Reforming a two-party Parliament

Malta’s electoral system has, over the years, been transformed into a duopoly. Discrimination is inbuilt into electoral legislation in order to effectively ensure that Parliament remains a two-party affair. It is discrimination by design. It is not accidental but specifically intended.

Our electoral system (STV: Single Transferable Vote) started off being applied in 1921 as one focused on the individual candidate, generally ignoring the political parties. Over the years a number of important changes shifted the focus of the STV from the individual candidate to the political party.

The first such change was carried out prior to the 1976 general elections: the electoral ballot paper was then redesigned such that same party candidates started being grouped together with a colour code identifying the different political parties. This was a radical change as up to that point, for over fifty years, all candidates in an electoral district were listed alphabetically. Up till that point it was a common occurrence for votes to switch from one party to the other in successive counts as the semi-literate voter, would not always distinguish between one party candidate and the candidates from other parties. As a result, many a parliamentary seat was lost or switched allegiance over the years.

The second change took place in 1987 and was fine-tuned in subsequent years. It started off as a reaction to the impact of jerrymandering of electoral districts, specifically the 1981 general election result. Originally it was designed as a constitutional guarantee for majority rule, ensuring that whichever political party surpassed the 50 per cent vote count it would be guaranteed a majority of parliamentary seats. Subsequently it was developed into a formula for ensuring proportionality between first count votes and parliamentary seats. There is however an important condition attached: this is only applicable if just two political parties make it to parliament. The moment that a third one gains just one seat, no proportionality is guaranteed, except in one specific instant: when a political party obtains in excess of the 50 per cent mark it is still guaranteed a majority of Parliamentary seats. Our Constitution expects that the rest have to lump it.

The third change is in the pipeline. It involves an additional adjustment: a gender balance mechanism. A maximum of twelve parliamentary seats will be added to the total to represent the under-represented gender! Yes, you have guessed: they will be split equally between the duopoly. In addition, the seats will not be available for distribution the moment a third political party makes it into parliament.

Let me be very clear. Proportionality between votes cast and parliamentary seats won is essential. Likewise, it is essential to address the gender imbalance in our parliament. However, both adjustments can be done fairly, without any discrimination, and importantly without increasing the size of Parliament astronomically as will inevitably happen at the next general election if only two political parties make it to Parliament. In fact, it is perfectly possible not to have any increase in size of Parliament at all if the appropriate changes are carried out!

Over the years the political party which I lead has made several proposals on these matters. The latest proposal was made in the context of the public consultation on addressing gender imbalance in Parliament. Even then we emphasised that tinkering with the electoral system and adding top-ups would not solve anything. A complete overhaul of the system is required. Instead, the “gender balance reform” ended up advocating “as little as possible disruption of the electoral system”. Government and Opposition agreed to reinforce the existing discrimination in our electoral system.

Unfortunately, our proposals have been ignored once more and we have no choice but to resort to our Courts to address a blatantly discriminatory electoral system imposed on us by Labour and Nationalist Members of Parliament. On such matters they always agree.

In such circumstances fragmentation of the political spectrum is the worst possible option for those who want to emphasise a specific point. Those who end up playing the “independent” are pawns of the duopoly, unwittingly reinforcing the two-party system. They end up siphoning votes and thereby deliberately weakening a potential third voice which can make it to Parliament. The merger between AD and PD in the past months is the appropriate antidote in such circumstances.

Instead of focusing on minor differences it would be appropriate if all of us give more weight to the overall picture. It is an uphill struggle, but we should not be deterred!

published on The Malta Independent on Sunday 30 May 2021

Constitutional top-ups: a democratic deficit

Earlier this week Parliament started discussing Bill 119, proposing constitutional amendments “to ensure de facto equality between men and women in politics”.  A very noble aim which all progressive politicians share. Unfortunately, in addressing the issue of equality between men and women in politics Bill 119 creates another problem: it goes about it in a discriminatory fashion. It discriminates against third parties through excluding them almost completely.

Bill 119 aims to top-up the number of elected members of parliament by a total of not more than twelve additional MPs through a process identifying unelected electoral candidates from the minority gender when the general electoral process has been concluded. The minority gender being that which has a representation below 40 per cent of the total number of elected MPs.

