Il-President il-ġdid ta’ Malta

president-of-malta-flag-over-blue-sky

L-ispekulazzjoni dwar min ser ikun il-President il-ġdid ta’ Malta bdiet.

Is-sit elettroniku tal-PN maltarightnow.com iżid mal-ispekulazzjoni billi jagħti informazzjoni żbaljata.

Żbaljata mhux daqstant dwar l-ismijiet (jissemmew George Vella, Miriam Spiteri Debono u Maria Camilleri) imma billi jgħid li l-President tar-Repubblika jeħtieġ approvazzjoni ta’ żewġ terzi tal-membri Parlamentari. Fil-fatt kull ma jeħtieġ biex ikun approvat il-President il-ġdid tar-Repubblika hu appoġġ ta’ maġġoranza sempliċi tal-membri parlamentari. Hekk kien meħtieġ għal kull wieħed u waħda mill-Presidenti li nħatru sal-lum. Bl-eċċezzjoni ta’ tnejn: għax l-ewwel wieħed (Sir Anthony Mamo) u l-aħħar wieħed (George Abela) kienu approvati b’vot unanimu!

Issa min ser isir President wara George Abela jiena m’għandix idea. Bħalma m’għandhomx idea l-parti l-kbira tal-Maltin! Fl-aħħar mhiex ser tagħmel differenza jekk ikunx George Vella, Miriam Spiteri Debono jew Maria Camilleri kif qed jissuġġerixxi l-maltarightnow.com!

L-anqas ma’ tagħmel differenza jekk ikun Lawrence Gonzi kif ibbottja l-Illum dalgħodu.

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L-ambaxxaturi : min jitwieled tond ma jsirx kwadru

Foreign Ministry Malta

Fil-Parlament il-bieraħ ġew diskussi l-estimi tal-Ministeru tal-Affarijiet Barranin.

Reġgħu issemmew il-ħatriet politiċi. Carm Mifsud Bonnici kelliemi tal-Opposizzjoni għall-Affarijiet Barranin qal li l-ħatriet politiċi fis-servizz diplomatiku żdiedu b’mod li illum għandna 66% tal-ħatriet diplomatiċi li marru għand persuni li m’humiex tas-servizz. Żieda sostanzjali miċ-ċifra ta’ 42%, kif kienet is-sitwazzjoni fil-leġislatura l-oħra.

Il-ħatriet fis-servizz diplomatiku huma importanti ħafna għax il-persuni hekk maħtura jirrappreżentaw lill-pajjiż. Huma l-ewwel linja ta’ kuntatt ma pajjiżi oħra.

Ambaxxatur tajjeb jiswa mitqlu deheb, kemm għall-pajjiż kif ukoll għall-Gvern.

Kull pajjiż jagħmel ħatriet politiċi fis-servizz diplomatiku. Malti la hi eċċezzjoni u l-anqas ma qiegħed nipproponi li għandha tkun eċċezzjoni. Imma hu neċessarju ukoll li nivvalorizzaw is-servizz diplomatiku, dak jiġifieri li hu magħmul minn career diplomats.

Fil-leġislatura l-oħra l-Parlament iddiskuta u approva mozzjoni dwar wieħed mill-ambaxxaturi Maltin li kellhom ħatra politika. Il-Parlament għamel dan biex jgħarbel il-ħidma ta’ dan l-ambaxxatur u eventwalment iddeċieda li jiċċensurah.

F’pajjiż żgħir bħal tagħna jkun utli kieku l-Parlament jgħarbel il-ħatriet ta’ ambaxxaturi qabel ma jsiru dawn il-ħatriet u mhux wara. Ikun għaqli li jkun assigurat li minbarra l-lealta’ tagħhom lejn il-Gvern, l-ambaxxaturi għandhom ukoll il-kapaċitajiet, il-kompetenza u t-taħriġ neċessarju biex jaqdu d-doveri tagħhom.

M’għandi l-ebda dubju illi kieku l-ħatriet diplomatiċi jeħtieġu l-approvazzjoni tal-Parlament uħud mill-persuni li inħatru ambaxxaturi riċentement anke l-Gvern kien jaħsibha darbtejn dwar il-ħatra tagħhom. Għax fil-waqt li kif qal il-Ministru George Vella hu neċessarju li wieħed jagħtihom ċans jaħdmu qabel ma jiġġudikom, min hu tond mhux ser isir kwadru, anke jekk taghtih ċans.

The Foreign Minister & the Ministerial Code of Ethics

George Vella

Dr George Vella, Foreign Minister, in reply to Ivan Camilleri on today’s Times of Malta makes a valid point as to why, after being appointed a Cabinet Minister, he needs a transition period relative to the practicing of his profession as a medical doctor.

Ivan Camilleri describes Dr Vella as being “angry” at what he perceived as a “witch-hunt” in respect of members of the Cabinet still practising their profession.

