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

Protecting the birds, reclaiming the countryside

 

turtle doves just shot

The abolition of spring hunting will lead to the protection of birds when they most need it. All birds will be protected, not just the quail and turtle dove.  Birds need our protection during the spring as it is the time of the year when they breed or are preparing to breed. Every bird which is shot during spring signifies that there will be one less nest and consequently there will be fewer birds in the following seasons.

The Birds  Directive of the European Union is an integral part of Maltese law since, and as a result of, Malta’s EU  accession in 2004. The Directive expressly states that EU Member States along migratory bird routes have a far greater responsibility regarding bird protection. This responsibility is spelled out in article 7(4) of the Directive where it is very clearly stated that : “In the case of migratory species, [member states] shall see in particular that the species to which hunting regulations apply are not hunted during their period of reproduction or during their return to their rearing grounds.” This applies to all bird migratory routes throughout EU territory without exception.

The Birds Directive is not a Directive about hunting but about the protection of birds. It does, however, recognise that circumstances may arise as a result of which it may be necessary to permit an exception, which exception is called “a derogation”. Exceptions are very well defined in article 9(1) of the Birds Directive (vide box) and these are the only circumstances in respect of which an EU member state may derogate from its obligations under the Birds Directive. It follows that whilst EU members have the authority to permit an exception, such an exception, or derogation,  must be within the three general parameters determined by the Directive. It is not a right but a tool for addressing the specific situations mentioned in the Directive. Readers will very easily notice that the permissible derogations make no reference to the killing of birds for fun – commonly referred to as “hunting”.

Member states permit thousands of derogations in their territory every year. Derogations in respect of birds that are considered agricultural pests or a potential threat to the safety of aeroplanes are the most frequent cases where derogations are permitted. I am informed that the list of these thousands of derogations all over EU territory does not contain one single case which refers to a derogation for the purpose of sports during spring. Malta is the only exception.

Being on a migratory bird route means that Malta has an international responsibility to protect all birds returning to their rearing grounds to reproduce. This return occurs annually during spring, hence the need to abolish spring hunting. It is a duty we have towards the international community in respect of all the birds migrating through Maltese airspace.

The abrogative referendum, in respect of which Malta’s Constitutional Court decided that no valid objections had been filed, will ask voters whether or not they agree with the regulations that permit a spring hunting derogation for two specific species: turtle dove and quail. These regulations are contained in the Framework for Allowing a Derogation Opening a Spring Hunting Season for Turtle Dove and Quail Regulations, originally published in 2010.

Voting NO on the 11 April  will protect  birds migrating over Malta during spring as well as restore back to the public access to the countryside at that time of the year. It will also eliminate the negative impact (through the sound of gunfire and the trampling all over the countryside) which will further help to attract and allow other breeding birds (not just quail and turtle dove) to nest in our country.

Currently, Malta’s countryside is practically inaccessible during the spring hunting season as one runs the risk of being showered with hunters’ pellets. Maltese families have very little access to the countryside when hunters are enjoying their spring derogation- and a number of them shooting at anything that flies.

This means that Maltese families and their children are being deprived of enjoying nature in all its splendour. We are all entitled to enjoy the countryside, which belongs to us all and not just to a select few. This enjoyment is currently being obstructed by the spring hunting derogation which the Parliamentary parties have been defending continuously.  It is about time that we reclaimed our right to fully enjoy nature in spring, while simultaneously allowing birds to continue breeding.

A total of 41,494 citizens signed a petition which has resulted in the abrogative referendum that will be held on 11 April 2015. This is a unique opportunity to protect the birds and help re-establish our families’ links with nature during the spring.  Let us use this opportunity well by voting NO, thereby rejecting the regulations contained in the spring hunting derogation and consigning spring hunting in Malta to the dustbin of history.

article 9. derogation

 

published in the Independent – Sunday 18 January 2015

is-Switch tal-valuri

switch2

 

Is-soċjetà tagħna m’għandiex switch li bih, meta trid, tixegħel il-valuri “tajbin” jew titfi l-valuri “ħżiena”.

