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The Blue Badge Blues

This week another mini scandal broke out when it was announced that the National Commission for People with disabilities (KNPD) asked the police to seize the Blue Badge awarded to the wife of a PL member of parliament due to its abuse. I will not go into the merits of why that blue badge was awarded to the MP’s wife 4 years ago, and renewed again after two following an accident. It does however seem very odd that by her own admission on social media, her disability means she cannot wear flat shoes but must wear high heels, very high heels on occasion.

What galls me as a citizen of this country is that people who are meant to be serving the public abuse of the system to serve themselves.

Let me explain where I am coming from. On the 16th October 1982 I was involved in a serious traffic accident. This accident left me in crutches for three and a half year with a permanent injury to my right leg. The end result of which is one leg over 2cm shorter than the other, a permanently broken bone in that leg, and over the years since increasing arthritis in the joints of that same limb. As a doctor in an emergency room I spend 12 hours on my feet and often end the day in considerable pain. Despite the fact that I often park several hundred metres from my home due to the parking situation in the part of Rabat I live in, I have never considered applying for a Blue Parking Badge or reserved parking slot for the disabled.

I will tell you why. It may be uncomfortable, but I can still walk distances. I partially adjust the shortening in my leg by wearing insoles in the relevant shoe (just like the MPs wife wears heels…..). There is only one Disabled parking slot in the vicinity of my house and more than one old or infirm person living in that neighbourhood. I could easily make use of it but would then deny them the same. I get by, and until I can get by will park like everyone else.

Before people think that this is a PL bashing session. I would like to mention another example of petty abuse by a self-serving politician form the other side of the house. In Rabat, opposite Howard gardens stand the notarial offices of Tony Abela. They are clearly marked as offices with name plates of the people working there. The entrance however looks like a garage and has the usual ‘No Parking, garage in use 24hrs’ sticker on it. In front of this ‘garage’ there is the obligatory yellow box painted to stop people parking there, with one exception, the car of the above-mentioned notary. How do I know it is his? Well in a fit of overwhelming modesty he chose as the number plate of his vehicle IN-NUTAR. Every day, during office hours, you will find it there. Outside office hours a very scarce parking space goes to waste.

The two examples of abuse mentioned here do not affect me personally, the notary’s office is nowhere near where I live, and I doubt if Luciano Busuttil ever parks in my street. They do, however, irritate me immensely, and if they irritate me I am pretty sure that they irritate many others just as much.

Public servants are there to do exactly what their job description says, serve the public. And Members of Parliament, whether they think so or not, are public servants. Just like being a doctor, nurse, teacher, policeman, fire fighter and many other jobs, it is not easy and should be considered as a vocation. And just like doctors, nurses, teachers etc. who may not have their heart in the job and who are doing it for the wrong reasons, a public servant of the same ilk will generally prove to be very poor at it.

Examples like these two do no favour to their parties or to the image of politicians in general, yet they are a symptom of the malaise running through the corridors of power. It is precisely why the public is disillusioned with the current state of party politics and many well-meaning people of talent will have nothing to do with the two major political parties. If PL and PN do not realise soon that it is the minor insults like these that get to all of us; the Blue Badges, the inappropriately allocated parking slots, the 700 Euro minibar bills; just as much as major scandals, they will find out soon enough at the ballot box.  Malta and its electorate is changing fast, PL and PN must change faster or be left behind.

 

Dr. Anthony Buttigieg MD

Deputy leader

Partit Demokratiku

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To trust or not to trust

In the past few weeks there have been several embarrassing (to the government and to the country) revelations and accusations regarding the actions of people enjoying positions of trust within the government. Let us analyse a little what a position of trust means.

The idea of appointing people personally trusted by prime ministers and ministers directly does have some basis in good governance. It seems to be pretty reasonable that a member of cabinet would want to know that those closest to him could be trusted and that discussions overheard would not be leaked to the general public and the press prematurely. It would therefore be just as reasonable that he/she would want to appoint people he/she has known for years and with whom they have a long-standing relationship. Originally positions of trust were understood to be those literally closest to the high ranking official. Namely personal drivers and personal secretaries. As long as the appointments were limited to those in direct contact the system worked very well.

Recently, however, we have seen an explosion of appointees in positions not only not directly in contact with the minister concerned, but with a considerable amount of authority and autonomy. This is where things have gone pear shaped. The civil service runs on career professionals who owe their allegiance, not to ministers, not to a particular political party, but to their employer, the state.