Clause 3 of the Bill starts immediately on the wrong foot. It lays down that the provisions of the gender top-up based constitutional amendments under consideration are only applicable in general elections “in which only candidates of two parties are elected”.

This wording is a cut-and-paste from another Constitutional top-up which was introduced in 1987 and fine-tuned throughout the years through a number of constitutional amendments relating to proportionality. Even then the constitutional solution was based on a basic discriminatory premise that it is only applicable if candidates of two political parties are elected to Parliament.

It is proposed by Bill 119 that the additional MPs “are to be apportioned equally by the absolute majority party or the relative majority party and the minority party”.

As has been emphasised many times, the proportionality Constitutional top-up, while ensuring majority rule, has created a democratic deficit in our Constitution in view of the fact that it is generally not operative when more than two political parties make it to Parliament. The gender balance top-up, faithfully follows in its footsteps. An existing democratic deficit is being made even worse.

The day when a third party makes it to Parliament on its own steam is fast-approaching. When that day comes, and it may be close, a Constitutional crisis may arise due to myopic legal drafting. This basic (intentional) error has been repeated in the Constitutional amendments under consideration by Parliament at this point in time.

I was surprised when I noted that during the Parliamentary debate, earlier this week, Opposition MP Herman Schiavone gave notice of amendments to address the gender top-up Bill. His proposals are an excellent first step but, in my view, they are not enough as they do not address all the possibilities that may arise when eventually the provision is to be applied. The matter can be explored further when the actual amendments are debated, at which point possible solutions can be explored.

The matter was also emphasised in Parliament by the Leader of the Opposition, possibly indicating that the PN has now changed strategy and has thrown away its previous policy of trying to cannibalise third parties which have the potential to make it to Parliament. A cannibalisation exercise which has been heavily resisted by the Maltese Greens throughout the years.

When the proposal for the gender Constitutional top-ups was published for public consultation, the Maltese Greens had participated and published a document outlining possible alternatives. One cannot keep patching up our electoral system. A fresh holistic revision is needed which will address both the proportionality and the gender representation issues. A possible solution exists through the use of party electoral lists which need be gender balanced. This is already done in various other countries.

We did not receive any reaction to our proposal. The Commission entrusted with examining the matter did not seek to meet us to explore alternative potential solutions. Unfortunately, the Commission too was trapped in a two-party frame of mind and consequently it concluded its exercise by adopting a solution which further reinforces the existing democratic deficit in the Constitution.

The setting up of such obstructions make our life more difficult as it increases unnecessary and artificial obstacles which seek to complicate the political work of third parties. This is not just unfortunate: it lays bare the “democratic credentials” of government and its advisors.

published in the Malta Independent on Sunday : 17 January 2021

L-IVF mhux kapriċċ: (4) Surrogacy: sostituzzjoni tal-omm naturali

Waħda mill-proposti fl-abbozz ta’ liġi hi li jkun permess li l-omm naturali tkun sostitwita billi bajda ffertilizzata li toriġina minn mara tkun impjantata f’mara oħra, li, jekk it-tqala tirnexxi, twelled it-tarbija hi f’isem il-mara li minna tkun oriġinat il-bajda.

Din il-proposta tindirizza żewġ ċirkustanzi partikolari : l-ewwel fejn mhux possibli għal mara li twassal it-tqala sat-tmiem u t-tieni fejn il-koppja li tkun trid l-ulied tkun koppja ta’ żewġt irġiel.

L-ewwel possibilitá tinftiehem bla diffikulta fil-waqt li t-tieni waħda tirriżulta mill-obbligu kostituzzjonali tal-istat li jassigura li ma jkunx hemm diskriminazzjoni a bażi tal-ġeneru u per konsegwenza li s-servizz tal-IVF jeħtieġ u għandu jkun offrut bla ebda forma ta’ diskriminazzjoni. Din hi l-konsegwenza loġika ta’ politika li tmexxi l-quddiem d-drittijiet ċivili kif rinfurzata mill-emenda kostituzzjonali ta’ xi snin ilu li inkludiet il-projibizzjoni ta’ diskriminazzjoni a bażi tal-ġeneru fl-artiklu tal-kostituzzjoni li tagħtina protezzjoni kontra kull forma ta’ diskriminazzjoni.

