Iż-żiemel ta’ Trojja

Il-mitoloġija Griega tgħallimna ħafna: tajjeb li kultant nagħtu ftit każ. Waħda minn dawn it-tagħlimiet  hi dwar ir-rigali: kuntant dawn ikunu rigali finta għax, xi drabi, warajhom jinħbew motivi li xejn ma jkunu sbieħ!  Tagħlima partikolari toħroġ fl-Ilijade, ir-rakkont ta’ Omeru dwar il-gwerra ta’ Trojja, rakkuntata ukoll fl-Anejadi, kapulavur tal-poeta Ruman Virgilju. 

Virgilju jagħtina l-parir biex noqgħodu attenti mill-Griegi meta dawn b’ħafna ħlewwa jiġu joffru r-rigali. L-osservazzjoni ta’  Virgilju hi referenza għaż-żiemel ta’ Trojja, żiemel tal-injam li s-suldati Griegi ħallew barra s-swar tal-Belt assedjata ta’ Trojja.

Kif nafu, moħbija f’dan iż-żiemel/rigal kien hemm suldati armati Griegi li matul il-lejl, meta fi tmiem l-assedju ta’ Trojja iddaħħal fil-belt b’ċelbrazzjoni, issarraf f’ħerba għax minnu ħargu s-suldati armati.  Dan hu t-tifsira taż-żiemel ta’ Trojja!

In-nomina xi xhur ilu ta’ George Hyzler minn Robert Abela, għan-nom tal-Gvern, biex Hyzler ikun membru tal-Qorti Ewropeja tal-Awdituri hu rigal minn dawn. Bħaż-żiemel ta’ Trojja dan kien rigal li l-Opposizzjoni kellha toqgħod attentat minnu: kien intenzjonat li jkollu effetti oħra li mal-ewwel daqqa t’għajn ma jidhrux.

Kważi kulħadd jaqbel li George Hyzler ħadem sewwa bħala Kummissarju dwar l-iStandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika. Anke l-Gvern jaqbel! Tant qabel li offrielu promozzjoni: karrotta tad-deheb li kien diffiċli li jirrifjuta. Hyzler ingħata promozzjoni biex ikun jista’ jitwarrab minn fejn kien u riżultat ta’ hekk ikun hemm xewka inqas tiġri mas-saqajn. Fil-fehma tiegħi ma hemm l-ebda mod ieħor kif tista’ tinterpreta dak li ġara.  

In-nomina ta’ Hyzler bħala membru tal-Qorti Ewropeja tal-Awdituri hi parti mill-logħba ta’ manuvri politiċi ta’ Abela. Ħafna drabi jimmanuvra b’ta’ madwaru. Permezz tan-nomina ta’ Hyzler, imma, irnexxielu jpoġġi lill-Oppożizzjoni f’posizzjoni ta’ diffikultà li Bernard Grech ma rnexxielux jinduna biha minn kmieni u allura ma rnexxielux jevita.  

L-Oppożizzjoni messa ġibdet l-attenzjoni ta’ Hyzler li kien mistenni li hu jservi t-terminu kollu li għalih inħatar bħala Kummissarju għall-Istandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika. Fiċ-ċirkustanzi politiċi tal-lum Hyzler qatt ma messu aċċetta n-nomina bħala membru tal-Qorti Ewropeja tal-Awdituri. L-iskop tan-nomina messu kien ċar anke għal min għadu jibda fil-politika! Sfortunatament donnu li kulħadd induna x’kien qed jiġri, ħlief l-Opposizzjoni.

Dan hu l-kuntest għad-dibattitu parlamentari kurrenti dwar l-emendi proposti għall-liġi dwar l-iStandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika.

Uffiċjalment l-emendi proposti kellhom l-iskop li jħollu l-problema f’każ li ż-żewġ terzi ma jintlaħqux (anti-deadlock mechanism). Meta ż-żewġ terzi meħtieġa biex jinħatar il-Kummissarju għall-Istandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika ma jintlaħqux f’żewġ votazzjonijiet konsekuttivi,  b’ġimgħa bejniethom, hu propost li minn hemm il-quddiem tkun meħtieġa  maġġoranza sempliċi biss biex tkun approvata l-ħatra.

L-emendi proposti qed ifittxu li jeliminaw oġġettiv ewlieni tal-liġi eżistenti. Dan hu li, għalkemm il-Kummissarju tal-Istandards fil-Hajja Pubblika hu approvat mill-Parlament, hu għandu jgawdi ukoll il-fiduċja tal-Opposizzjoni.  (Jeżistu liġijiet oħra li jipprovdu posizzjoni ċentrali garantita għall-Opposizzjoni: fost dawn hemm il-Presidenza tal-Kumitat Parlamentari dwar il-Kontijiet Pubbliċi kif ukoll ir-rwol ta’ Deputat Speaker.)

Li l-persuna nominata tkun persuna ta’ integrità bħalma hu Joe Azzopardi l-Prim Imħallef Emeritu, mhux biżżejjed. Il-fatt li mhux aċċettabbli għall-Opposizzjoni hu minnu innifsu raġuni suffiċjenti u valida biex ma jkunx addattat għall-ħatra, sakemm hemm raġuni valida għal din l-opposizzjoni.  Ma hemmx ħtieġa li jkun nominat mill-Opposizzjoni, imma għandu jkun persuna aċċettabbli għaliha.

Il-Gvern qal li Bernard Grech l-ewwel qabel man-nomina u mbagħad bidel fehemtu. Anke kieku dan kien minnu, dan hu irrelevanti, għax il-persuna nominata għandha tkun aċċettabbli għall-Opposizzjoni kollha u mhux biss għall-Kap tal-Opposizzjoni. Il-Grupp Parlamentari għandu kull dritt li ma jaqbilx mal-Kap tiegħu kull meta jħoss il-ħtieġa għal dan. F’partiti politiċi demokratiċi, din mhiex xi ħaġa rari li issir.

