Sociologist, local councillor, activist, drummer from Malta

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Favur sistema ta’ taxxa ekwa - Michael Briguglio

Il-Mument 31 ta' Dicembru 2017
In-nuqqas ta’ governanza tajba tal-Gvern Laburista waslet biex pajjizna, flimkien ma xi pajjizi ohra, gie ttimbrat bhala ‘Tax Haven’ mis-Socjalisti, mill-Komunisti u mill-Hodor Ewropej. Li kieku ma kienx hemm oppozizzjoni b’sahhitha mill-Partit Popolari (EPP), mill-Liberali u mir-Riformisi u Konservattivi, Malta kienet ser tigi ttimbrata hekk mill-Parlament Ewropew.
L-EPP u l-alleati taghha qed jenfasizzaw li pajjizna m’huwiex ‘tax haven’ izda li l-gvern Laburista qed jeccedi l-limiti f’oqsma varji. Dawn jinkludu l-bejgh tac-cittadinanza Ewropea, u n-nuqqas ta’ azzjoni dwar il-Panama Papers u nnuqqas ta’ saltna tad-dritt. Il-qtil brutali ta’ Daphne Caruana Galizia kompla jitfa dawl ikrah f’dan ir-rigward.
L-EPP qed temfasizza ukoll li kompetizzjoni gusta ta’ taxxa m’ghandhiex tigi mhallta ma’ hasil tal-flus jew evazjoni ta’ taxxa.
Sfortunatament, il-Gvern ta’ Joseph Muscat ma jidhirx interessat li jnaddaf dak li holoq hu stess. L-interessi ta’ Keith Schembri u Konrad Mizzi qed jigu qabel dawk tal-haddiema fis-settur finanzjarju.
U filwaqt li l-Pilatus Bank qed ikun fl-ahbarijiet ghar-ragunijiet hziena, haddiema fl-industrija tal-finanzi qed jinkwetaw li ghoxrin sena ta’ xoghol siewi biex tinbena din l-industrija qeghdin f’riskju.
Is-settur tas-servizzi finanzjarji huwa kontributur importanti ghat-tkabbir ekonomiku u ghat-tkabbir tal-pagi f’Malta. Ta’ min jghid li fost ohrajn dan is-settur jinkludi servizzi fl-invesiment, insurance, trusts u penzjonijiet. Hawn iktar minn 53,000 kumpanija registrati f’pajjizna.
Malta zviluppat ligijiet u regoli effettivi taht gvernijiet Nazzjonalisti, u dan sehh anke permezz tal-koperazzjoni ta’ l-oppozizzjoni Laburista ta’ dak iz-zmien. Illum, fil-kuntest tal-Brexit jezistu opportunitajiet godda ghal Malta, izda il-Gvern Laburista jibqa’ jippersisti li jiddefendi dak li ma jistax jigi difiz.
F’diskors ricenti, il-Prim Ministru Joseph Muscat tkellem dwar is-saltna tad-dritt, izda dan jista’ jigi interpretat bhala ezercizzju ta’ public relations, jigifieri ta’ montatura, meta l-istess Prim Ministru baqa’ m’ghamel xejn dwar il-Panama Papers, il-protezzjoni ta’ whistleblowers, il-Bank Pilatus, il-hasil tal-flus, il-bejgh kontroversjali ta’ passaporti, il-privatizazzjoni kontroversjali tas-sahha u l-energija, u l-indipendenza ta’ istituzzjonijiet bhall-Pulizija u l-Avukat tal-Gvern.
L-ghebusija tar-ras tal-Gvern qeghda ccahhad diskussjoni sana u serja dwar is-servizzi finanzjarji. Per ezempju, huwa importanti li nifhmu li l-involviment ta’ ufficjali tal-Gvern fil-Panama Papers m’ghandiex tithallat mal-pozizzjoni fundamentalista ta’ dawk li jridu li fl-UE ikun hemm rata uniformi ta’ taxxa kullimkien.
Minflok, nistghu nitghallmu mill-politika ta’ l-UE dwar it-tibdil fil-klima. F’dan il-kas, l-unjoni ghandha mira wahda globali izda kull pajjiz imsieheb ghandu miri specifici li skond ic-cirkustanzi tieghu. Din it-tip ta’ politika tista tigi adattata fis-settur finanzjarju, u Malta ghandha targumenta li din hi nicca importanti ghal ekonomiji zghar. Izda biex il-Gvern jkun kredibli jehtieg li jaghti ezempju ta’ governanza nadifa u osservanza tar-regoli.
Il-paradoss ta’ dan kollu hu li Joseph Muscat jista’ jgawdi mill-investiment politiku tieghu meta jirtira minn Prim Ministru, izda s-socjeta’ Maltija ikollha thallas il-prezz ta’ governanza irresponsabbli.


Thursday, December 21, 2017

Nghinu f’kawzi gusti - Michael Briguglio


Il-Mument 24 ta'  Dicembru 2017

Kultant ikun hemm min jixtieq ikun attiv f’xi kawza gusta izda m’ghandux hin biex jaghmel dan. Jew forsi jiddejjaq juri wiccu, forsi minhabba ragunijiet ta’ xoghol. 

Jezisti mod prattiku kif wiehed jista’ jghin f’dawn il-kawzi minghajr ma jkun daqshekk involut personalment. Wiehed jista’ jaghti donazzjonijiet lill-ghaqdiet non-governattivi li huma f’oqsma varji. Illum dan jista’ jsir facilment permezz ta’ l-internet, lill-ghaqdiet li ghandhom metodi sikuri f’dan ir-rigward.