Biex l-omm naturali tkun sostitwita jkun meħtieġ li toffri ruħha mara oħra li f’isem l-omm naturali iġġorr hi t-tarbija li tkun qed tifforma tul id-disa’ xhur tat-tqala. Il-proposta tal-Gvern temfasizza li din is-sostituzzjoni ser tkun permessa biss fuq bażi ta’ altruwiżmu u li taħt l-ebda ċirkustanza m’hu ser ikun permess li dan ikun kummerċjalizzat.

Il-proposta hi l-iktar waħda fl-abbozz ta’ liġi li tagħti dimensjoni umana qawwija lill-IVF. Imma hi ukoll l-iktar waħda li tista’ tkun abbużata. Kif ser tiddistingwi bejn kaz ġenwin ta’ altruwiżmu u ieħor fejn jitħallsu flejjes kbar għall-kiri tal-ġuf? Mhux faċli, anke b’regolamentazzjoni stretta.

Hemm ukoll l-argument validu li kull forma ta’ surrogacy jbaxxi lil mara li tkun soġġetta għalih u għandha tkun ipprojibita. Hekk għamlet l-iSvezja. Il-Parlament Ewropew ukoll kien ħeġġeġ biex din il-prattika tkun ipprojibita.Il-mara, b’kull forma ta’ surrogacy tkun trasformata f’fabbrika tat-tfal u lill-ebda wieħed minnhom ma tista’ issejjaħlu iben jew bint. Anke jekk għal “skop tajjeb” is-surrogacy jibqa’ sfruttament tal-mara. L-isfruttament ma jsirx biss meta jkun hemm ħlas.

Il-mistoqsija li teħtieġ tweġiba hi ħwar jekk hux aċċettabbli li biex telimina d-diskriminazzjoni kontra kategorija ta’ bnedmin tassoggetta kategorija oħra ta’ bnedmin għal sfruttament. Għax hekk ser tagħmel is-surrogacy.

Hemm ħtieġa ta’ diskussjoni iktar fil-fomd biex ilkoll nifhmu iktar il-konsegwenzi ta’ dak li qiegħed jiġi propost. L-għaġġla żejda li għaddej biha l-Gvern, anke jekk għal skop tajjeb, ma tagħmel ġid lil ħadd.


ikompli : (5) Jedd għall-informazzjoni u d-drittijiet tat-tfal

Il-PN fis-sqaq tal-fundamentaliżmu

Adrian Delia appunta lilu nnifsu l-gwardjan tal-morali tal-pajjiż. Għalhekk, qal, li l-PN fil-Parlament ser jopponi l-avviż legali li jintroduċi 100 siegħa leave bi ħlas għal dawk li jfittxu trattament tal-IVF barra minn Malta (nisa infertili u lesbjani).

Billi l-liġi tal-IVF presentment fis-seħħ dan ma tippermettieħx Delia qed tniggżu l-kuxjenza u jidhirlu li għal din ir-raġuni għandu jopponi.

Adrian Delia għadu kif ħa ġurament ta’ lealtà lejn il-Kostituzzjoni. Fl-aħħar leġislatura din il-kostituzzjoni ġiet emendat biex anke id-diskriminazzjoni a bażi tal-ġeneru u l-orientazzjoni sesswali tkun ipprojibita.

Fit-triq li qabad favur il-fundamentaliżmu Delia mhuwiex jirrealizza li qiegħed ikasbar il-Kostituzzjoni ta’ pajjiżna li tobbliga anke lilu li jitbiegħed minn kwalunkwe diskriminazzjoni: f’dan il-kuntest id-diskriminazzjoni a bażi tal-ġeneru u l-orientazzjoni sesswali.

