Pluraliżmu anke fil-valuri

Wieħed mill-argumenti qawwija li lewnu d-dibattitu dwar id-dħul ta’ Malta fl-Unjoni Ewropeja kien li Malta ħtieġilha tidħol fis-seklu għoxrin qabel ma taħseb biex tissieħeb fl-Unjoni. Kien argumentat li kien hemm il-ħtieġa ta’ progress fuq ħafna fronti qabel ma Malta setgħet tissieħeb fl-UE. In-naħa l-oħra tal-argument, ovvjament, dejjem kien li s-sħubija minnha innifisha setgħet tkun il-katalist għat-tibdil tant meħtieġ fis-soċjetá Maltija. Għax il-bidla tista’ ddum biex isseħħ, imma fl-aħħar mhux possibli li tkun evitata. Kif jgħidu, tardare sí, scappare no!

Malta ssieħbet fl-UE fl-2004. Il-bidla fis-soċjetá Maltija għadha għaddejja, kultant b’ritmu mgħaġġel ħafna. Ir-referendum dwar id-divorzju li sar f’Mejju 2011 ħoloq terrimot, li, nistgħu ngħidu illi għadu għaddej.

Il-liġi dwar l-ugwaljanza fiż-żwieġ li l-Parliament approva iktar kmieni din il-ġimgħa kienet pass ieħor f’din id-direzzjoni. Kienet deskritta bħala “immorali” (Edwin Vassallo), “Marxista” (Clyde Puli), “kommunista” (Herman Schiavone) kif ukoll “tal-Korea ta’ Fuq ” (Tonio Fenech).

Dawn it-tikketti juru kif jaħdem moħħ dawk li qed jirreżistu din il-bidla. Mid-dehra ħadd minn dawn il-kritiċi tal-leġislazzjoni dwar l-ugwaljanza fiż-żwieg ma fehem li dan il-pass kien ukoll il-konsegwenza loġika tal-emenda kostituzzjonali, approvata mill-Parlament fil-leġislatura l-oħra liema emenda kienet iċċarat li d-diskriminazzjoni minħabba l-ġeneru kienet ipprojibita ukoll. L-intolleranti fost l-Insara fostna jgħidu li dawk li jappoġġaw l-ugwaljanza fiż-żwieġ huma “bla valuri”. Dawn għadhom ma irrealizzawx li l-valuri tagħhom m’humiex l-unika valuri. Qed ngħixu f’soċjetá bi pluralitá ta’ valuri. Ħadd m’għandu monopolju, la dwar il-valuri u l-anqas dwar dak li hu tajjeb jew ħażin.

Uħud mill-kelliema ewlenin tal-Opposizzjoni, minkejja li ddikjaraw l-appoġġ għal-liġi taħt konsiderazzjoni, xorta dehrilhom li kellhom jużaw il-ħin ta’ diskorshom bi kliem dispreġġattiv dwar dak propost. Dan il-lingwaġġ mimli insulti użat fid-dibattitu parlamentari sfortunatament jirrifletti fuq l-Opposizzjoni Nazzjonalista kollha, anke fuq dawk li għamlu sforz ġenwin u qagħdu attenti li jużaw  lingwaġġ konċiljattiv biex jikkomunikaw ħsiebijiethom.

L-opposizzjoni konservattiva qegħda fir-rokna. Min-naħa l-waħda riedet tħabbar mal-erbat irjieħ tal-pajjiż li issa kkonvertiet u ser tkun fuq quddiem biex tiddefendi d-drittijiet tal-komunitá LGBTIQ. Min-naħa l-oħra iżda, l-Opposizzjoni ma setgħetx tinjora l-fatt li għad għandha dipendenza qawwija fuq appoġġ minn l-agħar elementi ta’ intolleranza reliġjuża fil-pajjiż, dawk jiġifieri li għadhom iqiesu d-drittijiet LGBTIQ bħal materja ta’ “immoralitá pubblika”.  Edwin Vassallo kien l-iktar wieħed ċar fi kliemu meta iddikjara li l-kuxjenza tiegħu ma tippermettilux li jivvota favur dak li huwa ddeskriva bħala proposta leġislattiva “immorali”.

Fi ftit sekondi Vassallo (u oħrajn) ħarbat dak li kien ilu jippjana Simon Busuttil sa minn meta kien elett Kap tal-PN.  Dan wassal lil uħud biex jispekulaw dwar jekk l-Insara intolleranti, id-demokristjani u l-liberali fil-PN jistgħux jibqgħu jikkoabitaw wisq iktar.

Dan kollu jikkuntrasta mal-mod kif ġiebu ruħhom il-konservattivi fil-Partit Laburista. Dawn, minħabba kalkuli politiċi, ippreferew li jew jibqgħu ħalqhom magħluq inkella qagħdu attenti ħafna dwar dak li qalu. Jidher li tgħallmu xi ħaġa mid-dibattitu dwar id-divorzju!

