Manama: Musallam Al Barrak, a former lawmaker and trade union leader, is one of the most vociferous voices in the recent parliaments of Kuwait where he represented the Fourth Constituency.
Al Barrak, 56, graduated from the University of Kuwait with a degree in geography. He worked for the Municipal Council and was the head of the employees’ trade union.
He was named member of the executive board of the Kuwait trade union and was at one time the deputy secretary general of the Arab trade union for municipality employees.
Al Barrak, the son of former MP Mohammad Hamad Al Barrak, made his debut in the parliament in 1996 and gradually rose to prominence as a member of the Popular Action Bloc. Political parties are banned in Kuwait.
He was re-elected in 1999, 2003, 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2012, often topping the list of the candidates in the constituency. In the 2012 elections, he made history by receiving 30,118 votes, a remarkable feat in the north Arabian Gulf state.
He started assuming prominent roles in 2006 when he led a strong movement in the parliament to amend the electoral law and slash the number of constituencies from 25 to five. The law was eventually amended in June.
He often opposed law drafts that he thought were encouraging corruption practices and never minced his words when he confronted fellow lawmakers or, more often, ministers and officials.
His vitriolic attacks included Arab leaders for voicing their opposition to the hanging of the Iraqi former leader Saddam Hussain.
In December, Al Barrak had to defend himself against accusations he received funds from Qatar’s prime minister.
A Kuwaiti Arabic daily said that it had evidence that Shaikh Hamad Bin Jassem Al Thani had transferred QR200 million (Dh202 million) to the MP’s account.
The report sparked an outcry among pro-government lawmakers who called for the formation of a parliamentary committee to investigate the allegations.
The Qatari leader and the bank denied the claims and a court case was filed against the paper.
He had a leading role in the protests and demonstrations resisting the amendment of the electoral law to reduce the number of candidates a voter can elect from four to one.
In a speech he delivered at a rally, he harshly criticised the decision, drawing deep criticism from opponents.
When the country’s security moved to summon him for questioning, he refused to go to the police station and demanded to see a written statement.
His stance was criticised by some Kuwaiti media as part of orchestrated shows and ostentatious claims.
For local news site City Talks, his arrest on Monday was carefully orchestrated as a show to win further support among supporters.