Fil-Parlament ftit ġimgħat ilu kellna d-dmugħ tal-kukkudrilli ta’ dawk li iddispjaċihom li kienu astjenew fil-vot dwar id-drittijiet LGBTIQ fil-leġislatura l-oħra fosthom Mario de Marco u Claudette Buttigieg. Nistennew u naraw jekk bidlux il-fehma tagħhom.

S’issa fil-PN qiegħed jinstema leħen wieħed biss favur ir-raġuni : dak ta’ Norman Vella.

Sadanittant il-PN jibqa’ dieħel il-ġewwa fis-sqaq tal-fundamentaliżmu, u minn hemm ser ikunlu diffiċli li joħroġ.

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

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

Is-siġġijiet tal-PN u l-proporzjonalitá


Il-Qorti Kostituzzjonali tat deċiżjoni dwar l-ilment kostituzzjonali tal-PN u iddeċidiet illi l-PN għandu jingħata żewġ siġġijiet addizzjonali fil-Parlament. Din hi d-deċiżjoni finali tal-Qrati Maltin dwar il-każ, u allura issa ser tkun implimentata.

Hi deċiżjoni li jixirqiha kull rispett, imma dan ir-rispett ma jfissirx li hi deċiżjoni tajba, għax fil-fatt hi deċiżjoni żbaljata. Għax ma kellhomx jiżdiedu s-siġġijiet, imma kellhom jitnaqqsu! Il-calculator tal-Prim Imħallef ħa żball. Kulħadd jista jiżbalja, mhux hekk?

Ovvjament il-Partit Nazzjonalista bħalissa qiegħed jippontifika dwar il-proporzjonalitá bejn voti miksuba u siġġijiet mirbuħa fil-Parlament. Peró l-proporzjonalitá li jemmen fiha l-PN hi dik bejn il-PN u l-Labour. Din wasslet biex għal żball ta’ ħamsin vot il-PN jippretendi żewġ siġġijiet Parlamentari, imma fl-istess ħin il-5506 vot fl-ewwel għadd ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika fl-aħħar elezzjoni ġenerali huma injorati.

Sewwa, 50 vot, skond il-PN, jixirqilhom rappresentanza imma 5506 vot għandhom ikunu injorati.

Ser ikun hemm min iwieġibni u jgħidli: jekk Alternattiva Demokratika jidhriha xi ħaġa messha tmur il-Qorti hi ukoll. It-tweġiba tiegħi hi waħda ċara: Alternattiva Demokratika diġá għandha parir legali li meta l-Kostituzzjoni ta’ Malta tipprovdi għal proporzjonalitá unikament għal żewġ partiti u tinjora lil bqija din qegħda tiddiskrimina.

Nafu li għandna raġun.

Il-problema hi biss li l-establishment jaħsibha mod ieħor. Meta jidhrilna li jkun il-mument opportun, nieħdu l-passi neċessarji.

Tnissil assistit


L-Ministeru tas-Saħħa ħareġ sejħa għall-offerti biex ikun jista’ jimplimenta l-liġi tal-IVF. Jew biex nitkellmu bil-Malti biex min ma jistax inissel l-ulied b’mod naturali jkun assistit biex dan it-tnissil ikun jista’  jsir.

Il-liġi Maltija dwar l-IVF bit-titlu bombastiku ta’ “Att tal-2012 dwar il-Protezzjoni tal-Embrijuni”  kienet approvat mill-Parlament li għadu kif spiċċa. Din il-liġi tirregola t-tnissil assistit u tillimitah għall-koppji miżżewġa kif ukoll għal dawk il-koppji li għalkemm mhux miżżewġa huma f’relazzjoni stabbli.  Il-liġi hi ċara għax fid-definizzjoni ta’ ġenitur prospettiv (artiklu 2 tal-liġi)   titkellem fuq koppja magħmula minn żewġ persuni ta’ sess oppost.

B’mod ċar mela il-liġi tiddiskrimina kontra koppji ta’ l-istess sess u m’hemm l-ebda dubju li attakkata fuq kriterji ta’ drittijiet umani, u preċiżament fuq il-fatt li tiddiskrimina  jkollha tinbidel b’mod li d-diskriminazzjoni li hi parti intrinsika tal-liġi titneħħa.

