Il-biċċa deputat

Il-biċċa deputat huwa dak li ma jirnexxilux jgħid dak li jemmen. L-anqas dak li jaħseb. Ġeneralment għax ftit li xejn jaħseb. Għax hemm min jaħseb għalih. Iħossu komdu hekk!

Meta tħalli lil ħaddieħor jaħseb għalik ma tantx tiġi fil-għali malajr imma tkun qed tneżża’ lilek innifsek mid-dinjita’. Ma tkunx deputat, tkun biss biċċa deputat. Tista’ tkun Ministru jew Segretarju Parlamentari għax tkun biċċa Ministru jew biċċa Segretarju Parlamentari.

Sfortunatament għandna bosta eżempji ta’ dawn il-biċċiet fl-istorja politika ta’ pajjiżna: fil-mument deċiżiv dejjem ħasbu għal ġildhom u insew dak li ġew eletti għalih.

Il-vokabolarju ta’ Lawrence Gonzi

L-argument ċentrali fid-diskorsi li għamel Franco Debono, kemm fil-Parlament kif ukoll barra, kien li Ministri li fallew għandhom jerfgħu r-responsabbilta’ politika ta’ egħmilhom. Ma jistax ikun li min jiżbalja minflok ma jkun iċċensurat jiġi ppremjat qal Franco Debono.

Fejn id-demokrazija hi żviluppata hekk jiġri.

Peter Mandelson, per eżempju, darbtejn irreżenja mill-Kabinett ta’ Tony Blair.  It-tieni darba irreżenja għax għen lil żewġ aħwa miljunarji jakkwistaw passaport Ingliż u per konsegwenza ċ-ċittadinanza, u dan wara li taw donazzjoni ta’ miljun lira sterlina għall-Millenium Dome: proġett tal-Gvern Ingliż għall-bidu tat-tielet millenju li kien ikkordinat minn Mandelson. Kien hemm inkjesta li l-gazzetti Ingliżi jirreferu għaliha bħala “Cash for passports scandal” li kkonkludiet li Mandelson ma kien għamel xejn ħażin. Imma xorta irreżenja.

F’Malta Austin Gatt jgħaffeġ fir-riforma tat-trasport b’ħames xhur ta’ taħwid ma jispiċċa qatt. Dolores Cristina ma tafx x’inhu jiġri dwar il-fondi Ewropej li ntilfu wara taħwid amministrattiv fil-Ministeru tagħha.

It-tnejn baqgħu Ministri. Bil-kemm skużaw ruħhom.

Lawrence Gonzi qalilna li “with hindsight” saru l-iżbalji imma għalihom ser jerfa’ r-responsabbilta’ hu.

Tafu kif?

Le, mhux ser jirreżenja iżda ser isejjah elezzjoni għall-Kap tal-PN u jidher li ser itellaq waħdu.

X’responsabbilta’ politika hi din? Veru li Lawrence Gonzi għandu vokabolarju għalih.

The Future started yesterday

 

The term “sustainable development”  forms part of the contemporary poltical lexicon.

It is unfortunately generally a greenwash engaged upon by politicians whose gaze cannot consider more than a three to four year timeframe.  To make any sense the politics of sustainable development must be and in fact is measured in terms of generations and is commonly referred to as a “long term view”.

The Brundtland report which  is credited with setting the sustainable development ball rolling in contemporary politics was presented to the United Nations General Secretary in 1987. Entitled “Our Common Future” it was the result of the deliberations of the World Commission on Environment and Development chaired by Gro Harlem Brundtland former Norwegian Prime Minister.

The Brundtland report is very clear in its first pages.  In the introductory chapter  we are told that “We act as we do because we can get away with it: future generations do not vote ; they have no political or financial power; they cannot challenge our decisions.”

This one sentence encapsulates the significance and objectives of the politics of sustainable development:  the future has to be factored in today’s decisons. We cannot plan the present without considering its impacts on the future. Future generations have a right to take their own decisions.They need to be in a position to take their decisions without being obstructed by limitations imposed by their ancestors.

During the preparatory meetings for the Rio 1992 Earth Summit, delegations  discussed the impacts of development on various vulnerable groups. Sustainable development requires new forms of participation in decision making as a result of which those sectors of society which are normally on the fringes are reintegrated into the process.  Women, children, youth, indigenous groups, NGOs and local authorities were identified by Agenda 21 at Rio in 1992 as vulnerable groups. Other sectors such as trade unions and business/industry require a strengthened role such that there voice is heard and forms an integral part of the decision taking process.