F’dan l-artiklu ser nelenka xi ghaqdiet non-governattivi li huma attivi globalment f’kawzi varji. Ahna lkoll nistghu nghinuhom fl-hidmiet taghhom billi nidhlu fis-siti taghhom u naghmlu donazzjoni fis-sezzjoni rispettiva
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L-ewwel ghaqda li nixtieq insemmi hija l-MOAS (Migrant Offshore Aid Station). Din l-ghaqda twaqqfet fl-2013 wara d-dizastru umanitarju vicin Lampedusa, fejn 400 persuna gherqu u tilfu hajjithom. MOAS twaqqfet fl-2014 sabiex ikun hemm ghaqda indipendenti fil-qasam umanitarju fil-Mediterran. Minn dak iz-zmien s’issa, salvat u assistiet iktar minn 40,000 persuna fir-rotti l-iktar perikoluzi tal-migrazzjoni. Ftit xhur ilu MOAS trasferiet l-operazzjonijiet taghha ghax-xlokk ta’ l-Asja, fejn qed tassisti lir-refugjati Rohingya li qed jaharbu mill-genocidju fil-Myanmar.  https://www.moas.eu/

L-International Medical Corps hija ghaqda ohra li toffri ghajnuna immedjata lill-persuni: izda f’dan il-kaz tiffoka fuq tahrig u kura medika lil dawk li huma affetwati mill-gwerer, dizasti naturali u emergenzi ta’ sahha madwar id-dinja. Permezz ta’ tahrig tizgura li l-persuni li tassisti ikunu jistghu huma stess jassistu lill-haddiehor fil-futur. https://internationalmedicalcorps.org/

L-MSF (Doctors Without Borders) hija movement globali li toffri assistenza umanitarja permezz ta’ servizzi medici professjonali lill-persuni maqbuda f’krizijiet bhall-gwerra, migrazzjoni u dizastri naturali. http://www.msf.org/

Anke l-UNHCR, l-agenzija tar-refugjati tal-Gnus Maqghuda, hija ddeikata li ssalva l-hajjiet tal-persuni: tiffoka fuq ir-regujati, persuni minghajr nazzjonalita’ u persuni li gew sfurzjati jiccaqalu minn arthom. L-UNHCR tahdem ukoll favur id-drittijiet tar-refugjati. http://www.unhcr.org/

Ghaqda ohra li tiffoka fuq id-drittijiet tal-bniedem hija Amnesty International. Indipendenti minn kull ideologija politika jew interess politiku, l-Amnesty tisskrutinja lill-Gvernijiet f’kwistjonijiet bhar-ripressjoni politika, tortura, u l-piena kapitali. Kemm il-darba irnexxielha tissalvagwardja d-drittijiet ta’ prigunieri politici u tesponi atrocitajiet imwettqa minn dittaturi. https://www.amnesty.org/en/

Transparency International tesponi l-abbuz ta’ poter ta’ gvernijiet permezz ta’ koruzzjoni, hasil ta’ flus, u tixhim fost ohrajn. Hija l-iktar ghaqda prominenti fil-glieda kontra l-korruzzjoni. https://www.transparency.org/

Forma ohra ta’ abbuz li qed tigi miggielda hija l-iskjavitu’. F’dan ir-rigward, Freedom United. Din l-ghaqda tippromwovi azzjonijiet kontra l-iskjavitu’ u b’hekk tesponi gvernijiet u kumpaniji involuti f’din il-mohqrija. https://www.freedomunited.org

Fil-qasam ambjentali, wahda mill-iktar ghaqdiet prominenti hija l-WWF (World Wildlife Fund). Din l-ghaqda tiffoka fuq il-konservazzjoni tan-natura permezz ta’ bazi xjentifika u soluzzjonijiet globali u lokali li jaqdu l-htigijiet tal-bnedmin u n-natura. https://www.worldwildlife.org/

L-ahhar u mhux l-inqas, hemm min jinteressah id-drittijiet ta’ l-annimali. L-ghaqda Born Free tahdem sabiex l-annimali jigu trattati b’dinijita’. Din l-ghaqda tahdem biex annimali jibqghu fl-abitat naturali taghhom u mhux jinsterqu ghall-raguni ta’ kummerc. http://www.bornfree.org.uk/

Nawgura Milied mill-isbah lill-qarrejja’ ta’ Il-Mument u lill-haddiema ta’ MediaLink.


Monday, December 18, 2017

Gamble on Malta's reputation - Michael Briguglio


Times of Malta 18 December 2017

The Labour government’s lack of good governance has captured attention on vital sectors of the economy such as finance. Needless to say, the brutal murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia switched on the red lights, confirming that not all is well behind Joseph Muscat’s smile and press statements.
Indeed, the Socialist (S&D) European Parliamentary grouping, which the Labour Party forms part of, considers Malta and some other EU member states to be tax havens. Together with the smaller Communist and Green European parliamentary groups, the socialists attempted to pass a vote in this direction. Eighty-seven per cent of socialists (excluding Malta Labour MEPs), 88 per cent of communists and 98 per cent of greens voted in favour of this proposal.
As we know, the vote was not approved by a whisker. This was mainly due to the opposition of European People’s Party (EPP), which also comprises the Nationalist Party and the smaller Liberal (ALDE) and the Conservative and Reformist (ECR) parliamentary groups. Indeed, the percentage of MEPs in these groups which opposed the socialist-communist-green proposal read 86 per cent, 83 per cent and another 83 per cent respectively.
The EPP and its allies are therefore emphasising that Malta is not a tax haven, but MEPs in such groups have highlighted that the Labour government is exceeding limits in certain areas. These include the selling of EU citizenship and the lack of action on Panama Papers and rule of law.
The EPP has also emphasised that fair tax competition within a harmonised EU-wide tax system should not be confused with money laundering and tax evasion.
It is indeed regrettable that Muscat’s government is adamant not to tackle the mess of its own making. It is crystal clear that the interests of Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi, who were both involved in Panama Papers and various shady deals, are more important than the longer-term collective interests of workers in the financial sector.
And while Pilatus Bank has hit the headlines for the wrong reasons, workers in the industry are worried that offices of other financial actors could pack up and leave due to Malta’s sinking reputation. Should this be the case, 20 years of hard work into building this industry would be at risk.
Indeed, the financial services sector is an important contributor to Malta’s economic and wage growth. The sector includes investment services, insurance, trusts and pensions, and more than 53,000 companies are registered in our country.
Malta developed sound legislation and regulation, and this was also thanks to cooperation by the then-Labour opposition which opted for consensus rather than partisanship.
The post-Brexit scenario can offer further opportunities for Malta in this sector, but what we have is a government defending what cannot be defended.
Muscat’s recent statements on rule of law can only be interpreted as public relations spin if no action is taken with regard to Panama Papers, to the protection of whistleblowers, to Pilatus Bank, to money laundering, to the secretive cash-for-passports scheme, to the non-transparent energy and health privatisation processes, and to the independence of institutions such as the police and the Attorney General.
The government’s hardheadedness is also elbowing out the need for discussion on a national position on financial services. For example, it has to be made clear that the involvement of government officials in Panama Papers is one thing, but the fundamentalist approach to streamline the EU into one single tax band is another.
Instead, we should learn from the EU’s successful climate change policy. The bloc has a single target, but different member states have specific targets depending on their circumstances. If this is transposed to the financial sector, one can argue that this is an important niche for small economies which deserves recognition, provided that clean governance and adherence to rules are in play.
But again, Muscat’s government is abusing Malta’s niche. And while the Prime Minister can then reap benefits of his political investment when he leaves office, it is Maltese society as a whole that will pay the price for irresponsible governance.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Is-Solitudni fil-Milied - Michael Briguglio

