Fir-Repubblika tal-Banana

Meta l-mexxej Laburista Robert Abela indirizza lill-partitarji fil-Każin Laburista ta’ Birkirkara, nhar il-Ħadd li għadda, kellu raġun jilmenta li s-sentenzi f’kawżi kriminali, bosta drabi jidhru baxxi jew laxki. Xi drabi qed jingħata l-messaġġ li qiesu ma ġara xejn. Il-Prim Ministru għandu bosta postijiet iktar addattati fejn jista’ jwassal il-preokkupazzjoni tiegħu dwar il-ħtieġa ta’ politika iktar addattata dwar is-sentenzi li qed jingħataw mill-Qrati.

Seta ġibed l-attenzjoni tal-President tar-Repubblika biex il-materja tkun ikkunsidrata fil-Kummissjoni għall-Amministrazzjoni tal-Ġustizzja. Seta qajjem il-materja f’laqgħa formali mal-Prim Imħallef. Seta ukoll illeġisla biex inaqqas il-flessibilità li għandha l-Qorti meta tapplika l-pieni li hemm fil-liġi. Fil-fatt kellu għad-disposizzjoni tiegħu bosta għodda jew mezzi biex jasal għall-bidla mixtieqa. Imma li joqgħod ipeċlaq fil-każin laburista ta’ B’Kara bil-prietka ta’ nhar ta’ Ħadd mhux wieħed minnhom.

F’Birkirkara Robert Abela tkellem ukoll dwar il-kunflitt ta’ interess li Membri Parlamentari li jipprattikaw il-liġi kriminali huma esposti għalih. Matul in-nofstanhar ta’ filgħodu b’abbiltà, dawn l-avukati, jiddefendu lill-klijenti tagħhom u jippreżentaw sottomissjonijiet quddiem il-Qrati dwar pieni baxxi jew tnaqqis fil-pieni inkella dwar sentenzi sospiżi.  Imbagħad, waranofsinnhar, emfasizza Robert Abela, dawn l-istess Membri Parlamentari jiġu fil-Parliament jargumentaw b’qawwa fuq il-perikli ta’ żieda fil-kriminalità.

Dwar dan għandu raġun. Imma din il-linja ta’ ħsieb ma tapplikax biss għall-avukati li jipprattikaw il-liġi kriminali.  Tapplika ukoll għal avukati fiċ-ċivil u fil-liġi kummerċjali kif ukoll għal membri parlamentari fi professjonijiet oħra kif kellna l-opportunità li naraw bosta drabi tul is-snin! Din hi esperjenza li diġà għaddejna minnha matul is-snin.

Il-Membri Parlamentari għandhom jiddedikaw il-ħin kollu tagħhom għall-ħidma parlamentari. M’għandux ikun possibli li Membri Parlamentari jibqgħu jagħmlu kwalunkwe xogħol ieħor, kemm jekk dan ikun imħallas kif ukoll jekk le. Bħala partit dan aħna ilna ngħiduh is-snin, għax nemmnu li fil-prattika hu l-uniku mod kif tista’ tindirizza u tnaqqas b’mod effettiv il-kunflitt ta’ interess ovvju li jirriżulta illi Membru tal-Parlament hu espost għalih fis-sistema tagħna kif inhi illum.

Robert Abela qal iktar minn hekk. Irrefera għad-diskursata li kellu ma’ Maġistrat dwar is-sentenzi baxxi li ħerġin mill-Qrati Kriminali. Il-Maġistrat, qal Abela, iddefendiet ruħha billi emfasizzat li s-sentenzi mogħtija qed jitbaxxew mill-Qorti tal-Appell, li fid-dawl ta’ sentenzi oħra ġja mogħtija qed tnaqqas sentenzi li jkunu ngħataw mill-Maġistrati.

Robert Abela żbalja meta ikkomunika direttament mal-Maġistrat. Żbalja iktar meta tkellem dwar dan fil-pubbliku għax b’hekk bagħat messaġġ żbaljat u inkwetanti li l-Qrati qed jirċievu ordnijiet diretti mingħand l-eżekuttiv. Dan fi kliem sempliċi hu ta’ theddida għall-indipendenza tal-ġudikatura.  Bħala avukat, bla dubju, Robert Abela jirrealizza li qabeż il-linja ta’ dak li hu tollerabbli mill-politiku f’soċjetà demokratika.

F’pajjiż demokratiku fejn is-saltna tad-dritt hi realtà mhux ħrafa, Robert Abela kien jirreżenja fi ftit siegħat minn x’ħin pubblikament ammetta  li hu għamel pressjoni fuq il-Maġistrat. Il-Maġistrat li min-naħa tagħha kompliet miegħu fid-diskussjoni s’issa, kienet tkun ġiet identifikata u dixxiplinata.