L-approvazzjoni mill-Parliament tal-liġi dwar l-ugwaljanza fiż-żwieġ huwa pass ieħor il-quddiem favur il-pluraliżmu tal-valuri. Il-Parlament aċċetta l-pluraliżmu tal-valuri u iddeċieda li kulħadd jixraqlu r-rispett. Għandna bżonn nifhmu, lkoll kemm aħna, li qed ngħixu f’soċjetá bi pluralitá ta’ valuri li lkoll jixirqilhom ir-rispett. Hu possibli li ma naqblux, imma li ninsulentaw lil xulxin minħabba li nħaddnu valuri differenti ma jagħmilx sens. Xejn m’hu ser jibdel il-fatt li ħadd ma għandu monoplju fuq il-valuri li f’numru ta’ każi jikkontrastaw.

Malta illum introduċiet l-ugwaljanza fiż-żwieġ. M’aħniex ser indumu biex nindunaw li dan ser jagħmel lis-soċjetá tagħna waħda aħjar, għal kulħadd.

ippubblikat fuq Illum : il-Ħadd 16 ta’ Lulju 2017

Advertisements

Value Pluralism

One of the arguments made during the debate prior to Malta joining the European Union was that before it did so, Malta should open its doors to the 21st century. It was argued that much progress needed to be made before Malta could join the EU. The flip side of this argument was that EU membership could be the right catalyst for change that Maltese society needed, because change can be obstructed and delayed but, in the long term, it cannot be stopped.

Malta did join the EU in 2004 and the opening of the doors (and windows) of change is currently work-in-progress. The divorce referendum held in May 2011 opened the floodgates to a recognition of the fact that Maltese society was in a state of rapid change, making up for lost time.

The Marriage Equality Reform legislation approved in Parliament earlier this week was another step. It was described as “immoral” (Edwin Vassallo), “Marxist” (Clyde Puli), “communist” (Herman Schiavone) or even “North Korean” (Tonio Fenech).

These labels identify the frame of mind of those resisting change. Apparently, none of these critics of marriage equality legislation has yet realised that this step is the direct legal consequence of the Constitutional amendment, approved by Parliament some years back, which spelled out in unequivocal terms the prohibition of discrimination based on gender.

The intolerant Christian right argues that legislation proposing marriage equality is the result of a society which has lost its values. They have not realised that their “values” are not the only ones around: we live in a society where a plurality of values is a fact. The Christian right has no monopoly: either on values or on what is right or wrong.

A number of leading Opposition spokespersons, notwithstanding their declaration of support for the proposed legislation, deemed it fit to hurl never-ending insults against the proposals being debated and all that these represented. This insulting language used during the parliamentary debate is a sad reflection on the whole of the PN Opposition, even on those who sought to apply the brakes and in fact used more conciliatory language to convey their thoughts.

The conservative opposition is in a tight corner. On the one hand it wanted to announce in unequivocal terms its recent “conversion” to championing LGBTIQ rights. At the same time the Opposition could not ignore the fact that it is still chained to an intolerant Christian right which labels LGBTIQ rights as morally reprehensible. Edwin Vassallo was the most unequivocal when he declared that his conscience would not permit him to vote in favour of what he described as an “immoral” legislative proposal.

In a couple of seconds, Vassallo and others blew up what had been carefully constructed by Simon Busuttil since assuming the PN leadership, causing some to speculate whether the cohabitation of the conservative Christian right, Christian Democrats and liberals in the PN can last much longer.

In contrast, even if for political expediency, the conservatives in the Labour Party parliamentary group have either kept their mouth shut or else watched their language. It seems that they have learnt some lessons from the divorce referendum debate.

Parliament’s approval last Wednesday of the Marriage Equality Legislation is another step in entrenching the acceptance of value pluralism. Parliament has accepted value pluralism and decided that it was time to respect everyone.

We need to realise that we form part of a society with a plurality of values, all of which deserve the utmost respect. It is possible to disagree, but insulting people because they have different values than one’s own is not on. A society with a plurality of values is a fact and nobody will or can change that.

Malta has now introduced marriage equality. As a result, our society will show a marked improvement that will have a positive impact on all of us.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday – 16 July 2017

The PN (now) needs you

PN. arma imkisra

Some, myself included, have received an SOS from the PN. The PN needs “our” input. It implores those receiving its SOS that it urgently requires the inputs of well-intentioned volunteers. Today’s PN leadership wishes to rebuild the party. That is, it wants to reconstruct what its predecessors have demolished.

Now such an exercise requires first and foremost an accurate appreciation of how and why the PN is in its present state.

