Meta il-Partit Laburista ried €5 għal kull vot kull sena

five euroLabour's 5 euro proposal 

source: the price tag of democracy

Id-dibattitu fil-Parlament, f’dawn il-ġranet, dwar il-finanzjament tal-partiti politiċi hu wieħed li ilu ħafna snin biex isir. Tul is-snin kien hemm ħafna tkaxkir tas-saqajn li ippospona din id-diskussjoni.

Biżżejjed insemmu r-rapport Galdes tal-1995 li dwaru baqa’ ma sar xejn.

Il-bieraħ ġie fi tmiemu l-fażi tat-tieni qari, jiġifieri d-diskussjoni dwar il-prinċipji tal-liġi. Smajna minn kollox. Kien hemm diskorsi utli li bla dubju taw kontribut biex id-diskussjoni tkun waħda matura. Fosthom id-diskorsi ta’ Mario de Marco, Michael Falzon u Owen Bonnici.

Kien hemm ukoll bosta diskorsi li saru għall-gallarija. Ma taw l-ebda kontribut partikolari ħlief li rrepetew il-paroli li ilna nisimgħu. Bl-intenzjoni unika li jiskurjaw il-punti politiċi.

Il-liġi tipproponi limiti dwar x’donazzjonijiet jistgħu jirċievu l-partiti politiċi. Tobbliga lill-istess partiti illi jkollhom verifika tal-kotba kif ukoll tintroduċi miżuri biex il-partiti politiċi jkunu reġistrati.

Alternattiva Demokratika ilha sa mit-twaqqif tagħha fl-1989 titkellem dwar dawn il-miżuri.

Il-liġi preżentment quddiem il-Parlament hi imsejħa liġi dwar il-finanzjament tal-partiti. Iżda titkellem fuq kollox ħlief dwar il-finanzjament tal-partiti. Il-Gvern diġa ddikjara li l-finanzjament pubbliku tal-partiti politiċi mhux fuq l-aġenda għalissa. Qed jgħid li dan il-finanzjament  pubbliku jkun fuq l-aġenda iktar tard, meta tkun bdiet titħaddem din il-liġi u tkun bdiet tagħti l-frott.

Filwaqt li Alternattiva Demokratika dejjem tkellmet favur il-finanzjament tal-partiti politiċi mill-istat tajjeb li niftakru li sa Marzu 2013 anke l-Partit Laburista kien idoqq din id-diska.  Il-proposta tal-Partit Laburista qabel Marzu 2013 kienet ta’ finanzjament pubbliku ta’ €5 għal kull vot kull sena. Issa l-Partit Laburista bidel il-posizzjoni tiegħu.  Anke l-PN bidel il-posizzjoni tiegħu: sa Marzu 2013 kien kontra l-finanzjament tal-partiti politiċi mill-istat imma issa mirakolożament hu favur!

M’hemmx serjeta’ da parti kemm tal-Partit Laburista kif ukoll tal-Partit Nazzjonalista għax dawn konvenjentement jibdlu l-veduti tagħom skond jekk ikunux fil-Gvern jew fl-Opposizzjoni.

Li m’humiex jgħidu kemm il-PN kif ukoll il-PL hu li kull sena fil-budget kull wieħed miż-żewġ partiti fil-Parlament jingħataw €200,000 bejniethom. Dawn il-flus ilhom jeħduhom sa mill-1994. Għall-bidu kienu jeħduhom dwar il-ħidma politika tagħhom in konnessjoni mal-Parlament Ewropew. Iktar tard l-applikabilita’ tal-fondi ġiet imwessa’ għall-ħidma internazzjonali tal-Partiti. Dan ifissser li bejniethom il-partiti fil-Parlament s’issa ħadu €4 miljuni. Dawn ukoll huma flus mit-taxxi li dwarhom ma kellhomx diffikulta biex idaħħluhom fil-but.

Jiena ltqajt diversi drabi mal-Ministru Owen Bonnici u miegħu iddiskutejt il-liġi li qed jipproponi. F’isem Alternattiva Demokratika tajtu ukoll proposti dettaljati dwar kif il-liġi proposta tista’ tkun aħjar.  Il-liġi hi pass tajjeb il-quddiem. Imma mhiex biżżejjed. Tista’ tkun ukoll aħjar.