Li titneħħa d-diskriminazzjoni mill-liġi jkun pass tajjeb. Il-kontroversja iżda m’hiex ser tisparixxi meta titneħħa d-diskriminazzjoni. Għax id-diskriminazzjoni jkollha titneħħa f’data mhux il-bogħod. Imma mbagħad ikun meħtieġ li niffaċċjaw diversi materji ta’ kontroversja relatata. Irridu nibdew naħsbu dwarhom.

 Kif għandha tkun regolata d-donazzjoni taż-żerriegħa tar-raġel jew tal-bajda tal-mara ? Direttament bejn il-partijiet konċernati b’mod li tista’ tagħti lok għal abbuż?  Permezz ta’ bank għal dan l-iskop?  Bi ħlas jew bi pjaċir?

Xi drittijiet għandu jkollhom il-ġenituri bioloġiċi? Jiena naħseb li l-ġenituri bioloġiċi għandhom jagħtu l-kunsens tagħhom qabel ma jsir it-tnissil fil-laboratorju. Mhux sempliċement jagħtu ż-żerriegħa jew il-bajda. Mhux dan biss. Għandu jkun hemm informazzjoni sħiħa dwar l-identita’ tal-persuni involuti. Mhux informazzjoni pubblika imma informazzjoni li għandha tkun magħrufa bejn il-ġenituri bioloġiċi, l-ġenituri prospettivi u eventwalment l-ulied. M’hemmx lok għal anonimita’. Id-donazzjonijiet taż-żerriegħa tar-raġel u tal-bajda tal-mara jridu jsiru b’mod trasparenti biex kull min ikun involut ikun jaf x’inhu jagħmel u b’hekk jerfa’ sewwa r-responsabbiltajiet tiegħu/tagħha. Dan hu essenzjali l-iktar in konnessjoni ma’ mard ereditarju.  Jiena konxju li dan iwassal għall-argument dwar jekk hux etiku li nagħżlu l-ġenetika tal-ulied għax fil-prattika dan hekk ifisser. Imma din hi l-konsegwenza loġika tal-IVF miftuħa għal kulħadd.  It-tnissil tal-ulied a la carté. Punt li ma jqumx direttament bejn koppji miżżewġin jew koppji f’relazzjoni stabbli.

Hemm imbagħad l-issue tas-surrogate motherhood. Jiġifieri l-ħtieġa li mara tislef jew tikri ġufha biex twelled tarbija li m’hiex tagħha għal ħtieġa ta’ ħaddieħor.  Fil-kuntest wiesa’ tal-applikazzjoni tal-IVF din hi miżura li tista’ tkun meħtiega biex mara jkollha l-ulied (li anke jkunu bioloġikament tagħha) kif ukoll jekk l-IVF tkun tapplika għal koppji tal-istess sess.

Kif għandu jkun regolat dan is-self jew il-kiri tal-ġuf?  Dan mhux sfruttament?  Imma fl-istess ħin mingħajru l-IVF ma tistax tkun verament aċċessibli għal kulħadd.

M’għandix tweġibiet għal dan kollu. F’pajjiżi oħra d-diskussjoni bdiet. S’issa f’Malta ta’ l-inqas fil-pubbliku għad ma bdietx.

L-ebda wieħed mill-partiti politiċi f’Malta għadu ma tkellem fuq dawn l-affarijiet. Għalkemm f’ Alternattiva Demokratika iddiskutejna xi ftit internament is-suġgett l-anqas AD għad ma ħadet posizzjoni. Imma ma nistgħux nibqgħu naħarbu minn dawn l-affarijiet għax l-introduzzjoni tal-IVF ser twassalna inevitabilment biex niffaċċjawhom. Ikun aħjar jekk inkunu ippreparati.

kif ippubblikat fil-blog ta’ iNews it-Tlieta 10 ta’ Settembru 2013

Greening the Constitution

Chadwick Lakes 02

Alternattiva Demokratika – The Green Party –  is in agreement that 50 years after its adoption Malta’s Constitution needs to be updated.  However such an exercise, as emphasised in AD’s 2013 electoral manifesto, should be carried out with the direct involvement of civil society. The Constitution belongs to all of us.