Il-Mument 17 ta' Dicembru 2017

Paradoss fi zmien il-Milied: Fost il-ferh u c-celebrazzjonijiet, uhud ihossuhom wahidhom iktar minn qatt qabel.

Hemm min ihossu wahdu ghax m’ghandux ma min igawdi dan l-istagun ferriehi. Hemm min hu wahdu minhabba ragunijiet ta’ sahha mentali bhad-dipressjoni jew anzjeta’. U ezempji bhal dawn jistghu ikunu relatati ma’ xulxin.

Sfortunatament, suggetti bhas-sahha mentali u s-solitudni ma tantx huma popolari fl-istampa. Dan mhux minhabba xi antipatjija lejn dawn is-suggetti, izda minhabba li hemm suggetti ohra li huma iktar seducenti.

Izda jehtieg li dawk involuti b’xi mod jew iehor fil-politika jew fil-media inkunu iktar alerti ghal realtajiet socjali inqas sensazzjonali jew vizibli.

Per ezempju, huwa importanti li nifmhu li s-socjeta’ m’hijiex maghmula biss minn dawk li naqraw dwarhom fil-gazetti jew fuq facebook. Hemm bosta nies li jhossuhom wahedhom, li qed ibaghtu xi forma ta’ dipressjoni.

Dawn jistghu jinkludu penzjonanti godda li qed iduqu dinja gdida u solitarja wara snin twal ta’ impjieg. Jistghu jinkludu barranin minghajr familji jew hbieb. Persuni anzjuzi dwar bidliet li qed jghixu: fil-familja, fis-sahha, fir-relazzjonijiet, fuq ix-xoghol u fis-socjeta’. Jistghu jinkludu vittmi ta’ ibbulijar, sessizmu, razzizmu u forom varji ta’ disrkiminazzjoni. U jistghu jinkludu persuni li sempliciment ihossuhom ‘strangieri’.  Sahansitra jista’ jkun hemm ukoll persuni li m’humiex konxji jew attrezzati biex jiffaccjaw kwistjonijiet ta’ sahha mentali.

Meta niddiskutu u nanalizzaw dawn ir-realtajiet, tajjeb li ninnutaw li xi kultant anke persuni assocjati mal-poter jistghu ikunu dghajfa u fragli: dawn jistghu jinkludu ukoll irgiel eterosesswali li paradossalment ihossuhom iktar prekarji biex jitkellmu dwar is-sitwazzjoni taghhom.

Jehtieg li s-socjeta’ taghna tinfetah iktar f’din il-materja. Hekk sar f’kwistjonijiet bhall-LGBTIQ: suggett li kien taboo socjali sar wiehed prominenti fil-politika socjali.

Biex dan isir fl-oqsma tas-sahha  mentali u s-solitudni, il-politici, il-media u s-socjeta’ civli ghandhom rwol ewlieni. Jehtieg ukoll li fil-qasam edukattiv ikun hemm iktar emfasi u vizibilita’. Diga’ hemm min jahdem f’dawn l-oqsma: minn ghaqdiet bhall-Caritas u Richmond Foundation sa l-mijiet ta’ counsellors, psikologi, psikjatri, social workers u care workers li jahdmu minn wara l-kwinti.

Izda ikun tassew pass pozittiv jekk ikun hawn politika olistika li tizgura governanza tajba f’dan is-settur. Il-kontribuzzjoni ta’ entitajiiet pubblici, privati u l-volontarjat jistghu issahhu il-komunitajiet taghna. Skejjel, kunsilli lokali, il-media socjali jistgu kollha jghinu sabiex l-individwu ikun imharregg f’kas ta’ bzonn u sabiex is-socjeta’ tkun iktar sensibbli ghal dawn ir-realtajiet.

Fl-akkademja, hemm bosta suggetti li jittrattaw dawn il-kwistjonijet: dawn is-suggetti imorru lil’hinn mill-logika tas-suq, izda huma importanti ferm ghas-sisien tas-socjeta’. Ricerka empirika tista’ toffri l-evidenza neccessarja ghal-politika informata.

Ghalhekk, nappella sabiex il-hidma politika tikkunsidra ukoll suggetti inqas sensazzjonali izda li kemm il-darba huma iktar vicin il-hajja ta’ kuljum ta’ bosta nies: Fil-Milied ejjew nahsbu wkoll f’dawn li qed jghixu s-solitudni u problemi ta’ sahha mentali.


Thursday, December 14, 2017

Eddie the reconciliator


My latest academic writing "Eddie r-Rikociljatur" (Eddie the Reconciliatior) forms part of the new publication L–Avukat Eddie Fenech Adami – Bejn Storja U Miti. Hats off to editor Sergio Grech.



