Crocodile tears and the assassination of Daphne

Countless articles and opinions have been written about Daphne’s assassination last Monday, when the car she was driving was blown to smithereens.

Many theories have been woven as to the possible identity and motivation of those who planned and/or executed her assassination. I will not add to the speculation.

Like many others, I followed her writings through the years and found most of them informative. In the Maltese journalist community, her investigative skills were second to none. Her arguments were always very forceful even though a bias was always clearly present. She could alternate between well-written, clearly thought out and investigative articles and pure invective aimed at those she despised.

Her underlying political views were always clear and she promoted them mercilessly. Until June 2017, she ignored most of the sins of the PN and focused relentlessly on those of the PL. After June 2017 she practically lumped them both together in one basket, as they deserved, lending credence to the statement that there is nothing to distinguish the PN from the PL.

As for AD, it was one of her punching bags when it suited her, in particular at those critical political junctures where AD’s views and positions contrasted sharply with those of the PN. At other times, when she found AD’s views useful, she used them to buttress her own.

Her assassination is a direct blow against freedom of expression in Malta.

Various other attempts have been made to shut her up through the countless actions in court for civil damages. An attempt was made to cripple her financially with a legal mechanism, insisting that the claimed civil damages be deposited in Court when legal action is initiated. This was an attempt at intimidation which, unfortunately, the Law Courts did not see through. The attempt was only thwarted through the initiative of David Thake who organised crowd funding of the sums requested, thus short-circuiting the bully-boy tactics of Minister Cardona and his lawyers.

The Leader of the Opposition, Adrian Delia, having been under her spotlight for the past four months is now apparently out to milk her assassination for his party’s political gain, as is evidenced by his speeches earlier this week. He seems to want us to forget that he too was a contributor to the pile of actions for libel submitted against her. Their withdrawal this week smells of crass hypocrisy.

This is essentially the background to the crocodile tears being shed by some of those who say that they are “shocked” at her assassination.

Police investigations have commenced. Requesting help from foreign experts may ensure that all leads are followed. The investigation was almost torpedoed in its first seconds when Magistrate Consuelo Scerri Herrera failed to realise that this was a definite no-go area for her. That she took hours to realise this, is testimony to the fact that some members of the bench still need to master much more than the law.

The Magistrate’s presence shocked all as soon as she arrived on site at Bidnija. Soon after, that shock was to be compounded by the comments posted on Facebook by a Police Sergeant from the police investigating team on his being overjoyed at the day’s happenings. The fact that he was suspended pending disciplinary action is not sufficient. It still needs to be explained by the Commissioner of Police why some members of the police force have still not realised that they should stay away from the social media as it may seriously jeopardise not only their integrity and impartiality but also that of the whole Police Corps.

Apparently, it was not only the Police Sergeant who was overjoyed on Monday afternoon. What about the few carcades which were organised? Anybody cares to assume responsibility?

The Prime Minister is very anxious to get to the bottom of all this. We all are. The sooner this is done the better. However, when this is done and dusted it would be appropriate to examine the extent to which it was avoidable. As indeed it was.

 

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday – 22 October 2017

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Delia “jirranġa”

 

Tħabbar li fil-laqgħa bejn Joseph Muscat u Adrian Delia dawn laħqu ftehim u irranġaw biex ma jkunx hemm bżonn ta’ elezzjoni għall-Assoċjazzjoni tal-Kunsilli Lokali. It-Times fil-fatt issejħilha “backroom deal”.

Iktar kmieni kien tħabbar li Robert Arrigo kien ġie mitlub biex ma jikkontestax l-elezzjoni għall-Viċi Kap tal-PN, biex jagħmel il-wisa’ lil ħaddieħor. Imma ma Robert Arrigo ma irranġawx.

Għalkemm dak li jkun jista’ jaħseb li ma hemm xejn ħażin billi wieħed jasal f’arranġament ta’ dan it-tip jiena naħseb li dan hu atteġġjament perikoluż fil-politika.

Bil-mod l-intriċċi tan-negozju li b’xi mod tirranġa mal-kompetitur tiegħek jidher li ser jagħmlu l-wisa’ għall-proċess demokratiku.

U ġaladarba dan jibda, ma tistax tkun taf fejn jispiċċa.

Dak li tiżra’ taħsad: l-alabiebiżmu fil-politika

 

Il-PN bħalissa qiegħed fi stat tal-biki. Jiena ilni nsegwi l-politika għal dawn l-aħħar 45 sena u qatt ma niftakru hekk.

Tul is-snin il-PN għadda minn żminijiet diffiċli ħafna, imma f’kull waqt kien hemm persuni ta’ statura li jmexxu bl-eżempju, anke fl-iktar żmien li kien soġġett għall-agħar insulti u umiljazzjonijiet. Issa l-PN mar il-baħar għal kollox.

Kull elezzjoni (anke interna) tkun qalila, imma din li għaddejja bħalissa qatt ma rajt bħala. Ikun x’ikun ir-riżultat, il-konsegwenzi politiċi ser jibqgħu jinħassu fuq perjodu twil ta’ żmien.