Imma, kif tafu, minn dan kollu, ma ġara xejn.

Nhar it-Tnejn fi stqarrija għall-istampa, jiena tlabt lill-President tar-Repubblika biex isejjaħ laqgħa urġenti tal-Kummissjoni għall-Amministrazzjoni tal-Ġustizzja biex din tkun tista’ tieħu l-passi neċessarja dwar dak li ġara.

S’issa għad ma ġara xejn. Forsi l-President kien imsiefer, inkella kien imħabbat b’xi attività dwar il-larinġ li nsibu fil-ġonna Presidenzjali ta’ Sant Anton.

Issa forsi jmiss iċ-ċelebrazzjoni tal-ġimgħa tal-banana fl-aġenda Presidenzjali. Bla dubju din tieħu prijorità fuq l-indipendenza tal-ġudikatura fir-Repubblika tal-Banana!

ippubblikat fuq Illum: 4 ta’ Frar 2023

In a Banana Republic

When Labour Leader Robert Abela addressed the party faithful at the Birkirkara Labour Party Club last Sunday, he was right to complain that the sentencing policy currently applied by the judiciary may at times appear as being too lenient. However, as Prime Minister he had other fora through which to convey his preoccupation and to emphasise the need of an up-to-date sentencing policy.

He could have drawn the attention of the President of the Republic in order that he may refer the matter for the consideration of the Commission for the Administration of Justice. He could have legitimately brought up the matter in a formal meeting with the Chief Justice. He could also legislate in order to restrict the current flexibility which the Courts have when applying the law. In fact, he has at his disposal various tools to bring about the change he spoke about: pontificating at the Birkirkara Labour Party Club through a Sunday political sermon is not one of these tools.

At Birkirkara Robert Abela also spoke on the conflict of interest which Members of Parliament who are practising criminal lawyers are continuously exposed to. They ably defend their clients during the morning in Court pleading in favour of minimal sentencing, including the application of suspended sentences. Then, in the afternoon, emphasised Robert Abela, in Parliament, these same Members of Parliament vociferously argue on the dangers of an increasing criminality.

He is definitely right on that. But this line of reasoning does not only apply to criminal lawyers. It is also applicable to MPs who are civil and commercial lawyers as well as to other professionals in their specific area of practice. We have been exposed to this over the years in a number of cases. Is it not about time that parliament is made up of full-timers? No Member of Parliament should carry out any other work (paid or unpaid) except that resulting from his/her parliamentary duties. My party has been emphasising this for a considerable number of years. We believe that it is the only way to effectively address the obvious conflict of interest which abounds in Parliament.

Robert Abela said more. He referred to a tete-a-tete with a sitting Magistrate with whom he discussed the lenient sentencing which the Criminal Law Courts are applying. The Magistrate, said Abela, defensively replied that it is all the fault of the appeals court as they consider themselves bound by precedent when they revise the decisions delivered by the inferior courts, ending up in lighter sentences.

Robert Abela was wrong when he conveyed his views directly to one of the Magistrates currently sitting in judgement at the inferior Courts. Bragging about it in public makes it even worse as it conveys the wrong message that the judiciary is at the beck and call of the Executive. This, in plain language, threatens the independence of the judiciary. As a lawyer, Robert Abela is undoubtedly aware that he has gone far beyond the red line.

In any other democratic country where rule of law is fact, not fiction, Robert Abela would have resigned within a couple of hours after having publicly admitting pressuring a sitting Magistrate. Similarly, the Magistrate who allowed the discussion to proceed would by now have been identified and disciplined.

But, as you are aware, nothing has happened yet.

On Monday in a press statement, I have called on the President of the Republic to convene an urgent meeting of the Commission for the Administration of Justice to take the necessary and required action. So far there has been no reaction whatsoever. Possibly his Excellency the President is currently abroad, or, maybe he is extremely busy with some activity promoting the citrous products of the presidential kitchen garden at the San Anton Presidential Palace!

As things stand banana week would definitely be a future activity in the Presidential agenda: this takes priority over the independence of the judiciary, in this Banana Republic!

published in the Malta Independent on Sunday: 5 February 2023

Proposta nejja tal-Labour dwar l-abort

Nhar it-Tnejn, il-Parlament approva fl-istadju tal-ewwel qari, l-abbozz ta’ liġi numru 28. Dan l-abbozz hu intenzjonat biex jikkjarifika l-provedimenti tal-Kodiċi Kriminali dwar l-abort terrapewtiku. B’mod speċifiku l-għanijiet u r-raġunijiet tal-abbozz huma biex “jipprovdu kjarifika dwar il-parametri fil-Kodiċi Kriminali li għandhom japplikaw għal cirkostanzi ta’ neċessità fejn ikun meħtieġ intervent mediku biex tkun protetta l-ħajja u s-saħħa ta’ mara tqila li tkun qiegħda tbati minn kumplikazzjoni medika.”

