Il-Karnival ta’ Montekristo

charles polidano jm letter

 

Il-ġrajja tat-tigra fil-kumpless ta’ Montekristo hi xhieda ta’ kemm l-awtoritajiet f’dan il-pajjiż saru ma jiswew xejn.

Sentejn ilu sar show f’Ħal-Farruġ mill-MEPA: suldati, pulizija u x’naf jien. Kienu qalulna li qed jindirizzaw l-irregolaritajiet. Anke pulizija armati kien hemm.

Is-show ta’ sentejn ilu ma sewa għalxejn. Kien biss karnival. Kullma ġara kien li kien ikkonfermat dak li kulħadd jaf : li l-awtorità f’Malta hi b’saħħitha ma min hu dgħajjef u dgħajfa ma min hu b’saħħtu.

Dakinnhar kellna ħafna skużi u apoloġiji: kellna lin-nagħġa ta’ Montekristo.

Il-kaz ta’ tmiem il-ġimgħa hu rifless tal-qagħda tal-partiti politiċi fil-Parlament: apparti ftit show kultant, kollox jgħaddi.

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Paris COP21 : the last chance ?

Paris Cop21

Next week’s Paris Climate Change meeting is the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) relative to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, a framework treaty signed in Rio de Janeiro at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit.

For the first time in over 20 years of UN negotiations, the Paris meeting aims to achieve a universal and legally binding agreement on climate, with the aim of ensuring that global warming does not exceed the pre-industrial revolution temperatures by more than 2°C.

A number of Pacific island states whose very existence is threatened due to the rise in sea level as a result of climate change have been lobbying for a lower target, 1.5°C. This was, however, deemed as being too ambitious by the international community.

The Paris Agreement aims to help the world move towards a low-carbon future. This will mean that carbon emissions have to be reduced across the board and on a global level, as a result reducing global warming. If there are sufficient reductions in carbon emissions over a number of years the global temperature will, hopefully, be reduced by at least 2°C. If, on the other hand, carbon emissions remain practically unchecked, it is estimated that the temperature rise will be as much as 6°C over pre-industrial revolution temperatures by the year 2100. This would inevitably have catastrophic consequences – some of which are already being experienced.

The foundations for the Paris Climate Change Conference were laid in Lima, Peru, 12 months ago, as a conclusion of COP20 in what is known as the ‘Lima Call for Climate Action’. In Lima, all countries were called upon to declare their plans and pledges for the reduction of carbon emissions. Such pledges have, to date, been made by more than 180 countries which together are responsible for 97.8 per cent of global carbon emissions.

This response to the Lima Call is considered by many as being very positive, this increasing the likelihood of a successful outcome in Paris.

However, coupled with the plans and pledges for the reductions of carbon emissions, the underdeveloped countries expect that the developed countries will honour their pledges of substantial contributions to finance their transition to a low carbon economy. Initiatives during the past 12 months indicate that even on financing, Paris is on track.

During previous climate change conferences, all the countries expressed a willingness to address climate change. There was, however, one problem: they wanted others to do the hard work required. As a result, no one wished to take the first steps. The failure to reach an agreement in Copenhagen in the 2009 COP was a wake-up call.

Hopefully, we are on the eve of a global consensus that the time is ripe for action. We have a duty towards future generations to change direction and reverse the climatic impacts of human activity. Paris could well be the last chance to save the planet.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday : 29 November 2015

Il-periklu ta’ Marlene Farrugia

Marlene Farrugia3

Il-ġimgħa l-oħra Marlene Farrugia ppreżentat l-ewwel emendi ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika għal-liġi l-ġdida tal-Ippjanar.

L-ewwel emenda li ppreżentat Marlene ġiet deskritta minn Michael Falzon (is-Segretarju Parlamentari) bħala emenda perikoluża.

Marlene spjegat l-iskop tal-emenda. Fisssret kif. fil-waqt li l-artiklu 3 tal-liġi jsemmi  ħafna prinċipji sbieħ, imbagħad l-artiklu 4 tal-istess liġi jgħid li ħadd ma jista’ jmur il-Qorti biex jassigura li l-Gvern ikun obbligat li jimxi mal-prinċipji fil-liġi. Għax dawk il-prinċipji għandhom iservu biss ta’ gwida għall-Gvern. Xejn iktar.

Periklu? Daz-zgur. Imma tafu x’kien il-periklu? Li l-emenda kienet torbot idejn il-Gvern b’mod li ma jkunx jista’ jagħmel li jrid.

L-emenda m’għaddietx għax il-Gvern jibża’ li jkollu idejh marbutin u b’hekk ikollu l-obbligu li jimxi sewwa!

