An online poll on Malta Today shows that some 67% of respondents agree with Joseph Muscat’s proposed push-back policy. It’s just a poll, not a scientific study, however it’s indicative of public sentiment. For the sake of this article, let’s assume that 67% of the Maltese agree with such policy.

One might argue that if the majority is behind Muscat, implementing push back (on which he himself is now backing off indicating he was only using it to threaten the EU) would be democratic.

Thankfully it doesn’t work that way. A majority, even confirmed by elections does not in itself make a democracy. For instance both Putin in Russia and Erdogan in Turkey, were elected with a majority yet both cannot claim to be democratic. The rampant breaches of human rights, especially the persecution of political opponents and journalists make any of these leaders’ claims to be democratic nothing more than a joke, even though they got a majority in the polls.

I remember reading a quote (unfortunately I forgot its author’s name) that depicts all this in a single sentence:

“Would it still be a democracy if 51% of the population voted for the right to kill the other 49% with impunity?”

I think the answer is pretty obvious.

This may sound extreme and hopefully no country will ever arrive in such a dire situation. However it makes a point very clear: Having the support of the majority is still undemocratic if the basic rights of minorities are not respected.

This argument holds true for push-back. For a simple reason. What Muscat proposed was not the deportation of failed asylum seekers (which is completely legitimate) but a deportation that would have been carried out before they even had a right to file for asylum. And asking for asylum is a fundamental human right.

And while I do find the majority on the issue as worrying, I also find them irrelevant. They could have been 90% and still, implementing push back before one even had the chance to ask for asylum would be not only illegal but undemocratic.

It would, among other things, have turned the Maltese government into a very serious human rights abuser that wouldn’t mind breaking my own rights if it’s politically convenient.

Most Maltese know one fact on drug traffickers in prison. The fact that these are, in nearly all cases the small fish in the drug business. Mostly couriers who take huge risk and long prison sentences for little financial profit or drug addicts peddling some drugs to finance their own habit. Most of us know that a kingpin, those getting rich from drug trafficking, rarely ever get caught, let alone convicted.

What most Maltese don’t know is the other fact which is, to put it mildly, much scarier. What many don’t know is that there are people in our prisons who never made a single Euro out of drugs serving a sentence for drug trafficking.

How could this be possible?

Simple. In Malta (contrary to practically all other EU countries and, above all, common sense), sharing is dealing. When two or more people share say, a joint or a stash of heroin they’re not only committing the offence of drug use but also of trafficking – with each other.

This is why, for instance, Daniel Holmes who was never convicted of selling a single milligram of cannabis or that he had the intention to do so, has drug trafficking among his convictions. A charge on which the prosecution had originally asked for life imprisonment.

Daniel Holmes did not cultivate cannabis plants on his own but with a friend. The other guy, called Barry Lee, committed suicide in custody as soon as he came to know what a long term prison sentence he was facing. The plants belonged to both.

When both Daniel Holmes and Barry Lee admitted that they were using the same plants, little did they know that they were admitting to drug trafficking. Daniel Holmes was charged with trafficking with Barry Lee while Barry Lee was charged with trafficking with Daniel Holmes.

The case of Daniel Holmes is one I’m very familiar with. But I’m completely sure there are other people in Maltese prisons serving a sentence on drug trafficking without having ever even considered making money out of drug dealing.

Our laws are so absurd that the following scenario is possible:

A is a drug dealer while B is simply a consumer. A buys the drugs, sells them to B and asks the latter to roll a joint, which he does. They share that joint and get caught red handed smoking it.

A, being a drug dealer thus more street-wise denies everything except for smoking a joint. B, who is greener on these things and gets terrified by the police barking in his face says the truth and admits he actually did roll a joint and give it to A.

With a confession being the most powerful evidence against you and A being street-savvy hiring a good, expensive lawyer, there is the possibility that B goes to jail for drug trafficking while A gets a conditional discharge or a suspended sentence for simple possession.

Alternattiva Demokratika is the only party that addresses the fact that the war on drugs has failed and needs to be re-thought.

Among others we have three main proposals: That personal use is decriminalized, that there is a classification between soft and hard drugs and that cultivation for personal use is considered as personal use and not a separate crime that carries a minimum prison sentence.

Yet, the PNPL ended up talking about drugs anyway. For all the wrong reasons.

In an electoral campaign that is based mostly on scandals involving members of both parties, the PN attacked the PL for having Toni Abela in the knowledge of drugs being taken in a PL club and not reporting it.

The PL attacked back on their newspaper Maltastar.

http://www.maltastar.com/dart/20130226-alleged-drug-abuse-at-pn-club-unreported

From “your party is more corrupt than usour party” the talk of the campaign is changing into “your followers use more drugs than ours”.

2000 votes in one district can elect an AD deputy. A deputy focused on the issues that really affect the Maltese people rather than hiding the skeletons in his closet.

A deputy that will insist all drug users should not be arrested. Not only if they’re his party’s supporters snorting cocaine in the party club’s toilet.

