Sociologist, local councillor, activist from Malta

Monday, November 13, 2017

Witches and politics - Michael Briguglio

Picture: The Salem Witch Trials

Times of Malta, 13 November 2017

In 1983, sociologist Diana Meehan analysed images of women on television. She suggested that representations on TV cast ‘good’ women as submissive, sensitive and domesticated while ‘bad’ women are rebellious, independent and selfish.
Through her analysis, Meehan identified common stereotypes of women as depicted on TV. These included ‘the harpy’, who is aggressive and single; and ‘the bitch’, who is a sneak, a cheat and manipulative, and ‘the witch’, who has extra power but is subordinated to men. Other stereotypes include the ‘good wife’, the ‘victim’, the ‘courtesan’ and the ‘matriarch’. Three decades later we still encounter such stereotypes in various forms of communication.
Which takes me to an article penned by Daphne Caruana Galizia in The Malta Independent (September 10). She wrote that the other side of the coin of advances in gay rights is the reality of what she saw as the real victims in Maltese society, straight women: the ones who are ‘bullied, harassed, ill-treated, patronised, pimped out or beaten up by straight men’. Little did Caruana Galizia know that she would herself be a victim, this time of a most cowardly act of bombing which robbed her life.
Caruana Galizia, who was often labelled as the ‘witch from Bidnija’ also frequently wrote about certain politicians who parade their wives as if they were some form of voiceless yet fashionable trophy.
Luckily, some female activists are deconstructing this narrative through brave initiatives such as Occupy Justice, which, incidentally was itself bullied by the caveman discourse of the likes of Tony Zarb.
True, Malta has advanced in certain policy initiatives related to gender equality. But let us not kid ourselves: we remain a European laggard in this field.
In this regard, a recent initiative organised at the University of Malta was almost prophetic in its choice of subject. ‘Women’, was organised by the Humanities, Medicine and Science (HUMS) programme, and it left much food for thought and action.
The seminar’s chair Clare Vassallo dedicated it Caruana Galizia, who had just been murdered a few days before. Indeed, the event was characterised by an eerie feel due to this macabre happening, but I could also sense a feeling of resolve among those present: a resolve to combat prejudice against women.
As Vassallo put it, Caruana Galizia started a whole new type of investigative journalism in Malta, and despite the insults, she remained fearless until the very end.
Vassallo also spoke of Virginia Woolf, who once observed that despite the richness of literature written by women, this was often obscured in patriarchal societies, where men wrote about women and where brave authors like Woolf herself had to overcome various hurdles to make it to the public sphere.
Another speaker, Edwina Portanier Brejza illuminated the audience with a host of examples of female inventors in the world of science, while Christine Galea discussed the Catholic narrative of equality of complimentary roles, something which perhaps deserves more debate in a world of increased diversity and fluidity.
Other speakers included Anthony Frendo, Charlene Vella and Charles Savona Ventura, the latter discussing what he calls the ‘five shades of purple’ in gender.
Of particular interest was the talk by Maria Theuma from the Department of English. She discussed the ‘cyborg’ theory of celebrated sociologist Donna Haraway. The latter had once proposed that our bodies are increasingly immersed with technologies in fields such as medicine and communication. While this can lead to dystopian futures in terms of ethical considerations, it can also serve as a source of liberation and self-creation.
And this self-creation can be applied in the fields of politics and activism. Caruana Galizia’s creative use of the blog was a case in point. Her articles were uploaded at all times of the day, and the whole country was hooked.
What made things even more interesting was that her blogs were shared in the social media and included tonnes of feedback. Many seemed to trust her more than the authorities when they provided her with information about corruption, bad governance and abuse of power. Everyone could become a co-author with Caruana Galizia, who articulated the information with her powerful pen.
It is now our duty, women and men, to ensure that Caruana Galizia’s writings live.

Front Favur ic-Censura - Michael Briguglio

Il-Mument, 12 ta' Novembru 2017

Ftit tal-granet ilu fettili nippostja xi ahbarijiet dwar censura minn media lokali fis-sit pubbliku fuq il-facebook tal-Front Kontra c-Censura.

Ftit wara irrealizzajt li gejt ibbanjat minn dan il-grupp. Iva, ibbanjat. Iccensurat. M’ghadx ghandi access ghal dan is-sit pubbliku ghax l-amministratur Mark Camilleri ghogbu jibbanjani minnu, kif stqarr huwa stess fuq il-facebook.

Tajba din! Jigifieri jekk xi hadd jippostja ahbarijiet dwar censura li ma jdoqqux ghal widnejn Camilleri, dan jigi ccensurat. L-attivist kontra c-censura sar jiccensura huwa stess. Qisu meta jkollok revoluzzjonarju li jsir tirann. Sewwa qal Albert Camus fil-ktieb ‘ir-Ribell’ meta wissa kontra l-assolutizmu.