When one reads through the report analysing the circumstances which led to the PN’s routing, which report was coordinated by current PN Executive Committee President Ann Fenech one can get an inkling as to why the PN is in a state of shambles. This comes through not just by reading the actual report (at least that part of it which is public) but through the line of thought which links each of the 38 pages of what is described as an Executive Summary of the actual report.

Apparently, according to the Ann Fenech report, everyone is at fault, except the PN. The PN was misunderstood and misinterpreted.

Ann Fenech’s report speaks of authorities and civil servants who “sabotaged” the PN-led government. Unfortunately Ann Fenech fails to bring this argument to its logical conclusion: that the PN Ministers and their private secretariats were an incompetent bunch if they did not notice this “sabotage” and take the appropriate action. They were even assisted by Boards, and Committees leading Authorities, sometimes at an exorbitant rate of pay, who at times were more of a rubber stamp than an Authority.

If this reasoning is not analysed and acted upon the reconstruction exercise will be futile as the foundations are the result of a  very weak reconstruction philosophy.

The PN has still not apologised for defying the divorce referendum result in Parliament. Nor has it sought absolution from the cultural community for defying reason in its persistence on the roofless theatre at the Royal Opera House site in Valletta. The PN’s stance on the roofless theatre was one which left no doubt that in the PN’s view everybody was in the wrong, except the PN.

The PN’s arrogance and its lack of social conscience personified in former Minister Austin Gatt and his entourage directing the “reform” of the Malta Drydocks as well as the Public Transport Reform seems to be a non-issue in Ann Fenech’s report.

Also surprisingly absent in Ann Fenech’s analysis is the PN’s shift away from the political centre under Lawrence Gonzi’s stewardship. Lawrence Gonzi inherited a left-of centre PN but when he left the leadership handed over a conservative party to Simon Busuttil. Ann Fenech’s report (as published) is silent on the matter. Most probably Dr. Ann Fenech and fellow co-authors Prof. Mary Anne Lauri, Dr Simon Mercieca, Ms Rosette Thake and Mr Malcolm Custó do not have an inkling as to the actual consequences of the PN in government during the period 2004-2013 moving along a conservative path.

Finally there are those who consider that those who did not support the PN in the March 2013 general elections had no valid reason to do so. In their view they did so as a result of an incorrect appreciation of the situation.

Some have supported and even voted in favour of specific measures adopted by the Lawrence Gonzi led government. These same persons are in the forefront now in 2014 supporting residents who are protesting against these same measures originally adopted by the PN led-government.   How is it possible for the PN and its leadership to be credible when some of its MPs act in this manner?

Crocodile tears will not lead to a reconstruction of the PN.

Published in The Independent Saturday August 16, 2014

You know where we stand

 AD_You know where we stand_300x250px

You know where we stand. This statement distinguishes Alternattiva Demokratika, the Green party in Malta, from the other political parties. Greens in Malta are, and have always been, clear as to the political agenda which they champion. In contrast, there are a number of issues on which both the Nationalist Party and the Labour Party are silent or evasive.

One important issue will be missing from AD’s 2013 electoral manifesto for the first time since the 1992 general election. I am referring to proposals for the introduction of divorce legislation. The PN and the PL always shied away from taking a stand on divorce. They were, however, faced with the inevitable when PN maverick MP Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando, (later joined by Labour MP Evarist Bartolo) took a leaf out of AD’s 2008 electoral manifesto and presented a Private Member’s Bill on divorce. The Bill was approved after the need for divorce legislation was endorsed by popular support expressed in a referendum notwithstanding the resistance of a number of fundamentalist MPs.

Much has been written about the matter but it is necessary at this point in time to underline that on this basic issue both the PN and the PL failed to be clear with the electorate. They tried to avoid the issue to pander to fundamentalist sentiment.

AD has always been very clear on the issues it supports or opposes. It will remain so.

Today, AD will present to the public its team of candidates, which, once more, will be contesting all 13 electoral districts in the March 2013 general election. Eventual Green members of Parliament will ensure a responsible approach to the country’s challenges.

Instead of political pique and unnecessary confrontation, Green MPs will advocate a policy of consensus based on consistency, responsibility and progressive politics.

Greens in Malta will continue to be the strongest defenders of what is left of Malta’s environmental heritage and will strive towards having public spaces that are accessible to all.

Greens, in contrast to the others, have already proven themselves of not being hostage to big business, hunters, trappers, firework fanatics, Armier squatters and greedy land developers.

We insist on the need for sustainable policies. With over 70,000 vacant dwellings resulting from a land use policy that is anything but sustainable, Greens in Parliament after the March 2013 election will champion the immediate reversal of the rationalisation exercise that has extended unnecessarily the permissible development boundaries.

Water has been mismanaged over the years such that the water table is severely depleted and treated sewage effluent is discarded, being considered as a waste product rather than as an important resource. In the long term, all boreholes in private use should cease to be operational and steps have to be taken to ensure that it is clear to all that the water table is public property.