Uħud jikkunsidraw li l-abbozz numru 28 hu pass żgħir il-quddiem f’pajjiż li kontinwament ipprova jevita li jiddibatti l-abort. Sfortunatament, imma, l-proposta li ġiet ippreżentata hi waħda nejja.  

Wara snin jevita dibattitu nazzjonali, kien ikun ferm iktar għaqli għall-Gvern li jippubblika White Paper fejn jispjega b’mod ċar u dettaljat dak li jrid jagħmel dwar l-abort kif ukoll dwar dak kollu relatat miegħu. Tajjeb li nirrealizzaw li l-leġislazzjoni dwar l-abort tal-pajjiż ma hi tal-ebda siwi. Wara li ġiet injorata għal 160 sena l-liġi teħtieġ li tkun aġġornata għaż-żminijiet u li tkun tirrifletti l-avvanzi fix-xjenza u l-mediċina tul dawn is-snin kollha. Hemm bżonn li tinkiteb mill-ġdid u dan fid-dawl tal-fatt li tul dawn l-aħħar għaxar sninil-pajjiż ħaddan il-plurliżmu etiku.

Hu ċar li l-Gvern qed jipprova jindirizza l-impatt politiku li rriżulta mill-kaz riċenti tat-turista Amerikana Andrea Prudente, f’liema każ Malta naqset milli tipprovdi l-kura medika li kienet mistennija.

M’għandniex ħtieġa ta’ proposta rejattiva, proposta nejja: imma għandna bżonn proposta li tindirizza ir-realtà tas-seklu wieħed u għoxrin.  L-abort hu parti integrali mill-ħajja Maltija, rridu jew ma irridux! L-indikazzjonijiet huma ta’ medja ta’ 400 abort li jsiru kull sena fost il-Maltin. Il-parti l-kbira jseħħu bl-użu ta’ pilloli li jinkisbu bil-posta.  Oħrajn iseħħu f’pajjiżi oħra, primarjament fir-Renju Unit kif jidher fir-rapporti mediċi annwali ippubblikati.

Il-Partit Laburista jidher li hu xott mill-ideat għax naqas ukoll milli jindirizza l-abort fil-manifest elettorali tiegħu għall-elezzjoni ġenerali ta’ Marzu 2022.

Dan it-tkaxkir tas-saqajn mill-Partit Laburista jikkuntrasta mal-proposti tal-partit immexxi minni li tul ix-xhur li għaddew ippreżentajna proposti diversi biex apparti iktar ċarezza fil-liġi nimxu lejn id-dikriminalizzazzjoni kif ukoll lejn l-introduzzjoni speċifika tal-abort limitat għal tlett ċirkustanzi partikolari u straordinarji. Il-proposta tagħna hi li l-abort ikun permissibli meta l-ħajja jew is-saħħa tal-mara tqila tkun mhedda, fil-kaz ta’ tqala li isseħħ riżultat ta’ vjolenza (stupru u incest) kif ukoll fil-kaz ta’ tqala li ma tkunx vijabbli.

Uħud jikkunsidraw li dak proposta hu ftit wisq, oħrajn li hu wisq. Fil-fehma tagħna il-proposta hi addattata għaċ-ċirkustanzi partikolari lokali. Hi proposta li mhux biss hi ferm aħjar mill-proposta nejja tal-Gvern, imma twassal ukoll biex il-liġi tkun aġġornata għal dak mistenni fi żmienna!

Hemm ukoll materji oħra li huma relatati u li jeħtieġ li jkunu diskussi. Matul din il-ġimgħa grupp ta’ akkademiċi lokali u oħrajn ippubblikaw dokument għad-diskussjoni in konnessjoni mal-proposta tal-Gvern dwar l-abort.

Il-proposti fid-dokument ippubblikat għad-diskussjoni jfittxu li jissikkaw id-definizzjonijiet dwar iċ-ċirkustanzi li fihom ikun ġġustifikat l-intervent mediku biex ikun possibli li tkun protetta l-ħajja u s-saħħa tal-mara tqila. Jeskludi ukoll kull xorta ta’ abort.

Il-punti mqajjma f’dan id-dokument hu dejjem utlili li jkunu diskussi. Għalhekk ilna ngħidu li hemm ħtieġa għal diskussjoni pubblika matura, diskussjoni li l-Gvern ilu żmien jevita.  Imma nistenna ukoll li jkun hemm akkademiċi oħra b’veduti u opinjonijiet differenti li anke huma jsemmgħu leħinhom. Għandhom bżonn joħorġu mill-friża.