L-iskop kollu li l-ħatra tikseb l-approvazzjoni ta’ żewġ terzi hu li jinħoloq l-iktar kunsens wiesa’ possibli meta jinħatar Kummissarju għall-iStandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika. Li titneħħa din il-ħtieġa għall-kunsens iwassal biex ikun imminat il-proċess kollu.

Riżultat tal-ħtieġa ta’ żewġ terzi biex tkun approvata l-ħatra, l-Opposizzjoni m’għandiex biss is-saħħa li tkun determinanti fid-deċiżjoni: għandha ukoll l-obbligu li taġixxi b’mod responsabbli. Jiġifieri għandha l-obbligu li iġgib il-quddiem raġunijiet validi biex issostni l-posizzjoni tagħha.  Anke l-Opposizzjoni hi soġġetta għall-kontabilità.

Id-dibattitu parlamentari sadanittant qed idur mal-lewża. L-Gvern irid jikkontrolla l-proċess kollu waħdu. Dan minkejja li diġa fil-prattika jikkontrolla d-deċiżjoni finali dwar kull investigazzjoni: kemm riżultat tal-maġġoranza parlamentari kif ukoll in vista tal-komposizzjoni tal-Kumitat Parlamentari dwar l-iStandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika. Il-Partit Laburista fil-Gvern  donnu ddeċieda li m’għadux essenzjali li min jinħatar tkun persuna aċċettabbli għall-Opposizzjoni Parlamentari. Il-ħtieġa li jkun hemm kunsens qiegħed jitwarrab. Dan jimmina  l-integrità tal-proċess kollu li bih huma regolati l-iStandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika.  L-Opposizzjoni, s’issa, għadha ma spjegatx  il-għala qed topponi n-nomina tal-ħatra tal-Prim Imħallef Emeritu Joe Azzopardi. Għandha obbligu politiku li dan tagħmlu.

Kemm il-Partit Laburista kif ukoll il-PN ħadu posizzjoni intransiġenti: jew kif ngħid jien, inkella insa kollox, qed jgħidu. Flimkien qed iżarmaw dak li ħa ħafna żmien biex inbena.

Dan hu li kapaċi tagħtina sistema Parlamentari ta’ żewġ partiti!

ippubblikat fuq Illum: 22 ta’ Jannar 2023

The Trojan gift

photo:The Procession of the Trojan horse into Troy: Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo(1727-1804)

Greek mythology conveys a multitude of lessons which we could do well to ponder on. One of them refers to gifts that mask a hidden, and generally destructive, agenda. One such lesson results from the account of the Trojan war in Homer’s Iliad and its retelling in Virgil’s masterpiece Aeneid.

Virgil advises us that we should beware of Greeks bearing gifts. Virgil’s observation is with reference to the “gift” of a wooden horse left by the Greek warriors outside the walls of the besieged city of Troy! As we know the actual hidden element attached to the Greek gift was the armed soldiers hidden within the wooden horse!

The Trojan horse was pulled within the city of Troy as part of the celebrations for the lifting of the city’s siege. When the celebrations had subsided, during the night, out came the surprise from within the wooden horse, armed Greek soldiers which devastated the city. This is the proverbial Trojan horse!

The nomination by Robert Abela of George Hyzler some months ago as a member of the European Court of Auditors is precisely one such gift of the Labour leader to the Opposition.

Most would agree that George Hyzler performed well as Commissioner for Standards in Public Life. Even government shares this view. As a result, it has gone out of its way to offer him a gilded carrot which he could not easily refuse. Hyzler was kicked upstairs as a result of his performance. In my opinion there is no other realistic way of interpreting the nomination.

Hyzler’s nomination to the European Court of Auditors is part of the Abela chess game of political manoeuvring. Generally, he moves about Labour pawns along the political chessboard. Through Hyzler’s nomination he has also succeeded in placing the Opposition in an awkward corner which, so far, Bernard Grech has proved to be incapable of avoiding.

The Opposition should have advised Hyzler that he ought to serve his full term as Commissioner for Standards in Public Life. Given the prevailing political circumstances, Hyzler should have never accepted the nomination to the European Court of Auditors. Its Trojan purpose should have been clear enough even to the most junior of political novices. Unfortunately, everyone was aware of this except, apparently, the Opposition, which was once more outmanoeuvred by Labour.

This is the essential and basic background to the current parliamentary debate on the proposed amendments to the legislation relative to the regulation of Standards in Public Life.

Officially the proposed amendments seek to introduce an anti-deadlock mechanism. Whenever the two-thirds majority required to approve the appointment of a Standards in Public Life Commissioner is not attained in two consecutive ballots, a week apart, it is being proposed that thereafter, the required threshold would be reduced to that of a simple majority.

The proposed amendments seek to eliminate a basic objective of the existing legislation, this being that the Standards Commissioner, though approved by Parliament, must enjoy the confidence of the Parliamentary Opposition. (Our laws provide other instances where the Opposition is guaranteed a central role: the Chairmanship of the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee and the role of Deputy Speaker come to mind.)

Having a nominee of integrity, such as former Chief Justice Joseph Azzopardi, is not sufficient. The fact that he is not acceptable to the Opposition is in itself a sufficient (and valid) reason justifying his non-suitability to the post, provided a valid reason for such an objection exists. It is not required that the person be an Opposition nominee: he or she should however be a person whom the Opposition accepts.

The point made by government that Bernard Grech first accepted the nomination and then changed his view, even if correct, is irrelevant, as the proposed candidate needs to be acceptable to the Opposition as a whole and not just to its Leader. His Parliamentary Group is within its rights in over-ruling him whenever it considers that this is necessary. This is not a rare occurrence in democratic political parties!

The whole purpose of the two-thirds requirement is to have as wide a consensus as possible when appointing a Commissioner for Standards in Public Life. Removal of the broad consensus requirement undermines the whole process.

