Thank-you Ryan; thank-you, Clayton.

I was present for both public sessions of the Planning Authority Board’s meetings to discuss the planning application for a petrol station at Salini Road Magħtab.

The first meeting, on 7 December, was attended by eight members of the Board. At the meeting on the 11 January, however, an additional five members made an effort and were present. These additional five members voted in favour of the application, but they had not followed the detailed public discussion held on 7 January, as is their duty.

At the first meeting, two of the Board members publicly indicated their intention to vote against the application but, at the second meeting, both changed their mind and decided to vote in favour. However, no public explanation was forthcoming as to what caused them to change sides.

The Planning Authority Board includes two Members of Parliament: Ryan Callus (PN) and Clayton Bartolo (PL). Both of them consider it to be desirable to have more petrol stations and both voted in favour of the Magħtab Petrol Station. Ryan Callus was clearly observed raising his hand very reluctantly to vote in favour of the development application: apparently he wanted those present to note that he was not sure of what he was doing.

More worrying was Clayton Bartolo’s behaviour. He had already publicly indicated his opposition to giving the permission for the petrol station on 7 December. However, last Thursday he switched sides and voted in favour. Obviously, he had every right to vote in whichever way he chooses, but he owes the public an explanation for his change of heart. No such explanation was forthcoming.

Of the 14 members of the Planning Authority Board, 13 are regular members and the additional member is an ad hoc member representing the Local Council of the locality involved – in this case Naxxar. Eight members of the Board were present for both meetings. Five turned up only for the second meeting. The 14th member of the Board, although present for both meetings, left the room as soon as the subject of the petrol station came up for discussion on both occasions! Clearly he did not want to participate in this latest planning farce.

This is the third new petrol station to be approved by the Planning Authority in a short period of time: approval for the Magħtab petrol station came immediately after the approval of those at Marsaskala and Burmarrad in the past weeks.

Do we need so many petrol stations?

Last September, the Prime Minister announced that government would shortly carry out a consultation exercise to determine the cut-off date beyond which all new cars purchased would have to be electric or similar vehicles. This signified one thing: that soon we will start the count-down leading to no more petrol and/or diesel cars on our roads. Bearing this policy declaration by the Prime Minister leads to one inevitable question: what do we need new petrol stations for? Each new petrol station gobbles up approximately 3,000 square metres of land.

A big thank-you to Ryan and Clayton.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday – 14 January 2018

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Tal-mistħija Onorevoli

 

Il-Bord tal-Awtorita tal-Ippjanar ftit tal-ħin ilu approva permess ta’ żvilupp għal pompa tal-petrol fil-Magħtab. Din hi l-istess applikazzjoni li xahar ilu kienu ikkonkludew li kellhom jirrifjutaw. Imma skond ir-regoli ma setgħux jieħdu deċiżjoni finali dakinnhar u aġġornaw għal-lum.

Illum l-applikazzjoni ġiet approvata. Attendew għal-laqgħa tal-Bord diversi membri li l-aħħar darba ma kienux hemm kif ukoll kien hemm min bidel l-opinjoni tiegħu. Kien hemm min l-aħħar darba ivvota kontra l-pompa tal-petrol imma illum ivvota favur!

Fost dawk li bidlu l-fehma tagħhom kien hemm il-Membru Parlamentari Laburista Clayton Bartolo li nhar is-7 ta’ Diċembru 2017 ivvota kontra l-pompa tal-petrol imma illum bidel fehmtu u ivvota favur.

Kien hemm ukoll il-Membru Parlamentari Nazzjonalista Ryan Callus li l-aħħar darba ma kienx preżenti imma illum ġie u vvota favur il-pompa tal-petrol huwa ukoll. Għaliex bidlu l-fehma tagħhom jiena ma nafx. Probabbilment li kkonvinċew ruħhom li “kellhom żball”!

Tajjeb li tiftakruha din: ir-rappreżentant tal-Partit Nazzjonalista Ryan Callus kif ukoll ir-rappreżentat tal-Partit Laburista fuq il-Bord tal-Awtorita tal-Ippjanar ivvutaw favur pompa tal-petrol oħra.