Quddiem għajnejna qed naraw tiżviluppa attitudni politika li tigglorifika “ix-xejn m’hu xejn”. L-alabiebiżmu fil-politika. Mhux biss il-ħmieġ li qed jinqala’ hu gravi. Imma min hu ikkonċernat minn dan il-ħmieġ bla dubju kien jaf bih u dehrlu li ma kienx ta’ importanza għax kieku bla dubju kien jaħsibha darbtejn.

Dan li qed iseħħ illum quddiem għajnjejna ma faqqasx illum iżda ilu jinħema u jinbena biċċa biċċa. Il-politika “tax-xejn m’hu xejn” ilha trabbi l-egħruq. Issa qed joħorġu r-riżultati tal-attitudni u l-ħidma tal-passat riċenti. Għax l-egħruq tal-alabiebiżmu issaħħu.

Wara kollox, dejjem, bla eċċezzjoni, taħsad dak li tiżra. Illum il-PN qed jaħsad dak li żera’ l-bieraħ.

Ikun x’ikun ir-riżultat finali, fl-aħħar il-konklużjoni ta’ dan kollu ser tkun waħda: li l-PN mhux ser jingħaraf mill-PL.

Min qiegħed sturdut, għax ma jafx x’laqtu, bħal f’koma, jkun aħjar għalih li jistenbaħ.

Id-demm ġdid tal-PN

Kemm ilhom ħerġin l-allegazzjonijiet dwar Dottor Adrian Delia, wieħed mill-erba’ kandidati għall-Kap tal-PN, uħud qieshom waqgħu fil-muta.

Meta tqis li t-tip ta’ “provi” li qed jiġu ppubblikati huma tal-istess kwalità ta’ dawk li rajna fl-iskandlu tal-Panama, malajr tintebaħ għalfejn dan is-skiet.

Għax jekk dwar Konrad Mizzi, Keith Schembri u Joseph Muscat ġustament intqal li dawn kellhom jirriżenjaw dwar il-kumpaniji sigrieti, Dottor Adrian Delia jmissu jmur jistaħba malajr kemm jista’ jkun meta tqis il-gravità ta’ dak li qiegħed jingħad dwaru.
Imma, bħal dejjem, f’Malta, kollox ta’ taħt fuq, naddattaw ruħna skond min ikollna quddiemna. L-attitudni hi: “tagħna tajjeb, imma ta’ ħaddieħor ħażin. Għax jekk għal ħadieħor xejn m’hu xejn, aħna mhux anqas.”

Xi tfisser, allura, it-tolleranza żero għan-nuqqas ta’ serjetà?

L-aqwa li Dr Delia bħal Konrad Mizzi talab verifika (jiġifieri audit). Bħal dak li qallu li l-verifika fiċ-ċirkustanzi ser tħassar id-dubji u t-tħassib.

Issa l-eżistenza ta’ kont bankarju, kemm f’Malta kif ukoll barra, qatt ma kienet il-problema. Hu l-użu li jsir minn dan il-kont bankarju li jista’ jkun il-problema. Dan hu l-każ tal-kont bankarju f’Jersey li fid-dokument ippubblikat iġib l-isem ta’ Adrian Delia, probabbilment meqjus bħala kont bankarju għan-nom ta’ klijenti (għalkemm dan xejn mhux ċar mid-dokument ippubblikat fejn jidher li hu kont personali).

Ma hemm xejn ħażin li professjonist jamministra fondi tal-klijenti tiegħu. Dan isir il-ħin kollu.

L-allegazzjoni gravi dwar Adrian Delia mhiex dwar l-eżistenza ta’ kont bankarju amministrat minn professjonist biex jamministra fondi ta’ klijenti, imma li dan il-kont kien qiegħed jintuża għal ħasil ta’ flus li jidher li kienu ġejjin mill-prostituzzjoni. L-istampa kollha għad mhiex magħrufa. Bħas-soltu toħroġ bis-sulluzzu. Nittama biss li tkun l-istampa kollha li toħroġ u mhux biss il-parti li jkun jaqbel.

Din l-allegazzjoni ġiet miċħuda minn Adrian Delia. Imma anke Konrad Mizzi, Keith Schembri u Joseph Muscat ċaħdu l-allegazzjonijiet dwarhom fl-iskandlu tal-Panama, u kif tafu dawn ftit twemmnu. Anzi intalbet inkjesta maġisterjali għal waħda tnejn u iktar.

M’għandi l-ebda dubju li l-Partit Nazzjonalista mhux ser jitlob lill-Kummissarju tal-Pulizija biex jinvestiga u dan għax ma hemmx fiduċja fih kif diġa ġie dikjarat minn Simon Busuttil diversi drabi.

