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A water policy for political hope

This evening I attended a talk about the situation of the fresh water supply in this country. I will not go into technical details, but believe me the situation is dire. Malta is blessed with an aquifer.

Basically, thanks to the fact that our country’s bedrock is limestone, deep underground, beneath our feet, lie caverns and hollows full of fresh water, or at least they were once full. For several decades, we have been sucking this aquifer dry through overuse, unlicensed bore holes and over irrigation of agricultural land. As a result of this, the water level in the aquifer has reached critical levels and the quality of water left is substandard.

This did not happen overnight, successive governments have been fully aware of the situation, and have implemented stop-gap measures to rectify things such as reverse osmosis plants. Yet they have not been enough. The demands of a growing population, an expanding tourism industry and increasingly intensive farming have resulted in demand far outstripping supply.

To compound the problem, due to over-development most of our rain water simply runs off into the sea.

And to further complicate matters, Malta is obliged to replenish an aquifer we seem determined to drain dry within a certain timeframe, by an EU directive, or face some very hefty fines.

Solutions are available. I am not a water engineer, I am a doctor of medicine, I will not deign to override people far better qualified than myself in proposing those solutions. There are several reasons, however, why neither of the major political parties have moved to implement them, despite being aware they exist for many years.

Firstly, the subject of water is not sexy, it does not grab attention or inspire the imagination, we take it for granted. Politicians like sound bites and boring, mundane, everyday things don’t give them that.

Secondly, the solutions to the water problem, although they may be necessary, will probably prove unpopular to certain sections of society, and we all know politicians hate anything that risks losing votes.

Thirdly, governments work on election cycles.  Water management, however, does not. The solution to our fresh water problem will not take one election cycle to implement, probably not even two, but much more than that.

For these reasons, neither major party have been willing to address the water supply situation in the way it deserves.

Driving home, I began thinking. Solutions to the problem exist and are known to the people who run our country. Yet, politicians are in the business of being elected. They don’t like taking decisions and implementing measures which may be necessary, but also risk losing them an election. How to overcome that hurdle?

Then it struck me. If no one party felt it could take the political risk of addressing our water problem, how about all of them? This is a collective issue, it needs to be tackled collectively. If all parties, large and small, worked together to come out with a long-term policy document on water management, agreed upon by all, the responsibility shared by all, then the political hit to all would be negated.

For once our politicians would be perceived to be working, not for themselves, not for their party, but for the benefit of our country. Trust in the current political class is at an all-time low, this is one of the reasons PartitDemokratiku was formed. What I am proposing may actually be construed as working against the interest of my own party. But, you see, we are not in this to gain power, we are in this for the good of the country.

If all the political parties in this country could work together toward a long-term solution for this issue, could it be far-fetched to hope the same template could be used on other problems of similar magnitude facing this country?

Could we finally address other serious concerns like transport, land management, a living wage, sustainable development, good governance? Could our politicians stop being politicians and start being statesmen? Could a national Water Policy give us political hope?

Anthony Buttigieg

Deputy Leader

PartitDemokratiku

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Sometimes It Needs a Doctor’s Touch

Yesterday a bill was moved in parliament by Dr. Godfrey Farrugia and co-sponsored by Dr. Deo Debattista to enable doctors to examine and treat 16 and 17 year olds without parental consent, only if they were deemed able and mature enough. This is a bill long in the coming and absolutely necessary to address certain anomalies in our legislation.

Ever since I graduated as a doctor, and believe me that was not yesterday, I have come across situations where the need for youths of that age to get parental consent for treatment of a medical condition bordered on the ridiculous.

In my time at the emergency department I treated two youths with traumatic amputation sustained at a place of work, both were sixteen. As the injuries were not life threatening, we needed their parent’s consent to treat them. Where is the sense in that? They were old enough to work, they were old enough to be put in harm’s way, yet they were not old enough to consent to treatment for their injuries.

One incident was even more mind boggling. A seventeen-year-old mother, accompanied by her 17-year-old husband presented with appendicitis. She could not be operated until we got hold of her parents to sign the consent. This girl, whether you agree or not, was old enough to marry, old enough to have a child, and yet was unable to decide how she could be treated.