Ċertament li hi ħafna l-bogħod mill-€5 kull sena għal kull vot li l-Partit Laburista kien jipproponi qabel Marzu 2013.

ippubblikat ukoll fuq iNews is-Sibt 15 ta’ Novembru 2014

Garanzija biex min seraq, igawdi dak li seraq

Bajja 2.2003 GPullicino jiltaqa' mal-Assocjazzjoni

Fir-ritratt ta’ hawn fuq li hu meħud minn Il-Bajja No.2 ta’ April 2003 jidher George Pullicino, dakinnhar Segretarju Parlamentari, jippoża mal-kumitat inkarigat mill-boathouses tal-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa wara waħda mil-laqgħat fejn min seraq l-art pubblika fl-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa ingħata l-appoġġ mill-politiċi li huma eletti fil-Parlament.

Id-dibattitu fil-pajjiż dwar il-kmamar tal-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa kif ukoll (ftit inqas) dwar dawk fil-Bajja ta’ San Tumas ilu għaddej. Min hu kontra, min hu favur u min jiġi jaqa’ u jqum.

Il-każ huwa wieħed li jattakka s-soċjeta demokratika fl-egħruq tagħha. Għax il-messaġġ ċar li ilu jidwi hu li quddiem il-liġi m’aħniex kollha xorta. Fl-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa (L-Armier, Little Armier, it-Torri l-Abjad) u fil-Bajja ta’ San Tumas il-prinċipju tas-Saltna tad-Dritt (r-Rule of Law) idub u jisparixxi.

Min seraq l-art, bniha bla permess u anke seraq l-elettriku ser ikun ippremjat.

Alternattiva Demokratika biss tkellmet ċar kontra dan l-abbuż. Ftehemu kemm mal-Partit Laburista kif ukoll mal-Partit Nazzjonalista. Fil-Gvern għal 25 sena l-Partit Nazzjonalista ma rnexxilux jerfa’ subgħajh biex iġib sens ta’ ordni. Ipprova darba l-Perit Michael Falzon meta kien Ministru tal-Ippjanar u l-Kabinett bagħtu jixxejjer! Falzon riċentement kiteb fil-gazzetti li dakinnhar tgħallem li l-voti huma iktar importanti mill-prinċipji!

Waqt li l-Perit Michael Falzon ried iwaqqa’ dak li kien illegali, Ministri oħrajn ftehmu ma min b’mod sfaċċat u fid-dawl tax-xemx sfida l-liġi. Dawn dejjem irraġunaw li bl-appoġġ tal-PN u l-PL ħadd ma jista’ għalihom! Fl-aħħar jidher li ser jirnexxilhom.

Il-PN irnexxilu jipproteġihom għal 25 sena sħaħ. Fil-futur qarib il-Labour fil-Gvern jidher li ser jissiġilla din l-sfida kbira għall-liġi u l-ordni fil-pajjiż.

Messaġġ ċar li l-Labour Party ta’ Malta qed jagħti (bl-appoġġ tal-PN). Il-Labour fil-Gvern jiggarantilek li tgawdi dak li sraqt.

Il-lejla fuq Times Talk niddiskuti dan is-suġġett mal-preżentaturi Mark Micallef u Herman Grech u mistednin mill-partiti politiċi l-oħra.

lokalitajiet minn fejn joriginaw dawk li ghandhom il-boathouses f'idejhom 2010

Il-lista ta’ hawn fuq hi estratt minn Il-Bajja Nru 30 ta’ April 2010 u turi l-lokalitajiet fejn joqgħodu dawk li għandhom il-boathouses f’idejhom.

Il-marċ tal-kaċċaturi kontra d-drittijiet demokratiċi

Michael Falzon hunter

 

Għada t-Tnejn il-kaċċaturi ser jimmarċjaw il-Belt Valletta biex jippreżentaw petizzjoni lill-Parlament.

Il-petizzjoni li ser tkun ippreżentata f’isimhom mis-Segretarju Parlamentari u kaċċatur Michael Falzon titlob li jitnaqqas id-dritt tar-referendum. Il-kaċċaturi huma tal-fehma illi għandhom isiru emendi għall-liġi tar-referendum biex ikomplu jonqsu l-possibilitajiet fejn il-votanti jkunu jistgħu jsejħu referendum abrogattiv.