Tinsewx tgħidulhom grazzi lill-Onorevoli.

Ċaħda tal-intolleranza

Nhar il-Ħamis li għadda, flimkien ma uffiċjali oħra tal-Alternattiva Demokratika, attendejt fil-lokalità ta’ San Ġwann għal ċerimonja qasira imma simbolika li tfakkar l-40 anniversarju tal-qtil ta’ Karin Grech b’ittra bomba nhar it-28 ta’ Diċembru tal-1977. Din iċ-ċerimonja kienet organizzata mill-Partit Laburista, u ilha tkun organizzata sena wara l-oħra sa mill-1978.

Iktar kmieni matul dan l-istess xahar għamilt l-istess fil-Gudja fil-wieħed u tletin anniversarju tal-qtil ta’ Raymond Caruana, ċerimonja dakinnhar organizzata mill-Partit Nazzjonalista.

Il-parteċipazzjoni tiegħi u tal-Alternattiva Demokratika fiż-żewġ ċerimonji ta’ kommemorazzjoni ma saritx biex iżżomm xi bilanċ artifiċjali imma għax hu meħtieġ li dawn il-grajjiet infakkruhom flimkien. Possibilment ilkoll flimkien. Huwa hekk biss li jista’ jasal ċar u bl-aħjar mod il-messaġġ taċ-ċaħda tal-intolleranza. Sakemm il-Partit Laburista u l-Partit Nazzjonalista jibqgħu jagħmlu l-kommemorazzjoni għal rashom ser nibqgħu lura. Nittama li ma nistennewx wisq li nħottu l-firdiet partiġjani biex flimkien niftakru f’dawk li l-intolleranza ħasditilhom ħajjithom.

Il-weġgħa tal-familji ta’ Karin Grech u Raymond Caruana hi ferm ikbar minn weġgħa privata ikkawżata minn telfa ta’ bint jew iben, ħajja innoċenti ta’ żagħżugħ jew żagħżugħa. Hi weġgħa tal-pajjiż kollu. Hi għalhekk weġgħa tagħna lkoll. Ilkoll flimkien għandna l-obbligu li niftakru f’dak li wassal għall-qerda ta’ ħajjithom bit-tama li nagħmlu ħilitna biex ma jkunx hemm ripetizzjoni.

Hu għalhekk importanti li bil-presenza tagħna f’dawn il-kommemorazzjonijiet nagħtu xhieda taċ-ċaħda tal-intolleranza billi nħottu biċċa oħra, anke jekk żgħira, tal-ħajt li jifred dan il-pajjiż fi tribujiet ostili.

Dan hu pajjiż li kapaċi jalterna bejn mumenti ta’ solidarjetà eċċezzjonali ma mumenti ta’ ostilità bla qies. Mumenti ta’ sensittività għal dak li għaddej minnu ħaddieħor u waqtiet ta’ vjolenza bla qies. Kuntrarjament għal dak li jgħidu, din hi r-realtà tal-pajjiż. Iż-żewġ avvenimenti li kkomemorajna dan ix-xahar huma differenti fis-sens li huma frott ta’ ċirkustanzi kompletament differenti li żviluppaw fil-pajjiż fuq spazju ta’ għaxar snin bejn l-1977 u l-1987.

Il-qtil ta’ Karin Grech hu bla dubju assoċjat mat-tilwima industrijali tal-Gvern mat-tobba, liema tilwima damet tkarkar snin twal. Il-qtil ta’ Raymond Caruana min-naħa l-oħra hu frott it-tensjoni politika li żviluppat fil-pajjiż fil-bidu tas-snin tmenin u li bħala riżultat tagħha kien hawn ġgajtiet ta’ bulijiet li ppretendew li jagħmlu li jridu.

Is-similarità bejn il-każi hi l-ħasda ta’ ħajjiet innoċenti u l-fatt li l-investigazzjoni tal-Pulizija baqgħet mhux konkluża. Mhux għax il-Pulizija ma ippruvawx! Tant ippruvaw li f’kaz minnhom anke ippruvaw frameup bħalma jixhed il-kaz ta’ Pietru Pawl Busuttil.