L-idejaliżmu ta’ Marlene

Marlene Farrugia2

L-intervista ta’ Marlene fuq Reporter ta’ nhar it-Tnejn li għadda hi xhieda tal-idealiżmu tagħha.

Baqgħet tittama li l-partit li f’ismu ġiet eletta fil-Parlament jiftaħ għajnejh u jirrealizza illi għandu programm elettorali li wiegħed li jwettaq. Tħoss li l-iktar rabta importanti tagħha hi mal-programm elettorali u mhux mal-partit li bosta drabi jidher li nesa’ dak li wiegħed.

Għalhekk għażlet li tkun indipendenti. Tinsisti li hi baqgħet lealissima lejn dak li ġie imwiegħed biex inkisbu il-voti fl-elezzjoni ġenerali. Huwa dan li jimmotiva l-ħidma tagħha, għax, għaliha, l-lejaltà lejn l-idejal fil-politika tiġi qabel il-lejaltà lejn il-partit. Għax il-partit mhux qiegħed hemm biex jistaħbew warajh!

Fuq quddiem fil-lista tad-diżappunti ta’ Marlene hemm in-nuqqas ta’ trasparenza fil-ħidma tal-Gvern. Hemm ukoll il-privatizzazzjoni tal-Enemalta b’sehem fiha issa f’idejn is-Shanghai Electric Power (ksur sfaċċat ta’ wegħda elettorali Laburista), n-nuqqas ta’ politika ambjentali sura u bosta affarijiet oħra.

Marlene vuċi fid-deżert?  Ma jidhirx li kien hemm wisq appoġġ għall-posizzjoni tagħha fil-grupp parlamentari laburista għax bosta kienu dawk li beżgħu mir-riperkussjonijiet fuq il-karriera politika tagħhom kieku għażlu li jlissnu kelma. Dan minkejja li l-grupp parlamentari laburista ġie imġenneb diversi drabi: kien isir jaf b’diversi deċiżjonijiet mill-gazzetti.

Quddiem dawn l-affarijiet kollha, hu ta’ sodisfazzjon li Marlene għadha titbaqbaq favur l-idejal : li sservi lin-nies, dejjem b’konsistenza mal-programm elettorali li tpoġġa quddiem l-elettorat f’Marzu 2013.

Il-maqjel ta’ Renzo Piano

new parliament building Malta2

 

Meta l-Ispeaker Anġlu Farrugia f’mument ta’ storbju fil-Parlament esklama li l-Parlament m’huwiex maqjel kien qed jagħmel osservazzjoni li bosta ilhom jagħmlu. Ikun hemm mumenti fejn l-ambjent Parlamentari ikun wieħed moqżież.

Fortunatament dawn il-mumenti ma jseħħux b’mod frekwenti.

Il-kawża ta’ dan kollu huwa n-nuqqas ta’ rispett lejn opinjonijiet differenti li hi ukoll riflessa fin-nuqqas ta’ diskussjoni serja fil-partiti politiċi ewlenin infushom.  Din hi l-bidla mill-qiegħ li hi meħtieġa fil-politika Maltija: li nirrispettaw iktar l-opinjonijiet differenti.

Huwa faċli li tirrispetta lil min jaqbel  miegħek, ma trid tagħmel l-ebda sforz għal dan. Id-diffikultà hi biex tirrispetta lil min ma jaqbilx miegħek.

F’soċjetà li hi sfortunatament ippolarizzata fil-livelli kollha tagħha naf li dan hu diffiċli ħafna. Il-soċjetà tagħna tipprietka kontinwament li min mhux magħna, kontra tagħna. Li tagħna hu l-aħjar u li l-oħrajn ma jiswewx.

L-użu ta’ dan il-kliem mhuwiex sempliċiment retorika,  iżda l-bażi tal-eżistenza tal-partiti politiċi ewlenin.

Għalhekk maqjel.

Wara d-dibattitu jibqa’ ċ-ċpar

fog-09

Fil-waqt li hu tajjeb li d-dibattitu dwar il-mozzjoni tal-Kap tal-Opposizzjoni dwar ir-ruling tal-Ispeaker Anġlu Farrugia sar mill-ewwel, sfortunatment  ma solva xejn.

Il-Gvern, m’għandix dubju, fehem li kien meħtieġ rimedju immedjat biex b’xi mod jittaffa l-messaġġ negattiv tar-ruling tal-Ispeaker fuq il-kaz Marlene Farrugia/Joe Debono Grech. Għalhekk l-apoloġija bil-miktub minn Joe Debono Grech. Apoloġija li giet 5 ijiem tard.