As a result of the two-thirds requirement the Opposition does not just have a major determining say: it also has the duty to act in a responsible manner. It must as a consequence have valid reasons justifying its decision. Even the Opposition is accountable.

The parliamentary debate is currently going round in circles. Government wants to control the whole process on its own. It already enjoys the final say on deciding on each and every investigation, through its parliamentary majority as well as a direct result of the composition of the parliamentary committee on Standards in Public Life. Labour has apparently decided that it is no longer essential to ensure that the eventual appointee is acceptable to the Parliamentary Opposition. It has decided to discard the consensus requirement. This will undermine the integrity of the oversight required on the regulation of Standards in Public Life. The Opposition, has, so far, not explained why it is opposing the nomination of former Chief Justice Joseph Azzopardi.

Both Labour and the PN have taken an intransigent position: my way or no way. Together they are demolishing what has been slowly developed over the years. This is what a two party system is capable of producing!

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday: 22 January 2023

Nomina tal-Prim Imħallef Emeritu Joseph Azzopardi

Lil Joseph Azzopardi, Prim Imħallef Emeritu, ilni nafu madwar 40 sena. Meta konna ferm iżgħar, it-tnejn li aħna, kellna l-opportunità li naħdmu flimkien. Kien żmien fejn il-polarizzazzjoni fil-pajjiż kienet akuta ħafna iktar milli hi illum. Anke dakinnhar, Joseph Azzopardi kien persuna valida, moderata u, fil-fehma tiegħi persuna li ma titmexxiex minn imneħirha.

Triqatna m’għadhomx jiltaqgħu daqstant. Is-sitwazzjoni imma, illum, ma naħsibx li hi differenti avolja ilni ftit mhux ħażin ma nitkellem miegħu. Joseph Azzopardi għadu l-istess bniedem li naf jien.

Bħalissa Joseph Azzopardi qiegħed fiċ-ċentru ta’ maltempata politika dwar il-ħatra ta’ Kummissarju għall-Istandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika. Il-PN qed jopponi l-ħatra tiegħu. Naħseb li l-PN qed jagħmel ġudizzju politiku żbaljat.

Il-Gvern min-naħa l-oħra qed jinsisti fuq il-ħatra ta’ Azzopardi u ser jibdel ir-regoli biex tgħaddi tiegħu.

Il-Gvern qed jagħżel triq perikoluża. Tajjeb li niftakru li l-obbligu li jinkiseb l-appoġġ ta’ żewġ terzi qiegħed hemm bi skop: biex min jinħatar f’post daqshekk sensittiv ikollu appoġġ wiesa’. Biex ikun hemm fiduċja. Dan kollu issa ser jintrema l-baħar.

It-tnejn li huma (PN u PL) qed jagħmlu żball madornali. Il-PN għax mhux qed ikun sensittiv biżżejjed u qiegħed joġġezzjona mingħajr raġuni suffiċjenti. Il-PL min naħa l-oħra qed jarmi l-avvanzi li saru biex ikun hemm fiduċja fl-istituzzjonijiet.

Ir-riżultat finali ser ikun wieħed li jagħmel il-ħsara lill-kulħadd, imma l-iktar lill-pajjiż.

It-tnejn li huma qed jagħtu messaġġ wieħed: li l-istituzzjonijiet, għalihom huma importanti jekk jaħsbu li jistgħu jkun imxaqilbha lejhom. It-tnejn li huma qieshom tfal żgħar li jekk ma tgħaddix tagħhom jagħmlu xenata biex jimpressjonaw. 

Kien hemm kummenti fil-media li Azzopardi, jekk jinħatar, ikun pupazz. Dan hu insult intenzjonat biex ikun skreditat Azzopardi. Hu ħażin li d-dibattitu politiku jsir b’dan il-mod. Dan ser iwassal biex infarrku il-ftit li għad baqa’!

It-triq il-quddiem mhiex faċli. Għal darba’oħra min joffri s-servizz tiegħu ser jispiċċa ikkalpestat u immaqdar għalxejn. Issa meta jmut jgħidu kemm kien raġel sew u forsi jinnominawħ unanimament għal Ġieħ ir-Repubblika ukoll!

Dan il-pajjiż qed jitkisser biċċa biċċa. Qed ikissruh il-PN u PL flimkien.

Qatt ma kien ċar daqshekk li flimkien kollox hu possibli.

Il-ħrafa tal-Isqof

Id-dibattitu dwar l-abort, kif mistenni hu wieħed qalil. Hu ħafna emottiv.

Imma minkejja dak kollu li qiegħed jingħad hemm sinjal żgħir ta’ qbil.

Il-parti l-kbira ta’ dawk li jgħidu li ma jaqblux mal-abort, jgħidu ukoll li jagħmlu eċċezzjoni waħda biss: meta l-ħajja tal-mara tqila tkun fil-periklu. Dawn ukoll, minkejja, dak li jgħidu,  qed jaċċettaw l-argument baziku tad-diskussjoni dwar l-abbozz ta’ liġi. Ċjoé li l-abort għandu jkun aċċettabbbli biss f’ċirkustanzi straordinarji. Dan hu tajjeb. Pass kbir il-quddiem. Jidher li b’hekk hemm qbil ma’ waħda mir-ragunijiet bażiċi għall-abbozz ta’ liġi: f’kaz li l-ħajja tal-mara tqila tkun fil-periklu. Irrispettivament minn dak kollu li qed jgħidu, dan hu abort ukoll. Imma hu aċċettabbli għax hu ġustifikabbli b’raġuni validissima.

Għad jonqos li jkun hemm qbil dwar meta jkun hemm periklu gravi għas-saħħa. 

Sfortunatament, id-dibattitu, kif jiġri ħafna drabi f’dawn iċ-ċirkustanzi, fih sfruttament tan-nuqqas ta’ informazzjoni u element qawwi ta’ misinformazzjoni. Fuq quddiem nett f’dan kollu hemm il-PN u l- Knisja li b’mod retoriku u f’sintonija qed jagħmlu użu mill-arma tal-biża’, bla ebda skruplu, flimkien ma doża qawwija ta’ miżinformazzjoni.