Il-proposta tal-kaċċaturi hi waħda li timmira li tnaqqas id-drittijiet demokratiċi fil-pajjiż. Il-kaċċaturi jidher li ma jaqblux illi jittieħdu deċiżjonijiet b’mod demokratiku billi nivvutaw dwarhom. Minflok il-kaċċaturi jippreferu li d-deċiżjonijiet jittieħdu fi kmamar magħluqin fejn deċiżjonijiet politiċi jitpartu ma voti ta’ appoġġ lil partit politiku jew ieħor. Żmien dawn it-tip ta’ konfoffi għadda.

Fejn il-Parlament wera ruħu impotenti li jieħu deċiżjonijiet importanti bħal dik dwar il-kaċca fir-rebbiegħa ma hemm l-ebda triq oħra għajr dik tar-referendum abrogattiv.

Mhiex triq faċli. Fil-fatt sal-lum hi triq li qatt ma intuzat. L-użu tagħha huwa biss f’każi eċċezzjonali fejn il-Parlament wera, tul is-snin, illi huwa impotenti.

Is-skiet tal-PN dwar l-Armier

Armier shanty town

Wara d-deċiżjoni tal-Imħallef Ellul fuq l-abbużi fl-Armier il-PN għadu sieket.

Tajjeb li nfakkru li l-abbużi tollerati minn Gvern immexxi mill-PN m’humiex biss dawk li jitkellem fuqhom l-imħallef Ellul fis-sentenza tiegħu. Hemm ħafna iżjed.

L-ex Ministru Falzon kien spjega f’artiklu miktub minnu fil-Malta Today li hu kien resssaq proposta għat-twaqqiegħ tal-bini illegali fl-Armier iżda l-Kabinett ma appoġġaħx.

Sadanittant il-PN jibqa’ sieket, konxju li hu responsabbli għall-istat attwali tal-irregolaritajiet fl-Armier.

L-inqas li nistennew hi apoloġija. Minflok għandna skiet li jtarrax. Il-politika ġdida ta’ Simon Busuttil.

Fuq dan il-blog, dwar l-istess suġġett,  ara ukoll dawn il-posts :

24 ta’ Ġunju 2008 : Il-boathouses fl-Armier.

21 ta’ Jannar 2012 : Parties in Cahoots with squatters.

17 t’Awwissu 2012 : Armier cowboys should not be rewarded.

23 t’Ottubru 2012 : Pajjiż tal-cowboys : israq u tkun ippremjat.

24 t’Ottubru 2012: Il-boathouses tal-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa : meta l-Ministru riedhom jaqgħu

2 ta’ Frar 2013 : Armier illegalities and amnesties.

Armier illegalities and amnesties

Armier shanty town

In its electoral manifesto, the Nationalist Party is proposing an amnesty relative to land use planning irregularities. It is the second amnesty in six months because, in August 2012, the Government published the rules for another amnesty: relaxed rules in respect of properties that did not follow sanitary regulations.

Existing sanitary regulations already provide the health authorities with discretionary authority when there are minor variations in the sanitary requirements of buildings. The August 2012 amnesty sought to address the gross violations of the law by addressing primarily cases where the dimensions of backyards varied by up to 33 per cent from the permissible dimensions. Now the size of backyards in properties is a requirement based on two considerations: the need for ventilation and access to natural light.

The reasons brought forward to justify this sanitary amnesty were that owners/developers were encountering difficulties to sell properties that do not conform to legal requirements.

The PN in government applied an ‘innovative’ solution: when facing difficulties, lower standards. Rules and standards are considered by the PN to be red tape and unnecessary bureaucracy, which could be dispensed with. Instead of ensuring the rule of law on such basic and elementary matters, the PN in government rewarded those who ignored the basic rules.

The PN proposal for a 2013 amnesty on land use planning irregularities is carefully worded. It says a lot and says nothing at the same time. It speaks of pre-Mepa reform (2010) and states that this amnesty will apply to irregularities in place before that date.

At the time of writing, Labour has announced its proposals on Mepa. Labour too wants an amnesty to consider the sanctioning of building irregularities.