The first election I followed closely was that of 2008. I had just joined AD and was much greener (pun not intended) back than. I couldn’t, for instance, understand the sceptic look my colleagues gave when electoral promises such as regulating party financing and investing in renewable energy were made.

I only understood later, when the promises failed to materialize.

By now I’ve got much more used to the way Maltese politics is done, the empty promises, the not-so-indirect vote buying and the superficial way issues are addressed by the PNPL in their attempts to please everyone.

Yet, this general election, the first one that I’m contesting has become even more surreal than that. The issues are barely being discussed, even superficially. They’ve literally been given secondary importance.

Instead, the PNPL just ended up competing on which side can unearth most skeletons from the other side’s closet. The PL attack on Austin Gatt and Zaren Vassallo while the PN retaliate on Anglu Farrugia and Toni Abela.

On a positive note, I strongly believe this will be the first election where AD elects at least one candidate in parliament. While the PNPL are playing “the other side is dirtier” game, we’re talking about issues. And more and more Maltese people, especially but definitely not exclusively they younger ones, are realizing this.

While the PNPL are busy throwing as much mud as possible on each other, we’re talking about increasing the minimum wage, equal rights regardless of sexual orientation, regulating party financing, the overdevelopment of our land and rape of our countryside, spring hunting, decriminalizing the personal use of drugs and a dozen other issues that directly affect the life of the Maltese people.

The choice is now yours. 2000 votes in one district can elect an AD candidate.

Apart from the usual individual favours granted to individuals by the PNPL in order to gain their vote, both factions of the duopoly have now immersed in a competition for who’s going to give the largest amount of freebies to the electorate, together with reducing taxes.

 

Well, who wouldn’t love a free tablet for his kids, a thousand Euros in his bank account, more sick leave, while having his electricity bill and his taxes reduced?

 

Some people are easily duped by this Father Christmas politics but others choose to use their mind and think. Needless to say I’m appealing to the latter who will definitely be asking the million dollar question: Where is the money coming from?

 

Those who love to think and analyse will immediately realise that the magic solutions such as “25,000 new jobs”, “the tablets will generate a lot of employability through education” and “your electricity bill will go down in a short time” are just pies in the sky.

 

There are, of course ways where we can significantly increase the country’s finances by cracking down tax evasion and benefit abuse (both measures which Alternattiva Demokratika supports wholeheartedly) as well as taxing land speculation which the PNPL choose to ignore.

 

But the truth is that quick-fix measures that will make our economy flourish in as short time, especially amid economic crisis, don’t exist.

 

In other words in the short and not-so-short run, this bazaar way of doing politics will only result in one or more of the following:

 

 

  1. The promises are not delivered and people will be disappointed

 

  1. New taxes which aren’t included in the PNPL’s electoral programmes

 

  1. Bankrupting the country

 

 

I feel sure that no rational voter finds these option desirable.

When the issue of having gays and lesbians *eligible to adopt children crops up one frequently finds people saying: “what about the child’s right to have a mother and father”?

This question is erroneous by nature.

First of all, there is no such right. Unfortunately, for various inevitable reasons such as parents who are deceased, imprisoned or not fit to raise their own children, some children are going to be deprived of living in a traditional family.

None of these is the fault of the state or some public institution thus, unlike when real human rights (such as freedom of speech, or arbitrary arrest) are breached, an orphan or a child that for some reason cannot live with his biological parent, could not seek compensation.

Secondly, it is these kind of children that get adopted. If LGBT people become eligible to adopt, no one is going to snatch children from happily married heterosexual couples to give them to homosexual couple to bring up.

All things being equal, if I had to be born again, I would like to be brought up by a heterosexual couple. The reason for this is that stigma on homosexuality still exists in much of the world and this is likely to have some effect on me (such as bullying at school).

But if my choice was between being brought up in say, an orphanage, without the individual attention a child desperately needs, or by a loving same-sex couple I would choose the second without a moment hesitation.

In a nutshell a child adopted by a homosexual couple is not going to be deprived from living with a mother and father any more than he already is.

*Contrary to popular belief, adoption is not a right. The prospective adoptive parents are assessed (thoroughly, one must say) and if it is deemed in the best interest of the child, they will be allowed to adopt. At present, homosexual couples are not eligible to adopt. In other words, for some children living in an orphanage, there are homosexual couple that have the potential of giving them a better life, that can’t even file the application.

One of the issues Alternattiva Demokratika has been harping on for a long time is the complete lack of regulation and transparency on party financing. Needless to say, we were completely ignored by both sides of the PNPL. It doesn’t suit any side to disclose who the contractors financing their party (thus pulling the strings) are and how much they are paying them. Or to have any law that regulated these payments.

 

There have been contractors who have even admitted in the open that they finance both parties – equally!

 

Which is why I had to put my glasses on and take a second look when I read this on the times:

 

“Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi this morning again asked where Labour is getting its electoral campaign funds from, saying it must have already spent €1m in the campaign”

 

He’s right, mind you. But you really need to have a cheek to ask this question when you lead a party that has consistently avoided any kind of law on transparency and regulation!

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