They carry on doing the job they have trained and studied for, no matter who is in government, like all true professionals. And like all true professionals their political allegiance does not affect their performance. As a doctor, I have often come across situations where I have treated people I don’t particularly like, but does that affect my actions? Not at all. They get the best I have to give. This is the same with the civil service.

And this is the crux of the current problem. Appointees of political trust have often been given positions of political, administrative and financial power, not because of their qualifications, as many are not qualified to do the job, but in return for a favour by the minister concerned for past services within their party or on the electoral campaign. And as they are basically political appointees they know that when the government changes they will be thrown out with the political party they support.

The effect of this is two-fold. Firstly, their allegiance lies, not with their country, but with the person and party who appointed them. Their decisions are not taken on the principle of what is right for Malta but on political expediency.

Secondly, a few, and fortunately it is a few, will try to make hay whilst the sun shines. By being given positions where they are able to sign off contracts and purchases of considerable value, human nature being what it is, they are exposed to the temptations of corruption, and do succumb. Having not gone through a proper vetting process, the moral character of these people has not undergone due scrutiny and the result is there for all of us to see.

We need to change the law and limit appointments of positions of trust to those directly in contact with a minister. They should be barred from any position where decisions of national importance are made. They should be nowhere near the decision-making process where contracts and tenders are decided upon. And in the case where they stray from good governance, the person appointing them should know he/she is directly responsible for their actions and must pay for them, as it was they who vouched for them.

Anthony Buttigieg is deputy leader of the Partit Demokratiku

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Ningħaqdu

Il-bieraħ il-Prim sejjaħ għall-għaqda, kif ghamlet il-President ftit jiem qablu u kif ser jagħmlu ohrajn warajh.

Fuq din naqbel mal-Prim.

Hekk għandu jkun, u hekk għandna nagħmlu.

Ningħaqdu.

Ningħaqdu bil-fatti favur dawk il-valuri waħdenin li jagħmluna wkoll ewlenin.

Ningħaqdu favur demokrazija miftuħa u attiva s-sena kollha.

Il-poplu jeħtieġ jiġi kkonsultat u mismugħ bil-fatti mhux bil-kliem. Konsultazzjoni għandha ssir bis-serjeta u qabel ma jittieħdu deċiżjonijiet li jispiċċaw ibiddlu il-ħajjiet ta’ ħafna.

Il-tħabbit mal-ideat u opinjonijiet tal-poplu ma jistax jibqa’ biss tejatrin biex ngħidu li sar, imma parteċipazzjoni veru u diretta tan-nies fid-deċiżjonijiet.

Il-gvern jeħtieġ jisma’ bil-moħħ mhux biss bil-widna.

Ningħaqdu, u mela le.

Flimkien għall-governanza trasparenti u nadifa, hielsa mill-korruzzjoni u l-attitudni ta’ ‘stajna għamilna l-affarijiet aħjar’, imma issa kulħadd jibqa’ b’li ħa!

Il-korruzzjoni tiswa’ lill-pajjiz miljuni kbar.

Min minn fostna huwa mċaħħad l-iżjed, l-aktar li jbati l-effett tal-korruzzjoni, għax minflok dawk il-flus jintużaw biex jibnulu l-għatba biex jagħmel il-qabża ħalli jgħix ħajja dinjituża, l-istess flus jintefgħu fil-but ta’ xi ħadd li mbagħad tiżdiedlu s-saħħa biex iżomm fil-poter lil min ikun qed iżoqqu.

Dażgur li ningħaqdu.

Bill-qalb favur id-dinjita’ tal-ħajja tal-bniedem mill-konċepiment sal-mewt.

L-anzjani tagħna jixirqilhom l-aqwa f’ dak li hu għarfien, ħarsien u kura kemm jekk qegħdin id-dar, f’istituzzjonijiet residenzjali privati jew tal-gvern, jew ‘każijiet’ soċjali fl-isptarijiet.

Ningħaqdu iva ħalli ma nħallu lill-ebda anzjan jibki waħdu fil-Milied u f’kull jum tas-sena, u l-ebda minn fostna jħossu abbandunat u minsi wara li jkun ta ħajtu għal familtu u għall-pajjiż.

Ningħaqdu, mela, u kif.