In the process leading to the Rio 1992 Earth Summit Malta presented the UN with submissions focusing with another vulnerable group, future generations. This was done in a document dated 21 February 1992 submitted to Working GroupIII of the Preparatory Committee of the UN Rio Conference which met in New York  in early March 1992.

In paragraph 17 of its document Malta proposed to go beyond rhetoric through the inclusion in the 1992 Rio Declaration on the Environment of the following:

“ We declare that each generation has, in particular, the responsibility to ensure that in any national or international forum, where it is likely that a decision is taken affecting the interests of future generations, access be given to an authorised person appointed as “Guardian” of future generations to appear and make submissions on their behalf, so that account be taken of the responsibilities stated in this Declaration and the obligations created thereby.”

Malta’s proposal was developed by the International Environment Institute of the University of Malta within the framework of its “Future Generations Programme”.  In 1992 Malta’s proposal was not taken up in the Rio Declaration on the Environment however it has resurfaced in the current Rio+20 process.

In what is known as the zero draft, that is the draft final document of the Rio+20 sustainable development conference due to be held next June,  the international community is proposing to consider the setting up of an “Ombudsperson or High Commissioner for Future Generations to promote Sustainable Development” (paragraph 57 of the document The Future We Want).  This proposal, if implemented, would eventually lead to consider impacts on Future Generations of international initiatives.

In parallel with the developments on a international level which may eventualy lead to the United Nations focusing on the rights of future generations to promote Sustainable Development the Government in Malta has published draft legislation which introduces a Guardian of Future Generations. This was proposed by the Greens in Malta during consultations carried out by the Minsitry for the Environment and was taken up by government when the final draft of the legislation was drawn up.

The Bill, entitled “Sustainable Development Act”  recognizes for the first time that Future Generations (in Malta) have rights which can be impaired by today’s decisions. It provides for the creation of a Commission to be known as the Guardian for Future Generations which is to be made up of a President appointed by the Prime Minister and three other members hailing from environmental NGOs, business fora and social and community NGOs.

The Guardian for Future Generations will be assigned duties related to sustainable development ranging from sustainable development advocacy across national policymaking to encouraging NGOs and the private sector to participate in sustainable development initiatives. Given the functions and role of the Guardian I think that it would be more appropriate and effective if instead of a Commission it is just one person  appointed by the Head of State rather than by the Prime Minister.

It is unfortunate that the Bill confirms the abolition of the National Commission for Sustainable Development and in its stead proposes the creation of a Network made up of 8 persons, these being a mix of public officers and representatives of civil society. The National Commission was much larger and had the advantage of being composed of a wider cross section of civil society together with representatives of all the Ministries. Whilst it is clear that government’s objective in creating the Network is to create a lean, efficient  and effective structure, I submit that this is not incompatible with retaining the National Commission which through its extensive reach was and can still be an effective sounding board where the politics of sustainable development is moulded.  The involvement of a wide range of stakeholders is imperative in creating or reinforcing structures for sustainable development.

These developments signify that present generations are slowly coming to their senses and recognising the fact that the impacts of today’s decisions will be felt far into the future. Giving a role to future generations today would ensure that their right to take their own decisions tomorrow is not restricted by the decisions we take today. Then we can proceed to mitigate the impacts of decisions taken in the past.  As the future began yesterday!

published in The Independent on Sunday – Environment Supplement, January 29, 2012

Lenti fuq ir-rewwixta: 3) Il-ġarra ġejja w sejra

Uħud qed jgħidulna li ħadd m’hu ikbar mill-partit. Jgħidulna hekk biex ifissru li l-Membri Parlamentari għandhom ibaxxu rashom għat-tmexxija meta jitkellem il-Leader.

Il-Partit hu kbir skond kemm jirrispetta lill-membri tiegħu. Kemm jirrispetta l-liberta’ tal-ħsieb tagħhom. Dan ir-rispett jintwera mhux fil-konfront ta’ min jikkonforma ruħu iżda fil-konfront ta’ min hu kritiku. Għax ngħiduha kif inhi, x’mertu hemm li tirrispetta lil min jaqbel miegħek?  Hemm il-mertu fir-rispett meta dan tesprimieh fil-konfront ta’ min jikkritikak!

