Next Thursday’s earthquake

earthquake

 

This will be a simulation exercise coordinated by Malta’s Civil Protection Department at 4pm next Thursday in Gozo and three hundred people will be involved.

It will be carried out with EU assistance and in conjunction with the Civil Protection Authorities in Sicily who are partners with the Maltese Civil Protection Department (CPD) in establishing a network within the region that is able to manage seismological disasters.

This exercise signals the coming of age of Malta’s CPD. It has to date delivered sterling service in the areas of fire-fighting, managing pollution and providing assistance required as a result of flooding after heavy storms. Training its staff, and subjecting them to a gruelling simulation exercise, is a gigantic step forward for the CPD. It is the first step of a long journey that is dependent on the dedication of the CPD staff  – which is unlimited – as well as the resources allocated by the state. Such resources, although limited over the years, seem to be slowly trickling down, for a change.

Developing the CPD’s ability to handle disasters will be a major challenge. For a start it will identify its capability to develop effective coordination with the Police Force, with the AFM (Armed Forces) and the health authorities as well as with local councils.

At the end of the day the CPD’s proficiency in disaster management will be measured in terms of its response time as well as the number of lives it saves in such situations. This will generally depend on the severity of the disaster with which it is faced.

This will not only translate into a general level of preparedness. It will also require focusing on the needs of the most vulnerable in our communities and in this respect the role of local councils is indispensable. Specific protocols need to be developed and tested in conjunction with local councils regarding the assistance required by children and those who are bedridded or disabled. Catering for all disabilities is an indispensible prerequisite and it requires trained personnel to which the CPD currently has no access. It is an easily identifiable deficiency which needs to be addressed forthwith.

One small example would suffice: how would the CPD personnel, the police, the AFM – or the health authorities for that matter – communicate with persons with  impaired hearing in the absence of staff able to communicate in sign language? Addressing this deficiency is required not just to ensure that Malta is adequately prepared for disaster management. It is also an everyday deficiency that every authority in Malta that offers a direct service to the population at large needs to address. With around five hundred known Maltese with impaired hearing and a number of others who may have remained below the radar, this is an issue which is manageable primarily at a local level. Yet to date it has not been adequately prioritised.

In this context, one would also need to query the level of preparedness of institutions such as Mount Carmel Hospital and id-Dar tal-Providenza. I am informed that even when it comes to fire drills in residential homes for the elderly, the results were not impressive, to put it mildly.

Prompt and effective coordination between the different authorities is crucial in ensuring disaster management. There is a need to test how the different types of equipment used by the CPD, the Police and the AFM interact. Are they compatible? The planned simulation exercise is an opportunity to identify whether, in an actual practice run, matters will work out as planned. Lessons learned in this area will have to be translated into better procurement procedures in the future to ensure smooth interaction between the CPD, the police and the Army.

This will translate into compatible communication equipment as well as adequately maintained vehicles, sea craft and aeroplanes/helicopters which can be used in difficult circumstances. Knowing that maintenance of equipment has never been our forte, this could be quite a challenge!

The simulation exercise on Gozo on 3 September will necessarily lead to a number of lessons learnt which will have to be acted upon in order that Malta’s capability in disaster management is enhanced. This is definitely a bold step in the right direction.

I look forward to the next steps which require the involvement of local authorities.

Published in The Malta Independent on Sunday – 30 August 2015

Il-flus jiġu qabel in-nies

euros floating in space

 

F’gazzetta ta’ kuljum, il-bieraħ, kien hemm storja dwar l-imwejjed fuq il-bankini, li jinħarġu hemm minn sidien ta’ restoranti jew bars biex ikollhom spazju ikbar minn fejn idawru euro.

Il-bankini tagħna, fil-parti l-kbira tagħhom m’għandhomx xi wisa’ kbira.

Uħud minn dawn is-sidien ta’ restoranti u bars għandhom il-permess biex joħorġu l-imwejjed fuq il-bankina. Tiegħu iħallsu rata għal kull mejda kuljum.

Mhux kollha jimxu mal-kundizzjonijiet ta’ dan il-permess. Min jikser il-permess bi ftit u min jiksru b’ħafna. Hemm imbagħad min jiġi jaqa’ u jqum minn kollox u minn kulħadd u jaqbad u joħrog l-imwejjed bla ma jkollu permess. Dan jaħseb li b’xi mod jirnexxielu jirranġa. U uħud minnhom qiesu jirnexxielhom jirranġaw, għax donnu dejjem tgħaddi tagħhom. Dawn dejjem il-Gvern tagħhom, tagħhom u għalihom biss. Donnu tiġihom żewġ dejjem.