Ta’ min jghid x’kien fihom il-posts tieghi. Wahda kienet dwar allegat theddid fuq muzicisti li kienu ser idoqqu f’kuncert ghal Daphne Caruana Galizia. Din l-ahbar deheret fuq Lovin Malta. Jien stess nista’ nikkonferma li hemm muzicisti jibzghu minn vendikazzjonijiet: Meta ftit granet wara n-netwerk tas-socjeta’ civili organizzat sit-in simboliku quddiem id-depot tal-Pulizija, stedinna numru ta’ bands. Kien hemm min accetta. Izda kien hemm ukoll min xtaq idoqq izda kellu jirrifjuta  minhabba li bezghu minn dak li jista’ jigrilhom galadabra jahdmu fic-civil.

Post ohra tieghi kienet ahbar li deher fuq is-sit newsbook. Hawnhekk, gie zvelat li Jonathan Ferris akkuza lill-Avukat Ġenerali peress li dan ta’ l-ahhar irid li l-każ ta’ Ferris jinstema' bil-magħluq. Ferris stqarr li dan imur kontra d-drittijiet tiegħu li għandu jkun protett b’mod xieraq mill-istat. Ta’ min niftakru li Ferris tkecca mill-FIAU talli dan ghamel xogholu fil-konfront investigazzjoni ta’ kriminalita’ ekonomika.

Vera gejna qeghdin sew. Il-Front Kontra c-Censura saret ticcensura hi stess. Ma nahsibx li din hi kumbinazzjoni. Mark Camilleri kien canvasser ta’ Owen Bonnici qabel l-elezzjoni tal-2013, u wara r-rebha Laburista giet mahtur chairman exekuttiv tal-Kunsill Nazzjonali tal-Ktieb. Qed jithallas eluf kbar ta’ Ewro mit-taxxi taghna f’dik li tista’ tissejjah hatra ‘taghna lkoll’.

Qabel l-elezzjoni tal-2017, il-Malta Independent (29 ta’ Mejju) irraportat li istess Mark Camilleri rega’ appoggja pubblikament lill-Partit Laburista u qal li ser jaghti l-ewwel preferenza  lill-Helena Dalli tal-PL u t-tieni preferenza lill-Alternattiva Demokratika. Qal ukoll li Simon Busuttil huwa ‘iktar korrott b’mod ovju’ minn Keith Schembri u Konrad Mizzi.

Ovjament Mark Camilleri ghandu kull dritt ghall-opinjoni tieghu, u nippreferi li persuna jghid x’inhi l-affiljazzjoni politika tieghu milli jinheba wara diskors oskur ta’ ‘newtralita’.

Izda nemmen li l-pozizzjoni ta’ Camilleri fil-Front Kontra c-Censura m’hijiex tenibbli ghas-semplici fatt li ghazel li jiccensura posts u kontributur sempliciment ghax ma jaqbilx mieghu. Liberta’ ta’ l-espressjoni? Ahjar nidhaq.

Monday, November 06, 2017

Passports without a soul - Michael Briguglio

Times of Malta 6 November 2017

When Joseph Muscat’s government introduced the controversial cash-for-passports scheme in 2013, it attempted to pacify criticism by promising that the scheme would be temporary. It is now clear that the scheme is the main reason why the government is registering a budgetary surplus. Malta is now dependent on the selling of passports and there are no signs that the government will stop the sellout. Joseph Muscat’s recent passport-selling trip to Dubai, a few days after the brutal murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, is very indicative of his priorities.
This is surely not something to boast about, especially when one considers Malta’s declining reputation due to tax avoidance schemes, money laundering, Panama Papers, corruption and institutional breakdown.
Indeed, the surplus of bad governance is overshadowing Malta’s financial surplus. The mechanisms of the passports scheme itself are very telling in this regard.
The government’s financial figures for the first eight months of 2017 included a €33.6 million increase from ‘Fees of Office’, which mainly refer to Malta’s sale of passports. In 2016, Malta registered a surplus of €112.9 million, and income from the sale of passports amounted to €163.5 million.
Seventy per cent of the funds generation from the sale of passports are deposited in the so-called National Development and Social Fund (NDSF), which was set up in July 2016, and prior to that such funds were temporarily recorded in a treasury fund. According to the government, the fund now has €309 million.
This is just about all the financial information which citizens of Malta are being given on our country’s sale of passports. The government also publishes information regarding those who are granted Maltese (and EU) citizenship, but this is cheekily muddled up in a list which also includes persons who were granted citizenship through naturalization. This year government went a step further and has so far failed to publish the list of persons granted citizenship.
I think that the government is having it too good on this matter, and here I am not only referring to the treatment of this matter by the Opposition, civil society and the local media. I am also referring to the negligence of the European Commission. I wonder what Jean-Claude Juncker has to say about Malta’s governance today, especially since the nightmare of bad governance and dubious deals has entered darker territory with the murder of Caruana Galizia.
Last year I wrote another article about the passports scheme in this newspaper, and to date various questions which I asked remain unanswered.
Specifically, what is being done with the revenue deposited in the fund referred to above? How is it being spent? Who decides on the allocation and utilization of funds? What are the timelines? Is there a business plan? Which specific areas are covered by the fund?
Following Labour’s massive exploitation of the power of incumbency in the run-up to last June’s general election, I can add other questions. Are such funds used for both capital and recurrent expenditure? How much was spent during the electoral campaign? Has expenditure increased following the election? When will itemised expenditure be published?
Let us keep in mind that the National Development and Social Fund is not part of the highly regulated EU funding framework. Thus it benefits from more flexible decisions and greater ministerial intervention. Spot on for incumbency.
Malta’s sale of passports is yet another example of the soulless state we are experiencing. It is soulless as short-term financial considerations are running roughshod over other concerns such as security, ethics, sustainability and transparency.
This is the same soulless State that is built on an infrastructure of buying votes through favours, resulting in increased dependency on ministers at the expense of true citizen empowerment. The soulless State is built on micro-power that spreads through the capillaries of society, where the government presence is all over the place. The sale of citizenship provides a financial base to this mechanism, resulting in an increased addiction to the malaise.

