Sociologist, local councillor, activist from Malta

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

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.

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.