Forsi ma tafx kif fis-siegħat li ġejjin, Simon Busuttil jitlob lill-Maġistrat tal-Għassa biex jiftaħ investigazzjoni dwar l-allegazzjoni gravi li saret fil-konfront ta’ Adrian Delia. Forsi jkollna purċissjoni bil-boxfiles mimlija dokumenti biex ikunu ppreżentati għall-konsiderazzjoni tal-Maġistrat. Imma Simon Busuttil, s’issa, għadu ma qal xejn. Forsi għadu qed jaħsibha, jiġbor u jeżamina d-dokumenti.

Għax jekk hu ġustifikabbli li titlob inkjesta u r-riżenja ta’ dawk involuti fl-iskandlu tal-kumpaniji sigrieti fil-Panama, li bir-raġun kollu kien hemm is-suspett li twaqqfu għal skop mhux leċtu, kemm iktar għandha tittieħed azzjoni biex jiġu stabiliti l-fatti vera dwar il-flejjes li qed jintqal li inħaslu f’dan il-kont bankarju?

Għal Joseph, Keith u Konrad nafu li xejn m’hu xejn. Imma nafu li Simon Busuttil li soltu jipprietka l-qdusija, waqa’ fil-muta. (Huwa propju issa waqt li qed nikteb li tħabbar li l-Kunsill Amministrattiv tal-PN ser jiltaqa’ nhar it-Tnejn biex jiddiskuti l-kaz. L-inizjattiva għal dan imma, ma ittieħditx mit-tmexxija imma minn wiehed mill-kunsilliera lokali tal-PN.)

L-anqas il-Kamra tal-Avukati għadha ma qalet xejn. Soltu tkun pronta tgħidilna x’taħseb.

F’pajjiż demokratiku ieħor, wara r-rivelazzjonijiet dwaru, Adrian Delia kien jisparixxi u jirtira l-kandidatura tiegħu minn jeddu ta’ l-inqas biex jipproteġi r-reputazzjoni tal-partit politiku li jappartjeni għalih.

Imma f’Malta ma jsirx hekk: anzi jibqa’ jinsisti bil-konsegwenza li iktar ma tikber l-istorja iktar issir ħsara mhux biss lilu imma fuq kollox lil dawk ta’ madwaru li probabbilment m’għandhomx l-iċken idea la ta’ x’ġara u l-anqas ta’ x’jista’ jkun żvelat iktar il-quddiem dwar il-kaz.

Hu ovvju li l-informazzjoni ppubblikata ħarġet għax hemm min għandu interess li toħroġ f’dan il-mument partikolari. Dan ma jnaqqasx mill-gravità tal-informazzjoni ppubblikata. Probabbilment li hemm ukoll stejjer oħra dwar it-tlett kandidati l-oħra li f’dan il-mument partikolari m’hemm l-ebda interess fihom.

Imma meta tqis kollox hu ċar li dan hu eżempju ieħor għal min irid jifhem li m’hemmx x’tagħżel bejn il-PN u l-PL. It-tnejn iħaddnu politika ta’ xejn m’hu xejn. Politika li tipprova tiġġustifika kważi kollox.

Jekk dan hu d-demm ġdid tal-PN, il-problemi ser jimmultiplikaw. Bla dubju pajjiżna jixraqlu aħjar.

Pluraliżmu anke fil-valuri

Wieħed mill-argumenti qawwija li lewnu d-dibattitu dwar id-dħul ta’ Malta fl-Unjoni Ewropeja kien li Malta ħtieġilha tidħol fis-seklu għoxrin qabel ma taħseb biex tissieħeb fl-Unjoni. Kien argumentat li kien hemm il-ħtieġa ta’ progress fuq ħafna fronti qabel ma Malta setgħet tissieħeb fl-UE. In-naħa l-oħra tal-argument, ovvjament, dejjem kien li s-sħubija minnha innifisha setgħet tkun il-katalist għat-tibdil tant meħtieġ fis-soċjetá Maltija. Għax il-bidla tista’ ddum biex isseħħ, imma fl-aħħar mhux possibli li tkun evitata. Kif jgħidu, tardare sí, scappare no!

Malta ssieħbet fl-UE fl-2004. Il-bidla fis-soċjetá Maltija għadha għaddejja, kultant b’ritmu mgħaġġel ħafna. Ir-referendum dwar id-divorzju li sar f’Mejju 2011 ħoloq terrimot, li, nistgħu ngħidu illi għadu għaddej.

Il-liġi dwar l-ugwaljanza fiż-żwieġ li l-Parliament approva iktar kmieni din il-ġimgħa kienet pass ieħor f’din id-direzzjoni. Kienet deskritta bħala “immorali” (Edwin Vassallo), “Marxista” (Clyde Puli), “kommunista” (Herman Schiavone) kif ukoll “tal-Korea ta’ Fuq ” (Tonio Fenech).