Muscat Negattiv - Michael Briguglio

Il-Mument 6 ta' Novembru 2017

Il-Prim Ministru ta’ Malta Joseph Muscat ghandu habta jghid li min ma jaqbilx mieghu huwa negattiv.

Hekk jaghmel meta l-media li m’hijiex ikkontrollata mil-Partit Laburista tirraporta dwar kazijet cari ta’ koruzzjoni u governanza hazina.

Hekk jaghmel meta’ ghaqdiet mhux governattivi iqajmu kwistjonijiet relatati mal-faqar, l-ambjent u l-prekarjat.

Hekk jaghmel meta s-socjeta’ civili tinghaqqad u titkellem b’mod car dwar il-qtil ta’ Daphne Caruana Galizia, dwar il-Panama Papers, dwar il-krizi ta’ l-istituzzjonijiet.

U hekk jaghmel meta deputati parlamentari ta’ l-oppozizzjoni jezercitaw id-dritt u d-dmir taghhom li jiskrutinaw l-operat tal-Gvern.

Izda kif kien spjega tajjeb Mark A. Sammut fil-ktieb L-Aqwa fl-Ewropa. Il-Panama Papers u l-Poter (2016), Joseph Muscat ta’ spiss juza tattika biex jizgwidana minn dak li jkun verament ghaddej. Jurina z’qed taghmel l-id il-leminija izda jahbi l-id ix-xellugija.

Joseph Muscat juza l-lingwagg ta’ ‘tkunx negattiv’ biex jitfa l-attenzjoni fuq l-avversarju politiku minflok fuqu nnifsu bhala kap tal-Gvern.

Il-Prim Ministru gieli jipprova jizgwidana iktar billi jipproponi mizuri godda fl-eqqel ta’ krizi politika. Mhux ta’ b’xejn li l-Gvern jiffoka fuq press conferences dwar materji li ma jkollhom x’jaqsmu xejn mal-krizi istituzzjonali.

Fl-eqqel tal-Panama Papers u fl-eqqel ta’ l-inkubu relatat mal-qtil ta’ Daphne Caruana Galizia, il-Gvern ta’ Muscat tarah jipproponi u jintroduci mizuri relatati mal-pensjonijiet, id-dizabilita’, il-liberatijiet civili u elf haga ohra.

F’dan il-kuntest jehtieg li ma nhallux lill-Prim Ministru juza r-riforma kostituzzjonali biex jizgwidana.

Halli nkun car : Pajjizna jehtieg riforma kostituzzjonali. Jehtieg li l-hatriet importanti ikollhom kunsens u fiducja wiesgha. Jehtieg li pajjizna ikollu gvern izghar u socjeta’ ikbar. Jehtieg li pajjizna ikollu iktar poteri dicentralizzati u inqas Ministri li jahtfu hafna poteri taht idejhom.

Izda jehtieg ukoll li Joseph Muscat jiehu decizzjonijet urgenti sabiex pajjizna jaffronta l-inkubu relatat mal-qtil ta’ Daphne Caruana Galizia u ma kwistjonijiet bhall-Panama Papers.

Qabel mal-Prim Ministru inehhi l-Avukat Generali u l-Kummissarju tal-Pulizija, difficli jkun hawn fiducja f’dawn l-istituzzjonijiet rispettivi. U jehtieg ukoll li l-Prim Ministru jaqbel ma’ l-oppozizzjoni u s-socjeta’ civili u jizgura li jkun hemm kunsens wiesgha ghall-hatra ta’ avukat generali u kummissarji tal-pulizija godda. Dan jista’ jsir b’approvazzjoni ta’ zewg terzi tal-Parlament.

Joseph Muscat ghandu opportunita’ li ma jibqax ikun negattiv dwar riforma urgenti f’dawn l-istituzzjonijiet. X’qed iwaqqfu milli jaghmel dan ?