Irridu nħarsu lil hinn mill-proposti restrittivi li dan id-dokument għad-diskussjoni jippreżenta. Sa mill-2011, meta kien approvat ir-referendum dwar id-divorzju, Malta għażlet it-triq tal-pluraliżmu etiku: rispett lejn il-pluralità ta’ opinjonijiet u valuri etiċi. Id-dokument li qed nirreferi għalih hu negazzjoni ta’ dan u effettivament hu proposta biex naqbdu triq oħra u differenti. Għandna nirreżistu dan l-attentat.

Fl-aħħar għandu jkun ċar li din mhiex diskussjoni dwar x’inhu tajjeb jew ħażin imma dwar min għandu jieħu d-deċiżjoni kif ukoll dwar il-parametri li jiddeterminaw kif u safejn nistgħu naġixxu. M’aħniex qed ngħixu f’teokrazija: hu dritt li naffermaw illi hu possibli li jeżistu veduti u valuri differenti.

B’hekk beda d-dibattitu li ilu żmien maħnuq.

Ippubblikat fuq Illum: 27 ta’ Novembru 2022

Labour’s half-baked abortion proposal

On Monday Parliament approved at first reading stage Bill number 28 which Bill seeks to clarify the provisions of the Criminal Code relative to therapeutic abortion. Specifically, the objects and reasons of the Bill seek to “provide clarification on the parameters that shall apply in the Criminal Code to circumstances of necessity in which a medical intervention is required in order to protect the life and health of a pregnant woman suffering from a medical complication”.

Some may consider that Bill 28 is a good first step in a country which has continuously avoided debating abortion. Unfortunately, government’s proposal is half-baked.

After years of avoiding a national debate, it would have been much better if government published a detailed White Paper explaining its views on abortion and the related issues and principles. It is about time that we recognise that the country’s abortion legislation is not fit for purpose. After being ignored for 160 years Maltese abortion legislation requires to be brought in line with medical and scientific progress over the years. It also requires a substantial redrafting in view of the fact that for over a decade Malta has embraced ethical pluralism.

It is clear that government has limited itself to addressing the political fallout resulting from the recent case of the American tourist Andrea Prudente as a result of which Malta failed in the provision of the expected medical care.

We do not require a half-baked reactive proposal but rather a proposal which addresses twenty-first century reality. Whether we like it or not, abortion is a regular occurrence among Maltese too! Indications point towards an average 400 abortions which are carried out annually, a substantial portion of which through the use of abortion pills acquired through the post. Others are carried out through abortion tourism, primarily in the United Kingdom as is evidenced by annual published medical returns for England and Wales.

Apparently, the Labour Party is short on ideas as it has even failed to address abortion in its electoral manifesto for the March 2022 general election.

In contrast to the reluctance of the Labour Party to come forward with proposals, the Maltese Greens, which I lead, have, over the past months presented proposals which in addition to the required clarifications in our legislation seek decriminalisation as well as the specific introduction of abortion in three extraordinary circumstances: namely when the pregnant female’s health or life is under threat, in cases of a pregnancy brought about violently (rape and incest) as well as in the case of non-viable pregnancies.

Some have considered our above proposals as being too little, others as being too much. We consider that in view of the prevailing local circumstances our proposals are just right, a substantial improvement over government’s half-baked proposals and an overhaul of the current mid-nineteen century legislation, which is out of tune with what is expected in this day and age.

There are other related issues which we should also discuss. During this week a group of local academics and some hangers-on have published a discussion paper which discusses government’s abortion proposal.

The proposals in the said discussion paper seek to tightly define the circumstances which justify a medical intervention to protect the life and health of a pregnant woman. It also seeks to exclude all forms of abortion by tightly defining the applicable parameters.

It is a point of view which should be considered and discussed. This is what a mature public debate should be about and what government has been continuously avoiding. I would however expect other academics having different views to come out of the deep freeze and speak up.

We should look beyond the restrictive proposals presented in the discussion paper. Since the 2011 divorce referendum Malta has embarked on a journey of ethical pluralism which respects a plurality of views and ethical norms. The discussion paper is a negation of this journey and an attempt to change course, which attempt should be resisted.

At the end of the day the debate is not about what is right and wrong but on who should take the decision and the parameters within which it is permissible to act. We are not living in a theocracy. Differing views and values can definitely co-exist.

Let the debate, at last, begin.

published on Malta Independent on Sunday : 27 November 2022

Daphne: the five-year wait for justice

Most of us remember what we were doing five years ago slightly after 3pm on Monday October 16, 2017, when the news flashed that a car had exploded in Bidnija. The possible connection with Daphne was immediate, even then, at that critical moment, when nothing else was yet known.

Slowly we got to know what had actually happened. 

The first reactions, then, five years ago were, and still are, significant.