Any doctor worth his salt knows that three-quarters of the road to reaching a correct diagnosis comes from taking a good history from the patient. This law enables 16 and 17 year olds to be able to speak to a physician in the knowledge that they will not be obliged to reveal what has passed between themselves to the parents of the patient. I understand that this may raise the hackles of many a parent. But think of it. I have a sixteen-year-old daughter, and just like any other father or mother, getting her to express her concerns and troubles can be as difficult as extracting a tooth from an elephant. If young people like her visit a doctor feeling free to discuss their symptoms and concerns in the full knowledge that what has been said will remain confidential, aren’t they more likely to unload what is troubling them completely? Isn’t it then more likely they will be treated properly?

This may seem like an over liberal law to some, but in some countries a child of ANY age can request a parent to leave a consulting room to speak confidentially to a doctor. If the doctor deems the child mature enough to do that, the parents are obliged to accede to that request. I am not saying that we should go down that pathway, I am mentioning it just to show how unradical this law and just how archaic our current system is.

Some concerns were voiced in parliament about how is it possible to analyse the maturity of a patient within a ten-minute consultation. I honestly cannot understand that concern. I think any physician, teacher or other adult used to dealing with people can judge the mental age of someone within minutes of speaking to them. Until now the biggest problem has been getting them to speak, as more often than not the parents don’t give them a chance.

Every now and then our politicians move bills in parliament that will deliver no political or personal gain. They are moved out of necessity, not out of some grand design. I say chapeau to Godfrey Farrugia for moving this bill, chapeau to Deo Debattista for co-sponsoring it, chapeau to both sides of the house for engaging in a lively but constructive debate, and chapeau to each and every individual member of parliament for passing it through its second reading unanimously. Would there be more occasions when I could say the same. Parliament itself needs a good dose of medicine, it seems that sometimes it needs a doctor’s touch to make it function well..

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Nepotism: 12. Trust: 0. Malta Appointment Festival.

Partit Demokratiku finds it hard to believe that a government that promised change, meritocracy and transparency has completely lost its way. The recent appointment of Judge Emeritus Farrugia Sacco to head the newly formed Lands Authority shows clearly the inability of the current administration to restore faith in our institutions. Retired judge emeritus Farrugia Sacco has faced two impeachment motions under two different Prime Ministers. He was also found guilty prima facia by the Commission for the Administration Justice (CAJ).

The Lands department has been at the centre of two scandalous controversies during this administration, that of Cafe Premier and Strada Zekka. Any hope that this reform would actually create an authority that is independent from Castille was killed when the government appointed the majority of the board and a chairperson who is clearly not to be trusted given his past track record. Partit Demokratiku is concerned that the authority’s puppet master will be Castille. Partit Demokratiku would like to remind the current administration that when people voted for change in 2013, they did not vote to get more of the same or even worse.
Partit Demokratiku notes that while magistrate Consuelo Scerri Herrera’s appointment was rejected by the Judicial Appointments Committee due to ‘her conduct in private life’; Farrugia Sacco’s appointment still went ahead despite the fact that his record in public life is not one to be championed. Partit Demokratiku strongly condemns the normalisation of such behaviour and the rewarding of it by handing out such posts to those responsible.
Trust is the intangible indispensable element that together with adequate reform can jumpstart the much needed efficiency, result yielding capacity of our institutions. ***
Stqarrija Stampa 11.01.2017