Imma fortunatament dak hu passat, li fuqu għaddew iktar minn 30 sena! Nittama li jibqa’ passat u li niftakru fih biss biex nippruvaw nifhmu fejn wasslet l-intolleranza fostna.

Differenzi fostna ser jibqa’ jkollna. Uħud naslu biex insolvuhom imma oħrajn jibqgħu jkarkru. Irridu nagħmlu sforzi ikbar biex dawn id-differenzi ma nħalluhomx jikbru u nippruvaw insolvuhom b’metodi ċivili.

Id-differenzi fil-fehmiet jissolvew biss bid-djalogu u d-diskussjoni li għandhom ikunu u jibqgħu l-pern tal-proċess demokratiku. Il-vjolenza u azzjonijiet li jwasslu għaliha qatt ma jistgħu jitħallew jgħollu rashom.

ippubblikat f’Illum: 31 ta’ Diċembru 2017

The intolerance in our midst

 

Last Thursday, I led a number of officers of Alternattiva Demokratika-The Green Party, at a short yet symbolic ceremony in San Ġwann commemorating Karin Grech, murdered by a letter bomb 40 years ago on 28 December 1977. The ceremony was organised by the Labour Party, as it has been continuously since 1978.

Earlier in December, I participated in a similar ceremony in Gudja on the 31st anniversary of the murder of Raymond Caruana, a ceremony organised by the Nationalist Party.

Alternattiva Demokratika’s participation in these two commemorative ceremonies is not an attempt to create a fictitious balance. Rather, it is an effort to underline the wish that such activities should be owned by all political families – all of whom should participate. It is the only way to send the clear message that there is no room for intolerance in our midst. With the Nationalist Party and the Labour Party continuing to organise these yearly commemorations as party activities, there is still a long way to go. There is no room for partisanship in commemorating the victims of intolerance.

The pain inflicted on the families of Karin Grech and Raymond Caruana is much greater than that caused by the loss of a daughter or a son: it is a pain inflicted on the whole country – it is our loss, too. It is thus our collective duty to remember what led to this loss, hoping that this remembrance will lead to the possible avoidance of the same mistakes.

By being present at such commemorative events, we bear witness to a determination to avoid intolerance through the dismantling of our own Berlin wall, the demarcation line of two hostile tribes.

This country is capable of alternating between moods of solidarity without any limits and moods of extreme hostility, alternating between being extremely sensitive to the needs of others to witnessing violence of the worst kind. Contrary to what some try to portray, this is the real Malta.

The two commemorations to which I am referring are different, as they are the consequence of different circumstances which developed in Malta in the 10 years between 1977 and 1987.

Karin Grech’s murder is undoubtedly associated with the doctors’ dispute which continued over a long period. On the other hand, Raymond Caruana’s murder was the result of the political tensions that engulfed the country during the 1980s, as a result of which the groups of thugs that roamed the streets dissipated the feeling that they laid down the rules.

The similarity between the two is the loss of innocent lives and the inconclusive police investigations. The police cannot be blamed for lack of trying, because in one of the cases it was proved in Court that the Police even tried – unsuccessfully – to frame an innocent person: Pietru Pawl Busuttil.

Fortunately that is the past – more than 30 years ago. I sincerely hope that its use will be restricted to reminding us of the fruit of intolerance.

Notwithstanding our efforts, we will still have plenty of differences – some of which we will resolve but others that will remain in the pending tray for some time. Our efforts must focus on ensuring that we try to solve our differences in a civil manner.

Dialogue should be our primary tool. It is possible: it is the basis of the democratic process.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday : 31 December 2017

Madwar il-mejda aħjar

Iktar kmieni illum flimkien ma uffiċjali oħra ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika iltqajt ma’ Adrian Delia l-Kap tal-PN. Iddiskutejna l-qagħda politika attwali u l-veduti taż-żewġ partiti dwar dak liqiegħed iseħħ bħalissa.