What the PN manifesto does not say is that the Nationalist government is being consistent as it never had the political will to enforce planning regulations. The fact that pending enforcement actions have accumulated to thousands, a number pre-dating 1992, is clear testimony to this. Available data is scarce but in 2009, in reply to parliamentary question 10,537, the Prime Minister had stated that there were 7,373 pending enforcement actions. The number has since increased.

This accumulated backlog of enforcement action is proof of the incompetence of those whom the PN in government entrusted with the implementation of land use planning policy. It also spells out the achievements of a number of ministers responsible for Mepa in the past years, Lawrence Gonzi included.

Mepa needs adequate resources and a clear policy direction, which the PN in government has failed to identify and which the PL, being in cahoots with developers, is incapable of ensuring.

The Greens’ manifesto outlines a number of measures that need to be taken to bring environmental governance back on track.

Not compromising with illegalities and the political will to act heads the list. The clearest example being the commitment to demolish the shanty town at Armier. Both the PN and the PL are committed to assist the squatters at Armier who have taken over public land and illegally built over 900 boathouses on the Mellieħa peninsula.

Way back in 2003, on the eve of another election, the PN-led government had agreed to transfer to Armier Developments Limited, the squatters’ holding company, 26 hectares of public property. The agreement between the Government and the squatters’ holding company indicates a lease for 65 years against payment of €366,000 per annum.

The newsletter Mill-Bajja, published by the squatters, in October 2007 had referred to a meeting with the then Leader of the Opposition, Alfred Sant. It said that he had promised to honour an earlier agreement with the squatters, which was entered into way back in 2002. Labour’s spokesmen have, time and again, emphasised that they are in sympathy with the squatters

It is clear that both the PN and the PL openly and unashamedly support the illegalities at Armier.

The PN in government had the opportunity to tackle the issue during the past 25 years. When faced with a proposal to act, it refused. Former Minister Michael Falzon is on record (MaltaToday, February 15, 2009) as stating that he had submitted a proposal, to pull down the Armier shanty town, for Cabinet’s endorsement in the early 1990s. It was shot down.

The only way that we can get some sense in land use planning in Malta is through the election of Green MPs. The others have repeatedly proven that their quest for votes surpasses their commitments to act in the public interest.

It is indeed no coincidence that AD chairman Michael Briguglio was threatened by means of an anonymous letter received earlier this week. The threats were directly linked to AD’s commitment to act and sweep away the Armier illegalities. The status quo is under threat.

The basic message is getting through: with AD you know where we stand.

published in The Times, February 2, 2013

Il-boathouses tal-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa : meta l-Ministru riedhom jaqgħu’

 

 Michael Falzon.PN2

Fil-bidu tas-snin 90, Michael Falzon, dakinnhar Ministru responsabli għall-Awtorita’ tal-Ippjanar kien wasal għall-konklużjoni li l-boathouses tal-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa kellhom jiġu mwaqqa’. M’huwiex magħruf kif wasal għal din il-konklużjoni. Jekk hux minn rajh inkella fuq parir ta’ terzi.

Jibqa’ l-fatt li kien wasal għal din il-konklużjoni. Mar il-Kabinett. Iżda ma qabel miegħu ħadd. Il-Kabinett irrifjuta li japprova l-proposta tal-Ministru Michael Falzon.

Għal madwar 19-il sena Michael Falzon baqa’ sieket sakemm iddeċieda li jinfurmana x’ġara permezz ta’ artiklu fil-Malta Today nhar il-Ħadd 15 ta’ Frar 2009.

L-artiklu intitolat They never heard of Jason Azzopardi! Hu dan :

 

 

They never heard of Jason Azzopardi!

While on a ‘once in a lifetime’ trip in Indochina and thereabouts, Parliamentary Secretary Jason Azzopardi keeps, incredibly, coming up to my mind!
Seeing the hustle and the bustle of the thousands of people in Bangkok and Hanoi who do everything ‘al fresco’ on the city pavements, I can only conclude that they have never heard of the guy.

In these parts of the world, people not only place tables on the pavements when they have a shop nearby. They even set up their stand-alone barber stalls; knife-sharpening workshops; grocery and hardware stores; and open air restaurants complete with kitchens leaving the streets and pavements stained with the cooking oil that goes to prepare so many hot snacks. The reek of oriental frying is unmistakeable.