Monday, December 11, 2017

We are all migrants now - Michael Briguglio


“We are all migrants now”. This was stated by distinguished sociologist Anthony Giddens in a recent scholarly interview with Labinot Kunushevci. The interview makes some pertinent statements on the opportunities and risks of our times.
Giddens argues that today’s societies are in flux. The rise of electronic communication has facilitated the global interdependence of societies, with substantive impacts on our personal lives.
Digital communication has empowering and emancipatory aspects, for example in the world of healthcare. But it has also helped produce uncertainty and volatility which perpetuate existing ideological divisions. In this regard, as Giddens puts it, we are suffering from “cosmopolitan overload”, where reactions such as religious fundamentalism and political sectarianism are highly visible. The world which connects civil society and the press through the social media is the same world where terrorists and cyber-criminals make use of such technology.
Such contradictions explain why we are all migrants. Migration is not only a question of physical movement. It also has to do with how we are in touch with diverse cultures and opinions around the world. Whether we are experiencing hardships which force us to migrate, or whether we are skyping or chatting with loved ones in other countries via electronic media, we are all part of a global process of fluidity. Time and space are compressed, and the physical and digital become increasingly immersed in each other.
Giddens observes that paradoxically while we are facing global threats such as climate change and nuclear weapons we are also encountering opportunities that were not in place in the past. This results in a “high opportunity, high risk society in which it is almost impossible in advance to know what the relation between these two factors will turn out to be”.
Thus, in today’s society we must constantly reflect on our self: we must develop a narrative of our lives against a context of a world in flux. We have no choice but to choose in our everyday life, whether we are dealing with relationships, health, employment and so forth. We do not know the script in advance, but we can be equipped to navigate the seas.
In the interview, Giddens emphasises that the global economic order is a key example of high opportunities and high risks. Global companies sometimes have more power than democratic systems of states, and “much of the revenue that lies in tax havens has no productive role”. Does this mean that the democratic emancipatory project is doomed to fail?
Against such a backdrop, Giddens, a strong believer of the European project, emphasises that cooperation between states is vital. Wealth creation should be reconciled with social and environmental needs, and every effort should be made so that the EU guarantees stability within it and beyond. The latter is particularly challenging when one considers the turbulence at the frontiers of the bloc, from Ukraine to Libya.
The interview can be applied to various aspects of Maltese society today. The first question that comes to mind relates to the governance controversy related to Panama Papers. A global example of tax evasion and money laundering has direct links to an EU member state, which in turn has been criticised for not cooperating sufficiently with its European partners. But paradoxically this has created a window of opportunity for civil society, press and political actors to collaborate with European partners. The government can run, but can it hide?
Another aspect of Giddens’s interview which is of particular relevance to Maltese society is the question related to the cosmopolitanisation of society. Malta itself is experiencing increased cultural diversity and increased interaction beyond Malta’s shores. Is there enough investment in cultural understanding, social inclusion, appreciation of difference? Or are we heading towards detached enclaves in the same society?
Is Malta heading towards two worlds of employment, with growing precariousness among low-skilled workers and an untouchable super elite? Are ethical dimensions of new policies being discussed adequately within the public sphere, or is government attempting to ram policies on delicate matters such as prostitution and surrogacy down parliament’s throat with scant debate? Is society being equipped to navigate through the challenges of our times, or are we being made increasingly dependent on ministers’ powers and favours?

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Riforma fil-Kunsilli Lokali - Michael Briguglio

Il-Mument 10 ta' Dicembru 2017

Il-Kunsilli Lokali f’Malta ser jaghlqu 25 sena. Dawn qeghdin jaqdu l-htigijiet tal-lokalitajiet rispettivi taghhom?

Aspett ewlieni f’dan ir-rigward huwa l-finanzi. Il-Kunsilli Lokali ghandhom ghazliet limitati dwar kif jistghu jiggeneraw id-dhul. Id-dhul ewlieni jigi mill-Gvern centrali. Hemm ukoll possibilita’ ta’ dhul minn fondi ta’ l-Unjoni Ewropea, minn skemi specifici tal-Gvern u minn reklamar u certi permessi.

Politika ta’ riforma fil-kunsilli ghandha temfasizza li persentagg tad-dhul Governattiv mill-VAT, turizmu u oqsma ohra jigi maqsum mal-kunsilli.

Izda huwa car li hemm bzonn li l-Kunsilli jkollhom iktar opportunitajiet biex jiggeneraw id-dhul. Dan huwa necessarju biex jigi ffinanzjat xoghol bhal dak infrastrutturali u gbir ta’ l-iskart, kif ukoll inizjattivi bhal dawk  edukazzjonali, socjali u kulturali. Dawn ta’ l-ahhar huma importanti sabiex ikun hemm iktar sigurta’, integrazzjoni socjali u sens ta’ komunita’.

Idealment, l-agenda lokali ta’ Malta temfasizzja id-dicentralizazzjoni sabiex l-ebda gvern ma jkollu poter eccessiv. Permezz tas-sussidjarjeta’, decizzjonijiet li jistghu jittiehdu mill-kunsilli lokali m’ghandhom jittiehdu minn xi Ministru.

Din il-filosofija tista’ twassal sabiex il-kunsilli ikunu iktar sostenibbli. Per ezempju, art tal-gvern tista’ tigi devoluta lill-kunsilli. Parkeggi, bini pubbliku u siti storici jistghu jigu mmanigjati mill-kunsilli, u d-dhul iggenerat jista’ jintuza ghal htigijiet lokali. Biex naghti ezempju prattiku: il-car park pubbliku tax-Xatt ta’ Tas-Sliema huwa ikrah ferm u biex wiehed jipparkja jigi ‘mitlub’ ihallas. Mhux ahjar kieku dawn il-flus imorru ghand il-kunsill sabiex il-car park jigi msebbah u flus ohra jintuzaw ghall-bankini u htigijiet ohra?