Il-klima politika li qed tiżviluppa fil-pajjiż qed twassal għal ħsara rreparabbli għar-reputazzjoni internazzjonali tal-pajjiż u iktar minn hekk qed ikunu imminati l-istituzzjonijiet tal-pajjiż li diġa huma dgħajfa. Dan ifisser li issa, iktar minn qatt qabel, hu meħtieġ li l-partiti politiċi f’Malta jaħdmu flimkien biex insibu soluzzjonijiet li jkunu effettivi kemm immedjatament kif ukoll fit-tul.

Din kien l-ewwel laqgħa. Il-ġimgħa d-dieħla ser niltaqgħu ma’ Joseph Muscat u l-Partit Laburista.

Nittama li din l-inizjattiva żgħira ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika tkun ta’ kontribut biex iġġib lill-partiti politiċi flimkien madwar il-medja, fejn jistgħu jinstabu s-soluzzjonijiet meħtieġa fl-interess tal-pajjiż.

Id-Deputat Kummissarju Silvio Valletta jagħmel pass lura?

 

Huwa tajjeb li jkollna fiduċja fil-Korp tal-Pulizija.

Fil-Parlament il-lejla, fuq mistoqsija supplementari ta’ Simon Busuttil qam l-argument fuq jekk hux sewwa li l-uffiċjal tal-Pulizija li hu inkarigat mill-investigazzjoni kriminali dwar il-qtil ta’ Daphne Caruana Galizia qed jerfa’ din ir-responsabbilta meta hu miżżewweġ lil persuna fil-politika.

Għamel tajjeb il-Ministru Michael Farrugia li qal li għandu fiduċja fil-Korp kollu. Għamel iktar tajjeb meta qal li ma jinteressaħx il-kulur politiku la ta’ min jinvestiga u l-anqas ta’ min ikun qiegħed jiġi investigat.

Kien jagħmel ħafna tajjeb id-Deputat Kummissarju Valletta kieku ma ħax sehem f’din l-investigazzjoni.

L-aħjar mod biex nispjegalkom għaliex huwa billi nfakkarkom f’artiklu li nkiteb f’Illum sena ilu minn Albert Gauci Cunningham. L-artiklu kien jgħid dan il-kliem :

“L-ILLUM tista tiżvela li fost il-persuni li ġew avviċinati biex jokkupaw il-kariga ta’ Kummissarju tal-Pulizija kien hemm l-Assistent Kummissarju Silvio Valletta. Is-sorsi qrib il-Korp tal-Pulizija li tkellmu mal-ILLUM qalu li minkejja li Valletta kien ikkunsidrat bħala kandidat mill-aktar idoneu għall-kariga, hu rrifjuta.

Għalkemm għadu mhux ċar x’inhuma r-raġunijiet kollha għal dan ir-rifjut, dawk li tkellmu magħna qalu li waħda mir-raġunijiet ewlenin għalfejn Valletta ma xtaqx li jokkupa l-ogħla kariga fil-korp kien minħabba l-kariga politika ta’ martu, Justyne Caruana. Nies li tkellmu ma’ Valletta qalu li l-Assistent Kummissarju jħoss li l-fatt li Caruana hija Membru tal-Kabinett u persuna prominenti fil-Partit Laburista, seta’ jitfa’ wisq piż u dell fuq l-operat tiegħu kieku aċċetta li jkun fit-tmun tal-Korp.”

Mhux possibli li nkun iktar ċar minn hekk.

Sena ilu, Silvio Valletta kien ta prova li kien fizzjal ta’ stoffa. Għalfejn issa reġa pass lura?

Il-Beatu Jason Azzopardi?

Waqt laqgħa tal-kumitat Parlamentari tal-kontijiet pubbliċi illum instemgħet xhieda ta’ dak li kien d-Direttur Ġenerali tad-Dipartimenti tal-Artijiet. Dan qal li Jason Azzopardi kien jaf b’kull ma kien qiegħed jiġri dwar propjetà tal-Gvern fi Spinola li dwarha jidher li hemm it-taħwid.

Naħseb li l-proċess tal-beatifikazzjoni ta’ Jason Azzopardi ser jieħu daqqa ta’ ħarta.

Bloodshed in Bidnija

 

Daphne is dead, brutally murdered in a hamlet few people outside Malta had ever heard of before. The initial shock left us dumbstruck. Before we had gathered our thoughts, the PN had returned to its assault on the government based on allegations of sleaze, cronyism, poor governance and erosion of the rule of law.