Everyone was shocked, five years ago, when the Magistrate on duty, Consuelo Scerri-Herrera turned up on site at Bidnija. She failed to realise that this specific investigation was a no-go area for her!  I had then commented that Scerri-Herrera’s reluctance to abstain from leading this magisterial investigation was testimony to the fact that some members of the bench still need to master much more than the law.

Five years later, matters have not changed a bit as is evidenced by the behaviour of another Magistrate. Magistrate Nadine Lia is refusing to accept that she has an obvious conflict of interest and must hence withdraw from the consideration of another case currently under her consideration. Some things never change! The ethical behaviour of the judiciary is indispensable, now more than ever. How can the judiciary expect to be respected if it does not even respect itself?

Five years ago, we even had a Police Sergeant posting his comments on social media on his being overjoyed at the day’s happenings in Bidnija! Much worse was however in store. In fact, the then Deputy Police Commissioner Silvio Valletta took overall charge of the police investigation into the assassination, only for it to be revealed much later that he was literally in the pockets of Yorgen Fenech, currently undergoing criminal proceedings on charges of having commissioned Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination. Remember Uncle Silvio?

How could the Police carry out its duties adequately with Silvio Valletta, then Deputy Police Commissioner, hibernating deep inside criminal pockets, and leading the investigation into the assassination of Daphne?

Following the evidence in the multiple cases in our law courts dealing with the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia was in itself a documentation of the failure of the state. This was even confirmed by the public inquiry into the assassination. It is a failure of the institutions which have been hijacked into servicing the criminal world.

Daphne’s investigative journalism, as it unfolded over the years, was a threat to all this. She exposed the ineffective institutions. She shone a light on the men and women of straw who think they are running the state when in fact they are puppets on a string controlled by various lobbies, including the criminal lobby.

Her last published words were significant as they spelled out her fears. “There are crooks everywhere you look now. The situation is desperate.”  She was commenting on Keith Schembri, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s Chief of Staff with reference to libel proceedings against Simon Busuttil as he had taken offence to being labelled a crook, and corrupt.  In her last article published minutes before she was blown up Daphne had spelt out that “The crook Schembri was in court today, pleading that he is not a crook.”

The developments over the past sixty months are proving without a shadow of doubt “that crooks are everywhere”.  It has resulted that the Office of the Prime Minister was run by crooks: as a result, Joseph Muscat had no option but to resign. He had been protecting the crooks around him for far too long!

With all these obstacles it is no wonder that after five years the end of the investigations into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia is not yet in sight. No one is certain yet whether there was one mastermind plotting the assassination or else whether there were two or more.

We do not have an answer yet, as to whether any politician was in the know, or worse, directly involved, even though there have been a number of public references to former Labour Cabinet Minister, Chris Cardona in this respect.

We have been witnessing the exposure of a web of criminality which has infiltrated and infected all sectors of society. The investigations which we have witnessed developing over the past five years have revealed an intricate network which pervades practically all institutions. Just like the octopus which with its eight long tentacles seeks to control all from a distance. It is no wonder that after sixty months the end is not yet in sight.  The octopus is still in control.

published on The Malta Independent on Sunday: 16 December 2022

Joe Giglio mhux mejjet bil-ġuħ !

Joe Giglio qed jiddefendi lil wieħed minn dawk li huma akkużati bil-korrużżjoni fil-ħruġ tal-liċenzji.

Sfortunatament mhux jara l-kunflitt li hemm bejn xogħolu ta’ avukat u dak ta’ Membru Parlamentari u shadow minister għall-intern. Mhux l-ewwel wieħed! Kien hemm oħrajn qablu, (fil-PN stess) li għamlu dan l-istess żball, anke fil-passat riċenti.

Xogħolu ta’ avukat jinvolvi li jiddefendi lill-akkużat. Xogħolu bħala politiku jinvolvi id-difiża tal-pajjiż. Ma jistax jagħmel waħda minn dawn sew mingħajr ma jtappan l-oħra.

Jidher li għadu ma tgħallem xejn minn meta kien iddefenda lill-Bank Pilatus! Mhux mejjet bil-ġuħ, imma ……

In-negozjant tal-ikel Tork u sieħbu fin-negozju  

Il-mostru ta’ bini li approvat l-Awtorità tal-Ippjanar u li preżentement qed jinbena ħdejn il-kappella tal-Manikata kien ikkunsidrat li hu aċċettabbli, kemm mill-arċidjoċesi ta’ Malta kif ukoll mis-sopra-intendenza tal-wirt kulturali. Kemm l-Arċisqof kif ukoll is-Sopratendent tal-Wirt Kulturali jeħtieġ li jagħmlu apoloġija pubblika għax l-ewwel oġġezzjonaw minħabba li l-bini propost mhux postu ħdejn il-kappella u mbagħad, wara, irtiraw l-oġġezzjoni tagħhom. B’dak li għamlu, t-tnejn li huma taw kontribut biex dan il-mostru jimmaterjalizza.