Hemm il-biża’ li l-proposta tal-lum tista’, fil-futur, tiżviluppa f’abort on demand. Din, iżda, mhiex il-proposta li hemm fuq il-mejda. Imma, minkejja dan, bi żlejaltà lejn l-opinjoni pubblika, l-PN u l-Knisja, f’sintonija, għaddejjin b’kampanja ta’ miżinformazzjoni dwar dan. Dak li jfissru l-ħrejjef dwar l-biċċerija! Ħrafa li ġiet imlissna minn wieħed mill-isqfijiet.

Il-proposta tal-Gvern għad tista’ tkun imtejba. Iridu jingħalqu t-toqob għall-abbuż. Dwar dan diġa ktibt u tkellimt. Ikun għaqli li l-ebda professjonist mediku ma jieħu deċiżjoni waħdu. Irid ikun ċar li dak li l-emenda mressqa trid twettaq hu li toffri soluzzjoni u empatija għall-każijiet ġenwini fejn il-ħajja tkun fil-periklu inkella fejn l-istat ta’ saħħa tal-mara tqila jkun tant gravi li dan jista’ jwassal għall-periklu għal ħajjitha.

Mhux kull kaz ta’ saħħa (inkluża s-saħħa mentali) jwassal għall-periklu għall-ħajja, iktar u iktar illum bl-avvanzi fil-mediċina. Imma fejn dan ikun il-kaz, anke jekk ikun kaz rari ħafna, għandu jkun possibli li t-tobba jagixxu bla biża’ imma dejjem b’responsabbiltà. Għalhekk l-abbozz ta’ liġi huwa meħtieġ. Għalhekk il-ħtieġa li naġixxu.

Il-fundamentaliżmu dejjem ixekkel id-diskussjoni matura. Jagħmel il-ħsara. Ħsara kbira. Fil-passat xekkel id-diskussjoni dwar id-divorzju, dwar id-drittijiet LGTBIQ u dwar l-IVF. Dejjem l-istess nies issib fuq quddiem, jostakolaw diskussjoni matura. Nieqfulhom kif sal-lum għamilna dejjem b’suċċess.

Supporting Bill 28

The amendment to the Criminal Code forming part of Bill 28 which Parliament started discussing on Monday 28 November codifies the existing practice at the state hospital. It defines the necessary legal framework for therapeutic abortion. It does not introduce the practice of therapeutic abortion: this has been the practice for quite some time.

The Bill avoids use of the term “abortion”, using instead the term “termination of a pregnancy”, which as we are all aware has exactly the same meaning!

Legislation to date relative to therapeutic abortion is not clear at this point in time. On this basis ADPD-The Green Party was the only political party which tackled the matter during the March 2022 electoral campaign, including a whole section on sexual health and reproductive rights in the electoral manifesto. We went much further than that, emphasising the need for the decriminalisation of abortion too.

The Labour Party in Government, which has been practically silent on the matter during the electoral campaign, has now decided to act, taking a minimalist approach. It has limited itself to ensuring that current practice is protected at law. While this is definitely not enough it is a welcome first step and deserves our full support, even though there is still room for improvement in the proposed text of the proposal.

The Labour Party is right in saying that it is not introducing abortion through Bill 28: therapeutic abortion has been here and practised for some time even in the state hospital. Consequently, the approval of Bill 28 as presented will, in practice, not change anything, it will merely recognise the current state of affairs. As a result, it will give peace of mind to medical practitioners in state hospitals as their current modus operandi would be clearly spelt out in the law, as it should be.

In a sense the current fierce and at times emotional debate on abortion is much ado about nothing. It has however resulted in the local conservative forces speaking from the same hymn book. The opposition to the Bill is primarily twofold. On one hand there is the PN official stand which, together with Archbishop Scicluna has adopted the position paper published by a group of academics. In practice they seek to limit permissible medical interventions to cases of a threat to the life of the pregnant woman, eliminating health issues as justification. On the other hand, exponents of the fundamentalist Christian right, including a minority in the PN rank and file oppose the Bill in principle.

Put simply, the debate identifies three different proposals. The first, proposed by the Labour government in Bill 28, enshrines in law the current practice and places the onus on the medical profession to decide each case on its own merits. The second, supported by the PN opposition and the Church hierarchy seeks to substantially limit the discretion of the medical profession in Bill 28 primarily by eliminating health and mental health considerations. The third position brought forward by the fundamentalist Christian faction is in total opposition to all that is being proposed.

During the Parliamentary debate held this week I took note of the various positive contributions, in particular those of Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne, Parliamentary Secretary Rebecca Buttigieg and Opposition spokespersons Joe Giglio and Mario Demarco. Of particular note, in my view, is Fearne’s reference to the hospital’s standard operating procedures. It is being emphasised that these procedures do in fact address important aspects of the criticism aired during the debate, in particular that decisions taken by the medical profession relative to therapeutic abortion procedures should be taken by two or more professionals in order to ensure that no professional shoulders the decision alone. This, I understand is already standard practice!

There is always room for improvement in the proposed text of the Bill as indicated in the level-headed approach of Joe Giglio during the Parliamentary debate on Wednesday. As I emphasised in my article last week it would have been much better if Government had embarked on an exercise of public consultation before presenting the Bill. There would definitely have been more time to listen to and digest the different views. A valid point which was also emphasised by Mario Demarco.

In this scenario, even though viewing it as just a first step, which can be improved: without any shadow of doubt, ADPD supports the proposal put forward by Bill 28 in principle.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday: 4 December 2022

It-taħwida l-kbira dwar l-abort

Id-diskussjoni li qed tiżviluppa dwar l-abort hi taħwida waħda kbira. Taħwida li sfortunatament qed jikkontribwixxu għaliha kemm il-Knisja kif ukoll il-Partit Nazzjonalista.