Is- soċjetà tagħna qed tinbidel u dan qed tagħmlu b’rata mgħaġġla ħafna. Bir-rata mgħaġġla tat-tibdil li minnu għaddej il-pajjiż hemm min qed jinfixel. Kultant hawn ukoll min qiegħed iparla ftit iżżejjed ukoll. Dan kollu qiegħed jiġri għax il-valuri tradizzjonali huma taħt assedju u mhux kulħadd hu ippreparat għal dan it-tibdil mgħaġġel li għaddej madwarna.

Pajjiżna għaddej minn dak li hu inevitabbli, dak li minnu għaddew pajjiżi oħra snin ilu. Dħalna fl-Unjoni Ewropeja fl-2004 u ftit ftit deħlin fis-sekli għoxrin u wieħed u għoxrin.

Kien hawn min ħaseb li dak kollu li seħħ madwarna baqa’ għaddej mingħajr ma effettwana. Min ħaseb hekk għarralu. Stajna kellna dan it-tibdil mifrux fuq numru ikbar ta’ snin, imma r-resistenza politika għall-bidla tul is-snin kienet kbira.

Kull bidla li qed isseħħ tista’ tagħmel il-ġid jekk inkunu imħejjija  għaliha. Għax huwa n-nuqqas ta’ tħejjija li qed iwassal lil uħud biex jippruvaw inisslu l-biża’ b’dikjarazzjonijiet li “qed jintilfu l-valuri”. Ir-realta’ hi ferm differenti. Il-valuri qed jinbidlu u mhux jintilfu.

Għalhekk hu xieraq li jintuża iktar kliem li jħeġġeg it-tolleranza kif ukoll li nirrispettaw iktar lil xulxin. Ovvjament ma hemm l-ebda mertu li tirrispetta lil dak li taqbel miegħu. Ir-rispett, l-iktar li hu meħtieġ hu fil-konfront ta’ dawk li ma naqblux magħhom! Jeħtieġ li nifhmu li kull wieħed u waħda minna għandu l-valuri tiegħu, li jgħożżhom. Dan peró ma jagħti dritt lil ħadd li jmaqdar lil min għandu valuri differenti. Kemm jekk differenti ftit, kif ukoll jekk differenti ħafna.

Is-switch jaqta’. On jew off. Iva jew le. Għall-valuri ma nużawx switch iżda nippruvaw nifhmu u nittolleraw iktar lil xulxin.

It-tolleranza hi biss l-ewwel pass. Il-pass li jkun imiss wara t-tolleranza hi li naċċettaw lil xulxin kif aħna, bid-differenzi b’kollox.

F’soċjetà li tifhem u tagħder m’hemmx post għal switch. Hemm iżda lok biex nibnu flimkien soċjetà dejjem iktar pluralista u liberali ibbażata fuq it-tolleranza u r-rispett reċiproku.

Is-sena t-tajba lil kulħadd.

Anniversarji u Polemiċi fl-2014

Dom Mintoff + Arc M. Gonzi

Matul l-2014 Malta tfakkar diversi anniversarji. Magħhom hemm minsuġa polemiċi tal-passat, polemiċi li bil-mod għad jinħallu u jieqfu mill-jkunu sors firda.

Infakkru l-50 anniversarju tal-Indipendenza, meta Malta fl-1964 bdiet tmexxi lilha innifisha. Kienet indipendenza politika immedjata imma ekonomikament Malta kienet għadha dipendenti mill-infieq assoċjat mal-bażi militari. George Borg Olivier ħejja l-pedamenti tal-industrija tal-manufattura u beda jinkoraġixxi t-turiżmu. Wieħed mill-argumenti ewlenin fid-dibattitu politiku dwar l-Indipendenza fis-snin sittin kien dwar jekk kienx essenzjali li l-ewwel il-pajjiż ikun b’saħħtu ekonomikament u dan qabel ma jieħu rajh f’idejh. George Borg Olivier dejjem sostna li ħadd ħlief il-Maltin nfushom m’għandhom l-interess li l-pajjiż jiżviluppa ekonomija b’saħħita. Għaldaqstant għalih kienet meħtieġa l-indipendenza immedjata għax din kien iqiesha bħala ċ-ċavetta jew l-għodda essenzjali għall-iżvilupp ekonomiku. Id-differenza bejn il-Partiti ewlenin ma kienitx l-Indipendenza imma l-Kostituzzjoni.  Il-partiti ż-żgħar min-naħa l-oħra riedu t-tisħiħ ekonomiku qabel l-Indipendenza.