Monday, October 30, 2017

Are they all wrong? Michael Briguglio

Times of Malta 30 October 2017

The Washington Post reported: “Daphne Caruana Galizia, journalist who assailed the powerful, dies in car bombing.”
“Malta’s most prominent investigative journalist has been killed in a car bombing, sending shockwaves across the European Union. She was well known for her work linked to the Panama Papers offshore banking revelations” (DW).
“Bomb kills journalist who exposed Malta’s ties to tax havens” (The Gazette).
“Her work targeted many powerful figures, including money-laundering banks, Mafia-linked gambling companies and politicians allegedly receiving covert payments” (The Guardian).
“Caruana Galizia was a fearless journalist and blogger who exposed numerous offshore dealings of prominent figures in Malta. She was also the mother of International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) developer and data journalist Matthew Caruana Galizia” (Caribbean News Now).
“Caruana Galizia had been following up leads from information in the so-called Panama Papers, a large collection of documents from an offshore law firm in the Central American nation that were leaked in 2015. She was tracing alleged links between Maltese officials and offshore banks and companies used as tax havens” (Al Jazeera).
“The murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia is a grim reminder of the risk journalists and whistleblowers face, not just in places like Russia and Egypt but in European democracies as well” (France 24).
“Brutal Killing of Journalist Exposes ‘Something Darker’ in Malta” (The New York Times).
“Death of a blogger casts shadow over murky Malta” (Reuters).
“The brutal murder of Maltese investigative reporter Daphne Caruana Galizia… casts an unwelcome light on a tiny Mediterranean island nation that many in Europe thought of as a holiday destination – if they thought of it at all. Now the EU’s smallest country, with a population of less than 450,000, will also be known as the place where a journalist gets killed by a car bomb in broad daylight, and a place where many point the finger of blame for this most unsubtle of crimes squarely at the government” (Politico).
“Top European Union officials have denounced Caruana Galizia’s slaying as an attack on journalistic freedom and insisted that rule of law prevail in the tiny member nation. Malta is widely considered a tax haven and a tempting venue for those looking to launder or hide ill-gotten gains” (Time).
“The island nation has a reputation as a tax haven in the European Union and has attracted companies and money from outside Europe” (US News).
“Malta, the EU’s smallest member, is fast becoming one of its most troubled. The Valletta courthouse is surrounded by signs of breakneck economic growth: the swanky facades of luxury boutiques and hotels; building sites bustling with immigrant construction workers, unencumbered by safety harnesses or helmets. For the past three years, under Joseph Muscat’s Maltese Labour Party (PL) government, GDP has soared at an annual average rate of almost seven per cent, against a background of unremitting corruption allegations” (The Economist).
“There are two things worth saying about Caruana Galizia’s brutal killing. One is that she’s a symbol who should make us all think of countries where reporters and editors die regularly, simply because they’re doing their job: say Mexico, 11 killed already this year.
“But Caruana Galizia has a greater demand for our attention. Like Guerin, slain in Dublin. Like Politkovskaya, murdered in Russia’s days of relative freedom, 11 years ago. Malta is part of our world, our European world and our colonial heritage” (Peter Preston, The Guardian).
“The slain journalist had no shortage of enemies, having penned stories critical of many prominent local politicians and businessmen, both local and foreign, and allegedly corrupt dealings… Whatever the motivations of the killers, the media, the justice system and the government all find themselves in the spotlight once more” (Euronews).
“Caruana Galizia’s killing has sent shock waves around the world, with the United States the latest country to condemn it” (The Daily Mail).
The above selection of quotes was taken from newspapers and press agencies around the world. At the same time, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has embarked on his passport-selling tour and has tried to convince the international press that people are ‘happy’, that Malta is ‘serene’, and that Daphne’s son Matthew’s response to the murder of his mother was ‘emotional’.
Further comments are not needed.

Il-kitba waqt inkubu - Michael Briguglio

Il-Mument 29 ta' Ottubru 2017

Malta bhalissa qed tghix inkubu. BIl-qtil ta’ Daphne Caruana Galizia, pajjizna qabez kull limitu u ma nistghux nibqghu sejrin hekk. Qed nghixu krizi istituzzjonali, fejn l-istat qed jonqos milli jipprotegina mill-korruzzjoni, mill-vjolenza u mil-kriminalita’.

F’pajjizna rega’ hawn il-biza’. Biza’ mil-bulijiet li qed jaghmlu li jrdu. Biza li jkun hawn iktar karozzi bombi li jisplodu. Biza’ li l-hasil tal-flus u l-bejgh tal-passapori jkollhom riperkussjonijiet koroh fuq il-fibra socjali.

U hawn insaqsi lili nnifsi: Dwar xiex ghandi nikteb meta pajjizna ikun ghaddej minn din it-tip ta’ krizi?

Meta nikteb fil-gazzetti u fuq il-media socjali, generalment naghzel temi li jkunu topici u li ghandhom x’jaqsmu mal-politika socjali, l-ambjent, governanza, materji internazzjonali, kultura, ekonomija u temi ohrajn.