Riforma fil-Kunsilli Lokali ghandha tizgura ukoll li l-Kunsilli ikollhom rwol ewlieni fit-tehid tad-decizzjoni ta’ l-Awtorita’ ta’ l-Ippjanar. Decizzjonijiet li jistghu jittiehdu mill-Kunsilli, bhal dawk ta’ enforzar dwar kostruzzjoni u ta’ street markings, ghandhom jittiehdu mill-Kunsilli, u mhux minn entitajiet centralizzati.

Importanti ukoll li skemi lokali bhal dawk ta’ parkegg ghar-residenti ma jkunux diskriminatorji. Ma jistax ikun li pajjzina jibqa karatterizzat minn lokalitajiet b’dawn l-iskemi u ohrajn minghajrom.

Qasam iehor ta’ importanza huwa dak tas-Social Impact Assessment. Jehtieg li l-Kunslli ikollhom fondi u access ghal servizzi professjonali bhal dawk ta’ socjologi, ekonomisti u esperti kulturali sabiex ikun hemm taghrif car dwar demografija, realtajiet socjali, komunitajiet u aspirazzjonijiet tar-residenti. Dan kollu jghin sabiex decizzjonijiet jittiehdu fuq bazi ta’ evidenza.
Il-Kunsilli ghandhom iservu ukoll ta’ centri ta’ servizzi u informazzjoni bhal tfittix ta’ impjieg, kura u pariri professjonali. U l-istess Kunslli ghandhom ikunu mharrga kif jahdmu ahjar ma’ l-istampa u s-socjeta’ civili.

Sfortunatament jidher li l-Gvern Laburista miexi lejn direzzjoni ohra. Iktar ma jghaddi zmien, iktar qed jahtaf poter taht idejh, b’iktar poter f’idejn il-Ministri.

Ezempju ta’ dan huwa l-enfurzar. Filwaqt li l-Kunsilli ta’ kuljum jaffacjaw abbuzi f’oqsma bhall-kostruzzjoni, skart, parkegg abbuziv u storbju, l-istess kunsilli qed jispiccaw jittalbu mal-Gvern biex ikun hemm enforzar.  Dan mhux sew.

Ezempju iehor hu l-kisi ta’ toroq. Hemm min qed jghid li l-programm ta’ seba’ snin tal-Gvern ser jikkonsiti minn kisi ta’ ftit pulzieri fit-toroq madwar Malta u Ghawdex. Jekk dan huwa l-kas, mhux ahjar kieku dan ix-xoghol isir mill-Kunsilli u jsir b’mod olistiku?

Iktar ma jkun hemm poter f’idejn il-Ministri, iktar ikun hemm tentazzjoni ghall-koruzzjoni . Tista’ tinqatel is-sens ta’ inizjattiva fil-kunsilli lokali.

Minn naha l-ohra, id-dicentralizzazjoni tista’ twassal ghal Kunsilli iktar incentivati biex ikunu kreattivi u innovattivi. Dan jista’ jinkoragixxi iktar sens civiku u iktar sens ta’ komunita’. B’hekk ikollna Kunsilli Lokali attivi u b’ruh socjali, u mhux Kunsilli Lokali tallaba tal-Ministri.


Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Reforming Malta’s constitution to enhance the independence of ‘fourth’ branch institutions - Michael Briguglio

My article 'Reforming Malta’s constitution to enhance the independence of ‘fourth’ branch institutions'  has been published in ConstitutionNet.  

ConstitutionNet is project created to support legislators, constitutional lawyers and other constitutional practitioners in finding useful and relevant information, sharing knowledge and building a community of best practice. ConstitutionNet is an International IDEA (an IGO headquartered in Sweden) project developed and maintained with generous support from the Government of Norway.

The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) is an intergovernmental organization that supports sustainable democracy worldwide. Its mission is to support sustainable democratic change by providing comparative knowledge, and assisting in democratic reform, and influencing policies and politics.

You can read the article here.





Monday, December 04, 2017

When civil society hits the news - Michael Briguglio

Officialdom is losing status: it no longer holds a monopoly over the news cycle. Media is produced from above, below and across physical and digital space.
This offers a tremendous opportunity for civil society, according to Alex Pigman, Brussels correspondent for Agence France Presse (AFP). The seasoned journalist explained this during a lecture held last week in Brussels.
Pitman said that in a world of Facebook, Twitter and other social media, breaking news stories are what drive the news cycle. This increases the speed of news production and consumption. Twitter in particular is designed to capture the attention of journalists, especially though its live hashtag feeds.
At the same time, many news stories on key events are written in advance, with different items being predictable. Civil society can and should take note of this when pre-writing items for news consumption.
But civil society should understand what and when key news items appear, and how to make the most of it. Activism is not only about holding banners and marching in the streets. It is also about finding opportunities hidden in text.
Stories can be found in legislative proposals, policy processes, key events and informal networks.
In turn, stories from such sources are given to the press, which is itself caught up in the vortex of hyper-news production. Snackable news nuggets can also be disseminated widely in the social media and to the press, as the production of news becomes ever more dispersed.
For example, when the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership trade agreement was negotiated between the European Union and the United States, NGOs discovered policy proposals that were controversial within a European context. These had mostly to do with labour and environmental standards. Facts were exposed to the press and the public. Consequently, the EU had to change its policy-making method.
The Panama Papers issue is another case in point. This time, it was a consortium of journalists which discovered a wealth of information about illegal tax dodging, money laundering and corruption. In countries such as Iceland to Pakistan, this brought about resignations and removals of key politically-exposed persons. In Joseph Muscat’s Malta, such persons were held tightly within the oligarchy.
Nevertheless, the pressure does not seem to be ready to stop, as the Pandora’s box releases more information. The press, whistle-blowers and civil society are producing and disseminating news despite the attempts of oligarchs to close the lid.
News are likely to remain dominant when they gain momentum. For example, the more a message is campaign-like, the more it may seduce the attention of journalists. Obama, Trump, Sanders and Macron are all worthy examples in this regard.
They were part of online ‘retweet’ and ‘likes’ phenomena. Stories were told, emotions were generated, and hey presto, news items were created. ‘Yes we can’, ‘Make America Great Again’, ‘Feel the Bern’, and ‘En Marche’ were key words in this regard. Joseph Muscat did this successfully through Tagħna Lkoll and L-Aqwa Żmien.
Global NGOs like Greenpeace, Oxfam, WWF, Amnesty and International Red Cross know this method well, and they capture the news cycle through a repertoire of both online and offline activism.  Think of the civil society activism in the run up of the Paris Climate Change Agreement in 2016. Or the sensitisation of the public regarding the migration tragedy in the Mediterranean cemetery. Or the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar.
Such NGOs often understand the news cycle, and time their actions and statements accordingly. In the words of Pigman, “it’s all set-pieces, predictable, stage-managed”. And there is also a dark side to this: cyber-attacks, fake news, false profiles and trolling.
Media opportunities are crying loud for civil society usage in Malta. In some cases, NGOs did manage to capture the news cycle and time their actions in a strategic manner. An obvious example is that of the LGBTIQ movement which timed its proposals with the 2013 general election, thus becoming a key ally of Labour.
Can good governance provide such an opportunity for civil society in the upcoming election? Labour’s 2017 victory might not bode well. Yet, the opportunities are there. And civil society is in no mood to stop its activism.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Niltaqghu il-Belt - Michael Briguglio