Għall-ħarsien tal-ġmiel ewlieni u fraġili taċ-ċkejken pajjiżna. Sbuħija li writna mingħand missirijietna u li aħna obbligati li ngħaddu lil uliedna fi stat aħjar , mhux agħar.

Pajjiżna qed jinfena bi żvilupp bla sens. Ningħaqdu iva jekk il-Gvern sinċier biżżejjed biex magħna n-nies ma jħallix din it-traġedja tkompli tirrombla minn fuq wirt pajjiżna.

Ningħaqdu, iva u minnufih biex dawk in-nies li qassmu deżert u ibħra biex jaħarbu mill-għajb f’pajjiżhom, u issa huma tagħna, nagħtuhom dak li hu tagħhom: id-drittijiet bażiċi umani li jħarsuhom mill-esplojtazzjoni mill-iskjavitu modern.

Malta ma tistax iżżomm lil kulħadd, imma t-tfal li twieldu fostna huma tagħna u m’għandhomx jitħallew mingħajr stat.

Familji diġa hawn u ntegrati n’ ghandhomx jitkissru u jitharrbtu imma ghandhom jithallew hawn biex jibqghu jaghtu sehmhom fl-ekonomija taghna u jghixu ta’ nies bhalna.

Ninghaqdu, dażgur, u b’ruħna w ġisimna biex neradikaw il-faqar f’pajjizna mhux biss billi nżidu l-minimum wage imma billi nitrattaw kull każ ta’ faqar fuq bażi individwali għaliex l-għerq tal-faqar ħafna drabi jmur lil hinn mis-saħħa finanzjarja.

Kull politka li nħaddmu tista’ tohloq deni u faqar  daqs kemm toħloq gid materjali. X’jiswew il-flus f’idejn poplu mċaħħad minn saħħtu u marid minħabba deċiżjonijiet ħżiena li jxejnu ċ-ċans ta’ ħajja kuntenta bi spazji utli għal saħħtu u nodfa  f’pajjiżu.

Ningħaqdu  ponn, iva, billi mmorru għall-Presidenza bħala poplu wiehed b’saħħtu u eżemplari rappreżentat minn Gvern hieles mill-elementi rampanti ta’ abbuż ta’ fiduċja tal-poplu minħabba atti korrotti u li ma jixirqux. Il-poplu wera li mhux kuntent li fost l-ogħla rappreżentanti tiegħu hemm ħmieġ bil-barka ta’ min hu fuq.

Fl-Ewropa hemm mewġa kontra establishment korrott, liema mewġa kif kulhadd jaf tista’ tiswielna l-kunċett Ewropew u l-paċi li dan ifisser.

Kif nistgħu nkunu Presidenza popolari mal-ġnus ewropej jekk il-Gvern tagħna jippreżenta ruhu kif inhu: bħala l-personifikazzjoni tal-aċċettazzjoni tal-ħażen?

Biex inkunu poplu wieħed fuq din hemm bżonn kinsa sewwa minnufih sabiex min jidher f’isimna jkun tassew jirrapreżenta s-sentiment tal-poplu Malti u Għawdxi kollu.

Imbagħad, hekk iva, ningħaqdu biex nagħtu saħħa massima lill-Presidenza tal-Kunsill tal-Eu, biex insalvaw il-ħolma Ewropeja tagħna lkoll.

L-Ewropa mhux oġġett, imma hija int, jien, in-nanniet u t-t-tfal tagħna. L-Ewropa hija sekli ta’ ġnus minn kullimkien li għexu spalla ma’ spalla f’kontinent imsebbaħ minn mijiet ta’ ilsna, kulturi u tradizzjonijiet differenti. L-Ewropa hija l-benniena tal-akbar ċiviltajiet li skolpew id-dinja u saħansitra il-hajja moderna tal-lum.

Ta’ qabilna xerrdu demmhom biex jiddefendu l-Ewropa mill-ħakma anti-umana tan-Nazi u estremisti oħrajn qabilhom.

Il-ġenerazzjoni tagħna qed tiġi msejħa biex tingħaqad ħalli għal darb’oħra tikkumbatti l-firxa tad-dittatorjati lemini li jridu joħonqu s-sbuħija tad-diversita’ tal-umanita kollha kemm hi.

Ningħaqdu, iva, biex tkun il-lingwa tagħna, il-lingwa mill-gnus kollha mwaħħda fl-ilsien MALTI, li tinstema’ tgħajjat mal-erba’ rjiħat tad-dinja mill-podium Ewropew, biex nibnu mill-ġdid dinja ħanina bbazzata fuq is-sisien fundamentali tal-ħarsien tad-drittijiet universali tal-bniedem qiegħed fejn qiegħed, u hu min hu.