L-abbozz ta’ liġi li ressaq il-Gvern hu dwar kif u meta, b’mod eċċeżżjonali, jista’ jkun hemm intervent mediku biex tintemm tqala. It-tmiem ta’ tqala hu definittivament abort: imma l-proposta hi dwar il-każijiet eċċezzjonali meta dan jista’ jsir u mhux kif qed jiġi kontinwament implikat b’mod malizzjuz.

Fir-realtà, anke dawk li qed jippontifikaw kontra l-abort qed jaċċettaw li hemm ċirkustanzi fejn dan hu permissibli. Id-dibattitu rejali għalhekk hu dwar liema huma dawn iċ-ċirkustanzi eċċezzjonali li fihom abort hu ġustifikat.

Il-Gvern qed jargumenta li apparti meta l-ħajja tal-mara tqila tkun fil-periklu jista’ jkun meħtieġ intervent meta is-saħħa tal-mara tqila tkun fil-periklu: is-saħħa hi ikkunsidrata fit-totalità tagħha jiġifieri tinkludi ukoll is-saħħa mentali. Dan hu tajjeb.

Ir-raġuni għall-inklużjoni fil-proposta tal-Gvern tad-deterjorament tas-saħħa tal-mara tqila bħala raġuni għat-tmiem ta’ tqala hi li m’għandekx toqgħod tistenna sakemm is-saħħa tkun ideterjorat tant li dan iwassal biex tpoġġi anke l-ħajja tal-mara f’periklu.

Il-kontro-argument għal dan kollu hu li dan jista’ jwassal għal abbuż.  Hu argumentat li l-parametri mfassla mill-Gvern huma wisgħin wisq u jistgħu jagħtu lok għal abbuż. Irridu nirrikonoxxu li dan hu dejjem possibli li jsir anke jekk dan ma naħsibx li hu intenzjonat.

Dan kollu għandu jwassal biex niddiskutu bi ftit iktar serjetà dwar x’miżuri għandhom jittieħdu biex ikun evitat dan il-possibli abbuż.

Wieħed mill-argumenti fid-discussion paper dwar il-proposta tal-Gvern li ġiet ippubblikata minn grupp ta’ akkademiċi hu li d-deċiżjoni dwar jekk għandux isir intervent biex tintemm tqala m’għandiex tittieħed minn persuna waħda iżda minn numru ta’ speċjalisti mediċi flimkien. Din il-proposta tista’ tkun soluzzjoni biex biha jkun hemm kontroll adegwat li bih ikun assigurat li ma jkunx hemm abbuż. Proposta li fil-fatt nisslet kummenti favorevoli mid-Deputat Prim Ministru Chris Fearne huwa u jressaq il-liġi fil-Parlament nhar it-Tnejn li għaddew.

Hemm bżonn ftit iktar serjetà fid-diskussjoni. Sfortunatament din hi nieqsa bil-kbir. Il-proposta tal-Gvern hi tajba: jeħtieġ iżda li jkun assigurat li d-dettalji tagħha jassiguraw li tista’ titħaddem b’mod li ma jsirux abbużi.

Din hi id-diskussjoni reali li għandna bżonn! Sfortunatament hi nieqsa.

Is-saħħa ta’ kull vot: għodda għall-bidla

Il-vot li għandu kull wieħed minna hu b’saħħtu ħafna: ferm iktar milli naħsbu. Fis-sistema elettorali tagħna il-vot hu trasferibbli: jgħaddi mingħand kandidat għall-ieħor. Dan minħabba li aħna nagħmlu użu minn sistema ta’ preferenzi, waħda wara l-oħra. Is-sistema elettorali tagħna fil-fatt tissejjaħ single transferable vote (STV), vot singlu transferibbli.

Dan ifisser li aħna nibdew billi nagħtu l-ewwel preferenza lill-kandidat li nippreferu. Wara nkomplu nagħtu iktar preferenzi lil kandidati l-oħra. B’hekk il-vot tagħna, jekk ikun hemm waqt li ma jkunx qed jintuża mill-kandidat preferut tagħna, jkun jista’ jgħaddi fuq il-kandidat li jkollu it-tieni preferenza. Jekk ikun hemm bżonn imbagħad il-vot jibqa’ jintiret minn min ikollu preferenza iktar l-isfel ukoll. Hekk jiġri fl-elezzjonijiet kollha li jsiru f’dan il-pajjiż.

Imma mhux kulħadd jagħmel użu mill-preferenzi wara l-unu bl-istess mod. Hemm min jagħti preferenzi lil kandidati ta’ partit wieħed biss u jinjoraw lill-bqija. Hemm min jinjora anke parti mil-lista tal-partit li jappoġġa. Hi għażla li issir minn kull votant: għażla li jagħmlu bi dritt.

Hemm min, min-naħa l-oħra, ma jagħtix preferenzi lill-kandidati ta’ partit wieħed biss, iżda, wara li jagħżel il-kandidat jew kandidati preferuti tiegħu jagħżel ukoll lil dawk li jidhirlu li huma l-aħjar fost il-bqija u jagħtihom preferenza ukoll, skond kif jidhirlu li hu xieraq. Billi l-vot jgħaddi mingħand kandidat/i ta’ partit għal għand kandidat/i ta’ partit ieħor insejħulu “cross-party voting”.

Il-partiti l-kbar ma jaqblux mal-“cross-party voting” għax dan il-mod ta’ kif tivvota idgħajjef is-saħħa tagħhom. Fil-fatt huma jiskuraġixxu lil dawk li jappoġġawhom biex jevitaw il-“cross party voting”. F’kull elezzjoni l-partiti l-kbar u l-kandidati tagħhom ifesfsu u jgħidu fil-widnejn li jekk il-vot iħallat kandidati minn partiti differenti, ikun ħażin u ma jgħoddx. Jagħmlu dan biex inaqqsu t-telf possibli ta’ voti tagħhom bejn għadd u ieħor. Aħna bħala ADPD min-naħa l-oħra dejjem inkoraġġejna lill-votanti li possibilment jivvutaw u jagħtu valur lil kull kandidat li jkollhom quddiemhom. Għax hu b’dan il-mod li nistgħu bħala pajjiż ikollna l-aħjar rappresentanti.