Iktar kmieni din il-ġimgħa, l-portal elettroniku Shift News svela li Malti fin-negozju tal-ikel Tork, li f’ismu daħlet applikazzjoni ta’ żvilupp biex jinbena dan il-monstru  għandu sieħeb sieket fin-negozju: l-perit li iffirma l-applikazzjoni ta’ żvilupp. Skond ix-Shift News huwa jippossjedi 50 fil-mija tal-ishma tal-kumpanija Juke Developments Limited, il-kumpanija li qed tieħu ħsieb l-iżvilupp.

Mhux aċċettabbli li l-perit ikun ukoll żviluppatur.  Din hi imġieba ħażina li qed titfa’ dell ikrah fuq il-professjoni kollha. Hi materja ta’ etika li l-Kamra tal-Periti, li hi inkarigata milli tirregola l-professjoni, tevita kontinwament milli tesprimi ruħha u tieħu posizzjoni dwarha.

Madwar sentejn ilu, f’artiklu fuq Illum intitolat Il-perit-żviluppatur (8 ta’ Marzu 2020) kont ġbidt l-attenzjoni li l-perit inkarigat mill-proġett tal-Ħamrun, li fl-istadji inizzjali tiegħu kien wassal għall-mewt ta’ Miriam Pace, kien jippossjedi 10 fil-mija tal-ishma tal-kumpanija li kienet qed tieħu ħsieb l-iżvilupp.

Il-Kodiċi dwar l-Imġieba Professjonali għall-periti fil-gżejjer Maltin jipprovdi li  Perit f’Malta “ma għandux jokkupa, jassumi jew xjentement jaċċetta kariga li fiha l-interess tiegħu jkun kontra d-dmirijiet professjonali tiegħu.”

Il-punt hu jekk id-doveri professjonali ta’ perit inkarigat minn żvilupp humiex f’kunflitt ma li tkun ukoll, fl-istess ħin “l-żviluppatur”. Il-perit inkarigat minn lant tax-xogħol huwa ultimament responsabbli  għal dak li jseħħ fuq il-lant  avolja illum ġieli jkun assistit minn xi site officer, li imma rari jkun fuq il-lant! L-iskop tal-żviluppatur, min-naħa l-oħra, kif jgħidu, hu li jdawwar lira: hu interessat li jimmassimizza l-profitti mill-iżvilupp tal-art.

Il-Kodiċi dwar l-Imġieba Professjonali li semmejt iktar il-fuq jemfasizza li l-perit “jirċievi rimunerazzjoni biss bid-drittijiet professjonali tiegħu li jitħallsu mill-klijenti tiegħu u/jew bis-salarju tiegħu li jitħallas mill-prinċipal tiegħu. Hu ma jkunx jista’ jieħu rimunerazzjoni minn riżorsi oħra relattiva għax-xogħol u għad-dmirijiet fdati lilu.”   B’dan, fil-fehma tiegħi, hu ċar li perit ma jistax ikollu sehem minn profitti li jirriżultaw minn żvilupp tal-art u għaldaqstant m’għandux jaġixxi ta’ żviluppatur, la waħdu u l-anqas bi sħab ma ħaddieħor. Il-profitti mill-iżvilupp tal-art m’għandhomx ikunu l-motiv għall-ħidma professjonali tal-perit.  

Jidher li l-Kamra tal-Periti ma taqbilx ma dan għax b’mod konsistenti hi siekta dwar is-suġġett. Dan is-skiet hu inevitabilment interpretat bħala li l-Kamra tal-Periti qed taċċetta is-sitwazzjoni attwali. Mhux ta’ b’xejn, għaldaqstant li n-numru ta’ każi magħrufa ta’ periti li huma sħab fin-negozju ta’ żvilupp ta’ propjetà, imma li isimhom ma jidhirx, qiegħed jiżdied. Isimhom ma jidhirx għax huma konxji mill-kunflitt li hemm u jagħmlu ħilithom li jostru dan kollu fil-mixja tagħhom lejn sehem mill-profitti li jirriżultaw minn dan l-iżvilupp.

Bosta snin ilu, meta kont membru elett tal-Bord li jirregola l-ħruġ tal-warrant tal-periti kont ippreżentajt proposta biex dan kollu, jiġifieri ir-rwol ta’ periti li jaġixxu ta’ żviluppaturi, jkun regolat. Il-proposta tiegħi dakinnhar ma kienitx imxiet il-quddiem.