Dawn it-tikketti juru kif jaħdem moħħ dawk li qed jirreżistu din il-bidla. Mid-dehra ħadd minn dawn il-kritiċi tal-leġislazzjoni dwar l-ugwaljanza fiż-żwieg ma fehem li dan il-pass kien ukoll il-konsegwenza loġika tal-emenda kostituzzjonali, approvata mill-Parlament fil-leġislatura l-oħra liema emenda kienet iċċarat li d-diskriminazzjoni minħabba l-ġeneru kienet ipprojibita ukoll. L-intolleranti fost l-Insara fostna jgħidu li dawk li jappoġġaw l-ugwaljanza fiż-żwieġ huma “bla valuri”. Dawn għadhom ma irrealizzawx li l-valuri tagħhom m’humiex l-unika valuri. Qed ngħixu f’soċjetá bi pluralitá ta’ valuri. Ħadd m’għandu monopolju, la dwar il-valuri u l-anqas dwar dak li hu tajjeb jew ħażin.

Uħud mill-kelliema ewlenin tal-Opposizzjoni, minkejja li ddikjaraw l-appoġġ għal-liġi taħt konsiderazzjoni, xorta dehrilhom li kellhom jużaw il-ħin ta’ diskorshom bi kliem dispreġġattiv dwar dak propost. Dan il-lingwaġġ mimli insulti użat fid-dibattitu parlamentari sfortunatament jirrifletti fuq l-Opposizzjoni Nazzjonalista kollha, anke fuq dawk li għamlu sforz ġenwin u qagħdu attenti li jużaw  lingwaġġ konċiljattiv biex jikkomunikaw ħsiebijiethom.

L-opposizzjoni konservattiva qegħda fir-rokna. Min-naħa l-waħda riedet tħabbar mal-erbat irjieħ tal-pajjiż li issa kkonvertiet u ser tkun fuq quddiem biex tiddefendi d-drittijiet tal-komunitá LGBTIQ. Min-naħa l-oħra iżda, l-Opposizzjoni ma setgħetx tinjora l-fatt li għad għandha dipendenza qawwija fuq appoġġ minn l-agħar elementi ta’ intolleranza reliġjuża fil-pajjiż, dawk jiġifieri li għadhom iqiesu d-drittijiet LGBTIQ bħal materja ta’ “immoralitá pubblika”.  Edwin Vassallo kien l-iktar wieħed ċar fi kliemu meta iddikjara li l-kuxjenza tiegħu ma tippermettilux li jivvota favur dak li huwa ddeskriva bħala proposta leġislattiva “immorali”.

Fi ftit sekondi Vassallo (u oħrajn) ħarbat dak li kien ilu jippjana Simon Busuttil sa minn meta kien elett Kap tal-PN.  Dan wassal lil uħud biex jispekulaw dwar jekk l-Insara intolleranti, id-demokristjani u l-liberali fil-PN jistgħux jibqgħu jikkoabitaw wisq iktar.

Dan kollu jikkuntrasta mal-mod kif ġiebu ruħhom il-konservattivi fil-Partit Laburista. Dawn, minħabba kalkuli politiċi, ippreferew li jew jibqgħu ħalqhom magħluq inkella qagħdu attenti ħafna dwar dak li qalu. Jidher li tgħallmu xi ħaġa mid-dibattitu dwar id-divorzju!

L-approvazzjoni mill-Parliament tal-liġi dwar l-ugwaljanza fiż-żwieġ huwa pass ieħor il-quddiem favur il-pluraliżmu tal-valuri. Il-Parlament aċċetta l-pluraliżmu tal-valuri u iddeċieda li kulħadd jixraqlu r-rispett. Għandna bżonn nifhmu, lkoll kemm aħna, li qed ngħixu f’soċjetá bi pluralitá ta’ valuri li lkoll jixirqilhom ir-rispett. Hu possibli li ma naqblux, imma li ninsulentaw lil xulxin minħabba li nħaddnu valuri differenti ma jagħmilx sens. Xejn m’hu ser jibdel il-fatt li ħadd ma għandu monoplju fuq il-valuri li f’numru ta’ każi jikkontrastaw.

Malta illum introduċiet l-ugwaljanza fiż-żwieġ. M’aħniex ser indumu biex nindunaw li dan ser jagħmel lis-soċjetá tagħna waħda aħjar, għal kulħadd.

ippubblikat fuq Illum : il-Ħadd 16 ta’ Lulju 2017

Value Pluralism

One of the arguments made during the debate prior to Malta joining the European Union was that before it did so, Malta should open its doors to the 21st century. It was argued that much progress needed to be made before Malta could join the EU. The flip side of this argument was that EU membership could be the right catalyst for change that Maltese society needed, because change can be obstructed and delayed but, in the long term, it cannot be stopped.

Malta did join the EU in 2004 and the opening of the doors (and windows) of change is currently work-in-progress. The divorce referendum held in May 2011 opened the floodgates to a recognition of the fact that Maltese society was in a state of rapid change, making up for lost time.

The Marriage Equality Reform legislation approved in Parliament earlier this week was another step. It was described as “immoral” (Edwin Vassallo), “Marxist” (Clyde Puli), “communist” (Herman Schiavone) or even “North Korean” (Tonio Fenech).