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A thorn in the side

This week Daphne Caruana Galizia was nominated by Politico, a highly respected news source in the EU as one of the 28 most influential women in Europe, citing her as ‘The best way to think of Daphne Caruana Galizia is as a one-woman WikiLeaks, crusading against untransparency and corruption in Malta, an island nation famous for both,” said Matthew Kaminski, Politico’s European executive editor. This was not an inconsiderable achievement.

Now before I go on I must make it clear, I am not particularly a fan of the lady concerned. I find her style a little bit too abrasive and her judgement tainted just a tad too much by political and emotional bias. It has to be admitted, however, that her courage, tenacity and willingness to take on the might of the government are admirable.

There will be many detractors who will pooh pooh the nomination saying that she has a chip on her shoulder and will do anything to denigrate the current government. That may be so, however, thanks to her the scandal of the Panama affair and many other dodgy dealings by this administration have come to light. No matter what your political affiliation, no matter where your allegiance lies, you will have to admit that checks and balances are not a bad thing.

Daphne is a blogger and a journalist writing for an independent newspaper. The newspaper has its own philosophy and opinion. That is as it should be and is the way of the world in any thriving democracy. It is not, however, unlike half the printed and television news available to the Maltese public, tied directly or indirectly to one political party or another. It analyses, judges and offers differing views, it gives a platform for different political opinions, and it does not insult their intelligence of the general population and assume they are unable to form an opinion for themselves.

The Independent is not the only platform offering this service. There is the Times, the Malta Today, several online sites, and a couple of (very small) TV channels. They give a service to us, the general public, which is far more valuable than the price we pay (if any) to read or listen to them. They offer us the ability not to be brain washed. They hold the people in power, both in government and in big business, accountable for their actions and often they are the reason why people are brought to account for wrong doings.

Without them, our democracy would be weaker, Malta would be a far more unpleasant place to live in and we the poorer both financially and morally. Politicians and businessmen are sensitive to public opinion and can be swayed by it. It is independent journalism that often exposes them and makes us aware of what is going on.

Daphne Caruana Galizia’s nomination can be taken as a personal achievement. I would rather think of it as an acknowledgement of our independent press. We need them, they are one of the most important pillars of our society. Without them Malta would be a far darker, corrupt and less free society than it is. They do a hard and often thankless job. In my opinion they are the unsung heroes of our democracy. We give the highest accolade of our land Gieh ir-repubblika to so many. They, collectively, deserve it most.

She may be difficult, she may be antagonistic but I would rather have 100 Daphnes than a L-orrizzont, In-Nazzjon Taghna, One News, Net News and, unfortunately TVM news. She is a thorn in the side of some, but pain is a good thing, it can warn of disease and lead to a cure. To independent journalism… long may you thrive.

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it-TORĊA

Qed noqorbu lejn tmiem ta’ sena oħra.

Inħarsu ‘l quddiem u nippjanaw, iżda rridu u ma rridux inħarsu wkoll lura, ninnotaw u ngħidu bejna u bejn ruhna.

Qed ngħixu aħjar?

Pajjiżna aħjar?

Nibda mill-bażiku. In-nifs u l-ħajja. U nistaqsi.

L-arja u l-ilma tagħna aħjar?

Il-pulmuni naturali ta’ pajjiżna, il-kampanja tagħna aħjar?

Għada hemm?

Għada hemm imma biex xabla bix-xabla ta’ Damocles tqattar il-konkos fuq rasha?

L-ibliet tagħna aħjar? Il-wirt arkittettoniku li għaddewlna missirijietna mħares iktar?

Għadhom neżlin djar antiki ta’ karattru uniku kuljum preċett? Jekk jiġikom dubju morru sa tas-Sliema imbagħad ejjew sad-daħla tal-Qrendi minn naħa tas-Salvatur ħalli taraw il-qerda bla ħniena tal-karattru Malti.

Is-sema tagħna aħjar? Jew tant qed iżidu t-tniġġiż li ma ndumux ma nieqfu narawh?

Il-baħar. Xi tgħiduli għall-baħar?

Il-ħmieġ tal-fishfarms, l-intejjen taħsbu li sar xi haga fuqhom?