Fil-fatt hemm numru mhux żgħir minn dawk li jivvutaw lill-ADPD li jkomplu l-vot tagħhom fuq partiti oħra. Il-persentaġġ ta’ dan ivarja minn elezzjoni għall-oħra. Ivarja anke bejn distrett u ieħor jew lokalità u oħra. Għalkemm hu persentaġġ li jvarja pero ġeneralment ikun madwar it-33 fil-mija: jiġifieri wieħed minn kull tlett votanti li jagħtu l-vot tagħhom lill-ADPD, wara, jkomplu fuq kandidati ta’ partiti oħra. Mhux l-ewwel darba, f’elezzjoni akkanita, li dawn il-voti iddeterminaw min jitla’.

Dan hu tajjeb u juri kemm hu b’saħħtu l-vot individwali. Hu mod matur kif tintuża s-saħħa tal-vot u kif ikun assigurat li l-vot jibqa’ effettiv l-iktar possibli tul il-proċess elettorali. Dan kollu għandna mhux biss nirrispettawh: fuq kollox għandna ninkuraġġuh għax jagħmel il-ġid lill-pajjiż.

Qed ngħid dan fid-dawl tal-kandidatura tiegħi għall-elezzjoni każwali li ser issir għada it-Tnejn 14 ta’ Novembru 2022 wara li Albert Buttiġieġ irreżenja mill-Kunsill Lokali ta’ San Ġiljan, in vista tal-elezzjoni tiegħu bħala Membru Parlamentari.

Nhar l-Erbgħa li għaddew tfajt in-nominazzjoni tiegħi b’rispett lejn kull votant, b’mod partikolari dawk li ma jħossuhomx ristretti dwar kif għandhom jivvutaw. Bħala partit politiku, l-partit li jiena mmexxi dejjem saħaq li l-vot hu b’saħħtu biżżejjed biex jintuża lil hinn mil-limiti artifiċjali mposti mill-partiti politiċi ewlenin. Kuntrarju għall-partiti politiċi l-oħra aħna dejjem inkoraġġejna li l-vot ma jkunx eserċitat b’mod restrittiv iżda b’mod li jagħti apprezzament lill-kandidati kollha lil hinn mill-kulur politiku li miegħu huma assoċjati.

Il-votanti li jaġixxu b’dan il-mod, li ma jħallux lil min jirrestrinġihom, jixirqilhom kull rispett għax qed jisfidaw lis-sistema li tipprova toħnoqhom. Għal din ir-raġuni ma nistax nonqos milli nikkontesta l-elezzjoni każwali, anke jekk il-possibilitajiet għalija naf li huma limitati. Li nikkontesta f’dawn iċ-ċirkustanzi hu obbligu.

Biex jagħżlu l-kandidati preferuti tagħhom, uħud mill-votanti jaqilbu l-vot tagħhom minn partit għall-ieħor skond kif jidhrilhom li hu l-aħjar. Fil-fatt, meta ġew mgħaduda l-voti fl-elezzjoni tal-2019 għall-Kunsill Lokali ta’ San Ġiljan, fit-tieni għadd tal-voti, 6.33% tal-voti miksuba mill-kandidat Albert Buttigieg kienu jkomplu fuq partiti li mhumiex il-partit li miegħu hu ikkontesta. Dan hu rifless fil-mod kif tqassmu l-voti ż-żejda li kellu Albert Buttiġieġ. Hu probabbli ħafna li dan jirrepeti ruħu anke fl-għadd waqt l-elezzjoni każwali, kif, wara kollox, jiġri diversi drabi fl-elezzjonijiet lokali u anke sa ċertu punt, f’elezzjonijiet oħra.

Kif inhuma mqassma l-voti li hemm fil-pakketti li jiffurmaw il-kwota elettorali ta’ Albert Buttiġieġ, jiena ma nafx. Ma nafx jekk hemmx biżżejjed minnhom biex jagħmlu differenza. In-numri huma żgħar ħafna, ma hemmx eluf involuti: il-kwota sħiħa fil-fatt fiha biss 390 vot. Il-kwota meħtieġa għall-elezzjoni każwali ser tkun ta’ 196 vot.

Ir-riżultat jista’ jkun determinat minn kemm hu kbir in-numru ta’ votanti li għarfu s-saħħa kbira li għandu l-vot tagħhom u għamlu użu minnha. Uħud minnhom wara li ivvutaw lill-kandidati tal-PN, il-partit li ppreżenta l-kandidatura ta’ Albert Buttiġieġ, għaddew il-preferenza tagħħom fuq kandidati ta’ partiti oħra, inkluż possibilment fuqi. Oħrajn għażlu possibilitajiet oħra dwar kif ivarjaw il-preferenzi tagħhom, jekk dehrilhom li dan kien meħtieġ.

Dan hu is-sabiħ tas-sistema elettorali tagħna li mhux dejjem napprezzaw biżżejjed. F’dan il-kuntest il-vot tagħna jsir għodda pożittiva għall-bidla.

Hu l-għarfien u r-rispett lejn dan il-proċess li minnu jgħaddu uħud mill-votanti li wassalni biex nieħu pass li ġie deskritt bħala pass politiku mhux tas-soltu: li nikkontesta elezzjoni każwali li tirriżulta minn vakanza kkawżata minn kandidat ta’ partit politku ieħor.