Il-Mument 3 ta' Dicembru 2017

Illum ser niltaqghu l-Belt Valletta, fl-4pm biex insemmghu lehinna ghall-gustizzja.

Gustizzja ghall-familja ta’ Daphne Caruana Galizia wara l-qtil brutali taghha. Gustizzja ghall-whistleblowers li ghandhom hajjithom fil-periklu. U gustizzja ghall-Malta wara l-kollass ta’ istituzzjonijiet bhall-Pulizija u l-Avukat tal-Gvern.

Sejrin il-Belt ghax qed ninsistu li l-gvern ineħħi l-Kummissarju tal-Pulizija u l-Avukat Ġenerali ta' Malta minħabba n-nuqqas ta' azzjoni tagħhom kontra l-korruzzjoni u n-nuqqas ta' kollaborazzjoni mal-Ġudikatura, kif enfasizzat dan l-aħħar mill-Prim Imħallef. Is-sostituti tagħhom għandu jkollhom l-appoġġ ta' mill-inqas żewġ terzi tal-parlament, fi spirtu ta' kunsens.

Serjrin il-Belt ukoll biex ninnotaw li avolja l-gvern laqa' l-proposti tas-socjeta’ civili għar-riforma kostituzzjonali, l-appogg taghna mhuwiex awtomatiku. L-appogg jingħata bil-kundizzjoni li l-proċess ikun onest, immexxi minn persuni fdati universalment, bi trasparenza u bil-parteċipazzjoni tas-soċjetà ċivili. S'issa, il-gvern ħareġ biss stqarrijiet vagi dwar il-kwistjoni.

Sejrin il-Belt biex nistqarru li nappoggaw lill-familja Caruana Galizia fit-talba tagħhom għat-tneħħija tal-Assistent Kummissarju Silvio Valletta mill-investigazzjoni tal-qtil ta' Daphne Caruana Galizia. Minħabba li l-Assistent Kummissarju Valletta hu r-raġel ta' ministru, dan jinfluwenza l-oġġettività u l-imparzjalità meħtieġa f'dawn iċ-ċirkostanzi.

Malta diġà hija ferm politiċizzata. L-aħħar ħaġa li jonqsu l-pajjiż hu nuqqas ta' fiduċja f'dawk li suppost jiddefendu l-istat tad-dritt. Is-Sur Valletta għandu jkollu l-kuraġġ u d-diċenza li jirtira mill-każ.

Sejrin il-Belt ukoll biex nuru solidarjeta’ lejn il-whistleblower Maria Efimova kif ukoll l-ex Spettur tal-Pulizija u ex Uffiċjal tal-FIAU Jonathan Ferris. Dawn stqarrew li minħabba l-informazzjoni li għandhom fir-rigward ta’ attivitajiet kriminali b’konnessjoni ma’ Malta kif ukoll minħabba l-fatt li huma rrifjutaw li jibqgħu siekta fuq każijiet ta’ attivitajiet kriminali huma jħossu li ħajjithom tinsab fil-periklu.

L-awtoritajiet Maltin, b’mod speċifiku l-Korp tal-Pulizija u l-Avukat Ġenerali, ghandhom jaghtu l-protezzjoni kollha meħtieġa lil dawk il-persuni li minħabba l-informazzjoni li għandhom jew minħabba l-impenn tagħhom lejn il-ġlieda kontra l-kriminalità jinsabu esposti għal riskju ta’ attakki fuq ħajjithom jew fuq il-ħajja tal-familja tagħhom.

Huwa ghalhekk li l-kelliem ewlieni tad-dimostrazzjoni ser ikun il-prosekutur kontra l-korruzzjoni Antonio Di Pietro, magħruf għal 'Mani Pulite' fis-snin disghin fl-Italja. Kien Di Pietro li kixef il-korruzzjoni u 'tangentopoli' fl-Italja, u wassal għal bosta riformi fis-sistema politika.

Nies ta’ rieda tajba, niltaqghu fl-4pm fil-Belt Valletta. Illum. Flimkien nistghu naslu. Flimkien nistghu niddefendu isem pajjizna mill-mewga ta’ korruzzjoni, nuqqas ta’ sigurta’  u governanza hazina.


