but there are no penalties associated with taking part in proceedings even if there is direct relationship, a grudge or any other matter that may cast itself on the professionalism of the report,” he added.
The probe committee will consist of the five MPs who proposed the request. They are Mr Al Shaer, Mohammed Al Jowder, Jamal Buhassan, Isa Al Kooheji and Ghazi Al Rahma. Mr Al Kooheji asked to be removed from the panel to allow another MP in his place, but Mr Al Mulla said a written request was needed that will have to be voted on at next week’s session.