These labels identify the frame of mind of those resisting change. Apparently, none of these critics of marriage equality legislation has yet realised that this step is the direct legal consequence of the Constitutional amendment, approved by Parliament some years back, which spelled out in unequivocal terms the prohibition of discrimination based on gender.

The intolerant Christian right argues that legislation proposing marriage equality is the result of a society which has lost its values. They have not realised that their “values” are not the only ones around: we live in a society where a plurality of values is a fact. The Christian right has no monopoly: either on values or on what is right or wrong.

A number of leading Opposition spokespersons, notwithstanding their declaration of support for the proposed legislation, deemed it fit to hurl never-ending insults against the proposals being debated and all that these represented. This insulting language used during the parliamentary debate is a sad reflection on the whole of the PN Opposition, even on those who sought to apply the brakes and in fact used more conciliatory language to convey their thoughts.

The conservative opposition is in a tight corner. On the one hand it wanted to announce in unequivocal terms its recent “conversion” to championing LGBTIQ rights. At the same time the Opposition could not ignore the fact that it is still chained to an intolerant Christian right which labels LGBTIQ rights as morally reprehensible. Edwin Vassallo was the most unequivocal when he declared that his conscience would not permit him to vote in favour of what he described as an “immoral” legislative proposal.

In a couple of seconds, Vassallo and others blew up what had been carefully constructed by Simon Busuttil since assuming the PN leadership, causing some to speculate whether the cohabitation of the conservative Christian right, Christian Democrats and liberals in the PN can last much longer.

In contrast, even if for political expediency, the conservatives in the Labour Party parliamentary group have either kept their mouth shut or else watched their language. It seems that they have learnt some lessons from the divorce referendum debate.

Parliament’s approval last Wednesday of the Marriage Equality Legislation is another step in entrenching the acceptance of value pluralism. Parliament has accepted value pluralism and decided that it was time to respect everyone.

We need to realise that we form part of a society with a plurality of values, all of which deserve the utmost respect. It is possible to disagree, but insulting people because they have different values than one’s own is not on. A society with a plurality of values is a fact and nobody will or can change that.

Malta has now introduced marriage equality. As a result, our society will show a marked improvement that will have a positive impact on all of us.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday – 16 July 2017

Wiċċu bla żejt

 

Persuna li ma tistħix ngħidulha li jkollha wiċċ bla żejt. Taġixxi b’mod sfaċċat, qiesu ma ġara xejn. Bħall-membru parlamentari tal-PN David Agius.

David Agius, meta kien membru parlamentari fuq in-naħa tal-Gvern kien, flimkien ma oħrajn, ivvota favur li art f’diversi partijiet ta’ Malta, fil-parti l-kbira tagħha art verġni, tingħata għall-iżvilupp. Issa qasam fuq in-naħa l-oħra u qiegħed jappoġġa lir-residenti li qed jipprotestaw kontra dan l-iżvilupp li hu ivvota favur tiegħu.

F’Ħ’Attard, fl-inħawi magħrufa Tal-Idward, fil-periferija taż-żona tal-iżvilupp, David Agius jappoġġa lir-residenti li qed jipprotestaw biex art agrikola ma tkunx żviluppata. Ir-residenti huma rrabjati għax issa hemm it-tieni applikazzjoni biex ikun determinat kif tista’ tkun żviluppata l-art fl-inħawi tal-Idward.

David Agius kien hemm, kważi ċass, bla espressjoni f’wiċċu. Ħdax-il sena ilu, fil-Parlament kien ivvota favur l-istess żvilupp li issa kien qed jipprotesta kontra tiegħu!

L-istorja kollha hi dwar dak li hu magħruf bħala l-eżerċizzju ta’ razzjonalizzazzjoni li permezz tiegħu meded kbar ta’ art imxerrda mal-gżejjer Maltin, sa dakinnhar barra miż-żona tal-iżvilupp, saru tajbin għall-bini. Bil-vot tiegħu favur dan kollu David Agius għin biex dan ikun possibli li jsir. David Agius mhux waħdu. Fuq il-bankijiet tal-Opposizzjoni għad hemm diversi kollegi tiegħu li għamlu bħalu.

L-ippjanar għall-użu tal-art hu strument li għandu jkun użat fl-interess tal-komunitá kollha, u mhux fl-interess tal-ftit. Sfortunatament, illum, ħdax-il sena wara huwa ċar iktar minn qatt qabel kemm l-eżerċzzju ta’ razzjonalizzazzjoni injora lill-komunitajiet residenzjali tagħna madwar il-pajjiż kollu biex jaġevola lill-ispekulaturi.