The voice of prudence and moderation was never given a chance.

So far, nobody has a clue who killed Daphne, except her killers. The notional responsibility of every government for everything that happens in its jurisdiction has been stretched to include an assassination which most probably could not have been prevented by a democratic government tuned to perfection and a police force with every resource possible and imaginable.

We have been wounded collectively but we are being invited, coerced even, to fragment. Accusations fly, allegations are remade and attached by unfathomable logic to the awful event. Is this what we were expected to do, instantly to turn on one another? By whom?

Nobody has accused the government of having a hand in Daphne’s murder. Nobody has dared because it would be counter-productive. A government having just won a landslide victory, almost disoriented by a floored and self-harming Opposition would not invent such a nightmare for itself. So, because it is impossible to accuse the government directly, the next best thing is to accuse indirectly, to inflate notional responsibility to actual responsibility, to demand resignations that will not happen and foment an atmosphere of profound discontent.

It is an understatement to say that the reaction of the Adrian Delia’s PN to Daphne’s murder is disappointing. We had a right to expect sobriety, moderation, prudence, even a truce in the endless feud. Instead we had a scandalous populist exploitation of a crime of historic proportions.

Nobody in his right mind suspects that the Government had a hand in Daphne’s murder. Despite the very public excoriation suffered by Adrian Delia at the hands of Daphne during the PN leadership race, nobody in his right mind could suspect Adrian Delia of assassination. How about one of their henchmen unhinged? Possible – but not plausible: a political motive for the murder seems farfetched.

Something more personal involving great financial loss, perhaps imprisonment for a merciless criminal seems far more plausible. We have been thrown head first into the “what if” season and among all the “what ifs”, this seems to be the best bet.

But there is worse, far worse, to contemplate. What if Daphne’s killers simply picked her for her prominence? What if she is collateral damage in an attack on Malta? It took decades for evidence to emerge that Italy’s anni di piombo had been largely orchestrated by the CIA. The terrorists at both extremes of the Italian political spectrum never suspected that they had been so deftly manipulated into turning their country into a war zone. Today the CIA should have no interest in destabilizing Malta but the game they played could be played by others.

What if Daphne and Malta are both victims in a larger game? In this scenario, the devil in the piece has to be Russia and its geo-political interest in the Mediterranean. Profoundly humiliated by the West’s role in the Arab Spring, it has kept Assad in place in Syria against all comers at the cost of hundreds of thousands dead and millions reduced to refugee status. Did the Kremlin pick Malta and Daphne in Malta to show the EU that it could destabilize a member state? Our government may have achieved more prominence than is good for us when it supported the Russian embargo and when it refused to refuel the Russian fleet on its way to Syria. Perhaps the Russians are innocent, but this is the “what if” season and they must forgive us for not excluding them.

What is certain is that this is a time for prudence, for moderate discourse, for credible leadership. We are all called upon to avoid playing the killers’ game. Upping the ante in the wake of an event such as this is the last thing we should be doing. We should not be turning the country into a political powder keg. Only our enemies, as ruthless as Daphne’s killers, would want us to do so.

Defeated as they are, the PN owe the country responsible leadership appropriate to the grave circumstances of the moment. The government owes the country a steady hand at the helm and consideration of the long-term reforms that will give us the resilience to face an assault such as Daphne’s assassination without the fear of destabilization.

Duopoly makes us vulnerable, authentic democracy could make us less of a target of choice.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday 29 October 2017

Manuel Delia u l-faxxisti kkastrati

 

Jiena u diversi minn sħabi f’Alternattiva Demokratika morna għad-dimostrazzjoni ta’ nhar il-Ħadd. Morna mhux għax kellna fiduċja li l-organizzaturi kienu ser iżommu ma dak li qalu: jiġifieri li joqgħodu l-bogħod mill-politika tal-partiti. Morna għax l-iskop tad-dimostrazzjoni kien superjuri għal kull argument li seta jkollna fil-konfront ta’ min organizza d-dimostrazzjoni u l-inkapaċità tagħhom li jimxu sewwa.