Id-diskorsi li saru ma tantx kienu ta’ għajnuna biex jasal messaġġ ċar. L-argument ta’ “aħjar tara x’għamilt int” , ma jikkonvinċi lil ħadd illum il-ġurnata. L-anqas it-tidwir mal-lewża, f’dawn iċ-ċirkustanzi, xejn ma jgħin.

Spiċċajna b’dibatttu bi Gvern jipprova jnaqqas l-impatti negattivi fil-media u l-opinjoni pubblika u Kap tal-Opposizzjoni jipprova jagħsar kemm jiflaħ is-sitwazzjoni għal kull vantaġġ politiku possibli.

It-tagħlima hi waħda għal kulħadd. Tippruvax tiġġustifika l-iżbalji tiegħek (jew tan-naħa tiegħek) billi tkabbar l-iżbalji ta’ ħaddieħor. Kif ukoll, fejn hemm il-problemi, ipprova solvihom, mhux tkabbarhom biex tidher sabiħ int!

Marlene tippreżenta l-emendi ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika fil-Parlament

Marlene Farrugia3

Iktar kmieni illum fil-Parlament bdiet id-diskussjoni dwar il-liġi l-ġdida ta’ l-Ippjanar. Kien pjaċir għalina ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika li niddiskutu l-abbozz ta’ liġi mal-Membru Parlamentari indipendenti Marlene Farrugia li kienet lesta li tippreżenta l-emendi ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika fil-Parlament.

L-emendi li ġew imfasslini minni għan-nom ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika huma diversi. Illum bdew jiġu diskussi.

L-ewwel emenda li ġiet diskussa kienet dik dwar il-prinċipji li għandhom jiggwidaw lill Gvern fl-ippjanar għall-użu tal-art, biex itejjeb il-kwalità tal-ħajja għall-benefiċċju tal-ġenerazzjonijiet preżenti u futuri. Fil-waqt li fl-artiklu 3 tal-liġi proposta hemm lista twila ta’ dawn il-prinċipji, fl-artiklu ta’ wara, l-artiklu 4 hemm dikjarazzjoni li ma tistax tmur il-Qorti biex meta l-Gvern jiżbalja iġġibu għall-ordni.

L-ewwel emenda li ressqet Marlene għan-nom ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika kienet biex dan ma jsirx, Biex ikun possibli li jekk il-Gvern ma jimxix mal-prinċipji fil-liġi tkun tista’ tmur il-Qorti biex tiġbidlu widnejh.

L-emenda ma ġietx approvata, imma kien hemm diskussjoni li ħadet madwar siegħa mill-ħin tal-Parlament  li fiha ġew spjegati b‘mod ċar l-argumenti. Ir-realtà hi li l-Gvern ma jridx li jintrabat.

Messaġġ żbaljat tal-Ispeaker Anġlu Farrugia

Speaker Anglu Farrugia

Ir-ruling iktar kmieni llum mogħti mill-Ispeaker Anġlu Farrugia dwar il-battibekk bejn Marlene Farrugia u Joe Debono-Grech fil-Parlament iwassal messaġġ żbaljat.

Il-battibekki fil-Parlament m’humiex xi ħaġa rari. Pero b’daqshekk ma jfissirx li jsiru la aċċettabbli u l-anqas ta’ min jittollerhom.

Marlene Farrugia għandha raġun tħossha offiża mhux daqstant bl-insulti tas-soltu, li wieġbet spirtu pront, imma li l-kliem indirzzat lejha minn Joe Debono Grech “niġi għalik u nifqgħek” ma ġiex mogħti l-importanza li kien jixraqlu.

Il-kliem użat iwassal messaġġ ta’ vjolenza fiżika. L-istess kliem indirizzat lejn diversi nisa imsawwta li jispiċċaw vittma darbtejn: l-ewwel għax jiġu imsawta u wara għax jispiċċaw jingħataw it-tort.

Huwa f’dan is-sens li naħseb li r-ruling tal-Ispeaker Anġlu Farrugia huwa żbaljat: Marlene Farrugia sfat vittma darbtejn: bl-insult/theddida ta’ Debono Grech u bir-ruling tal-Ispeaker  li sfortunatament ma għarafx il-gravità tas-sitwazzjoni.

Il-messagg li wasal hu wieħed ħażin ħafna: li n-nisa li jissawtu hu tort tagħhom.

Għamlet tajjeb Marlene li insistiet li titkellem u għamlet preċiżament dan l-argument.

 

Issa li l-MEPA stenbħet …………..

alarm clock 2

Id-deċiżjoni tal-Bord tal-MEPA nhar il-Ħamis li għadda hi deċiżjoni li għal darba tagħti każ tar-residenti.  Tajjeb li l-MEPA stenbħet, għax sal-lum konna drajna deċiżjonijiet li ftit li xejn jagħtu kaz tan-nies.