Meta l-Parlament approva li meded kbar ta’ art barra miż-żona tal-iżvilupp isiru żviluppabbli kien jaf li ma kien sar l-ebda studju biex ikunu mkejla l-impatti kumulattivi li rriżultaw minn din id-deċiżjoni. Bħala riżultat ta’ dan, l-impatti tat-traffiku, l-kwalitá tal-arja, l-għargħar, id-dellijiet fuq bini diġa armat b’pannelli fotovoltajċi kif ukoll in-numru dejjem jiżdied ta’ propjetá vojta kienu fatturi injorati kompletament meta l-Parlament iddeċieda li japprova l-eżerċizzju ta’ razzjonalizzazzjoni.

Sfortunatament, l-Awtoritá tal-Ippjanar, minkejja li kienet taf b’dan in-nuqqas baqgħet għaddejja u ma ppruvatx tagħmel tajjeb għan-nuqqas tal-Parlament.

Sadanittant, fil-Parlament, il-Ministru Ian Borg huwa u jwieġeb għall-kritika ta’ din id-deċiżjoni tal-Awtoritá tal-Ippjanar ipponta subgħajh lejn l-Opposizzjoni. Imma dan mhux biżżejjed għax anke l-Partit Laburista wara 4 snin fil-Gvern ma għamel xejn dwar dan kollu.

Bosta minna niftakru li meta l-Partit Laburista kien fl-Opposizzjoni, fil-Parlament, kien ivvota kontra dan l-eserċizzju ta’ razzjonalizzazzjoni. Dan iwassal għall-mistoqsija inevitabbli dwar jekk il-Partit Laburista bidilx fehmtu. Għax ħlief għal ftit kummenti waqt il-kampanja elettorali l-Partit Laburista qatt ma qal xejn dwar dan kollu. Dan x’jfisser? Għandna ninterpretaw in-nuqqas ta’ azzjoni mill-Partit Laburista fil-Gvern bħala qbil mal-ezerċizzju ta’ razzjonalizzazzjoni?

Sa fejn naf jiena, Alternattiva Demokratika biss indirizzat dan kollu waqt il-kampanja elettorali li għadha kif intemmet. Dan billi pproponiet li dawn it-tip ta’ permessi m’għandhomx joħorġu f’dawk il-lokalitajiet fejn hemm numru konsiderevoli ta’ propjetajiet residenzjali vakanti.

Jidher imma li l-partiti fil-parlament issa bidlu ir-rwol tagħhom. David Agius hu l-eżempju ovvju: meta l-partit tiegħu kien fil-Gvern jappoġġa l-ispekulazzjoni, u issa li qiegħed fl-Opposizzjoni taparsi jappoġġa lir-residenti.

ippubblikat fl-Illum il-Ħadd  9 ta’ Lulju 2017

David Agius’s mental gymnastics

 

David was always into sport – primarily basketball, if I remember correctly. He has, however, now dedicated considerable time to the practice of mental gymnastics.

In Attard, in the area known as Tal-Idward – which is just outside the development zone – David has time and again publicly manifested his support of the residents’ cause: opposition to the development of agricultural land. The residents have now vented their anger in a pubic protest against a second planning control application that seeks to identify what would be permissible development in the tal-Idward area at Attard, the first application having been turned down around three years ago.

David Agius, the Opposition Whip, stood there, with a poker face, not batting an eyelid. Eleven years ago, in Parliament, he voted in favour of permitting the same development against which he is now demonstrating!

The issue is the so-called “rationalisation exercise” as a result of which considerable tracts of ODZ land all over the Maltese islands will henceforth to be considered as developable land. In 2006, with his favourable vote in Parliament, David Agius, contributed to making this possible. On the Opposition benches, he is accompanied by a number of other MPs who likewise voted in favour of more virgin agricultural land being given up for development.

Land-use planning should keep in mind the interests of the whole community and not only the interests of a select few. Unfortunately, eleven years down the line, it is now more clear than ever that the rationalisation exercise has  completely ignored the interests of the residential communities all over the islands in order to satisfy the greed of land speculators.

When Parliament considered the approval of removing ODZ status of large tracts of land, primarily (but not exclusively) agricultural land, it did so in full knowledge of the fact that the cumulative impacts of such a decision had not been assessed. Such an assessment, which is prescribed in the Strategic Environment Assessment Directive of the EU, would have been mandatory had Parliament’s decision been taken some days later than it actually was.

As a result, traffic impacts, air quality, flooding, the shadowing of existing residential property equipped with photo-voltaic panels and the issue of an ever increasing stock of vacant properties were completely ignored when Parliament approved the rationalisation exercise.

The Planning Authority, unfortunately, notwithstanding that it is aware of the shortcomings underpinning the rationalisation exercise, has failed to take steps to mitigate these shortcomings apart from minor cosmetic changes to the  proposals submitted on behalf of speculators.

In Parliament Minister Ian Borg rightly pointed his fingers at the Opposition when replying to criticism of the above-mentioned Planning Authority’s decision.  Blaming the Opposition is however not enough as the Labour Party had sufficient time to act on the matter in the past four years, but has not done so. Most of us remember that the Labour Party itself, when in Opposition, had voted against the rationalisation exercise in Parliament. This leads to the inevitable question as to whether or not Labour has since changed its mind as – with the exception of a few sympathetic comments on the eve of the June general election – it has never committed itself to changes to the rationalisation exercise. Are we to interpret the Labour Party’s non-action as a change of political position, signifying agreement with the rationalisation exercise in the form approved by Parliament in 2006?