Fl-artikli nipprova nqajjem mistoqsjiet, nanalizza xi jkun ghaddej, u nevalwa possibilitajiet li jistghu itejbu dak li jkun ghaddej. Gieli s-suggetti ikunu topici – bhal nghidu ahna il-bagit, u gieli jkollhom iktar x’jaqsmu ma’ materji li jehtiegu dibattitu fuq medda itwal ta’ zmien, bhal nghidu ahna, l-ambjent marittimu u s-socjeta’.

Izda meta l-pajjiz ikun ghaddej minn krizijiet, donnu kollox jieqaf. Ikun difficli hafna li tahseb dwar materji li m’humiex konnessi direttament mal-krizi.

Meta faqqa’ l-iskandlu tal-Panama Papers, hekk kien gara. Ma’ kull jum bdew hergin iktar ahbarijiet li bdew juru kif persuni prominenti fil-Gvern Laburista kienu implikat f’dan l-iskandlu. U allura ma kellix ghazla hlief li nikkummenta dwar dan is-suggett.

Issa pajjizna esperjenza il-qtil makabru ta’ Daphne Caruana Galizia. Dan sar f’kuntest fejn l-istituzzjonijiet ma tawx il-protezzjoni mehtiega. Qisna qeghdin go inkubu. Hafna minna ghadna taht xokk, u ma nistghux nikkoncentraw dwar affarijiet ohra. Irridu l-gustizzja.

U l-gustizzja m’hijiex biss li jinstab il-qattiel. B’gustizzja qed nifmhu li l-istituzzjonijiet jerghu igawu l-fiducja mic-cittadini. Qed nifmhu li jinhatru kummisarju tal-pulizija u avukat tal-gvern godda, b’approvazzjoni ta ‘zewg terzi tal-parlament.

Il-fatt li pajjizna qed jghix dan l-inkubu jfisser li ma nistghux nikkoncentraw fuq kwisjonijiet li normalment jigu diskussi fil-politika: il-prekarjat, il-pensjonijiet, is-sostenibilita’, il-kwalita’ ta’ l-arja, l-immigrazzjoni, ir-riforma elettorali, it-trasport, u elf haga ohra.

Dan kollu joffri dilemma kbira lil min bhali jikteb regolarment. Iktar ma nitkbu dwar il-krizi, inqas ma niktbu dwar il-materji l-ohra. U inqas ikun hemm  diskussjoni dwarhom.

Ghalhekk, l-inkubu li qed nghixu fih qieghed jissofoka n-normalita’ demokratika : dik in-normalita’ li tinkudi djalogu miftuh, serhan tal-mohh, u fiducja fl-istituzzjonijiet.

Monday, October 23, 2017

My Activism

I have been active in civil society since 1994.

I was active in succesful campaigns such as Stipends, Front Kontra l-Golf Kors, EU membership and Divorce. I also co-organized the Save Zonqor protest and co-organized yeterday's #gustizzja protest and the civil society #panamapapers protest last year.

When I led (2009-13) and was active in AD (1998-2017) I campaigned in civil society, too.

I joined PN as I believed in Simon Busuttil's coalition for good governance which AD did not support.
As a civil society activist and local councillor (since 2003) I was always ready to work with others who believe in the cause, whatever their background. And I will keep doing the same.

No troll, apparatchik, cynic, armchair critic or sectarian will shut me up.

My loyalty is to truth and change for the better. And no, I have no interest in leadership or other positions.

