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MPs defiant despite minister's threat

A PARLIAMENTARY committee pledged yesterday that it would continue to investigate alleged irregularities at the Health Ministry despite a resignation threat from the minister. Health Minister Dr Nada Haffadh said on Friday that she would quit if her ministry was subjected to inspection rather than an investigation by the committee.

MPs had given the go-ahead for the probe into the alleged irregularities and shortcomings at the ministry in a parliament session on April 3.

The decision came despite opposition from a government official that the issues to be investigated were vague.

Minister of State for Shura Council and Parliament Affairs Abdulaziz Al Fadhel had told MPs at the session that there were no specific issues to be probed.

MPs maintained that financial and management violations, lack of services and work negligence were important enough to be investigated.

These include doctors' mistakes, death due to carelessness and complaints that doctors were not doing their jobs properly.

They say that the issues were varied and forming a specific probe committee for each issue was impossible.

Committee head Mohammed Yousif Al Maza'al told the GDN that the minister's resignation would not hinder the investigation and it was totally her decision if she wanted to quit.

"There are three issues that we are investigating and they are financial and management violations, lack of services and work negligence," said Mr Al Maza'al.

"This is what we are investigating and we will continue even if the minister does not co-operate and quits."

Mr Al Maza'al said that he didn't understand the reason behind the minister's threats.

"Maybe she wants to hide something and does not want anyone to find out," he said.

"Everyone should co-operate with the investigation. We are not pointing fingers, we are only looking into the reasons behind the irregularities."

He said that the minister was "mistaken" if she thought that by quitting, the probe would end.

"Probe committees do not cancel their investigations because a minister quits," said Mr Al Maza'al.

"The investigation has nothing to do with the minister at all."

He said that a meeting would be held on Thursday with the minister to review questions, which are part of the investigation.

Dr Haffadh accused the parliamentary probe committee on Friday of trying to achieve ambiguous aims.

"I work in full transparency and I am ready to co-operate with any committee that has clear objectives to help the ministry identify irregularities," she said, pointing out that the probe order would become null and void if she quits.

Bahrain Medical Association (BMA) will also hold a meeting this week to consider stopping co-operation with the parliamentary probe committee.

"The probe committee is not investigating the ministry's irregularities and shortcomings. Instead, it is targeting the minister," said a BMA official.

"She is a fellow doctor heading one of the most important service ministries in the country."

"Her efforts to improve things are praiseworthy and any offence against her is unacceptable to us."

The probe committee consists of parliament's legislative and legal affairs committee chairman Shaikh Jassim Al Saeedi, and MPs Al Menbar's Shaikh Mohammed Khalid Mohammed, Al Wefaq's Dr Jassim Hussain, Al Asala's Khamis Al Rumaihi, Al Wefaq's Mohammed Al Meza'al, Al Menbar's Dr Samy Qambar and Future's Hassan Al Dossary. rasha@gdn.com.bh



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