Suppost li l-awtoritajiet differenti għandhom in-nies, imħallsa mit-taxxi tagħna lkoll, li xogħolhom hu li jaraw li ħadd ma jabbuża. Dawn l-inspectors suppost li jaraw li min ingħata permess biex joħroġ għaxar imwejjed ma joħroġ għoxrin. Li min kien ordnat iħalli passaġġ minnfejn jgħaddu in-nies ħallih, u li l-passaġġ li jħallu jkun wiesa’ biżżejjed. Imma l-inspectors donnhom idumu ħafna ma jindunaw. Qieshom ikunu reqdin. U meta fl-aħħar jibdew ifittxu u jduru jindunaw ukoll b’dawk li ġew jaqgħu u jqumu. U wara ftit jaqa’ s-skiet. U ħafna drabi qiesu ma ġara xejn.

Għax il-flus titkellem.

F’dan il-pajjiż malajr kulħadd jitħajjar. Jekk bar jew restorant għandu spazju wiesa’ biżżejjed quddiemu fejn jista’ joħroġ l-imwejjed, malajr jitħajjru ta’ ħdejh. Jidhrilhom li huma ukoll għandhom l-istess dritt, anke jekk dan ifisser li jkollhom jieħdu l-ispazju tal-parking inkella l-ispazju minnfejn jgħaddu in-nies.

Addio l-aċċess għas-siġġijiet bir-roti (wheelchairs). Addio d-dritt ta’ aċċess għall-ommijiet u missierijiet b’ulied żgħar.

Dan ukoll serq. Imma billi qed jinsteraq spazju pubbliku, ftit jagħtu każ.

In-nies ukoll għandhom dritt li jużaw il-bankini. Imma sfortunatment qed jiżdiedu l-każi fejn tal-imwejjed ħadu l-bankina kompletament għalihom u ħadd ma jlissen kelma.

Għax hu ċar ħafna li l-flus jiġu qabel in-nies.

Il-bankina mhux tagħna ukoll?

Times on restaurants.100815

 

Wara li qrajt l-artiklu fuq it-Times dal-għodu, iktar naħseb li tagħhom biss! Qed nirreferi għal tal-bars u r-restoranti. Uħud għandhom permess, oħrajn m’għandhomx. Fost dawk li għandhom il-permess hemm min ħa biċċa oħra. Uħud biċċa żgħira, imma oħrajn biċċa ferm ikbar!

Il-bankina qegħda hemm għan-nies: biex jimxu huma u biex jagħmlu użu minnha  pushchairs jew wheelchairs ukoll. Imma minflok numru mhux żgħir qed jingħataw għall-kummerċ.

Mhux waħda u tnejn huma l-bankini li ma tistax tgħaddi minn fuqhom għax tar-ristoranti jew bars għamluhom tagħhom.

Għall-Awtorità tat-Turiżmu w id-Dipartiment tal-Artijiet, il-kummerċ jiġi qabel in-nies.

Għax anke l-bankina hi tagħna ukoll, mhux tagħhom biss.

 

 

Id-dilemma ta’ Varist Bartolo ………… dwar Philip Rizzo

 Philip Rizzo indip

Hi ħasra li Philip Rizzo ma ħasibx ftit iktar qabel ma kiteb il-kummenti sessisti tiegħu fuq facebook.

Dwar jekk il-manager fl-ETC għamlitx sewwa li ippubblikat ritratt tagħha bil-malja, dak argument ieħor, u hu rifless fuqha iktar minn ħaġa oħra.

Il-kummenti ta’ Philip Rizzo m’humiex aċċettabbli minn Chief Executive Officer tal-ETC. L-anqas m’huma aċċettabbli jekk jiġu minn ħaddieħor, peró Rizzo għandu bżonn jifhem li jeħtieġ li jmexxi bl-eżempju. Għax kif jista’ issa jippretendi imġieba korretta bejn l-impjegati fuq il-post tax-xogħol jekk hu indika mod differenti ta’ imġieba?

Imma l-problema hi ikbar minn hekk. Għax bil-kummenti tiegħu Rizzo qed jipperikola x-xogħol utli li hu stess għamel favur il-persuni b’diżabilità, ħidma li għadu għaddej biha. Għax hi ħidma li jagħmel b’konvinzjoni mhux b’konvenjenza.

Hawn hi d-dilemma ta’ Varist Bartolo. Ikeċċieh jew ma jkeċċiehx?