Monday, November 27, 2017

Hey You! Michael Briguglio

The ideology of mob rule

Originally appears as 'Public Intimidation' in Times of Malta 27 November 2017

Last Wednesday morning, I was walking along the Sliema promenade. Suddenly a tall well-built man who must have been in his 60s and who was wearing headphones passed near me and shouted ‘bżieq’ (spit) to me. He kept on walking.
Bżieq? What?
I walked towards the man and asked him to repeat, but his music must have been loud. I then went closer to him and again asked him to repeat. A warden was close by, as was another man.
The man in the headphones, in an aggressive tone, said that he hadn’t spoken to me but then called me ‘demel’ (dung) and resorted to threats, saying that even though he is older than me, he would beat me up. The warden seemed to be as shocked as I was and winked to me as if to calm me down and let things be. The other man nearby acted similarly.
I was shocked and walked home in shivers. This may sound strange, as I have a thick skin. When my dad questioned Dom Mintoff’s excesses in the late 1970s, only to be expelled by Labour, our family had police protection. I don’t remember this as I was born in 1975. But I do remember what went on in the 1980s. I remember my dad coming home reporting mob rule and violence. I do remember travelling in our Mini during the eerie lonely nights preceding the 1987 general election.
I do remember Labourite mobs insulting my dad during his Partit Demokratiku public meetings. The same Partit Demokratiku which also involved Michael Vella, the father of slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
When I was a kid I too experienced my fair share of politically-incited violence. I remember a female school beadle insulting me because of my dad. Once I was beaten up by someone my age because I did not fit in politically.
Which takes me back to the incident on the Sliema promenade. I never saw this man in the headphones before last Wednesday, and if I were cool and coldly rational I would have taken a photo of him or asked the warden to phone the police. But I was shocked.
Shocked not by the insults. I receive a lot of positive and negative comments about my activism. So do other activists and politicians.
What shocked me was the sense of entitlement that the man in the headphones expressed. He felt perfectly safe to insult and threaten me in a public space, in the presence of a warden.
Some others who are resorting to violent language in the social media seem to be quite comfortable doing it.
Ask Tony Zarb, who retained his post as government consultant after verbally abusing the Occupy Justice activists.
Verbal abuse of political adversaries is becoming increasingly common.
This is not about freedom of speech, as suggested by an ex-police commissioner in court in a case involving threats towards MEP Roberta Metsola. This is about intimidation.
Which takes me to an eye-opening article about ideology penned by philosopher Louis Althusser in post-1968 France.
Althusser suggested that life is full of rituals which we take for granted and which make us subjected to prevalent ideologies. Such as greeting someone or speaking a language which others understand.
But ideologies can also represent power: Such as when a police officer shouts “Hey, you there!” and an individual turns around and ‘answers’ the call. The individual here is subjected to the ideology of law and order.
Malta is moving towards an ideology of mob rule, where some feel entitled to intimidate and attack others because of their beliefs. Daphne Caruana Galizia paid the ultimate price for her journalism.
We better act fast before the ideology of mob rule becomes the new normal and things get worse.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Riforma Kostituzzjonali - Michael Briguglio

Il-Mument, 26 ta' Novembru 2017

Il-qtil brutali ta’ Daphne Caruana Galizia u l-protesti sussegwenti organizzati min-Netwerk tas-Socjeta’ Civili, mill-Occupy Justice u mill-Kenniesa tal-Kabinett waslu biex jigi accelerat il-process tar-riforma kostituzzjonali f’Malta. L-oppozizzjoni Nazzjonalista kellha u ghandha rwol ewlieni f’dan il-process permezz tal-pozizzjonijiet parlamentari li qed tiehu.

Nittama li r-riforma kostituzzjonali ma tintuzax bhala paraventu mill-gvern biex jipprova jnessina minn kwistjonijiet urgenti bhall-kolass ta’ istituzzjonijiet bhall-Kummissarju tal-Pulizija u l-Avukat tal-Gvern.

Nittama wkoll li r-riforma kostituzzjonali tiffoka li jigu msahha ic-‘checks and balances’ bejn it-tliet organi ta’ l-istat: il-legislattiv, l-ezekuttiv u l-gudikatura.

L-ikbar sfida f’dan ir-rigward hi s-sistema politika fejn il-partit fil-gvern ghandu l-opportunita’ li jahtaf kollox taht idejh, u li awtoritajiet li suppost huma indipendenti jispiccaw immexxija minn nies servili ghall-Ministri.

Kull partit fil-gvern inqabad f’din in-nassa b’xi mod jew iehor, izda kien hemm gvernijiet fejn dan kollu sar b’mod ezagerat. Nistghu insemmu l-Gvernijiet Laburisti ta’ qabel l-1987, u l-Gvern Laburista prezenti bhala l-iktar ezempji cari. Il-Gvern prezenti ta’ Joseph Muscat sahansitra huwa ibbazat fuq stil ta tmexxija fejn dawk ta’ fuq igawdu impunita’ ghall-korruzzjoni u decizzjonijiet xejn trasparenti. Il-korruzzjoni m’ghadiex l-eccezzjoni: saret prerekwizit tal-Gvern.

Kif qal tajjeb Giovanni Bonello, fit-Times of Malta fis-7 ta’ Novembru li ghadda,

 “A country cannot claim to follow the rule of law when all the prosecuting authorities are controlled and muzzled, when the judiciary is packed with party inepts, when the police force employs convicted criminals, when impunity is guaranteed for anyone on the right side of the political fence, when court-certified felons are promoted, when prosecutions are sabotaged and when those who try to follow up political corruption are battered, when the voice of protest is silenced in a blast of Mafia.”

Ghalhekk nappella sabiex ir-riforma kostituzzjonali tkun verament genwina u li persuni ta’ rieda tajba fil-Gvern ta’ Muscat ma jippermettux li anke din tigi korrotta.

Ghandu jkun hemm enfasi fuq djalogu u sens civiku. Il-process ghandu jinvolvi lis-socjeta’ civili, il-partiti politici, akkademici u esperti kostituzzjonali, kif ukoll vucijiet ohra varji fis-socjeta’ Maltija.

Fuq kollox, dawk li jmexxu ir-riforma kostituzzjonali ghandhom ikunu nies ta’ integrita’, onesta u li jgawdu fiducja wiesgha fis-socjeta’ Maltija. Il-process ghandu jkun suggett ghal skrutinju demokratiku. Per ezempju, jista’ jkun approvat permezz ta’ maggoranza ta’ zewg terzi tal-parlament u referendum nazzjonali.

L-oppozizzjoni parlamentari u ekstra-parlamentari, is-socjeta’ civili u l-media ghandhom ikunu ghassa li l-Gvern ma juzax ir-riforma ghal skopijiet partiggjani. Nistennew u naraw. U jekk inkunu konvinti, nippartecipaw. 