As far as I am aware, Alternattiva Demokratika, the Green Party, is the only political party to propose a specific measure on changes to the rationalisation exercise. This was done once more during the recent electoral campaign. Such a measure proposed by Alternattiva Demokratika is linked to the large number of vacant properties, which should be a break applied by land-use planning regulators in order not to develop more land unnecessarily.

But is seems that the Labour Party and the PN have switched roles. Hence David’s mental gymnastics: supporting speculators when in government, supporting residents when in opposition.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday – 9 July 2017

Inxammru l-kmiem

 

 

Issa huwa żżmien li ngħarblu l-ħidma tal-partiti politiċi u nħejju għall-futur, btibdil kbir jew żgħir, skond dak li jirriżulta meħtieġ.

Il-Partit Laburista qiegħed fil-proċess li jagħżel suċċessur għal Louis Grech filwaqt li l-PN beda t-triq għal tibdila oħra li tista tkun waħda sostanzjali.

Mhux il-ħsieb tiegħi li nikkummenta dwar dawn l-għażliet li għandhom quddiemhom il-PN u l-PL. Għandi biżżejjed biex inħabbel rasi, għax bla dubju, Alternattiva Demokratika ukoll teħtieġ li tifhem sewwa dak li ġara u tieħu passi radikali dwaru.

Kif diġa kelli l-opportunitá li nikteb, ir-riżultat li kisbet AD kien mistenni wara li AD ma waslitx għal ftehim dwar koalizzjoni mal-PN. Għal AD kienet għażla, fil-fehma tiegħi iebsa, imma kienet ukoll għażla neċessarja. Ma kienitx deċiżjoni kontra koalizzjoni imma kontra l-forma tal-koalizzjoni li essenzjalment kienet waħda li tibla l-identitá tal-partiti li jiffurmaw il-koalizzjoni u (tal-inqas għall-elezzjoni) tippreżenthom bħala parti integrali mill-Partit Nazzjonalista, bit-tajjeb u l-ħażin kollu tiegħu.

Filwaqt li nifhem ir-raġunament ta min ġenwinament xtaq li AD tkun tifforma parti mill-koalizzjoni kontra l-korruzzjoni, għadni ftit li xejn ma smajt jew qrajt reazzjonijiet ta dawk li fehmu jew ta l-inqas apprezzzaw ir-raġunament ta Alternattiva Demokratika li ma tissieħibx.

Kien hemm waqtiet li ħsibt illi li kieku kien hemm iktar żmien, wieħed seta jasal. Imma fir-realtá qatt ma stajna naslu għax il-PN ġenwinament ma kienx fposizzjoni li jippreżenta l-kandidati tiegħu taħt isem jew emblema differenti minn dik tas-soltu. Allura, l-loġika ukoll kellha twassal biex anke a bażi ta dan biss wieħed jifhem il-posizzjoni li ħadet AD.

Ilna s-snin nitkellmu favur il-ħtieġa ta koalizzjoni (jew alleanza pre-elettorali) u mhux ser nieqfu issa.

Imma dan kollu jwassal ukoll għal konsiderazzjoni oħra ta natura iktar fondamentali.

Kemm hu addattat il-mod li bih taħdem AD illum, bla presenza lokali jew reġjonali? Ximpatt għandu dan fuq l-effettivitá ta AD  bmod partikolari meta dan inqabbluh mal-presenza kontinwa tal-PN u l-PL fil-lokalitajiet kollha?

Ilni snin nargumenta, internament fAD, li din hi l-isfida ewlenija għal Alternattiva Demokratika. Għax filwaqt li ċċarezza tal-ħsieb u l-viżjoni politika hi essenzjali għal kull partit politiku hi daqstant meħtieġa organizzazzjoni li tista tittraduċi l-ħsieb fazzjoni politika konkreta. Kultant naraw partiti politiċi bmagna organizzattiva impressjonanti imma mingħajr ċarezza fil-ħsieb u fil-viżjoni. Fil-każ ta AD id-diffikulta hi bil-maqlub. Hemm ideat u viżjoni ċara imma hemm nuqqas ta l-għodda organizzattivi biex dawn l-ideat jagħtu frott politiku adegwat.

Din mhiex problema li ħoloqha Arnold Cassola. L-anqas ma ħoloqha Michael Briguglio qablu. Ilha magħna sa minn meta twaqqfet AD fl-1989. Ovvjament hi responsabbilta kollettiva ta kulħadd li ma żviluppajniex din l-għodda organizzattiva neċessarja tul is-snin. Jiena ma naqbilx ma min iwaħħal fis-sistema elettorali għan-nuqqas ta AD li jkollha riżultati elettorali posittivi. Mhux faċli, imma mhuwiex gravi daqskemm jgħidu!