Sfortunatament, sal-lum, għad ma ittieħdet l-ebda azzjoni dwar dan kollu. Li nibqgħu ma tittieħed l-ebda azzjoni jfisser li l-qagħda preżenti tkun aċċettata bħala n-normalità. Sfortunatament dan hu konsistenti mal-valuri tas-soċjetà amorali li qed tiżviluppa madwarna.

ippubblikat fuq Illum: 28 t’Awwissu 2022

The kebab man and his business partner

The monstrosity dwarfing the Manikata chapel approved by the Planning Authority was considered acceptable by both the Archdiocese of Malta and the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage. Both the Archbishop as well as the Superintendent of Cultural Heritage owe every one of us an apology for having withdrawn their objection to this development. They had originally submitted that the proposed development is incompatible with the chapel and its surroundings. Then they had second thoughts, thereby contributing to the development of this monstrosity.

Online news portal, Shift News, has revealed, earlier this week, that a man in the kebab business, in whose name the application was submitted has a silent business partner: the architect who signed the approved development application. The Shift News, also revealed that the architect is a co-owner of the development site through his 50 per cent ownership in Juke Developments Limited, the company which has taken charge of the development.

It is not on that architects are also developers.  This is a professional misconduct which is bringing the whole profession into disrepute. It is an ethical matter which has been repeatedly avoided by the Chamber of Architects and Civil Engineers, the professional body entrusted with regulating the architectural profession in the Maltese islands.

Around two years ago, in these columns, in an article entitled The architect-developer (8 March 2020) I had pointed out that the architect in charge of the development at Ħamrun, which development had, in its initial stages, resulted in the death of Miriam Pace, had a 10 per cent shareholding in the company which was carrying out the development.

The Code of Professional Conduct for architects practicing in the Maltese islands clearly lays down that a locally warranted architect “must not hold, assume or consciously accept a position in which his interest is in conflict with his professional duty.”

The point at issue is whether the professional duties of an architect in charge of a development are in conflict with the interests of being “the developer”. The architect in charge of a site of works is ultimately responsible for what goes on the site, even though he is nowadays assisted by a site officer who in most cases is rarely present on site! The developer, on the other hand is interested in the potential maximisation of profits resulting from the development of the site under consideration: making hay while the sun shines! The profits resulting from development should not be the professional’s motivation.

The Code of Professional Conduct abovementioned goes on to emphasise that a locally warranted architect “is remunerated solely by his professional fees payable by his clients and/or by his salary payable by his employer. He is debarred from any other source of remuneration in connection with the works and duties entrusted to him.”  In my opinion this clearly forbids architects from sharing in the profits of development and consequently in being developers, on their own or together with others.

Apparently, the Chamber of Architects and Civil Engineers disagrees with the above as it has been consistently silent on the matter. This silence has inevitably been interpreted by one and all as acquiescence: accepting the current state of affairs. It is consequently no wonder that the number of known cases of architects being silent partners in development projects is quietly on the increase. They are silent partners, meaning that they are aware that there is a conflict in their responsibilities which they do their best to hide in their pursuit of a share of the profits resulting from development.

Many years ago, when I was an elected member of the architects Warranting Board, I had presented a proposal to start regulating the role of architects who act as developers. My proposal was not acted upon.

Unfortunately, no action has been taken to date. Taking no action signifies accepting the present situation as the normal acceptable behaviour. This is unfortunately consistent with the norms of the amoral society which currently rules the roost.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday: 28 August 2022

Zlatan Ibrahimovich u l-Manikata

Madwar sena ilu Zlatan Ibrahimovich kien immultat €50,000 mill-UEFA minħabba l-interessi tiegħu f’kumpanija tal-imħatri.

Ibrahimovich kellu sehem ta’ 10% fl-isħma tal-kumpanija tal-imħatri Bethard.

Il-UEFA f’dan il-kaz ħadet passi dwar kunflitt ta’ interess!

Kemm baqa’ x’nistennew biex il-Kamra tal-Periti tieħu passi dwar il-kunflitt ta’ interess fl-iżvilupp tal-Manikata, fejn Perit li ismu ma jidhirx għandu 50% sehem mill-iżvilupp moqżież biswit il-kappella tal-Manikata?

L-integrità fil-ħajja pubblika

L-OECD (Organizzazzjoni għall-Kooperazzjoni Ekonomika u l-Iżvilupp) għadha kif ippubblikat tlett rapporti dwar aspetti differenti tal-integrità tal-ħajja pubblika f’Malta. Dan għamlitu bħala parti mill-proġett iffinanzjat mill-Unjoni Ewropeja dwar it-tisħiħ tal-ħidma tal-uffiċċju tal-Kummissarju għall-Istandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika.

L-ewwel rapport hu dwar kif il-leġislazzjoni eżistenti tista’ titjieb filwaqt li t-tieni wieħed hu dwar it-titjib organizzattiv meħtieġ fl-uffiċċju tal-Kummissarju għall-Istandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika. It-tielet rapport fih rakkomandazzjonijiet dwar ir-regolamentazzjoni tal-lobbying.