I am sure that Jason would have not liked it one bit and had he been in charge, he would certainly order his army of ‘anti-alfresco’ reservists to swoop down on all this activity, checking whether everything is in order and whether the size of the stall, the number of pots, kilograms of all kinds of meats and all kinds of vegetables being sold – let alone the chairs and tables and the canopies – are all according to permit.

The mayor of Bangkok would make a killing if hires Jason to do this job for him. On the other hand he might not… seeing that he wants to be re-elected when the next election is due. The mayor of Hanoi would probably be in a similar position, except that elections might not bother him so much, and the task might be easier for him.

The trouble is that if they had to carry out a Jason Azzopardi-style exercise in Bangkok, it would not remain Bangkok. It would become a ‘Malta in Southeast Asia’!

All countries and peoples have their own ways of doing things – their traditions and their culture. I realised this so many years ago when on another trip I found myself outside the Stazione Termine in Rome and, as I always do in any European train station in winter, I decided to buy some freshly roasted chestnuts from the one of the portable stalls plying food outside the station. As soon as I made my wish clear, the Italian hawker, produced a paper bag that holds the number of chestnuts that he was to supply for the indicated price and then added another two – just out of ‘respect’ to his customers of course. The fact that more than two chestnuts were later found to be rotten did not reduce the munificence of the act in any way!
Later on in the same trip, I found myself outside Zurich train station. And what did I do? I went for that bag of freshly roasted chestnuts, of course! The Swiss hawker put the paper bag he produced on the certified scales that was on his stall and filled it with chestnuts. On perceiving that he had somewhat given me some fraction of a milligram more that I had bargained for, he simply removed a large chestnut from the bag and replaced it with a smaller one! I haven’t stopped hating Swiss precision since that traumatic incident.

Whether we like it or not, Bangkok culture, Swiss culture and Maltese culture are what they are. Forcing the Maltese to behave like the Swiss will never produce the desired results, whatever the ‘carrot and stick’ methods that are employed. We will always keep acting like the Mediterranean people that we are, even more akin to Neapolitans than to Romans. Membership of the EU has not metamorphosed the Swedes into Greeks or vice-versa. Not allowing some space for the culture that pervades the mentality of the Maltese people is a silly mistake on Jason’s part, albeit one that might have long term consequences.

Acting in a way that is obviously ‘strong with the weak’ and ‘weak with the strong’ makes it even worse. How can he justify his petty persecution of canopies on public pavements while he closes both eyes to the situation in the zone of Little Armier, where people have for years broken the law with impunity by using public land to build their summer shacks, with some making a business out of the whole shenanigan. I know what I am saying as when I tried to do something about it, I was left alone to burn my fingers alone, nay my palms, arms and body. The lack of support from my then Cabinet colleagues – let alone the then backbench – was overwhelming. I could almost hear them chant: ‘Burn, Michael, burn!’

Launching a ‘hotline’, whereby people may anonymously report others for ‘illegally occupying’ public spaces, is the very culmination in Jason’s stubborn insistence to ignore our culture. As a lawyer and an MP for so many years, he should have by now realised that people in Malta ‘report’ their neighbours of wrongdoing not because of some public spiritedness but because of spite and jealousy. It is a convenient way how one ‘gets even’ with one’s neighbour. ‘Love thy neighbour as thyself’ is, perhaps, the Christian tenet that has failed most spectacularly in Malta Cattolicissima!

Jason’s report-thy-neighbour-anonymously system has probably been a runaway success. The problem is that Jason might be fooling himself by thinking that he is on a sure winner. He is in for a surprise.
A surprise so big that, I am sure, it will keep on haunting him for the rest of his life. At the last PN meeting before the general election last March, while moving around in the crowd, a middle-aged lady approached me and asked me whether I recognised her. My answer was negative. She then went on to ‘remind me’ that as Minister of Education, over 12 years earlier, I had refused to authorise leave with pay that her husband had requested. I probably had a good reason for doing so – a thought that I confirmed when I saw the look of disdain on her face. People might forget that you helped them but they never forget that you refused to do something they wanted – however correct your decision might have been.

This country refuses to be a humdrum place where everywhere runs by clockwork, whatever Jason Azzopardi says and does. Over 30 years of communist rule have not persuaded Saigon (sorry, Ho Chi Minh City) to behave like Hanoi. Five years of Jason Azzopardi will leave Malta exactly where it was.
It will never be a Switzerland in the Mediterranean!