Monday, November 20, 2017

Observations from post-Daphne #Malta

1. Civil Society Network - Malta, Occupy Justice Malta, Kenniesa Kabinett etc mobilized people despite the naysayers' advice to the contrary, the refusal of various opinionists to speak in events and the below-the-belt organized attacks. This helped raise the issue at EP level and Malta is now discussing constitutional reform (though I mistrust the process). But civil society and the media have their limits. 

2.  The unifying task of good governance activists is to ensure that good governance is on the political agenda. 

3. If others want other initiatives on good governance, they should just go ahead and do it.  

4. Not calling a spade a spade works in Government's hands, and this is not a normal government. Perky relativism may not get you adversaries, but it might also get you nowhere.



The European Window- Michael Briguglio

Saqsi lill-Prim Ministru - Michael Briguglio


Il-Mument, 19 ta' Novembru 2017

Skond il-Prim Ministru Joseph Muscat, dan hu gvern li jisma’. Dan hu gvern li qed itina l-aqwa zmien, u huwa gvern taghna lkoll.

Fl-ahhar elezzjoni generali il-maggoranza tal-poplu Malti eleggiet lill-Partit Laburista u ghalhekk, Joseph Muscat qed jghid li ghandu l-mandat ikompli bil-programm tieghu.

S’hawnhekk forsi kollox sew. Izda d-demokrazjia ma tibdiex u tispicca biss bl-elezzjonijiet generali. Hemm differenza bejn demokraziji liberali u dawk illiberali. F’dawk ta’ l-ewwel, il-poter huwa dicentralizzat, u f’dawk ta’ l-ahhar huwa centralizzat. F’dawk ta’ l-ewwel, tezisti s-saltna tad-dritt, u f’dawk ta’ l-ahhar, l-oligarkija ghandha sahha fuq kollox u kulhadd. F’dawk ta’ l-ewwel hemm ‘checks and balances’ bhall-istituzzjonijiet awtonomi mill-gvern, u f’dawk ta’ l-ahhar l-istituzzjonijiet jipprotegu l-gvern qabel lic-cittadin.

L-Ingilterra, Franza, il-Germanja u l-Istati Uniti huma ezempji ta’ demokraziji liberali, filwaqt li r-Russja, it-Turkija, Singapore u l-Venezuela huma ezempji ta’ demokraziki illiberali. F’dawn ta’ l-ahhar, kritici tal-Gvern jistghu jistennew trattament hazin, u kemm il-darba naqraw x’jigri lill-gurnalisti, attivisti tas-socjeta’ civili u politici ta’ l-oppozizzjoni f’dawn il-pajjizi.

Minn naha l-ohra, it-tlett karateristici bacizi ta’ demokrazija liberali huma regolati bil-kostituzzjoni u l-ebda maggoranza elettorali m’ghandha d-dritt li tfarrakom. Inkella tkun maggoranza bhal ta’ Erdogan fit-Turkija, li qed isir iktar awtoritarju bil-gurnata.

Allura Malta x’tip ta’ demokrazija hi? Il-fatt li pajjizna huwa membru ta’ l-Unjoni Ewropea jfisser li qed nghixu f’demokrazija liberali. Hemm aspetti tal-governanza fejn pajjizna miexi l-quddiem, bhal nghidu ahna d-drittijiet ta’ minoranzi. Izda hemm aspetti ohrajn fejn sejrin lura bhal granc, u l-vot massiv tal-Parlament Ewropew dwar Malta ftit tal-granet ilu u xhieda ta’ dan.

Jien kburi li l-Unjoni Ewropea taghna qed tiehu azzjoni dwar Malta taghna, favur is-saltna tad-dritt u l-governanza tajba, u kontra l-korruzzjoni u l-krizi ta’ l-istituzzjonijiet. Tajjeb nimmaginaw x’kien jigri minn pajjizna kieku ma dhalniex fl-Unjoni Ewropea. Forsi Joseph Muscat kien jithajjar imur pass oltre minn dak li hu ghaddej issa. Ma kien ikun hemm l-ebda Parlament Ewropew li jigbidlu widnejh. U l-oligarkija kien ikollha iktar liberta’ taghmel li trid.

Ghalhekk, galadarba Joseph Muscat qed isostni li l-Gvern tieghu hu wiehed li jisma’, in-Netwerk tas-Soċjetà Ċivili ħabbret inizjattiva f’dan ir-rigward.

Il-pubbliku qed ikun mistieden jagħmel mistoqsijiet lill-Prim Ministru dwar il-governanza u s-saltna tad-dritt. Dan jista’ jsir permezz ta’ formola online li tinstab fuq il-pagni tal-Facebook u tat-Twitter tan-Netwerk.


In-Netwerk ser jaġixxi ta' punt ta' kuntatt pubbliku sabiex dawk li jagħmlu mistoqsijiet ma jkollhomx għalfejn juru l-identità tagħhom. Imbagħad il-mistoqsijiet isiru pubblikament lil Joseph Muscat.

Peress li l-Prim Ministru bblokkja lin-Netwerk tas-Soċjetà Ċivili mill-profile tiegħu ta' Twitter, ser nużaw mezzi oħrajn biex nagħmlulu mistoqsijiet.

Sadanittant, għadda iktar minn xahar mill-qtil brutali ta' Daphne Caruana Galizia, u għad m'hemm l-ebda sinjal ta' ġustizzja. L-arloġġ tal-ġustizzja tan-Netwerk għadu għaddej, u dan jinstab fuq http://www.csnmalta.com/

Prim Ministru Joseph Muscat, forsi dan hu l-aqwa zmien ghall-partit tieghek u ghal dawk li qed igawdu mill-istil tal-governanza tieghek. Izda jekk verament tirrispetta n-normi bazici ta’ demokrazija liberali, tajjeb li twiegeb il-mistoqsijiet genwini li jsiru mill-pubbliku. U tajjeb li r-risposti jkunu genwini.