Fil-miżien tal-konsiderazzjonijiet tiegħu Varist ipprefera l-benefiċċju għall-persuni b’diżabiltà milli l-korrettezza politika. M’hiex għażla faċli u mhux kulħadd kapaċi jagħmilha.

Nittama biss li l-fatt li ngħata ċans ieħor jinftiehem li dan ma sarx għal wiċċu, iżda fl-interess tal-persuni b’diżabiltà. Għax hekk biss tagħmel sens id-deċiżjoni ta’ Varist.

Il-lingwa tas-sinjali

sign_language

Meta l-Ministru tal-Finanzi kien qiegħed jaqra d-diskors tal-Budget il-ġimgħa l-oħra d-diskors tiegħu kien maqlub għal-lingwa tas-sinjali (bil-malti). L-istess id-diskors tal-Kap tal-Opposizzjoni l-bieraħ u iktar tard matul il-ġimgħa l-istess ser jiġri bit-tweġiba tal-Prim Ministru.

Tajjeb. Anzi tajjeb ħafna.

Huwa neċessarju li nifhmu li dan m’huwiex xi kapriċċ iżda neċessita. Hu pass pożittiv. Iżda huwa meħtieġ li dan ikun estiż għall-oqsma kollha tal-amministrazzjoni pubblika. Bħala minimu naħseb li hu neċessarju li jkun hemm aċċess għal-lingwa tas-sinjali f’dawk l-oqsma tal-amministrazzjoni pubblika li huma f’kuntatt dirett mal-pubbliku.

Hu neċessarju li l-Korp tal-Pulizija jkollu membri tiegħu imħarrġa biex jikkomunikaw bil-lingwa tas-sinjali għax il-pulizija f’kull ħin ikunu in kuntatt ma kull settur tal-popolazzjoni u huwa neċessarju li jkun possibli li l-pulizija tkun f’posizzjoni li tikkomunika ma kulħadd. L-istess jgħodd għad-dipartiment tal-protezzjoni ċivili, għad-dipartment tal-edukazzjoni, għad-dipartiment tas-servizzi soċjali kif ukoll għall-Kunsilli Lokali.

Mhux faċli li tħarreġ in-nies mil-lum għal għada. Dan nifhmu. Bħalma nifhem l-impenn li s-soċjetá tagħna tkun dejjem iktar inklussiva: tagħti spazju lil kulħadd, tisma’ lil kulħadd u tagħti l-opportunitá lil kulħadd biex isemma’ leħnu. Huwa proċess li jieħu ż-żmien. Imma huwa proċess li bħalma ġie emfasizzat fil-Manifest Elettorali ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika fl-aħħar elezzjoni ġenerali, jeħtieġ li jwassal biex il-lingwa tas-sinjali tkun rikonoxxuta ukoll bħala lingwa uffiċjali tal-pajjiż.

B’hekk inkunu dejjem iktar pajjiż li jinkludi lil kulħadd: jisma’ lil kulħadd u jħalli lil kulħadd isemma’ leħnu b’dik il-lingwa li jifhem u li hu kapaċi juża.

Ippubblikat fuq iNews it-Tlieta 12 ta’ Novembru 2013

sign language 2

Mill-Manifest Elettorali ta’ AD dwar bidliet fil-Kostituzzjoni : (14) Lingwa tas-sinjali

sign language

(14) Lingwa tas-sinjali

Il-lingwa tas-sinjali bil-Malti għandha tiġi rikonoxxuta mill-Gvern bħala lingwa ufficjali.

(silta mill-Kapitlu Numru 9 tal-Programm Elettorali ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika)

Snippets from AD’s electoral manifesto: (35) The Disability Pension

disabled_logo

The following extract is taken verbatim from Chapter 9 of AD’s Electoral Manifesto

The current disability pension, which amounts to 55 per cent of the minimum wage, does not suffice to meet the needs of persons with disability. This should be reviewed so as to permit a decent quality of life.

L-Estratt segwenti hu meħud kelma b’kelma mill-Kapitlu 9 tal-Manifest Elettorali ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika

Il-pensjoni tad-diżabilita’ preżenti, li tammonta għal 55 fil-mija tal-paga minima, mhix biżżejjed biex taqdi l-bżonnijiet ta’ persuni b’diżabilità. Din għandha tiġi reveduta biex tkun tista’ tippermetti kwalità ta’ ħajja diċenti.