Nepotiżmu: 12. Fiduċja: 0. Malta Ħatriet Festival

Il-gvern li wiegħed il-bidla, meritokrazija u trasparenza jidher li tilef triqtu. Fl-aħħar jiem l-Imħallef Emeritus Farrugia Sacco laħaq iċ-ċermen il-ġdid tal-Awtorita’ tal-Lands. Il-Partit Demokratiku jgħid li dan hi turiha biċ-ċar li din l-amministrazzjoni ma tridx li l-poplu jerġa jikseb il-fiduċija fl-istuzzjonijiet tal-pajjiż. Matul il-karriera tiegħu bħala imħallef, l-Imħallef Farrugia Sacco kellhu żewġ mozzjonijiet ta’ Impeachment taħt żewġ prim ministri differenti. Huwa ukoll instab ħati prima facia mill-Kummissjoni għall-Amministrazzjoni tal-Ġustizzja.
Id-dipartiment tal-Lands kien f’nofs żewġ każijiet kontroversjali u skandalużi, dak tal-Cafe Premier u ta’ Strada Zekka. Il-Partit Demokratiku jgħid li jekk kien hemm xi tama li din ir-riforma verament kienet se tkun riforma, din it-tama inqatlet. Dan għaliex apparti l-fatt li chairman huwa Farrugia Sacco, il-maġġoranza tal-bord intlaħqet mill-gvern innifsu. Il-Partit Demokratiku jibża li wara l-Awtorita’ se hemm l-id ta’ Kastilja. Il-Partit Demokratiku jfakkar li meta n-nies ivvuttaw għall-bidla, għamlu dan biex l-affarijiet jinbidlu, u jinbidlu għall-aħjar mhux għall-agħar.
Il-Partit Demokratiku jinnotta li filwaqt in-nominazzjoni tal-maġistrat Consuelo Scerri Herrera ma ntlaqatx mill-Kumitat dwar il-Ħatriet tal-Ġudikatura minħabba imġieba fil-ħajja personali tagħha, fil-każ ta’ Farrugia Sacco il-gvern ħass li xorta waħda għandhom jaħtruh bħala chairman minkejja li dan għandu track record ta imġieba ħażina tul il-karriera tiegħu bħala imħallef. Il-Partit Demokratiku jikkundanna li talli imġieba tiġi normalizzata permezz ta’ ħatriet f’karigi tant importanti bħal dik ta’ chairman ta’ Lands bil-barka ta’ Kastilja.
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Child pawns of a political system

Some of you may not like what you are about to read, but then, I was never one to care about saying what is popular, it was always about saying what I believed is right.

In the past few days Home Affairs Minister Carmelo Abela stated that the government will not give Maltese citizenship to children born to migrant parents. I and the political party I am part of believe this decision is fundamentally wrong both on moral and humanitarian grounds.

I will explain why.

This decision was not made according to any consistent stand against migration made by this government, or the previous one for that matter. If that was the case, we would not have thousands of Libyans living here as bogus directors of bogus companies funded by money taken illegally out of their country.

We would not have hundreds of illegal workers from eastern Europe in the construction, hospitality, entertainment and agriculture and fishery industries artificially driving lower end wages down and not contributing one cent to the government’s coffers.

We would not have hundreds of wealthy people buying our passport for the sole intention of avoiding paying taxes in their own country. We would have none of that.

This decision was taken out of pure political expediency. The Labour Party is worried it will lose votes to the anti-immigration right wing parties forming in this country and decided to make a gesture to pander to people who may switch support to them. So what did they do? Emulating an increasingly consistent pattern of behaviour, they picked on the most vulnerable to show their strength.

The Nigerian parents of the children being denied citizenship have been living here legally for years under a government programme for failed asylum seekers called Temporary Humanitarian Protection Status (THPn).

Thanks to this programme, unlike some of the groups mentioned earlier, they were working legally, paying taxes and national insurance just like you and me, and generally contributing to our society.

This programme has now been terminated. Fair enough. It is a decision a government has the right to take. However, in a few cases, as the people affected have been here for such a long time, children have been born to them.

The only country these children know is Malta, in some cases the only language they speak fluently is Maltese. They know themselves as Maltese children of foreign parents. If they were born to foreign parents with residency in Malta, they would be eligible to a Maltese passport. As THPn is not considered this they do not have that right.

Yet they have no alternative country to be citizens of, they are not registered in the home country of their parents, the parents themselves have no documentation to legally go back to their country of origin. The end result of this is the government is condemning these children to a life of stateless limbo.

Even if this was not the case, to wrench children from the only society they have known as a result of a cynical political gesture goes against everything that makes us Maltese. Where is the Christian tradition in that? We boast of our generosity, we boast of record amounts of money collected in L-Istrina, and yet collectively we deny a few, and it is a very few, children the fundamental human right of having an identity and belonging to a country.