Din hi l-isfida li għandha quddiema AD illum. Uċuħ ġodda dejjem tajniehom merħba u nibqgħu nagħtuhom. L-isfida quddiemna hi li nkunu preparati daqs l-avversarji politiċi tagħna.

L-ebda tim tal-futbol ma jinżel jilgħab logħba bil-flipflop, l-anqas dawk fl-iktar diviżjoni inferjuri. Jaf kemm jaf il-logħba, imħejji kemm hu imħejji, biex tim ikollu ċans sportiv jeħtieġlu l-preparazzjoni teknika u l-appoġġ amministrattiv daqs l-avversarji tiegħu. Biex dan ikun possibli jeħtieġ impenn mhux biss mit-tim imma ukoll minn dawk kollha li jappoġġawh.

Fdawn il-ġranet fAlternattiva Demokratika qed niddiskutu dan kollu. Arnold Cassola infurmana li hu ma xtaqx ikompli jmexxi u allura huwa neċessarju li jkollna tmexxija ġdida.

Filwaqt li nieħu din l-opportunitá nirringrazzja lill-Arnold għall-ħidma tiegħu tul dawn is-snin kollha huwa neċessarju li issa nikkonċentraw fuq il-ħidma neċessarja biex niftħu kapitlu ġdid. Kapitlu li jrid iżewweġ flimkien l-idejali mal-ħidma organizzattiva.

Jidher li l-piż għal dan ser inġorru jiena u għaldaqstant hu l-mument li nitlob l-għajnuna ta dawk kollha li jissimpatizzaw ma’ Alternattiva Demokratika.   Hu l-mument li nxammru l-kmiem.

A gambit declined

 

The setting up of a pre-electoral alliance is a complex exercise. Alternattiva Demokratika recognised the strategic importance of forming pre-electoral alliances a long time ago – in fact, prior to the 2008 general election, it had (unsuccessfully) taken up such an initiative itself.

The actual result of the 2008 general election was so close that any pre-election alliance would have had a substantial impact on the final result. This was very clear in the polls commissioned and published in the run-up to that general election.  The difference in votes on a national level between the PN and the PL in the March 2008 general election was a mere 1580, with AD receiving 3810 votes first count votes.

When examining the possibility of forging a pre-election alliance there is generally a choice between two approaches to take: either a principle-based approach or a pragmatic one.

The principle-based approach for a pre-election alliance seeks a long-term view based on building bridges that can possibly withstand the test of time. A pre-election alliance based on principles is based on an agreed shared vision. Even if it is not all-encompassing, this can be easier for voters to identify with as it entails a positive proposal: the shared vision.

On the other hand, the pragmatic approach is one aimed solely at the desired result. It is arithmetically driven. It can signify the lumping together under one umbrella of all sorts of views with (possibly) a minimum common denominator.

The National Front pre-electoral alliance set up by Simon Busuttil and Marlene Farrugia  was, in my opinion, one of the latter. Not only did it include the Nationalist Party and the Democratic Party but also the fringe elements of the PN itself, which had previously been weeded out over the years as undesirables.

The National Front was a pragmatic exercise to the extent that an analysis of the actual votes cast clearly shows that the PD link with the PN resulted in no votes being added to the PN by the PD.  Some may argue, for example,  that votes cast for PD candidates in the fifth district (Marlene Farrugia’s home district),  helped the PN turning the tides on Labour by recapturing Labour’s fourth seat. This is not so, as the gain of an additional seat by the PN on the fifth district was exclusively due to boundary changes: the village of Marsaxlokk having been moved to the third district and it being substituted by the hamlet of Ħal-Farruġ from the sixth district.

The PN/PD alliance failed in its major arithmetic objective as it is clear that it failed to attract a significant number of disgruntled voters. Actually, it rather repelled them with its continuous negative messages and sent most of them back to Labour. Unfortunately, this failed attempt will dissuade any other attempt at alliance-building in the immediate future, as no political party enjoys being taken for a ride, as was Simon Busuttil’s party.

Declining the invitation to join  the National Front as an appendix to the PN  was the correct response from Alternattiva Demokratika. It was an exercise in foresight that has been proved right. Listening to “independent” journalists and self-centred intellectuals advocating the Busuttil/Farrugia National Front was a very sad experience, as these were the same people who should have taken the PN itself to task for its internal contradictions on issues of good governance. By endorsing the PN-led National Front, unfortunately, they ended up endorsing the PN’s misdemeanours when they should have been at the forefront of those insisting that the PN clean up its act before claiming any right to wear the suit of shining armour.

In another context, it was former PN Finance Minister Tonio Fenech who made the most appropriate statement earlier this week in the Malta Independent. Answering his own rhetorical question as to what the Nationalist Party stands for, Tonio Fenech replied: “The only true answer I can give is, I don’t know”.

And so say all of us.

published in the Malta Independent on Sunday – 18 June 2017