“L-iskandlu” ta’ Marsaxlokk : il-proposta oriġinali

Diġa inkiteb ħafna dwar dan l-hekk imsejjaħ “skandlu” ta’ Marsaxlokk.

Fuq il-blog tagħha  Daphne Caruana Galizia nhar il-Ħamis 13 ta’ Settembru 2012 ippubblikat il-pjanta finali li kienet tiddetermina ż-żona ta’ żvilupp f’Marsaxlokk. Il-pjanta ippubblikata hi dik bin-numru 73 u turi l-art ta’ ulied il-Perit Mintoff b’faċċata fuq Triq iż-Żejtun bil-kulur maroon li jindika “terraced development” u quddiemu linja safra li juri li hemmhekk hi proġettata triq. Qed nirriproduċi din il-pjanta hawn fuq. L-art fiċ-ċirku aħmar hi dik tal-aħwa Mintoff.

Din il-pjanta li ġiet ippubblikata kif għidt kienet id-deċiżjoni finali li ttieħdet fl-1989.

Pero, żmien qabel, il-Gvern kien ippubblika proposta ta’ pjanta għal konsultazzjoni pubblika. F’din il-konsultazzjoni l-Gvern permezz tal-Ministru li dak iż-żmien kien responsabbli għall-ippjanar : Il-Perit Michael Falzon, kif ukoll it-Taqsima tal-Ippjanar tad-Dipartiment tax-Xogħolijiet (Public Works) stieden kummenti, osservazzjonijiet u sottomissjonijiet. Niftakar li kien possibli li jkun propost permezz ta’ formola apposta u siteplan annessa magħha li xi art li ma kienitx inkluża fil-proposti li saru ikunu ikkunsidrati.

Issa araw din il-pjanta ta’ hawn taħt. Din hi l-pjanta oriġinali dwar l-iżvilupp permissibli f’Marsaxlokk. L-art fic-cirku immarkat bl-aħmar  turi l-art propjeta ta’ ulied il-Perit Mintoff. F’din il-pjanta hu ċar li meta l-Gvern fl-1988 ippreżenta l-pjanta li turi l-iżvilupp permissibli f’Marsaxlokk l-art ta’ ulied il-Perit Mintoff kienet eskluża. Kienet eskluża għax it-tekniċi fit-Taqsima tal-Ippjanar kienu tal-fehma li din l-art ma kelliex tkun żviluppata.

Mela dan hu l-punt reali tat-tluq tad-diskussjoni. Xi ħadd wara li ħarġet din il-pjanta iddeċieda li l-art ta’ ulied il-Perit Mintoff kellha tkun żviluppata. M’huwiex xi sigriet li din id-deċiżjoni ttieħdet mill-Kumitat Magħzul tal-Parlament immexxi mill-Ministru ta’ dak iż-żmien il-Perit Michael Falzon.

X’kienu ir-raġunijiet għal din id-deċiżjoni? S’issa ħadd ma jaf.

Nistennew.

L-għażla ta’ Lawrence Gonzi

Lawrence Gonzi kellu għażla.

Fil-Parlament ġew ippreżentati żewġ mozzjonijiet.

L-ewwel mozzjoni kienet il-mozzjoni numru 260 imressqa minn Franco Debono u li kienet tittratta dwar diversi miżuri ta’ riforma u tibdil li l-istess Debono ħass li kien meħtieġ fil-qasam tal-Ġustizzja u l-Intern. Kienet mozzjoni li ġiet ippreżentata nhar it-8 ta’ Novembru 2011. Għalkemm kritika il-mozzjoni kienet essenzjalment waħda posittiva.

It-tieni mozzjoni kienet il-mozzjoni numru 280 ipreżentata mill-kelliema tal-Opposizzjoni Michael Falzon u Jose’ Herrera nhar il-5 ta’ Diċembru 2011. Kienet mozzjoni ta’ kritika u ċensura. Mozzjoni negattiva.

Lawrence Gonzi u ta’ madwaru ippreferew illi l-ewwel ipoġġu fuq l-agenda l-mozzjoni negattiva. Ippreferew li jagħżlu azzjoni negattiva flok azzjoni posittiva.