Before the xenophobes and ‘patriots’ get ranting it will open the flood gates to more coming here so their children get Maltese citizenship, the government can easily draw a line and make it clear that from now on this will not be the case. Those that came before were not told this, and in effect built a life under an illusion perpetrated by the authorities. We have done wrong by them by giving them the impression they could stay, we must do right by not harming the innocent product of that illusion, their children.

Partit Demokratiku was founded on the principle of protecting the vulnerable, encouraging sustainable development, fighting corruption and enforcing good governance. It was not founded on the everything-goes-for-a-vote concept.

All the other political parties have been deafening in their silence on this injustice, we will continue to do what is right, not what is popular. We will not let child pawns be the victims of our political system.

Anthony Buttigieg

Deputy Leader

Partit Demokratiku

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Bl-Ewropa ġo qalbna

Ħafna minnkom iħobbuh it-tuffieħ. Tħobbuh aħdar iebes, kemm kemm qares, jew aħmar nar u aktar ħelu.

Daż-żmien tħobbuh ukoll f-forma tal-kaxxa quddiemkom li ggib l-istess isem u li sservi ta’ tieqa għall-kumplament tad-dinja, biex tittawwlu, tissindikaw bħallikieku minn xi muxrabija, taraw, issegwu, tiżvugaw, tistaqsu w targumentaw sakemm il-kpiepel t’għajnejkom jingħalqu u tmur għajnkom bikom.

Torqdu qiskom ħrief iva, imma mhux qabel ma tkunu qattgħajtu xi sagħtejn fuq il-Facebook tixxalaw jew tindannaw skond il-muża.

Fil-biċċa l-kbira, forsi mhux dejjem, tilħqu tinzgħu il-jeans u xxiddu qalziet tal-piġama, qabel ma tgħoddsu taħt il-friex.

Forsi anke jibqgħalkom biżżejjed enerġija biex tilħqu tilbsu l-headphones u tisimghu xi naqra lil Freddie Mercury jkantalna ‘Another one bites the dust’ jew ‘Radio gaga’ biex imbagħad issalpaw għal ġod-dinja tal-ħolm filwaqt li titbissmu mal-ewwel nota ta’ ‘Who wants to live forever’.

Il-computer, il-midja socjali, il-jeans, il-King tal-Queen.

Steve Jobs, Zuckerberg, Levi, Freddie Mercury.

Erba’ minn nies li kellhom u għandhom effett fuq il-ħajja tagħna kif nafuha llum.

Lkoll eżempji ta’ tfal ta’ immigranti li xi darba, xi mkien, xi hadd ta kenn lilhom jew lil missirijiethom u tahom cans jgħixu u jikbru. Ma ħallewhomx jgħerqu. Ma bagħtuhomx lura lejn kontinent mifni bil-gwerra.

Ma ħallewhomx maqfulin go gabjetta tal-wire b’toqba fl-art fejn ibattlu.

Qabel, l-ekonomija tad-dinja kienet tiddependi biss fuq industriji u riżorsi fiżiċi bħaż-żejt, magni, karozzi, l-uranium, manifattura. Kulħadd kien jiġġieled għall-istess għadma. Il-fruntieri kienu jeżistu u kellhom rwol. Imma llum id-dinja nbidlet.

L-ekonomija u l-iżvilupp dinji ma jiddependix biss fuq dawn.

Hemm ekonomija tiddependi fuq it-tagħrif, fuq l-idejat, il-krejattivita’, l-innovazzjoni, ir-riċerka.

M’hemmx għalfejn tkun it-tifel tar-re biex tagħmel il-flus u tħaddem partita nies. Jekk ikollok moħħ tajjeb, titgħallem, tħaddem rasek u tkisser moħħok, u tistinka biżżejjed, tista’ taghmel l-ikbar suċċess.

Kull ma jkollok bżonn hija stabbilita’, opportunita’ u ħelsien mix-xkiel biex tikber, fejn tkun qed tgħix.

Mela l-akbar ġid li jista’ jkollu pajjiż jew kontinent huwa poplu moħħu kwadru, motivat, ambizzjuz u għatxan għas-suċċess.