Morna u qagħdna lura, kif xtaqu l-organizzaturi. Imma mbagħad kif mistenni l-organizzaturi ħarġu ta’ tfal għax fost il-kelliema kellhom tnejn min-nies assoċjati direttament mal-PN. Wieħed minnhom, Manuel Delia, issa qiegħed jinfexx jgħajjar lil min ma jaqbilx miegħu u qiegħed jinsulenta. Ovvjament dan jagħmlu fi spirtu tar-rispett li għandu għall-fehmiet differenti li kien hemm fi Triq ir-Repubblika l-Belt nhar il-Ħadd.

Fost il-kumplimenti tiegħu insibu dan: “Mark Camilleri, Timothy Alden, Andre Callus, Alex Vella Gera and the rest of you pseudo-intellectual auto-castrated closet fascists with 100% cotton souvenir Che t-shirts still lovingly wrapped in plastic: buzz off, won’t you?”

Din id-darba ġejna għad-dimostrazzjoni għax tajnihom il-benefiċċju tad-dubju kif ukoll għax id-difiża tal-liberta tal-espressjoni tissaporti ħafna, inkluż il-pwerilità ta’ min messu jaf aħjar. Dan għamilnieh minkejja li konna konvinti li l-organizzaturi m’humiex ta’ kelmthom.

X’nagħmlu darba oħra ma nafx. Bħalna hemm ħafna oħrajn.

Michael Briguglio: kollox bil-maqlub!

 

Fuq Lovinmalta.com il-bieraħ u l-Independent illum kien rappurtat li Michael Briguglio qal hekk:
“I joined PN as I believed in Simon Busuttil’s struggle for good governance which AD did not support.”

Michael Briguglio ried li Alternattiva Demokratika tissieħeb fl-alleanza mal-PN irrispettivament mill-konsegwenzi. Kien ilu żmien konsiderevoli jagħmel pressjoni f’dan is-sens fuq il-predeċessur tiegħi Arnold Cassola. U Arnold b’mod ġentili kien joqgħod jieħu paċenzja jisimgħu anke meta kien “jinfurmah” li kien ilu żmien jiltaqa’ waħdu “jiddiskuti” fuq din l-imbierka koalizzjoni ma’ Simon Busuttil. U anke kien ftaħar li Busuttil wegħdu bosta affarijiet (qatt ma qal x’kienu) imma hu, qal, qatt ma aċċetta xejn.

Kif għidt diversi drabi, Alternattiva Demokratika ma waslitx għal ftehim mal-PN mhux biss għax il-PN ma riedx koalizzjoni suriet in-nies, imma ukoll għax ma kienx kredibbli.

Meta ltqajna mad-delegazzjoni tal-PN ġbidnielhom l-attenzjoni għal numru ta’ inkonsistenzi serji fl-imġieba tal-PN. Inkonsistenzi li lilna f’Alternattiva Demokratika kienu jdejjquna u li dwarhom konna diġa tkellimna pubblikament diversi drabi. Għax ma tistax tipprietka l-governanza tajba u fl-istess ħin meta uħud mill-għola persuni fil-PN ikun responsabbli ta’ imġieba mhux aċċettabbli, qiesu ma ġara xejn: il-kaz ta’ Beppe Fenech Adami u l-Capital One Investment Group, Mario de Marco u l-Grupp db, Simon Busuttil u l-invoices foloz tal-grupp db u Claudio Grech li ma jiftakarx jekk qatt iltaqax ma’ George Farrugia taz-zejt. Biex ma nsemmix ukoll lil Toni Bezzina li waqt li kien qed jikteb il-policy tal-PN dwar l-ambjent (ODZ hu ODZ) applika għal villa ODZ għalih, imma l-applikazzjoni kienet fuq isem il-mara! U qiesu ma ġara xejn!

Michael Briguglio għandu kull dritt li jqies dan kollu bħala insinifikanti. Imma ma jistax imbagħad fl-istess nifs jgħid li hu favur il-governanza tajba u jkun kredibbli.

Dan il-wiċċ b’ieħor jiena ma nistax għalih.

Michael Briguglio, kollox bil-maqlub!