In contrast to the above, the PN and the PL have taken an ambivalent attitude towards the environment. They bend backwards making efforts to be pleasant to environmentalists, yet, simultaneously echo the demands of those who have been plundering natural resources.

Greens have always stood up for animal rights.

Greens call for socially just economic and social policies, such as the need to increase the minimum wage as well as socially just pensions, including adequate disability pensions. To counter speculation and to discourage the unsustainable use of property, Greens propose taxing vacant properties, from the third property onwards.

AD will continue to be the progressive party, championing humane social policies and equal rights for all: persons with disability, LGBT persons as well as alternative families.

AD is for gender equality, in favour of the right of access to IVF without discrimination, full equality in marriage and family rights for same-sex couples. AD is against all forms of discrimination, including that based on race.

AD will advocate the decriminalisation of drugs for personal use while insisting on the necessity that society helps drug victims to overcome their addiction rather than criminalise them.

Green MPs will be ready to work with MPs from other political parties on the basis of an agreed joint programme and will work to ensure its implementation when in Parliament.

As a minor partner, Greens will strive to develop politics by consensus, conscious that this is a prerequisite essential to the creation of a stable political environment.

Voting for AD is a vote for change in the method of governance that has been corrupted by the two-party system. If you believe in giving priority to social justice, civil rights, environmental justice, sustainable development, ecological modernisation, and, last but not least, the reform in the institutional set-up for the enhancement of democracy, you know where you stand with the Greens.

Voting for the PN and PL signifies voting for a stagnant two-party system.

AD can deliver change. The other parties cannot: they are compromised.

You know where we stand.

published originally in Times of Malta on January 12, 2013

Fuq nett fiċ-Ċivil …….. fejn jaħraq ħafna

Xi xhur ilu Alternattiva Demokratika bdiet dibattitu dwar ir-rwol li għandhom l-impjegati fis-settur pubbliku fil-politika.

Id-Direttiva Numru Ħamsa li nħarġet mill-Kap taċ-Ċivil tiddistingwi bejn dawk l-impjegati pubbliċi li jistgħu jieħdu sehem fil-politika u dawk li ma jistgħux.

Dawk fl-iskali ta’ fuq nett ma jistgħux jinvolvu ruħhom fil-politika. Il-loġika wara din ir-regola hi li min hu fil-gradi ta’ fuq fiċ-Ċivil huwa involut sewwa fit-teħid tad-deċiżjonijiet, fl-għoti ta’ pariri li jwasslu għal deċiżjonijiet kif ukoll f’investigazzjonijiet interni li jistgħu jwasslu għal deċiżjonijiet ta’ natura iebsa. Għalhekk tajjeb li joqgħod il-bogħod mhux biss mill-kunflitt ta’ interess iżda ukoll mill-potenzjal tal-kunflitt ta’ interess.

Jekk dawn ir-regoli japplikaw għal kulħadd, taqbel jew ma taqbilx magħhom tbaxxi rasek.

Imma imbagħad jiġru affarijiet li jġiegħluk taħseb li donnu hemm min għalih hemm regoli oħra. Regoli differenti.

Ma nafx jekk tiftakrux li fil-kampanja referendarja tad-divorzju kien hemm wieħed imlaħħaq fiċ-ċivil li kellu l-grad ta’ Segretarju Permanenti  u kien qed jaqdi doveri ta’ Deputat Segretarju tal-Kabinett. Dan applika u ngħata permess biex jieħu leave bla ħlas biex ikun jista’ jieħu sehem fil-kampanja referendarja. Ingħata permess għax ġie ikkunsidrat li l-kampanja referendarja ma kelliex x’taqsam mal-politika!

Ma nafx b’liema immaġinazzjoni tista’ tasal għal din il-konklużjoni ħlief bir-riga tal-Opus Dei!

Issa għandna oħra. Uffiċjal għoli fl-Uffiċċju tal-Prim Ministru, ukoll fil-grad ta’ Segretarju Permanenti b’doveri tal-Kap tad-Dipartiment tal-Verifika Interna u Investigazzjonijiet ngħatat permess biex tokkupa l-post ta’ Direttur mhux Eżekuttiv ta’ kumpanija tal-logħob tal-azzard (gaming). Qed jingħad ukoll li din kienet f’posizzjoni li tagħti pariri u konsulenza lil kumpanija f’din l-industrija dwar ix-xiri ta’ sehem fil-Casino di Venezia fil-Birgu.

Il-loġika ta’ dawn id-deċiżjonijiet jiena ma nistax nifhimhom. L-intriċċi tal-politika huma meqjusa perikolużi għaċ-Ċivil.  Imma dwar l-intriċċi tal-business donnu li dak ma jimpurtax. Hu biss bil-loġika tal-Opus Dei li forsi jinftehmu dawn l-affarijiet!