Dr Vella has in fact repeated what former Health Minister Dr Joseph Cassar stated last week that in respect of patients who have been under his care for a number of years it would be extremely insensitive for him to withdraw abruptly from caring for them until they have had adequate time for them to identify an alternative professional who could take over their care.

This could easily have been solved by an immediate amendment to the Ministerial Code of Ethics through considering the possibility of utilising a suitable and reasonable transition period at the end of which medical doctors who are also members of Cabinet would be expected to cease practicing their profession altogether.

Establishment of such a transition period and subject to the medical doctor not being remunerated would have been a very reasonable  solution to the current impasse.

It however leaves unaddressed the general problem of Members of Parliament who still consider their parliamentary duties as being of a part-time nature. AD considers that it is high time that this issue is also addressed.

Parliament, AD states in its March 2013 electoral manifesto, should become a professional institution made up of full-time parliamentarians. This would assist MPs in fullfilling their Parliamentary duties much better than they are at present and could also possibly lead to Parliament functioning in a more family-friendly manner. [a very valid point made recently by new Labour MP Deborah Schembri]

An added benefit of a Parliament made up of full-time Members of Parliament would mean that by the time an MP (who is also a professional) is appointed as a Minister or Parliamentary Secretary he would have been weaned off his private practice. He/she would be used to it and so would his/her patients.

The concrete jungle at Marsascala

 

Marsascala is fast becoming a concrete jungle. Houses have been pulled down and redeveloped over the past years with blocks of flats and garages taking their place. This is the manner in which the building industry is proceeding, raping what’s left of our built environment with the assistance of the Malta Environment and Planning Authority. The number of vacant dwellings in the meantime keeps increasing. It has surpassed the 54,000 mark established in the 2005 census.

The latest addition to this jungle is the massive development at Ta’ Monita. Dwarfing the Marsascala parish church it ruins the skyline.

A letter entitled Marsascala Ruined Once And For All was published on March 22, 2011 in The Times. The online comments it generated are indicative of the perceived links between politics and the building industry. The fact that the Ta’ Monita Mepa permit was issued in April 2004, two years before the present Marsascala mayor was first elected, does not in any way diminish the seriousness of the perceived contamination.

George Vella, elected as member of Parliament for many years from the electoral district of which Marsascala forms part, made a very passionate intervention on the matter in the House of Representatives on April 11, 2011. He lamented the fact that a local council that has been under the guidance of his party’s local councillors appears insensitive to the manner in which the Ta’ Monita development is engulfing the Marsascala community.

While subscribing to most of what Dr Vella stated on the matter, I noted that during his intervention he did not consider it appropriate to refer to the impacts which the financing of electoral campaigns could have on the behaviour of politicians. It is an issue the Labour Party should seriously examine in order to determine whether any of its representatives has risked being domesticated as a result of the financing of electoral campaigns.

Dr Vella used his observations on the Ta’ Monita development to launch a pre-emptive strike on what could be another potential bombshell.

St Anne public garden in Marsascala has been devolved to the local council since November 2010. Rumours have been circulating for some time as to what uses are being considered for the area. The said rumours would also have us believe as to who will be favoured by decisions yet to be taken.

On March 15, 2011 the Marsascala local council was informed by its mayor that a call for “an expression of interest” on St Anne public garden would be issued shortly. He said that, while embellishment works would be one of the objectives, these would be in addition to the construction of administrative offices, some shops, an underground car park and linkage to the Church parvis in order to develop what is, to date, a missing village square. In addition, according to the council’s published minutes, the Marsascala mayor deems it essential to carry out a traffic survey. He also considers that the opening up of Triq il-Qrempuċ could ease traffic pressures on the waterfront, thereby permitting more leisurely commercial activity.

I have had the opportunity to ask the mayor various questions about the project. He is envisaging public consultation and an involvement of the private sector. According to the published minutes, decisions are to be taken by the local council at some time in the future after considering submissions by the private sector and comments from the community.

While the minutes of the local council are in conflict with the rumours in circulation, one never knows what can crop up in the form of proposals to be submitted by the “private sector”.

The Marsascala mayor is on record as stating that “nothing will be done outside public scrutiny”. It is submitted that this is not sufficient because it makes little difference to the community if its assets are ruined openly or in an underhand manner.

An open discussion is urgently required on the very parameters of the project in order that it be ensured that the community is the real beneficiary.

Given that the Local Plan applicable to Marsascala defines the area as being a “public urban open space”, the starting point of the debate should be the compatibility of the project with the Local Plan.

This exercise, when carried out, would reveal that most of the elements of the project, which may be of interest to the private sector, are in conflict with the provisions of the Local Plan for the area (vide South Local Plan policy SMSE 04). The project is hence a non-starter.

So, for the time being, the only matter the public is sure of is that the concrete jungle in Marsascala keeps being extended. Change for the better at times seems to get more distant in time. That is until you realise that you cannot achieve change if you do not vote for it..

Published in The Times of Malta, May 21  2011