Daphne and Democracy - Michael Briguglio

This year, seven journalists were murdered in Iraq, four each in Mexico and Syria, and two each in Yemen and Russia. Other countries include South Sudan, Somalia and Afghanistan.
Apart from Malta, the only other liberal democracy in which a journalist was murdered this year was Denmark. But Denmark happens to have a robust system of good governance, and police investigation is in progress.
To the contrary, Malta’s governance is in crisis. The Police Force lacks legitimacy, and Prime Minister Joseph Muscat himself unconsciously confirmed this when he emphasised that foreign police would be investigating the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Let us keep in mind that in his latest annual address, Malta’s Chief Justice remarked that the country’s police force and attorney general should fulfill their duties. He must have been referring to the position taken by both these institutions in corruption controversies such as Panama Papers, which involves key members of Muscat’s government.
When the Prime Minister, the Attorney General and the Police Commissioner act to protect those involved in factual corruption scandals such as the Panama Papers, this is metaphorical violence towards journalists who unearth facts involving untouchable people. This is institutional breakdown.
The murder of Caruana Galizia is the terrible climax of the government’s suppression of truth. The fact that she wasn’t protected by the State is worthy of resignations. Especially when police are present in numbers for so many relatively minor events ranging from village festas to Michelle Muscat’s charity swims.  This is a breakdown of democracy.
Liberal democracy isn’t just about electing a government. It is about basic civil rights. It is about checks and balances. It is useless boasting about a financial surplus and the liberalisation of everything when Malta’s institutions are burning. It is useless having glitzy PR campaigns when journalists, civil society and opposition politicians are in fear that they may be next.
Malta’s recent liberal reforms do not interfere with the interests of oligarchs. Our freedom is limited. And we are governed by a party that’s basing its power on the transformation of citizens to beggars to ministers’ incumbency. Beggars for favours, positions and permits, as long as the vote goes Labour’s way and oligarchs’ interests are served.
In the meantime our country has hit the world’s news headlines for the wrong reasons. We are being associated with drug trafficking, car bombs, money laundering, sale of passports to dubious clients, Panama Papers and the like. And reflective citizens in Malta are highly concerned with the breakdown of meritocracy, the poor quality of air, and the malaise associated with lack of enforcement on so many matters. Malta has become a bully’s paradise.
Many people, myself included, are still in a state of shock following Daphne’s murder. We are robbed of peace of mind. To make matters worse, we know that her death is irreversible. We feel that there is no one to protect us. We feel colonised by gangs of crooks who are above the law.
Sunny ‘welcoming’ Malta is becoming an eerie dystopia. What makes matters worse is the narrative of relativistic cynicism, the narrative that fails to see the bigger picture, a narrative that chose to diminish the mammoth significance of Panama Papers.
I can only repeat the same appeal I made some days ago. I appeal to those who as yet fail to condemn the most corrupt Maltese government of all time: Malta’s institutions have collapsed, rule of law is out, everything is for sale, some people are untouchable, organised crime is flourishing. The oligarchy is usurping everything. 
Let us for once put partisan tribalism, obstinate pride, ideological paralysis and sectarianism aside: let us call for justice for Daphne. Let us call for a proper system of checks and balances, rule of law, and good governance.

Daphne u t-Tiranijja - Michael Briguglio

Il-Mument 22 ta' Ottubru 2017

Il-qtil ta’ Daphne Caruana Galizia kien qtil politiku.

Dan ghaliex Daphne kienet f’periklu u ma kienx hemm l-iskrutinju mehtieg biex tkun protetta mill-istituzzjonijiet ta’ l-istat. Dan l-iskrutinju kien dovut minhabba li Daphne kienet involuta f’kwistjonijiet legali ta’ importanza nazzjonali.

Daphne kienet fost l-iprem gurnalisti li jinvestigaw il-kollass ta’ l-istituzzjonijiet f’pajjizna. Issa li giet assassinata, pajjizna tilef vuci essenzjali ghad-demokrazija.

Izda pajjizna ma jistax jibqa jittolera l-kollass ta’  l-istituzzjonijiet. Il-Gvern Laburista ta’ Joseph Muscat huwa bbazat fuq politika ekonomika li tiddependi mill-bejgh tal-passaporti u minn interessi ekonomici dubjuzi li qed jahtfu setturi bhall-energija, is-sahha u l-kostruzzjoni. Pajjizna gie elenkat f’rapporti internazzjonali bhala centru ta’ traffikar tan-nies, u huwa nvolut fl-iskandlu internazzjonali tall-Panama Papers. Il-hasil tal-flus, il-kriminalita’ organizzata u l-konnessjonijiet ma Gvernijiet korrotti xejn ma jaghtu gieh lil pajjizna.

Fl-istess hin, il-Gvern ta’ Joseph Muscat hataf istituzzjonijiet li suppost huma indipendent u melihom b’nies li l-iskop ewlieni taghhom hu li jaqdu l-interessi tal-oligarkja li tmexxi l-Partit Laburista. Sa dan it-tant il-Gvern Laburista addatta politika li tisseduci lil bosta votanti permezz ta’ korruzzjoni u pjaciri anke jekk dan ikun ta’ dannu socjali jew ambjentali.

Il-Gvern jippreferi jara nies jittalbu ghand Ministri milli cittadini edukati li m’ghandhomx bzonn lill-politiku biex jimxu l-quddiem. Ghalhekk, dan hu gvern bla ruh socjali, gvern minghajr legittimita morali, u gvern li jpoggi l-alla tal-flus qabel id-dinjieta’ umana.

U dan kollu ifakkarni fil-ktieb ricenti ta’ l-istoriku Timoghy Snyder, ‘On Tyranny: Twenty lessons from the twentieth century’.

F’dan il-ktieb Snyder iwissi li meta Gvern jibda jahtaf l-istituzzjonijiet dan jista’ jwassal ghall-kollas tad-demokrazija. 

Snyder jinnota li tiranni japprofittaw min-nuqqas ta’ ‘checks and balances’ u ta’ procedura, u minn nuqqas ta’ etika professjonali. Japprofittaw ukoll minn dik li illum tissejjah ‘post-truth’, jigifieri minn slogans politici li mhux bilfors jirriflettu l-verita’, kif ukoll minn ibbulijar fil-media permezz ta’ assassinju tal-karattru u tikketti qarrieqa ta’ dawk li qed jopponu l-poter.