Il-kritika b’mod partikolari meta tkun kostruttiva ssaħħaħ kemm lil min jagħmilha kif ukoll lil min għandu l-paċenzja li jiftaħ widnejn u mhux biss jisma’ iżda fuq kollox jagħti kaz. Nikbru meta nikkonfrontaw l-ideat u nevitaw il-paroli vojt u l-insulti fil-konfront ta’ min għandu ideat differenti.

Nies b’moħħ magħluq ser jibqgħu jeżistu. Dawn jikkundannaw lil min ma jaqbilx magħhom għal dik li b’mod dispreggjattiv isejħu l-miżbla tal-istorja. Għalihom għandek valur biss meta taqbel magħhom. Il-bqija m’int xejn.

Dawn huma l-egħruq tar-rewwixta.

Ir-rewwixta hi r-riżultat ta’ Partit li jisma’ imma ma jagħtix każ, b’mod partikolari b’mod repetut.

Kif ngħidu l-ġarra ġejja w sejra fl-aħħar tinkiser.

Lenti fuq ir-rewwixta : 2) Lealta’ tal-lastku

Meta nitkellmu dwar dak li għaddej bħalissa fil-Parlament id-diffikulta għall-pubbliku hi jekk il-Membru Parlamentari jaqbiżx il-linja immaġinarja tal- “lealta’”.

Lejn min għandhom ikunu leali l-Membri tal-Parlament?

Kif nifhimha jiena l-lealta’ tal-Membru Parlamentari dejjem hi lejn dak li jemmen. Li jkun konsistenti miegħu nnifsu u ma dak li tiddettalu l-kuxjenza tiegħu. Imbagħad wara tiġġudika l-istorja.

Hekk għamel il-Membru Parlamentari Għawdxi Kurunat Attard fl-ewwel seduta tal-Parlament fi Frar 1962 meta qasam il-Kamra u abbanduna l-Partit Demokratiku Nazzjonalista (ta’ Herbert Ganado)  u ngħaqad mal-PN ta’ Ġorġ Borg Olivier. Bil-vot tiegħu Borg Olivier fil-Gvern kellu 26 vot minn 50. Mingħajru kellu 25. Mingħajr il-vot ta’ Kurunat Attard  il-Gvern seta’ kellu diffikulta anke’ dwar il-kisba tal-Indipendenza ta’ Malta.  Wara li qasam il-Kamra Kurunat Attard baqa’ jitla’ fil-Parlament elezzjoni wara l-oħra sal-1987 meta ħadet postu fil-Parlament bintu Giovanna Debono. L-istorja tat il-ġudizzju tagħha.

Hekk ukoll għamel Alfred Baldacchino li qasam il-Kamra fl-1974 meta telaq il-PN u ngħaqad mal-Labour. Bil-vot tiegħu il-Gvern Laburista immexxi minn Dom Mintoff kellu 29 vot. Mingħajru kellu 28 minn 55 u ma setax jemenda l-Kostituzzjoni li kif kienet dakinnhar kienet teħtieġ 29 vot favur biex tkun emendata. (L-Ispeaker għalkemm ma kellux vot kien jgħodd bħala membru tal-Kamra. Għalhekk il-maġġoranza rikjesta għall-emendi Kostituzzjonali kienet ta’ nofs 56 li jigi 29. Illum l-Ispeaker m’għadux jingħadd!)

Ġorġ Borg Olivier  laqa’ lill-Kurunat Attard fil-PN. Ma qallux biex ikun leali lejn il-votant u jmur lura fil-Partit Demokratiku Nazzjonalista. Anke Dom Mintoff laqa’ lil Alfred Baldacchino: ma qallux ikun leali lejn il-votanti u jmur lura fil-PN!

Il-lealta’ kif definita fil-Parlament dejjem kienet waħda tal-lastku! Min iġebbed l-iżjed! Kif jaqbel fil-mument.

Il-lealta’ tal-Membru Parlamentari lejn dak li jemmen għandha twasslu biex isostni l-programm elettorali li hu intrabat miegħu waqt il-kampanja elettorali. Huwa dan l-għodda li bih il-Membru Parlamentari jgħarbel lill-Gvern fil-ħidma tiegħu fil-Parlament. Inkluż meta l-Kabinett innifsu jiddevja mill-programm elettorali jew ifittex li jagħmel affarijiet li jkunu inaccettabbli.