It-tlett rapporti fihom total ta’ 71 rakkomandazzjoni li l-esperti u l-konsulenti tal-OECD iddiskutew mad-diversi persuni u organizzazzjonijiet li ltaqgħu magħhom f’Malta. Mingħajr ma innaqqas mill-mertu ta’ dawn it-tlett rapporti irrid nemfasizza bi kważi ċertezza li l-parti l-kbira ta’ dawn ir-rakkomandazzjonijiet kienu ilhom preżenti fid-dibattitu politiku lokali għal żmien konsiderevoli. Sfortunatament dawn ġew repetutament injorati mill-partiti fil-parlament.

F’dawn il-paġni jiena ktibt diversi drabi dwar il-ħtieġa li nirregolaw il-lobbying fil-pajjiż. Il-lobbying huwa parti essenzjali mill-proċess demokratiku. Jeħtieġ, iżda, li jkun trasparenti. Sentejn ilu, il-Kummissarju għall-Istandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika Dr George Hyzler, ippubblika dokument konsultattiv dettaljat dwar il-mod kif nistgħu nirregolaw il-lobbying fil-pajjiż. Wara sentejn, iżda,  għadu ma sar xejn: il-proposti tiegħu għadhom qed jiġu “studjati”! Hi sfortuna li s’issa l-partiti fil-parlament ma jidhrux li huma interessati.  

Il-ħolqien tal-uffiċċju ta’ Kummissarju għall-iStandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika kien pass tajjeb ħafna, avolja kien hemm ħafna dewnien u tkaxkir tas-saqajn sakemm il-liġi għaddiet mill-Parlament.

Dan l-uffiċċju jeħtieġ li jkun allinejat kemm mal-uffiċċju tal-Ombudsman kif ukoll mal-Uffiċċju Nazzjonali tal-Verifika. Meta tqishom flimkien dawn huma tlett funzjonijiet essenzjali biex il-governanza tajba tinfirex u tissaħħaħ fl-oqsma kollha tal-amministrazzjoni pubblika.

It-tlieta li huma qed jagħmlu xogħol utli.  Jistgħu jkunu anke aħjar kieku jkollhom inqas tfixkil kull meta jkunu jeħtieġu informazzjoni biex jeżaminaw dak li jkollhom quddiemhom.  Ir-rapporti tal-OECD jezaminaw il-liġi Maltija li biha twaqqaf l-uffiċċju ta’ Kummissarju għall-iStandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika u jigbdu l-attenzjoni għad-diversi oqsma fejn jista’ jsir titjib biex ikun assigurat li l-indipendenza tal-Kummissarju tkun imħarsa b’mod prattiku.

Il-pubblikazzjoni tal-files Uber, iktar kmieni din il-ġimgħa, wrew li hemm bosta gvernijiet u istituzzjonijiet oħra (inkluż l-Unjoni Ewropeja) li minkejja li għandhom biżibilju liġijiet u regolamenti dwar il-lobbying, xorta nqabdu fuq sieq waħda. Għax li jkollok il-liġijiet li jiregolaw il-lobbying mhux biżżejjed: neħtieġu ukoll ir-rieda politika biex nimplimentawhom. Bosta drabi din ir-rieda politika ma teżistix!  

Il-kontabilità, it-trasparenza u l-governanza tajba huma ferm iktar minn slogans: huma valuri fundamentali li fuqhom jinbena l-istat demokratiku modern.  L-uffiċċju tal-Kummissarju dwar l-iStandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika, l-Ombudsman u l-Uffiċċju Nazzjonali tal-Verifika huma parti integrali mill-infrastruttura demokratika li hi essenzjali biex dawn il-valuri jrabbu għeruq b’saħħithom fl-istituzzjonijiet u s-soċjetà tagħna.

Madwar tnax-il xahar ilu l-Ombudsman kien indika li ma kellux intenzjoni li jaċċetta li l-ħatra tiegħu tkun imġedda. Ghad ma ġiex identifikat min ser jinħatar floku avolja qed jingħadu bosta affarijiet dwar dak li għaddej bejn il-partiti parlamentari  huma u jiddiskutu dwar min jista’ jinħatar.  Sadanittant Dr George Hyzler ser ikollu jwarrab ukoll  għax inħatar mill-Gvern Malti fil-Qorti Ewropeja tal-Awdituri. F’dan il-mument delikat ser ikun hemm post ieħor vojt.

Jekk verament nemmnu li f’dan l-istat demokratiku l-istituzzjonijiet għandhom valur, huwa essenzjali li dawn il-vakanzi jimtlew illum qabel għada. F’ġieh is-serjetà fil-ħajja pubblika hemm bżonnhom bla ħafna iktar dewmien.

ippubblikat fuq : Illum 17 ta’ Lulju 2022