There are a number of issues which require careful consideration. In AD’s 2013 electoral manifesto at least fourteen such issues are identified. They vary in scope from electoral reform to widening the issues in respect of which discrimination is prohibited, by including protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. AD also proposes the introduction of a Constitutional provision in favour of a balanced budget, thereby ensuring that government is forced to discard budget deficits and consequently to control the spiralling public debt.

One very important issue is the need to entrench environmental rights and duties in the Constitution. The proposed Constitutional Convention, supported by AD, should aim at Greening the Constitution. That is, it should aim at addressing environmental rights and duties such that they are spelled out in unequivocal terms.  Environmental rights and duties should as a minimum be spelled out as clearly as property rights in the Constitution. They are worthy of protection just as the rights of individual persons.

Article 9 of the Constitution very briefly states that “The State shall safeguard the landscape and the historical and artistic patrimony of the nation.”  Further, in article 21 of the Constitution we are informed that this (and other safeguards) “shall not be enforceable in a Court” but that this (safeguard) shall be “fundamental to the governance of the country” and that it shall be the aim of the State to apply it in making laws.

It is not conducive to good governance to first declare adherence to specifc safeguards, but then specifically excluding the Courts from ensuring that such safeguards are being observed.

The strategy of announcing principles but then not providing the legislative framework for their implementation was also taken up in environmental legislation. In fact articles 3 and 4 of the 2010 Environment and Development Planning Act  announce a whole list of sound environmental principles. However  in article 5 of the same Act it is then stated that these cannot be enforced in a Court of Law!

When I had the opportunity of discussing the Environment and Development Planning Bill with Mario de Marco (then Parliamentary Secretary responsible for Tourism and the Environment) I had proposed on behalf of the Greens that the declarations  in articles 3 and 4 of the Bill should not be just guiding principles. They ought to be made enforceable by our Courts subject to the introduction of  a suitable transition. Unfortunately Dr de Marco did not take up the Greens proposal.

As things stand today, article 3 of the Environment and Development Planning Act announces very pompously that the government,  as well as every person in Malta, has the duty to protect the environment. Furthermore it is announced that we are duty bound to assist in the taking of preventive and remedial measures to protect the environment and manage resources in a sustainable manner.

Article 4 goes further:  it  states that government is responsible towards present and future generations.  It then goes on to list ten principles which should guide government in its endeavours.  Integrating environmental concerns in decisions on socio-economic and other policies is first on the list. Addressing pollution and environmental degradation through the implementation of the polluter pays principle and the precautionary principle follows immediately after.  Cooperation with other governments and entities enshrines the maxim of “think global, act local” as Malta both affects and is affected by environmental impacts wherever they occur.  The fourth guiding principle is the need to disseminate environmental information whilst the fifth one underlines the need of research as a basic requirement of sound environment policy.  The waste management hierarchy is referred to in the sixth principle followed immediately by underlining the requirement to safeguard biological diversity and combatting all forms of pollution.  Article 4 ends by emphasising that the environment is the common heritage and common concern of mankind and underlines the need to provide incentives leading to a higher level of environmental protection.

Proclaiming guiding principles in our Constitution and environmental legislation is not enough. Our Courts should be empowered in order that they are able to ensure that these principles are actually translated into concrete action.   Government should be compelled to act on the basis of Maltese legislation as otherwise it will only act on environmental issues when and if forced to by the European Union as was evidenced in the past nine years.

Greening the Constitution by extending existing environmental provisions and ensuring that they can be implemented will certainly be one of the objectives of the Greens in the forthcoming Constitutional Convention.

published in the Times of Malta 18 May 2013

Mill-Manifest Elettorali ta’ AD dwar bidliet fil-Kostituzzjoni: (11) Orientazzjoni sesswali


(11) Orientazzjoni sesswali

Il-projbizzjoni tad-diskriminazzjoni skont is-sess għandha titwessa’ biex tkopri d-diskriminazzjoni skont l-orjentazzjoni sesswali.

 (silta mill-Kapitlu Numru 6 tal-Programm Elettorali ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika)