- July 4, 2008
MB MP Writes: 2008 Parliament, Facts and Figures, MB Performance
I think that many agree with me that our society is currently saddled by a law of jungle, not a rule of law, losing many of the “conditions of law” discussed by parliament.
Although they are similar to laws, the texts passed to achieve interests of individuals of the elite and dignitaries aren’t law; the texts passed to the benefit of the strong, not the weak, aren’t laws; the texts passed to enable the ruler to monopolize power and exclude critics and opponents are not laws; the laws passed in such a way and are amended only 24 hours after enforcing them are evidence.
It is universally agreed that what counts is the quality, not quantity of these hours.
All of us wonder: Why has the People”s Assembly (the lower chamber of parliament) intensifies its work in such a strange manner to issue laws which have never been well studied at least by the Members of parliament? Why are sessions wrapped up immediately after completing the minimum period of work (7 months) according to the constitution? why doesn”t it continue working 15 days, a month or three months over these seven months?
In sum, assessing the performance of any MP, bloc or opposition parliamentary body is based on the parliamentary instruments they have used in their parliamentary performance, both in terms of supervision or legislation, and whether they abandoned any right that allows them according to the constitution or by-law to reach their means; have they used such rights and instruments in the due time? Add to this the MP”s or bloc”s engagement with day-to-day domestic or international issues and their views towards all these issues.
As for in majority, we ask after all about the negative and positive bills and whether the government (the executive authority which is supposedly the ruling party”s government) implements such bills.
2008 Parliament: Official Figures, Indications
* 143 sessions
* 645 hours: 245 hours supervision, 224 hours legislation, 31 hours of political powers, 55 hours of financial powers, 45 hours of agreements and treaties, 45 hours of membership affairs.
*413 MPs delivered speeches out of the total 442MPs (including 12 MPs who have never been elected yet.) The details: 301 ruling NDP, 6 Al Wafd party, 1 Tagamue, 1 Al-Ghad, 2 Dostouri, 102 independent MPs.
* 29 MPs have never delivered any speeches, all of them affiliated to the National Democratic Party (NDP).
* 86 membership cases: Including 158 election appeals, 5 cases in which legal procedures have been taken, 3 punishment cases of denying the MPs (all the three from the opposition) from taking part in the People”s Assembly proceedings and one case of rescinding membership (opposition MP), one request for a resignation (NDP), 17 cases of emptied seats (because of death) and one exceptional case of full time attendance.
Although final court rulings have been issued for canceling the membership of about 17 MPs, mostly affiliated to the National Democratic Party, the People”s Assembly annulled only the membership of the Muslim Brotherhood MP, Mokhtar Al-Beih, on the last day and last session of the 2008 round. Even if the question is raised: why? There will be 5 months of parliament recess in which no answer is prepared.
Evaluation of the legislative and supervisory achievements
The legislative achievements:
-304 legislation mechanisms:
-110 financial bills, budget final accounts
-116 bill suggestions
-2 republican decrees
-The number of legislative working hours = 224 hours = 13440 minutes
-The legislation mechanism period= 13440 ÷ are 304 = 44.2 minutes (approximately)
This means that every legislation mechanism to approve key bills took nearly 44 minutes (less than three quarters of an hour,) for every one of the following bills:
*The traffic bill
* The child bill
*The university organization bill
*Housing coop bill
*The bill of establishing fund of supporting building mosques
*The bill of establishing State Awards and encouraging sciences and arts
*The bill of allocating raise for public workers
*The bill of allocating supplementary funds to meet requirements of the ration commodities organization
* The bill of allocating supplementary funds to introduce 15 million more persons on ration cards
*Passport amendment bill, economic court bill
*The law of supervising insurance, antitrust bill and competition protection bill
*Real-estate tax bill
*The bill of amending regulations of the capital market
*The bill of organizing travel agencies, the state general budget bill
* The stamp duty bill, the anti-money laundry bill
* 7 oil-related bills
* 2 gold drilling bills
* 110 financial bills, final accounts
* Bill on organizing political parties, organizing sequestration and protection of ethics
* Bill of safety of places of worship
* Bill of the general intelligence
*Judicial ruling bill
*Bill of insurance rights of the judiciaries
*The bill of amending articles of the Constitutional Court
*The bill of Courts of Helwan, the Red Sea and 6 October governorates
-4025 supervisory mechanisms
-2237 written questions
-235 urgent statements, orally answered
-948 urgent statements referred to committees
-37 general discussion requests
-1 fact-finding committee.
-The number of supervisory hours= 245 hours = 14700 minutes
-The period of every supervisory mechanism = 14700 ÷ 14025 = 3.6 minutes
-3.6 minutes for each supervisory mechanism!!!
Taking to account the discussions and actual responses without referral to the House committees, this means we have 1989 supervisory mechanisms according to the following:
-1149 written questions, orally answered
-235 urgent statements, orally answered
-948 urgent statements referred to committees
-37 general discussion requests
-1 fact-finding committee
-The number of supervisory hours = 245 hours = 14700 supervisory minutes
-7.3 minutes allocated for every supervisory instrument
-The average time allocated for the supervisory mechanism = 3.6 + 7.3 = 10.9 ÷ are 2 = 5.4 minutes ( including fact-finding committee, interrogations, requests for general discussion about which the report of the parliament speaks said that it was an important mechanism that allowed a big number of MPs to take part in discussing key issues that concern the public opinion)
The Muslim Brotherhood bloc Assessed
The legislative performance:
MB MPs contributed to tabling a number of bill laws, and also contributed to discussing bill laws submitted by the government either to cancel them or to convey their danger and underlying corruption. They have even withdrew from sessions protesting against passing such corrupt bills, like what happened while discussing the traffic bill law.
Muslim Brotherhood parliamentary bloc introduced a number of bills, topped by:
-The bill of the teachers Special Cadre system- second stage-MP Ibrahim Zakariya Yunus
-The Political Parties bill
-The Economic Court bill-was withdrawn due to Judges Club objections
-A bill to amend some penal code articles to fight torture
-Bills to amend some budget law articles aiming to increase education and health allocations, rationalization of subsidies and directing it to the poor not the rich or businessmen
The supervisory performance:
-MB MPs used all supervision instruments and mechanisms available to exercise his supervisory role
-A big number of interrogations were submitted, those not discussed were withdrawn in protest against the punishment imposed on opposition MP Saad Abboud.
General discussion demands
-demanding using the call by name mechanism in some bills, making the ruling NDP party mobilize its MPs
-Demanding including some issues on the agenda to end the control of the People”s Assembly on preparing the agenda, introducing unimportant issues rather than key ones like the crises of bread, gas, subsidies, price hikes and others
-Demanding the formation of committees that study the bills introduced to the People”s Assembly, a mechanism which no one has ever called for
-Demanding the formation of fact-finding committees some of which were refused by the People”s Assembly and others were accepted, like the one for leaking High School Diploma exams
-Demanding specific issues be transferred to the Central Auditing Organization some which were refused by the Assembly like bribes of the National Democratic party”s MPs- the exports fund – and the Assembly accepted to refer others like the case of Dreamland lands.
-Demanding a no-confidence vote against ministers and holding them accountable
-The committees that included Muslim Brotherhood MPs witnessed activities from them and most of their agendas to discuss written questions were introduced by them
-The punctuality and regular attendance of the Muslim Brotherhood MPs had a positive impact on the punctuality of the Assembly”s performance, making the majority mobilize its MPs although they aren’t used to attend sessions. In many cases the Muslim Brotherhood and opposition MPs formed the majority of votes, but the Speaker was disregarding this. In one instance, the Speaker wanted to change the method and demanded a vote by name to find it only 100 votes for the majority; it was strange not to notice this!
-The supervisory role extended to include MPs themselves. The Muslim Brotherhood and independent MPs exposed the scandal of the National Democratic Party bribes, and published lists of the names of MPs who were given 250 thousand pounds from state budget, about which Dr Mofid Shehab said that they are for projects for which they introduced feasibility studies and are conforming with the state five year plan!!! In retaliation, Muslim Brotherhood MP and an independent MP were sent to the Assembly deputy speaker to investigate with them, in preparation for referring them the disciplinary board!
-Rejecting extending the state of emergency, as the government did not abide by its promise of using the law to fight only terrorism and drugs but it failed in fighting drugs, and has used the law to achieve political gains and to persecute political opponents.
-The bloc strongly criticized government insistence on hiding information from MPs in the gas export price issue, and the MPs managed to get the government to admit that the price is low and it declared that it will review it.
-The Muslim Brotherhood MPs exclaimed about the nature of the open role carried out by the so called “door knocking delegation” to the United States and its discussing serious economic and military issues which are outside the specializations of its members.
-The People”s Assembly Speaker refused to open discussions in issues of selling meat of dead animals and meat of donkeys under the pretext that they may distort the image of Egypt .
-After several delays and under pressure of the MPs and the public opinion, the People”s Assembly discussed issues of the bread crises, exporting gas to Israel for very low prices, denying the general budget huge sums of money.
The Palestinian cause:
The Palestinian cause has had a special position in the parliamentary exercises of the Muslim Brotherhood MPs. A special session in the People”s Assembly was dedicated for discussing the situations, especially for the stranded Palestinian hajjis in addition to closing Rafah crossing.
For the first time in the history of the parliament, more than 100 MPs staged a two-day sit-in inside parliament on Sunday and Monday March, 2-3, 2008, in protest against Gaza massacres and Egyptian government”s silence that reaches the level of collaboration with Israeli Occupation, in addition to silence of other Arab governments.
Also, the Egyptian security forces blocked MPs staging a march which was scheduled to start from parliament to Abdeen presidential Palace to submit a memo that includes the MPs” demands to the president. These forces have besieged parliament, and blocked the march, only allowing five MPs in two cars to submit this memo.
The parliament called on three of its committees, the Committee on Defense and National Security, the committee on Arab affairs, and the Committee on Foreign Affairs to hold a joint meeting to study the demands of the striking MPs and issuing a statement- the strongest statement ever issued by Egyptian parliament- in which it called on government to reconsider the Camp David agreement, lift the blockade on the Palestinian people, open Rafah Crossing for a smooth passage between Egypt and Palestine ,and providing the Palestinian people with the aid required to help them stand restive and confront the Israeli Occupation.
Activities in international meetings:
The Muslim Brotherhood MPs rarely took part in official delegations of the parliament, in a flagrant violation from the parliament to the by-law stipulating forming these delegations from all trends. However, the MPs participated- paying costs from their personal money- in many and important international meetings which the parliament unfortunately skipped. They took part in the International Forum of Islamic Parliamentarians in Indonesia , and meeting of the group of eight countries in Turkey, and the International Association for Parliamentarians supporting the Palestinian cause in Beirut .
The Muslim Brotherhood MPs demanded the Assembly leadership to provide enough reports about the delegations that represent the Assembly so that the MPs can learn about what took place in these visits and meetings, according to the by-law.
Also, the Muslim Brotherhood MPs criticized the double standard policy in the European parliament”s decision that condemned the Egyptian government and human rights violations in Egypt, while it described the resistance of the Palestinian people against the Zionist occupation as terrorism.
At the same time, the Muslim Brotherhood MPs called on the Egyptian government to stop torture and human rights violations in prisons. They also called on the government to reconsider the Egyptian European partnership agreement that allows the European Union to meddle in our domestic affairs according to the first chapter of the partnership agreement. The Muslim Brotherhood MPs revealed also the scandal of the text in this agreement that states allowing the relocation of a third party on Egyptian soil on condition that the European Union provide technical and financial support in return for this relocation (according to article 69 of the agreement).
The Peoples Assembly magazine:
The magazine lacked press professionalism and neutrality of a mouthpiece of the Assembly with its majority and opposition. It was the mouthpiece of the ruling party including its MPS and their activities inside the Assembly and inside their consistencies. Most of its issues were mentioning nothing about opposition performance and activities or even pictures of opposition MPS. This triggered a protest against its editorial policy and all opposition MPs demanded their subscriptions canceled, which already happened, and they called for giving it any name other than ” the People”s Assembly magazine “because it does not actually reflect all the Assembly, and it was expressing only the National Democratic Party MPs.
*Dr. Hamdi Hassan is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood parliamentary bloc in the Egyptian People”s Assembly.