Snyder jappella biex ma nharsux lejn in-naha l-ohra meta naraw sinjali ta’ mibghieda u diskriminazzjoni. Jghid li l-apatija u x-xetticizmu tac-cittadini jistghu isahhu lil dawk fil-poter.

Snyder jappella biex kull wiehed u wahda minna nkunu attivi fil-politika. Mhux neccessarjament dik partiggjana, izda anke permezz tas-socjeta’ civili, kitba , partecpazzjoni f’attivitajiet, qari dwar grajjiet kurrenti, abbonar f’rivisti u gazzetti ta’ kwalita’.

L-ahhar u mhux l-inqas, Snyder jappella lill-qarrejja tieghu biex ikunu patriotti u kuraggizi. Patriotti mhux lejn xi oligarkiji jew Prim Ministri li jqimu dittaturi barranin. Izda patriotti lejn l-ideali demokratici tal-pajjiz, permezz ta’ imhabba lejn is-socjeta’ u l-gid komuni.

Ejja nzommu l-memorja ta’ Daphne hajja billi ma ncedux ghal dawk li qed jipperikolaw id-demokrazija.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

#DaphneCaruanaGalizia - A message for unity

To those who as yet fail to condemn the most corrupt Maltese government of all time: Malta's institutions have collapsed, rule of law is out, everything is for sale, some people are untouchable, organized crime is flourishing. 
Why relativize the obvious? The oligarchs love it. 
We are living in dangerous times, much more dangerous than anything I have ever experienced since commencing my political activism in 1994. The oligarchy is usurping everything. 

Only a national united force can remove this corrupt gang of crooks. This comes before sectarianism, ideological paralysis and obstinate pride.

You may also wish to read: How is a tyrant identified? Click here


Monday, October 16, 2017

Is the budget sustainable? Michael Briguglio

Times of Malta 16 October 2017

Malta’s Budget for 2018 has some good proposals, but these are not enough to counter the growing precariousness and the selling of the country’s common good. The Budget also does not offer an alternative vision to Malta’s growing dependency on economic sectors which may be unsustainable.
The Budget offers some adjustments to workers and pensioners. Apart from the €1.75 weekly cost of living adjustment and €2 weekly increase in pensions, there will be some other refunds and increases and initiatives. The government will also retain its welfare-to-work scheme which encourages people to seek employment rather than being dependent on welfare benefits. I agree with the philosophy behind this scheme, but I also believe that it should be accompanied by more determination to combat precariousness.
Indeed, various work sectors are being characterised by not so good working conditions that affect workers’ quality of life. Besides, the influx of foreign workers is depressing wages and conditions in various sectors.
The influx of foreigners is also resulting in increased demand for rented property, thus pushing prices upwards. The government will be publishing a white paper to tackle the rent market challenges, and it is also offering initiatives and responsibilities to property owners. The government is also extending investment in social housing as well as the first-time property buyer scheme and complement it with a similar scheme for second-time buyers.
A question that immediately comes to mind in this regard is whether the government is willing to introduce measures to ease the pressure on persons living in rented property. Rather than the new middle class promised by Joseph Muscat, Malta is experiencing the expansion of a new precarious class of persons who have to make huge sacrifices to make up for the increase in the price of rent. Why didn’t the government increase assistance to such persons?
As regards traffic, the government is committed to improve Malta’s infrastructure, building new roads and extend initiatives for alternative modes of transport. So far so good. But judging by road construction currently in place, it seems to be the case that pedestrians and cyclists are being treated as inferior species. One would also have expected more ambitious proposals such as putting a metro and new pedestrian/bicycle links on the national agenda.
As regards the environment, there are no proposals to safeguard residents and communities from the negative impacts of overdevelopment. Water management has been politely sidelined from the script.
On the other hand, the government is committing itself to extend waste separation and to revert to the incineration of waste – without hinting which sites are being considered for this. It will also step up fines for littering and dumping. The latter proposal can only be taken seriously if the government steps up enforcement.
The various measures proposed by the government should be analysed within its own financial situation.
In the first eight months of 2017, revenue from taxes increased by €180.7 million and reached €2.3 billion, courtesy of Malta’s economic growth. Non-tax revenue increased by €80.4 million and reached €284.1 million.
On the other hand, total government expenditure increased by €150.9 million and reached €2.553 billion.
Recurrent expenditure increased by  €157.9 million, but this was, in part offset by lower interest on public debt (€5.3 million) and a €1.6 million decrease in capital expenditure. Is this sustainable, particularly when the government’s recruitment of staff also includes the employment of people in return votes rather than real need? The government’s lack of transparency in this regard does not help things.
Of particular interest during the first eight months of 2017 was the €33.6 million increase from ‘Fees of Office’, which mainly refer to Malta’s sale of passports, the Individual Investment Programme. This programme is shrouded in secrecy, with the government doing its best to dodge questions being made by the Opposition, the press and civil society. Will the government explain in detail the revenue expenditure streams related to it?
Last but not least, Budget 2018 does not seem to offer an economic vision away from Malta’s dependency on construction, financial services and the sale of passports. This is a far cry from Joseph Muscat’s talk of putting the economic cycle before the political one.