Irrispettivament minn xi jkun ir-riżultat, inbaxxi rasi, bħal dejjem quddiem ir-rieda tal-votant.

ippubblikat fuq Illum: Il-Ħadd 13 ta’ Novembru 2022

Our vote: a powerful instrument for change

Our vote is much more powerful than we can ever imagine. Our electoral system provides for a transferability of the votes cast through a system of preferences. Our electoral system is in fact known as the single transferable vote (STV).

This means that we cast our vote by indicating the candidate which gets our first preference by denoting the number one next to his/her name. Subsequently we continue with other consecutive preferences. As a result, if at any point our preferred candidate does not require our vote, this proceeds to being utilised by the candidate which we indicate as our second preference. If required the vote can even move on to being utilised by candidates which we would have indicated as being our additional but later preferences. This happens all the time during all the elections organised in this country.

There is no uniform way as to how voters proceed to determine their voting preferences. After identifying the first preference some limit themselves to assigning their preferences to the candidates of just one political party, ignoring the rest. Some limit themselves to a couple of names on one party list and ignore the rest.

Others, pick and choose across party lines. Hence the term “cross-party voting”. Every voter has this right: some use it, others are not even aware of its availability.

The Parliamentary parties are not enthusiastic about “cross-party voting” except when they benefit directly. They consider that it dilutes their strength. In fact, they continuously seek to discourage such a practice by spreading around the admonition, during election time, that this practice could invalidate your vote! This is done to reduce, as much as possible, voter leakage.

On the other hand, ADPD has always encouraged cross-party voting as such a practice genuinely gives value to every candidate on the ballot paper. This is the manner which can help us elect the best possible representatives wherever they are needed.

In fact, some of those who vote ADPD tend to vote across party lines habitually. The percentage of those who vote in this manner varies from one election to another. It also varies by district and locality. Around 33 per cent of ADPD voters, on average, identify preferences on the ballot paper which go beyond green candidates. At times the preferences they select have had a determining effect on the result.

This goes to show the strength and impact of each individual vote. It is the mature way to use your vote thereby ensuring that it is effective for as long as possible throughout the electoral cycle.  We should not only respect those who act in this manner: their behaviour should be encouraged as it delivers good results for all.

All this is being stated to explain why I have submitted my candidature for the casual election due tomorrow Monday 14 November 2022 as a result of Albert Buttiġieġ resigning from the St Julian’s Local Council  after being elected as a Member of Parliament.

Last Wednesday I submitted my nomination as a sign of respect towards all St Julian’s voters, and in particular those who have unchained themselves from partisan prejudice and voted accordingly.  The political party which I lead has always maintained that our vote can and should be utilised beyond the artificial limitations which the parliamentary political parties seek to impose. Contrary to the stand taken by the parliamentary parties we have always encouraged that voting is carried out in a non-restrictive manner such that it is possible to value all candidates without being hampered by their political allegiance.

Voters who act in this manner, refusing to be restricted in the manner in which they exercise their voting rights deserve to be respected. In these circumstances not contesting a casual election is not an option for me, even though I am aware that the possibilities are limited. In these circumstances contesting is a duty.

In selecting their preferred candidates some of the voters switch their vote from one political party to another. When the votes for the 2019 St Julians Local Council elections were counted, at second count stage it resulted that 6.33% of the votes obtained by candidate Albert Buttigieg had their second preference assigned to candidates of the other political parties. This is reflected in the manner in which the surplus votes of Albert Buttiġieġ were distributed. Most probably this will be repeated during the casual election counting process. In fact, it happens continuously during other elections as well.

I am not aware as to what lies in store in the sealed packets containing the electoral quota of Albert Buttiġieġ. The numbers involved are small: the full quota contains just 390 votes. The quota for the casual election will therefore be 196 votes.

The casual election result may be determined by the number of voters who decide to make full use of the power of their vote. Some have, most probably, first voted for all the PN candidates and thereafter proceeded to vote for one or more of the candidates presented by the other political parties, including yours truly.  Others will have selected other options.

This is the strength of our electoral system which is not always appreciated. In this context our vote is a tool for positive change.

We need to respect our voters, knowing what they go through to express their preferences for political change through their vote.  These voters motivate me in my political work, including in the decision to contest this casual election which has been described as an unusual political step.

Irrespective of the result I am humbled by the experience, and as always submit myself to the will of the voters.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday: 13 November 2022

Telefonata mill-Ministeru

Il-biċċa qerq dwar il-liċenzji tas-sewqan li nkixfet fil-Qorti iktar kmieni din il-ġimgħa hi inkwetanti ħafna. Dan qed ngħidu in vista tal-informazzjoni sensittiva li dwarha ingħatat biss indikazzjoni żgħira fix-xhieda li instemgħet s’issa fil-Qorti. Id-dettalji dwar dan kollu li jikkonċerna korruzzjoni fl-eżamijiet tejoretiċi dwar is-sewqan, għadhom mhux magħrufa.

S’issa ġew imħarrka tlett irġiel:  wieħed mid-Diretturi u żewġ uffiċjali ta’ Trasport Malta, li wieħed minnhom kien elett bħala kunsillier fil-Kunsill Lokali ta’ Ħaż- Żebbuġ f’isem il-Partit Laburista.  

Kien żvelat fil-Qorti li l-akkużati, waqt li kienu interrogati, iġġustifikaw l-azzjonijiet tagħhom billi emfasizzaw li kienu soġġetti għal pressjoni politika kontinwa.  L-uffiċjal anżjan fost dawk akkużati ilmenta li ħassu taħt pressjoni kbira minħabba t-telefonati kontinwi minn diversi Ministeri.

Fix-xhieda mogħtija s’issa l-pulizija żvelat li f’mobile li ġabru sabu “chats diversi ma’ persuni b’rabta ma’ partit politiku”. Ma hemm l-ebda informazzjoni uffiċjali dwar l-identità ta’ dan il-partit politiku. L-unika ħaġa li nista’ ngħid hi li dan il-partit definittivament mhux l- ADPD!