Ir-riżultat tal-lum hu l-konsegwenza. Dak li ġara illum Lawrence Gonzi ġiebu b’idejħ mgħejjun minn l-għorrief ta’ madwaru. Bil-ħsieb u bil-għaqal seta ġie evitat.

X’ser jiġri minn issa l-quddiem hu biss tiġbid. L-elezzjoni qegħda wara l-bieb.

Parties in cahoots with squatters

Earlier this month, the Malta Environment and Planning Authority’s environment and planning commission, which deals with applications outside the development zone, turned down an application by Enemalta Corporation for the construction of a substation at L-Aħrax in the limits of Mellieħa. The planning directorate itself had recommended the refusal of this application.

This substation aimed at reinforcing the supply of electricity in L-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa with Enemalta effectively posting the message that the crime of taking over public property does pay.

While Alternattiva Demokratika and seven environmental NGOs opposed this application, both the Labour Party and the Nationalist Party have not uttered one single word on Enemalta’s attempt at ensuring that the squatters are adequately supplied with electricity. Clearly, the PN and the PL think that being silent is essential in view of their commitments to purchase votes through squatters taking over public property.

The PL and the PN have not taken up the challenge spelt out by the greens to go public on their position relative to the illegal development of boathouses at L-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa, that is at Armier, Little Armier and It-Torri l-Abjad.

During the Mepa reform exercise, the Prime Minister repeatedly emphasised that “ODZ is ODZ”, meaning that no development will be authorised or permitted outside the development zone unless really necessary.

Dr Gonzi tried to convey the message that his safe pair of hands would ensure that abusive development would now grind to a halt. Yet, on the eve of the 2008 general election, Dr Gonzi participated in secret meetings with the illegal boathouse lobby which considers that its members have some god-given right over the public land that they have taken hold of. The result of those meetings was a PN commitment to protect illegal development carried out before 1992 on public land.

At stake are 230 tumoli of land (26 hectares), which, since way back in 2003, on the eve of another election, the PN-led government had agreed to transfer to the squatters’ holding company, Armier Developments Limited. The agreement between the government and the squatters’ holding company indicates a lease for 65 years against payment of €366,000 per annum. To date, this agreement has not been submitted for Parliament’s approval in terms of the Disposal of Government Land Act.

The squatters also expected the PL to protect their illegal constructions, which agreement was forthcoming. The newsletter Il-Bajja, published by the squatters, in October 2007 had referred to a meeting with the then Leader of the Opposition, Alfred Sant. It said that he had promised to honour an earlier agreement with the squatters, which was entered into way back in 2002.

As far as is known, Joseph Muscat has not repudiated Labour’s agreement with the squatters.

During this legislature, Minister Jason Azzopardi has embarked on a crusade of evicting squatters from public property including clearing squares and pavements of encroachments by restaurants and open air cafés. His staff members were meticulous in ensuring that an extra chair or table not covered by a permit was removed forthwith.

While noting and acting on the odd chair or table, Dr Azzopardi has turned the Nelson’s eye to the large-scale use of public land by the squatters at L-Aħrax tal-Mellieha. In so doing, he has applied the policy of being strong with the weak and weak with the strong.

Former Minister Michael Falzon wrote in an article entitled They Never Heard Of Jason Azzopardi (Malta Today, February 15, 2009) that he (Mr Falzon) was not supported by his Cabinet colleagues when, as the minister responsible for land use planning, he tried to clean up the Mellieħa boathouse mess. He was left “to burn my fingers alone, nay, my palms, arms and body. The lack of support from my then Cabinet colleagues – let alone the then backbench – was overwhelming. I could almost hear them chant: ‘Burn, Michael, burn!’”

It is clear that the PN is committed to supporting the illegal development on public land. By being silent on the issue, Labour too supports the PN’s stand without any reservations.

This is the new politics of Labour and the PN: being in cahoots with the squatters in order to exchange votes for public land, which they have occupied illegally for years. It is an issue on which PL and PN policies converge!

The environmental NGOs campaigning for a resolution of the illegal development at L-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa undoubtedly understand that there is only one way through which the land used by the squatters is restored and returned to public ownership and use. This can only be achieved through the election of green members of Parliament. The others are committed to supporting the squatters as they have been doing throughout the years.

There is no other way. If you seek real change, voting green is the only option. The others are compromised.

published in The Times on Saturday January 21, 2012