Snippets from AD’s electoral manifesto: (22) Sign Language

sign language

The following extracts are taken verbatim from Chapter 9 of AD’s Electoral Manifesto

Every public broadcasting station also has obligations towards persons with disability. In this regard, every Maltese station should respect persons with disability in the way it speaks about them and to represent them according to a code of ethics on the subject. Every station should transmit programmes such as news broadcasts using sign language. Where possible, films and documentaries should be shown using sub-titles.

Maltese sign language should be recognised by Government as an official language. Sign language interpreters should increase. The state should ensure that sign language interpretation is main streamed in the public sector. Public procurement should always include a disability dimension.

L-Estratti segwenti huma meħuda kelma b’kelma mill-Kapitlu 9 tal-Manifest Elettorali ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika

Kull stazzjon ta’ xandir pubbliku għandu wkoll obbligi lejn persuni b’diżabilità. Għaldaqstant kull stazzjon Malti għandu jirrispetta l-persuni b’ diżabiltà bil-mod kif jitkellem dwarhom u jirrappreżentahom permezz ta’ kodici ta’ etika dwar dan is-suġġett. Kull stazzjon għandu wkoll jittrażmetti programmi bħall-aħbarijiet permezz tal-lingwa tas-sinjali. Fejn hu possibbli, films u dokumentarji għandhom jintwerew bis-sottotitli wkoll.

Il-lingwa tas-sinjali bil-Malti għandha tiġi rikonoxxuta mill-Gvern bħala lingwa ufficjali. Għandhom jiżdiedu l-interpreti tal-lingwa tas-sinjali. L-istat għandu jiżgura li l-interpretazzjoni tal-lingwa tas-sinjali tiġi inkluża bis-sħiħ fis-settur pubbliku. L-akkwist pubbliku irid dejjem ikollu dimensjoni ta’ diżabilità.

Snippets from AD’s electoral manifesto: (20) Disability

dancing01

The following extract is taken verbatim from Chapter 9 of AD’s Electoral Manifesto

The rights of persons with disability are basic human rights. AD – The Green Party believes that persons with disability have the right for inclusive education, social inclusion, employment, independent living and community participation. Persons with disability should have full access to the social, economic and cultural spheres of everyday life.

Persons with disability should not be seen as one homogenous group. There are various degrees and types of disability, from the physical to the intellectual – and such identities intersect with other identities that each individual has – such as gender, class, sexuality, age, ethnicity and religious beliefs.

No person should be denied the opportunities offered by society because of his/her physical, sensory or intellectual impairment. Therefore society should not regard persons with disability as if they were a special category depending on the charity of others. Alternattiva Demokratika supports the principles in the law on equal opportunities in various sectors and insists that they should be enforced through fines and harsher penalties against those who break the law.

L-Estratt segwenti hu mehud kelma b’kelma mill-Kapitlu 9 tal-Manifest Elettorali ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika

Id-drittijiet ta’ persuni b’diżabilità huma drittijiet umani bażiċi. AD jemmen li persuni b’diżabilità għandhom id-dritt ghall-edukazzjoni inklussiva fl-iskejjel mainstream, għall-inklużjoni soċjali, impjieg, ħajja indipendenti u parteċipazzjoni fil-komunità. Persuni b’diżabilità għandu jkollhom aċċess sħiħ għall-isferi soċjali, ekonomiċi u kulturali tal-ħajja ta’ kuljum.

Persuni b’diżabilità m’għandhomx jitqiesu bħala grupp omoġenju. Hemm diversi gradi u tipi ta’ diżabilità, minn dik fiżika sa dik intellettwali – u dawn l-identitajiet jitħalltu ma’ identitajiet oħra li kull individwu għandu – bħall-ġeneru, il-klassi, is-sesswalità, l-età, l-etniċità u t-twemmin reliġjuż.

Ebda persuna m’għandha tkun imċaħħda mill-opportunitajiet li toffri s-soċjetà minħabba l-kundizzjoni fiżika, sensorjali jew intellettwali tagħha. Għalhekk is-soċjetà m’għandhiex tħares lejn persuni b’diżabilità bħallikieku kienu xi kategorija speċjali li jiddependu fuq il-karità ta’ ħaddieħor. Alternattiva Demokratika tappoġġja l-prinċipji tal-liġi dwar l-opportunitajiet indaqs f’setturi varji, u tisħaq li dawn jiġu infurzati permezz ta’ multi u penali aktar ħorox għal min imur kontra dawn il-prinċipji.

You know where we stand

 AD_You know where we stand_300x250px

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Greens have always stood up for animal rights.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You know where we stand.

published originally in Times of Malta on January 12, 2013