Xi ħadd li kellu aċċess għall-informazzjoni fuq il-mobile maqbud imma, fuq il-media soċjali, indirettament żvela l-għala l-pulizija hi kawta u mhux tiżvela ismijiet ta’ dawk involuti. Jidher li rrealizzaw li l-ismijiet, hekk kif ikunu żvelati jistgħu joħolqu terrimot politiku li bħalu qatt ma rajna.  Skont l-informazzjoni mhux uffiċjali li qed tiċċirkola b’mod elettroniku jidher li ġew identifikati bħala li ħadu sehem f’din il-biċċa qerq taħt investigazzjoni 4 membri attwali tal-Kabinett flimkien ma tnejn oħra li m’għadhomx fil-Kabinett.  Mid-dehra l-parti l-kbira ta’ dawk inkarigati mis-Segretarjat tal-Ministri kif ukoll numru ta’  Membri Parlamentari huma mdeffsa ukoll.

Fl-investigazzjonijiet tagħhom il-Pulizija jidher li f’uffiċċju ta’wieħed mill-akkużati sabu żewġ djarji b’informazzjoni sostanzjali li kienet tikkonsisti f’ismijiet, numri tal-karta tal-identità kif ukoll id-dati ta’ meta dawk li gawdew mill-irregolaritajiet investigati qagħdu għall-eżami tejoretiku għall-liċenzja tas-sewqan.

Wieħed mill-akkużati qed jiddefendieħ il-kelliemi tal-Opposizzjoni dwar l-Intern, l-Avukat  Dr Joe Giglio, avukat bi prattika estensiva fil-qasam tal-liġi kriminali.  Mhux etika li membri parlamentari jinvolvu ruħhom f’dawn il-każijiet. Id-difiża ta’ persuni akkużati bl-involviment fil-korruzzjoni mhiex kompatibbli mal-ħidma politika kontra l-istess korruzzjoni. Ma jistax ikun kredibbli jekk jipprova jkollu saqajh fuq iż-żewġ naħat.  Dan qed ixellef sewwa l-kredibilità politika tiegħu. Jidher li mill-kaz tal-Bank Pilatus ma’ tgħallem xejn!

Minn din l-istorja kollha  hemm żewġ punti ta’ importanza.

Għalfejn il-Pulizija joqgħodu lura milli jagħtu informazzjoni fejn ikun hemm il-politiċi involuti? Il-kliem nieqes miċ-ċarezza li intuża mill-Ispettur tal-Pulizija fil-Qorti din il-ġimgħa jwassal dan il-messaġġ. Ma jkunx ferm iktar għaqli li min qiegħed hemm biex iħares il-liġi ma jibqgħax jimxi bl-ingwanti tal-ħarir mal-membri tal-Kabinett?

Imbagħad xi ngħidu għall-irbit li għandhom il-membri parlamentari mal-professjoni jew xogħol tagħhom? Meta ser jinħallu minn dan l-irbit li jxekkilhom fil-qadi ta’ dmirijiethom? Kif propost repetutament minn ADPD fid-diversi manifesti elettorali, għandna bżonn  Parlament li mill-iktar fis ikun magħmul minn membri li jiddedikaw ħinhom kollu għall-ħidma Parlamentari. Huwa b’dan il-mod biss li l-Parlament jista’ jkun kredibbli u possibilment effettiv.

ippubblikat fuq Illum: 4 ta’ Settembru 2022

Phone call from the Ministry

The driving licence racket unveiled in Court earlier this week is extremely disturbing. This is being stated in view of the sensitive information indicated in the testimony heard so far in Court but the details of which are still under wraps. The case involves corruption in driving theory tests.

Three men have so far been arraigned: the Director for Land Transport at Transport Malta and two other Transport Malta officers one of whom is a Żebbuġ Local Councillor elected on behalf of the Labour Party.

It was revealed in Court that the accused, when interrogated, had justified their actions by emphasising that they were under constant “political” pressure. The senior among the accused complained that he felt pressured as he was getting continuous calls from various Ministries.

The police have revealed, in the testimony so far, that a mobile phone in their possession has “revealed chats with people linked to a political party”. No further official information is available as to the identity of this political party.  It is definitely not ADPD!

Someone having access to the mobile phone data has however indirectly revealed on social media the reason why the police have been cautious in revealing the names of those involved in this racket. It seems that the Police have realised that these names, once revealed, could cause a political earthquake the likes of which we have never seen. According to the unofficial information circulating online, the names of at least four current members of the Cabinet as well as two former ones have been so far identified as being possibly involved in the racket being investigated. Apparently, most of the Ministries’ Chief of Staff as well as a number of Members of Parliament may also have a finger in the pie.

Apparently in a Transport Malta office used by one of the accused, the police, during their investigations came across two diaries containing substantial information consisting of names, ID card numbers and dates when the persons benefitting from the irregularities under investigation were due to sit for their theoretical driving exams. The persons indicated were apparently “helped” in order to ensure that they were successful.

One of the accused is being defended by the shadow minister for Home Affairs, Dr Joe Giglio, a lawyer with an extensive criminal law practice. It is extremely unethical for members of parliament to involve themselves in such cases. His defence of clients accused with involvement in corruption is incompatible with his political actions against corruption in the political arena. He cannot be credible if he runs with the hares and then tries hunting with the hounds. He is severely denting his own credibility. Apparently, he has not learnt anything from his experiences as the legal advisor of Pilatus Bank.

This racket brings two basic issues to the fore.

Why are the Police (so far) withholding information on the holders of political office involved? The cryptic language used by the Police Inspector in Court this week transmits this basic message. Isn’t it about time that law enforcement does not treat the members of the Cabinet and their hangers-on with kids’ gloves?

When will all members of Parliament cut themselves free from the restraints of their professional practices or their previous employment? As ADPD has repeatedly proposed over the years, we need a full time Parliament as soon as possible.  It is only in this way that parliament can be credible and possibly effective.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday: 4 September 2022