Hemm bżonn li jkun dejjem iktar ċar għal kulħadd li l-ħidma ekonomika trid tagħti każ in-nies, għax inkella iktar tagħmel ħsara milli ġid.

Tul is-snin, il-Port Ħieles tħalla jersaq dejjem iktar qrib ir-residenzi. L-impatt tal-istorbju tul 24 siegħa huwa esaġerat f’kull ħin, imma l-iktar matul is-siegħat tal-mistrieħ.

Għalhekk, meta nhar il-Ħamis il-MEPA ma ħallietx li jsir iktar tħammil mal-moll l-iktar viċin tar-residenzi (Terminal 1, West Quay) kienet qed jillimita l-attività ta’ vapuri ta’ daqs ikbar f’żona fejn joħolqu l-iktar impatt negattiv.

Jiena sodisfatt imma sorpriż b’din id-deċiżjoni, u nittama li jkun hemm iktar deċiżjonijiet bħal din. Għax issa li l-MEPA stenbħet ikun xieraq li ma terġax torqod.

Smelling the coffee

 

extract MT freeport crane clearancesmell the coffee

Last Thursday was one of those very rare occasions when the MEPA Board, considering two different development applications submitted by the Freeport Terminal operator, decided on the one which will be beneficial to Birżebbuġa residents.

I must confess that I was surprised at this, as I am accustomed to a MEPA which thinks and acts differently. I do not know whether Thursday’s sitting was a one-off or else whether it signals that the Authority has at last realised that the quality of life of our communities should be the real focus of its endeavours. Only time will tell.

The first application was to renew an approved permit in connection with  dredging work aimed at enabling larger ships to make use of the West Quay of Terminal 1. The second application proposed the installation of larger cranes with 140-metre jibs. The cranes currently in use have 110-metre jibs.

After repeated representations from the Birżebbuġa local council, as well as Birżebbuġa residents, MEPA-weeks before Thursday’s meeting- informed the Freeport Terminal Operator that siting these large cranes along the West Quay of Terminal 1 was unacceptable due to their impact on the quality of life of  residents, a number of whom live just across the road from the Freeport Terminal boundary wall.

The management of the Freeport Terminal complied with MEPA’s instructions to relocate the 140-metre jib cranes. This, however, begged the further question as to whether or not the pending dredging work was, in fact, now required.

The MEPA Board unanimously accepted the submission from the local council that, in view of the relocation of the cranes, there was no further need for the dredging permit and this was therefore not renewed.

Regarding the second application, seeking authorisation to replace a number of existing cranes with 110-metre jibs with more modern models having 140-jibs, the local council sought an explanation as to why a proposal for the siting of a power station close by – at il-Mara Bengħajsa (with an 80-metre high chimney) in the late 1980s was shot down by the Civil Aviation authorities, who are now accepting the installation of 140-metre high jibs.

During the discussion, it transpired that the clearance issued by Transport Malta was ambiguous. In fact, Transport Malta stated that the 140-metre jib cranes “will penetrate one of the established aeronautical protection surfaces by circa 18m and although this situation is not desirable, given the importance of this facility to the economy, on exceptional basis and without prejudice to any future request it is being considered acceptable subject to the following mitigations ………………”

You have read correctly. The 140-metre jib cranes are “not desirable” yet they are “being considered acceptable” by Transport Malta due to the importance of the Freeport to the economy.

The MEPA Chairman is insisting that Transport Malta owes us an explanation. He could have added that safety should not be compromised for any reason, including “economic importance”.

In a further twist in the whole saga, the Freeport Terminal management proceeded with the installation of the new cranes without waiting for a MEPA decision on the development permit requested.

Public opinion has been repeatedly critical of MEPA for its insensitivity to the impact of developments on residents in various localities. Economic operators were afforded  sufficient protection to be able to over-ride the growing environmental concerns of our communities.

The same MEPA Board which, last Thursday, unanimously decided to refuse the renewal of a development permit to carry out dredging work had, 18 months ago, voted by a large majority in favour of changes to the Freeport’s environmental permit such that it would have been permissible to carry out repairs to ships and oil rigs at the Kalafrana Terminal.  It was only at the insistence of the Birżebbuġa Local Council that the Freeport Terminal management opted not to use the permit issued.

The question to which I seek an answer to is whether Thursday’s events signify that MEPA has awoken up from its slumber and smelled the coffee  It would indeed be commendable if it is capable of standing up to corporate (and state) arrogance.

Ending MEPA’s Rip van Winkle phase would signify that, after all, the possibility to improve the quality of life in Malta through better environment protection does exist, after all. But time is running out.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday – 22 November 2015