Issa dal-poplu jista’ jiġi ghax twieled hemm, jew jista’ jiġi għax iċ-ċirkustanzi xi darba kienu tali li popli sħaħ kellhom jiċċaqilqu, jemigraw, jaħarbu u jsibu bidu ġdid ġo art oħra.

It-taħlit ta’ ġnus huwa ħaġa tajba anke genetikament, bijoloġikament.

Nisthajjilkom tgħidu biex ġejja tal-Orange illum.

Sempliċi.

Il-Partit Demokratiku huwa l-Partit tal-Patrimonju Malti u Għawdxi. Nemmnu li l-pajjiżna u niesna għandhom igawdu bis-sħieħ il-ġmiel naturali, storiku, arkitettoniku, kulturali li jżejjen dal-ġmiel ta’ gżejjer li għandna.

Diġa wrejna li lesti niġġieldu bis-sħiħ għal dan.

Il-Partit Demokratiku jġib rispett u jgħozz il-kultura popolari anke devozzjonali tal-pjazez u t-toroq, fil-qalb tal-ibliet u rħula tagħna, daqs kemm jgħozz il-kultura tal-ifjen tejatri u l-ogħla orkestra.

Lili tafuni biżżejjed.

Il-Partit Demokratiku miġnun fuq ilsien pajjizna, is-sisien u l-bażi ta’ kull ċellola tal-kultura ewlenija tagħna.

Il-PD ovvja li jifhem li pajjizna ma jistax isolvi l-problemi kollha tad-dinja u jilqa’ fih lil kull min jaħrab mill-gwaj.

Isolvi kollox ma jistax imma jagħti eżempju jista’, aktar w aktar bħalissa li qiegħed fid-dawl ħelu tal-Presidenza tal-Kunsill tal-EU.

Għaldaqstant aħna nemmnu li l-kultura li aħna ħmejna matul is-sekli bis-saħħa ta’ u minkejja li ġnus minn kull rokna tad-dinja ħakmuna u tħalltu magħna, ma tkunx mhedda sempliċiment għax aktar nies minn razez differenti jikbru spalla ma’ spalla magħna.

Ahna tal-PD nemmnu li aktar ma jkun hemm demm ġdid pajjizna, aktar nissaħħu bhala poplu u aktar il-kultura tagħna tistagħna.

Min qiegħed hawn jeħtieġ li jahdem jikkontribwixxi u jgawdi żvilupp sħiħ tiegħu innifsu bħalna li nzertajna twelidna hawn.

Tfal ta’ genituri bla dokumenti għandhom jinghataw iċc-ċittadinanza, jistudjaw u jilħqu u jagħtu sehemhom fis-suċċess tal-pajjiz tagħna lkoll.

Araw l-Amerka, il-Kanada, l-Awstralja, l-Germanja, l-Ingilterra.

Minn naħa l-oħra, min mhux lest li jġib ruhu ta’ nies u jgħix f’sinerġija magħna, dak iva, dak mhux postu jiġri ġon-nies.

U nirrepeti, li Malta tista’ żżomm biss dak li tiflah.

Imma fil-frattemp tista’ ssuq lil pajjizi Ewropej u oħrajn biex filwaqt li nattakkaw l-għeruq tal-kaġun tal-ħarba tal-familji, fl-istess ħin il-pajjiżi kollha jgawdu mill-preżenza ta’ nies ġodda u n-nies ġodda jgawdu mill-valuri Ewropej li dejjem kienu fuq quddiem biex il-pajjizi żviluppati irreġistraw is-suċċess li għandhom illum.

Sadanittant hemm kartellun tal-Gvern għall-Presidenza li qed jgħid li ha jpoġġina fil-qalb tal-Ewropa.

Lill-Gvern ngħidlu, li biex jirnexxi fil-Presidenza, mhux ipoġġi lilna fil-qalb ta’ l-Ewropa għandu bzonn ghax aħna minn dejjem konna hemm.

Minflok irid ipoggi l-Ewropa msarrfa f’valuri f’qalbu u f’qalb il-poplu tagħna!

Imbagħad ikun jista’ imexxi bl-eżempju.

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