Il-Membru Parlamentari huwa obbligat li japoġġa l-programm politiku tal-Partit li f’ismu ġie elett imma għandu ukoll l-obbligu li ma jkunx servili. Il-lealta’ tiegħu m’hiex inkondizzjonata. Irid jimxi m’għajnejh miftuħin beraħ, b’leħen kritiku.

F’dan il-kuntest il-vot ta’ sfiduċja hu miżura estrema li jkun ġustifikat li jintuża biss jekk il-bibien jingħalqu u ma jħallux lill-Membru Parlamentari jagħmel xogħolu.

(darba oħra 3: Il-ġarra ġejja w sejra)

Lenti fuq ir-rewwixta : 1) Il-karrotti

Ir-rewwixta li għaddejja bħalissa fil-Parlament fil-fehma tiegħi taf il-bidu tagħha  lir-rwol sekondarju li għandu l-backbench fuq in-naħa tal-Gvern.

Kellna diversi membri parlamentari li kienu kritiċi tal-Gvern tul din il-leġislatura, b’kull wieħed minnhom iżid id-doża. Jesmond Mugliette, Jean Pierre Farrugia, Robert Arrigo, Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando u dan l-aħħar xhur Franco Debono. Ftit li xejn kien hemm komuni bejniethom. Ilkoll ġejjin minn distretti differenti. Kuntrarjament għal li jiġri fil-Parlament ta’ diversi pajjiżi Ewropej jidher li ma kien hemm l-ebda koordinazzjoni bejniethom. Kulħadd ħadem għal rasu. Li ħadmu flimkien ir-riżultati kienu jkunu differenti u iżjed posittivi.

L-ewwel riflessjoni hi dwar ir-rwol tal-backbench.  Tradizzjonalment dan kien meqjus bħala il-qaddej fidil tal-front bench, iħejji ruħu sa ma jingħoġob biżżejjed biex jieħu promozzjoni ħalli jkun jista’ jservi lit-tmexxija.

Il-ħolqien tal-grad ta’ Assistent Parlamentari, l-ekwivalenti tal-Parliamentary Private Secretary fil-House of Commons, jiena nqiesu f’din id-direzzjoni.  Karrotta u sarima fl-istess ħin tant li kien hemm min ma aċċettax il-ħatra ta’ Assistent Parlamentari.

Karrotti oħra li tqassmu kienu postijiet eżekuttivi bħalma huma c-Chairmanship ta’ Kunsill tax-Xjenza u t-Teknoloġija u c-Chairmanship tal-Kumitat Konsultattiv dwar l-Industrija tal-Bini.

Dan kollu huwa aljenazzjoni mill-funzjoni vera tal-membri parlamentari li hi li jissorveljaw il-ħidma tal-Gvern billi kontinwament jitolbuh jagħti kont ta’ egħmilu.

Dak li għamlu Mugliette, Farrugia, Arrigo, Pullicino Orlando u Debono. Setgħu għamluh aħjar, imma jekk iħarsu lejn il-ħidma ta’ dawk li ġew qabilhom ftit li xejn isibu x’jispirhom.

Ir-rewwixta qegħdet il-pedament għal backbench attiv li jirrifjuta li joqgħod kwiet, bil-karrotti jew mingħajrhom.

(darba oħra : 2. Il-lealta’)

Parties in cahoots with squatters

Earlier this month, the Malta Environment and Planning Authority’s environment and planning commission, which deals with applications outside the development zone, turned down an application by Enemalta Corporation for the construction of a substation at L-Aħrax in the limits of Mellieħa. The planning directorate itself had recommended the refusal of this application.

This substation aimed at reinforcing the supply of electricity in L-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa with Enemalta effectively posting the message that the crime of taking over public property does pay.

While Alternattiva Demokratika and seven environmental NGOs opposed this application, both the Labour Party and the Nationalist Party have not uttered one single word on Enemalta’s attempt at ensuring that the squatters are adequately supplied with electricity. Clearly, the PN and the PL think that being silent is essential in view of their commitments to purchase votes through squatters taking over public property.

The PL and the PN have not taken up the challenge spelt out by the greens to go public on their position relative to the illegal development of boathouses at L-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa, that is at Armier, Little Armier and It-Torri l-Abjad.

During the Mepa reform exercise, the Prime Minister repeatedly emphasised that “ODZ is ODZ”, meaning that no development will be authorised or permitted outside the development zone unless really necessary.