Morru sa San Pawl il-Baħar.

L-isptar u s-saħħa.

Veru li qed jagħtukom appuntament aktar raġonevoli fil-ħin? Jew investigazzjoni essenzjali imissek wara li x’aktarx tkun taht sitt piedi trab?

Bil-fors trid tkellem lil xi ħadd biex iqabbżek?

Wara li ssirlek operazzjoni, qed jagħtuk ċans tirpilja ftit qabel ma jixkanawk ‘il barra bil-pajpijiet b’kollox?

Int li għandek bżonn is-social housing, sibt sokkors jew għadek tistenna l-proġett ta’ 50 miljun?

Int li taħdem il-ġimgħa kollha, u bil-għaqal, il-paga ssibha sservik? Il-paga tiegħek għoliet daqskemm għoliet il-ħajja?

X’taħseb fuq it-tip ta’ tmexxija?

Taraha żdiedet il-meritokrazija u t-trasparenza?

Il-korruzzjoni taħseb li l-Gvern qed jiġġilidha jew mgħerreq fiha?

Tħossok aħjar mis-sena l-oħra?

Il-Qrati speċjalment għalik li m’għandekx biex tħallas u m’għandekx kuntatti, tħosshom li qed jagħtuk ġustizzja? Jew aktar ma jmur tippreferi ssoffri fil-kwiet għax taf li l-Qrati mhumhiex ġusti ma’ min l-aktar vulnerabbli?

Inti li qed tissawwat ġo darek, x’inbidel għalik?

Il-kunsilli lokali mgħerrqin f’fernezija ta’ taħwid fil-finanzi. Baqgħalek fiduċja fihom?

L-isport. X’taħseb fuqu? Taħseb li għandha ssir racetrack li tibla’ r-raba u l-paċi li baqa’ fin-naha t’isfel ta’ Malta?

Id-drittijiet ċivili, li huma sbieħ u utli, taħseb li jigu qabel id-dritt tal-ħajja? Dan il-gvern qed idaħħal l-abort. Jista’ bniedem jgħid li jista’ ikollu d-drittijiet ċivili jekk jitteħhidlu id-dritt li jgħix?

L-edukazzjoni. It-tfal tagħna qed jitilgħu ċittadini jaħsbu b’moħħhom? Ċittadini b’identita’ li jirrispettaw lill-proxxmu u lil pajjizhom? Li jafu x’inhuma r-responsabilitajiet daqskemm jafu x’inhuma d-drittijiet?

It-tkabbir ekonomiku tagħna huwa wiehed sostenibbli? Jew huwa tkabbir li jeqred lilu nnifsu bħalma jagħmel il-kapitaliżmu mingħajr rażan?

Nista’ nibqa’ sejra.

Ir-risposti tafuhom kollha.

B’danakollu ma jfissirx li mhemmx tama li nibnu mill-ġdid fuq is-sewwa u nirranġaw.

Imma rridu nbiddlu l-pedament għax il-pedament immermer.

Is-sens ta’ dak li huwa sewwa għad-dinjita universali tal-bniedem għad baqa’ ħafna minna li nirrikonoxxuh u nagħrfuh bhala ċ-ċavetta biex noħorgu mill-isqaq li dħalna fih.

Mhux popoliżmu għandna bżonn.

Għandna bżonn ningħaqdu għal dak li kien s-sew, għadu s-sew u jibqa’ s-sew.

Mhux faċli.

Madwarna hawn tgerrfix ikrah.

Imma fl-għaqda s-saħħa.

Bhalma missirijietna bnew PAJJIŻNA, u bnew L-EWROPA, mit-terrapien riżultat ta’ gwerra fiżika, aħna rridu nibnu pajjiz u Ewropa mit-tifrik tal-gwerra li għadha għaddejja fuq id-dinjita tal-bniedem u dak li kollu li jista’ jservi ta’ pedament ghal-soċjeta ġusta ta’ veru.

Ma naqtgħux qalbna.

Is-sewwa jirbaħ zgur jekk nemmnu fih u lesti li niġġieldu għalih.

Ikolli nerga’ nfakkar illi s-skiet fid-dinja tal-lum huwa kompliċita mal-hażen.

Kull vuċi tgħodd u kull par idejn jistgħu jgħinu.

Nagħmlu kuraġġ lil xulxin.

Inġorru ahna t-TORĊA biex nuru t-triq.

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