Diversi kienu l-issues kostituzzjonali ta’ konflitt, ewlenin fosthom is-separazzjoni bejn l-Istat u l-Knisja u ż-żwieġ ċivili.

George Borg Oliver kien jieħu l-affarijiet bil-mod, fil-waqt li l-ħidma politika tal-Perit  Mintoff kienet karatterizzata mill-għaġġla. Żewġ metodi ta’ ħidma li t-tnejn nisslu bosta diffikultajiet. Il-ħidma bil-mod ittelfek il-paċenzja għax iddum ma tara ir-riżultati. Il-ħidma mgħaġġla iżżejjed min-naħa l-oħra tnissel problemi ta’ żbalji kultant goffi kif ukoll inġustuzzji ma min jinqabad fin-nofs.

Infakkru l-40 anniversarju mit-twaqqif tar-Repubblika fl-1974 nhar it-13 ta’ Diċembru fuq proposta ta’ Mintoff bl-appoġġ tal-parti l-kbira tal-Opposizzjoni. Baqgħu jopponu l-ħolqien tar-Repubblika George Borg Olivier flimkien mal-ħames membri parlamentari ta’ madwaru. George Borg Olivier ried iżomm il-monarkija iżda l-PN fil-Parlament bi ħġaru appoġġa l-ħolqien tar-Repubblika. Fatt dan li bosta ma jagħtuhx il-piż mistħoqq.

Infakkru l-35 anniversarju tal-egħluq tal-bażi militari li seħħet nhar il-31 ta’ Marzu 1979. Dan il-jum għandu sinifikat politiku sostanzjali għax hu l-ewwel darba fl-istorja ta’ Malta li ma kienx hawn bażijiet militari ta’ pajjiżi barranin. Kienet aspirazzjoni politika ewlenija tal-Perit Mintoff, bla dubju imsejsa fuq l-osservazzjonijiet u s-sensittivitajiet ta’ tfulitu. Il-fatt li missieru ħadem għal numru ta’ snin mal-Kap Kmandant tal-Forzi Militari Ingliżi f’Malta (Lord Louis Mountbatten) ġewwa l-Berġa ta’ Kastilja bla dubju  kien element ewlieni fid-determinazzjoni tiegħu li jilħaq dan l-iskop. Għalih Malta “ħelset mill-barrani” u minn hawn ir-referenza għal Jum il-Ħelsien. Titlu li jinstema ftit bombastiku għal uħud iżda li fir-realta hu rifless tal-emozzjonijiet ta’ ġenerazzjonijiet ta’ Maltin li ġustament ħolmu li għad jasal il-jum li f’Malta ma jkunx hawn iżjed forzi militari barranin.

Infakkru l-10 anniversarju tat-tisħib tal-Malta fl-Unjoni Ewropeja. L-aħħar kapitlu f’din l-istorja riċenti ta’ ġensna. Kapitlu frisk mimli suċcessi kif ukoll affarijiet li setgħu saru aħjar. Kapitlu li għadu qiegħed jinkiteb.

Dawn l-anniversarji u l-kontroversji assoċjati magħhom inħmew matul dawn l-aħħar 50 sena. Sawru lil ġensna kif inhu illum. Bil-pożittiv, bin-negattiv u bil-preġudizzji kollha immaġinabbli.

Il-ġenerazzjoni tiegħi għexet kull wieħed minn dawn l-avvenimenti. Ma jdejjaqni l-ebda wieħed minnhom. Ma jfissirx li naqbel ma kif żvolġew. Imma kollha huma avvenimenti li huma parti integrali minn ħajti. Għexthom u naf xi jfissru.

Konxju li fil-pajjiż mhux kulħadd jaħsibha b’dan il-mod. Għad hawn min jixtieq iħassar mill-memorja kollettiva wieħed jew iktar minn dawn l-avvenimenti. Ma naħsibx li dan hu possibli. L-iżvilupp paċifiku ta’ dan il-pajjiż ikun possibli jekk ilkoll naċċettaw li pajjiżna għandu is-sura li għandu illum bħala riżultat ta’ diversi ħidmiet li għalihom ikkontribwixxa kulħadd.

Naf li mhux faċli. Imma fiduċjuż li naslu.