Dr Gonzi tried to convey the message that his safe pair of hands would ensure that abusive development would now grind to a halt. Yet, on the eve of the 2008 general election, Dr Gonzi participated in secret meetings with the illegal boathouse lobby which considers that its members have some god-given right over the public land that they have taken hold of. The result of those meetings was a PN commitment to protect illegal development carried out before 1992 on public land.

At stake are 230 tumoli of land (26 hectares), which, since way back in 2003, on the eve of another election, the PN-led government had agreed to transfer to the squatters’ holding company, Armier Developments Limited. The agreement between the government and the squatters’ holding company indicates a lease for 65 years against payment of €366,000 per annum. To date, this agreement has not been submitted for Parliament’s approval in terms of the Disposal of Government Land Act.

The squatters also expected the PL to protect their illegal constructions, which agreement was forthcoming. The newsletter Il-Bajja, published by the squatters, in October 2007 had referred to a meeting with the then Leader of the Opposition, Alfred Sant. It said that he had promised to honour an earlier agreement with the squatters, which was entered into way back in 2002.

As far as is known, Joseph Muscat has not repudiated Labour’s agreement with the squatters.

During this legislature, Minister Jason Azzopardi has embarked on a crusade of evicting squatters from public property including clearing squares and pavements of encroachments by restaurants and open air cafés. His staff members were meticulous in ensuring that an extra chair or table not covered by a permit was removed forthwith.

While noting and acting on the odd chair or table, Dr Azzopardi has turned the Nelson’s eye to the large-scale use of public land by the squatters at L-Aħrax tal-Mellieha. In so doing, he has applied the policy of being strong with the weak and weak with the strong.

Former Minister Michael Falzon wrote in an article entitled They Never Heard Of Jason Azzopardi (Malta Today, February 15, 2009) that he (Mr Falzon) was not supported by his Cabinet colleagues when, as the minister responsible for land use planning, he tried to clean up the Mellieħa boathouse mess. He was left “to burn my fingers alone, nay, my palms, arms and body. The lack of support from my then Cabinet colleagues – let alone the then backbench – was overwhelming. I could almost hear them chant: ‘Burn, Michael, burn!’”

It is clear that the PN is committed to supporting the illegal development on public land. By being silent on the issue, Labour too supports the PN’s stand without any reservations.

This is the new politics of Labour and the PN: being in cahoots with the squatters in order to exchange votes for public land, which they have occupied illegally for years. It is an issue on which PL and PN policies converge!

The environmental NGOs campaigning for a resolution of the illegal development at L-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa undoubtedly understand that there is only one way through which the land used by the squatters is restored and returned to public ownership and use. This can only be achieved through the election of green members of Parliament. The others are committed to supporting the squatters as they have been doing throughout the years.

There is no other way. If you seek real change, voting green is the only option. The others are compromised.

published in The Times on Saturday January 21, 2012

Ħawwadni ħa nifhem

 

Iktar ma nisma’ lil Franco Debono jitkellem huwa dejjem iktar ċar li filwaqt li għandu raġun fuq diversi affarijiet għażel  l-għodda żbaljata.

Huwa fl-opinjoni tiegħi żbaljat li jagħżel li jwaqqa’ Gvern minħabba li ma jaqbilx mar-reshuffle li għamel Lawrence Gonzi. Mhux Franco biss għandu l-fehma li hemm Ministri li mhux posthom fil-Kabinett. U din la hi l-ewwel darba li ġrat u naħseb l-anqas l-aħħar darba.

L-għodda addattata għal dan hu l-kritika tal-ħidma żbaljata ta’ uħud mill-Ministri. Imma mbagħad il-kritika trid tkun waħda konsistenti. Ma jagħmilx sens Franco li tikkritika l-ħidma ta’ Austin Gatt imbagħad tastjeni fuq mozzjoni ta’ sfiduċja dwaru. Li dakinnhar ivvutajt biex ikun sfiduċjat Austin Gatt kont tkun korrett u l-azzjoni tiegħek kienet tkun waħda proporzjonata.

Dwar il-€500 fil-ġimgħa inti ukoll korrett. Imma anke hawn għażilt li timxi b’mod żbaljat. Meta l-kollega tiegħek Jean Pierre Farrugia kien kritiku tad-deċiżjoni tal-Kabinett kien waħdu fil-kritika kostruttiva li għamel. Li tkun kritiku ta’ din il-miżura sena wara naħseb li hu opportunistku