Il-Housing Socjali fis-Siggiewi: Tajjeb Nistaqsu - Michael Briguglio

Il-Mument 15 ta' Ottubru 2017

Il-Gvern Laburista iddecieda li jizvilppa progett ta’ housing socjali ta’ 84 appartament fis-Siggiewi. Dan l-izvilupp qed iqajjem bosta mistoqsijiet.

Il-mistoqsijiet m’ghandhomx x’jaqsmu ma jekk pajjizna ghandux bzonn housing socjali. Nahseb li kulhadd jaqbel li f’socjeta’ solidali dawk l-iktar batuti ghandhom jinghataw ghajnuna mill-Gvern sabiex ikollhom post dicenti fejn jghixu.

Il-mistoqsijiet li jqajjem il-progrett tas-Siggiewi iktar ghandhom x’jaqmsu mal-metodu li qed juza l-Gvern biex iwettaq il-politika tieghu.

Per ezempju, hem thassib li dan l-izvilupp jista’ jwassal ghal ‘ghetto’ f’nofs komunita’ ezistenti fis-Siggiewi. Zvilupp ta’ dan il-kobor u l-influss ta’ numru kbir ta’ nies f’temp qasir jista’ jkollu numru ta’ konsegwenzi. Dawn jinkludu zieda ta’ traffiku u kongestjoni, izda jistghu jinkludu wkoll zieda ta’ problemi socjali.

Jista’ jkun hemm qasma u stigma bejn residenti godda u antiki, specjalment meta dawn ta’ l-ahhar ma gewx ikkonsultati kif suppost mil-Gvern. Jista’ jkun hemm qasmiet ukoll bejn residenti godda, specjalment jekk dawn ma jkunux jafu lil xulxin u f’daqqa wahda jridu jaddattaw ghal sitwazzjonijiet godda.

Ghalhekk, wiehed isaqsi jekk il-Gvern ikkunsidrax li jizviluppa progetti izghar u alternattivi, li jferrxu lil dawk intitolati ghal dan id-dritt madwar il-pajjiz kollu. Dan jista’ jiffacilita’ il-processi ta’ integrazzjoni u l-impatti fuq residenti ezistenti.

Wiehed isaqsi ukoll jekk il-gvern ghamilx studju ta’ impatt socjali. Dan it-tip ta’ studju jista’ jipprovdi evidenza importanti hafna ghal politika iktar sostenibbli.

Dan l-istudju ikun jista jivverifika l-impatt ta’ l-izvilupp fuq resident ezistenti u prospettivi. Ikun jista’ jistabilixxi profil tal-komunita, jipprovdi djalogu mar-residenti u jevalwa l-impatti ta’  progetti simili ohrajn.

Studju ta’ impatt socjali ikun jista’ ukoll jivverifika alternattivi ghal dan l-izvilupp, impatti varji, u mizuri li jtaffu ghall-izvilupp prospettiv.

Sabiex studju ta’ impatt socjali ikun validu u serju, jehtieg li jsir minn esperti bhal socjologi, ekonomisti u antropologi. Importanti li juza metodi varji sabiex jjgbor u janalizza l-evidenza migbura.

F’dan ir-rigward hemm numru ta’ mistoqsijiet ohra li tajjeb wiehed isaqsi :

Il-Gvern ikkunsidra l-impatt ta’ dan l-izvilupp f’staguni differenti ? Per ezempju ta importanza lis-sena skolastika ?
Il-Gvern ikkunsidra l-impatt fuq residenti minn toroq differenti fil-vicin tal-progett ? Sar xi forma ta’ kuntatt maghhom?

Il-Gvern ikkunsidra l-impatt ta’ zvilupp iehor li qed isir fil-lokalita?

Min huma l-esperti li uza il-Gvern sabiex jippjana u jwettaq dan il-progett ?

Gew stabiliti indikaturi socjali sabiex il-Gvern jevalwa l-impatti tal-progett ?

Il-Gvern ikkunsidra l-impatt ekonomiku fuq residenzi u negozji fil-madwar ?

Il-Gvern ikkunsidra l-impatt fuq l-immanigjar ta’ l-iskart, fuq il-parkegg u fuq is-sahha tar-residenti ?

Il-Gvern ser jikkumpensa lir-residenti tal-madwar jekk isir dan l-izvilupp?

Il-Gvern jeskludi ghal kollox li jikkunsidra alternattivi izghar u iktar imferxin ghal dan il-progett massiv ?

X’konttibut ser jaghti lill-lokalita’ dan l-izvilupp? U x’qed jaghmel il-Gvern biex jiddjaloga b’mod genwin ma dawk affetwati minnu?

Nawgura li l-Kunsill Lokali tas-Siggiewi li qieghed jaghmel hiltu biex jiddefendi l-kwalita’ tal-hajja tar-residenti tas-Siggiewi.