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.

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!

As I write, many Maltese people are biting their nails to see whether Franco Debono votes against the government or abstains. Half of them wish he abstains, the other half hope he’ll bring the government down. “Nazzjonalisti u Laburisti”, same old story.

Much less noticed are two young gentleman spending days braving the cold at Valletta City gate collecting signatures for a petition against the obnoxious development of 24 apartments and 26 garages in the middle of the picturesque valley of Wied il-Ghasel, Mosta. They are representing Harsien Patrimonju Mosti, that has been pulling a hard fight against the rape of the valley for years. They are also fighting a battle against time since though pending an appeal next June, the construction is going on at this very moment.

What has this got to do with what’s going on in Parliament and democracy? Much more than you think.

Before it degraded itself into mud throwing and petty bickering, most of the “Franco Debono issue” was about transparency, accountability and democracy. And while I may disagree on Franco Debono’s tactics, about the issues he put brought to surface I can only say one thing – He is right.

As can be seen in the well documented saga of the destruction of Wied il-Ghasel on Harsien Patrimonju Mosti’s website www.it-tarka.com the rape of the valley was given the green light through a process marred by conflicts of interest, lack of accountability and a massive exploitation of legal loopholes.

The destruction of this valley, like all the other past and present environmental scandals goes against the interest of Maltese citizens who have a vote. Yet, even at the risk of losing their votes without gaining others to compensate (for instance losing the votes of conservatives but in return gaining the votes of liberals when taking a stand on divorce or gay marriage) the abuse goes on.

Doesn’t this raise an eyebrow or two?

Isn’t it a pity that the much needed arguments on transparency and accountability Franco Debono was talking about have descended to petty bickering and mudslinging before even seriously discussed?

PS: I urge everyone who really love this country to download the petition from www.it-tarka.com print it, sign it, distribute it amongst friends and post it in the provided address. With around 30,000 signatures, the President will be asked to intervene. By the time of writing around 19,000 signatures have been collected.

To assess whether a punishment delivered by the law courts is just or not by reading a newspaper report isn’t very rational. The reason is that the judge would (or at least, should) have judged the case considering a number of variables that do not appear in a short report from a journalist.

 

What can be assessed quite accurately though is the trends in punishment delivery. And what these trends are showing is that Maltese laws are a complete mess.

 

For the sake of simplicity I will focus on two kinds of crime: Drug related (not including theft for drug money) and violence related (including sexual violence and rape).

 

On drugs, Malta’s laws are ridiculously harsh. While I don’t agree with the legalization of hard drugs since this might increase availability, one fact cannot be denied:  No one is forced to buy drugs.

 

I’m not putting into doubt the devastating effect of drugs. I’ve lost close friends myself to them. I’ve seen families being ruined, and otherwise good, law abiding people committing serious crimes.

 

The point is, the war on drugs – the way we’re waging it – has failed, miserably.  Law enforcement, while it should be there, shouldn’t be the main weapon against drugs. Drug addiction is a disease and should be treated as such – with prevention and treatment. On a positive note, we have excellent services in Malta, though I would like more resources pumped into them, rather than into keeping people behind bars.

 

Then, there is the main issue on the failure of drug laws enforcement. The problem is not that sentences are too soft, the problem is corruption. We are jailing, for unreasonably long periods of time people who are nothing more than couriers. That the kingpins are brought to justice is extremely rare, and when they do they are the ones who enjoy the best lawyers and exploit every legal loopholes that can save them from long periods of imprisonment, if any.

 

It’s an open secret that someone is protecting them. Corruption has invaded every institution of power in this country, yet no one wants to do anything about it. Like many other Maltese people, I know – sometimes beyond reasonable doubt – some things that are going on. But what can I do, without the hard evidence?

 

So, to hide all this dirt and appear to be doing something, we become too harsh with the couriers.

 

What about violence?

 

That, we treat with a velvet glove. Beat the shit out of your wife and you’ll get a suspended sentence. Worse still, in the case of domestic violence, some people are granted bail and are sent to live (believe it or not) in the same house with the victim, since it’s the matrimonial home. All this when the main reasons for not granting bail include the risk of tampering with evidence and intimidating the witness!

 

Non-domestic violence is also treated lightly. The message given from the law court seems to be “hurt whoever you want unless you kill him”. Otherwise it will be treated as a murder and that (at least) has to be taken seriously.

 

Sexual abuse and rape are also treated with caution, lest we punish the abusers too much. The sentences given to the priests convicted of abusing a number of children are shameful to say the least.

 

It this same week a foreigner was granted 14 years imprisonment for importing heroin. Another foreigner was jailed for 9 years for beating a man unconscious, raping him and leaving him tied up. (9 years prison isn’t a joke, but relatively speaking it is definitely too lenient).

If this is what we call justice, I’m curious to know what injustice looks like.

“bahnan wiehed iwaddab gebla”

As the world recession – caused by corporate greed – takes its toll over the people of Europe, one of the most noticeable things on the rise is protest. As people see their income being reduced and massive layoffs taking place while social benefits are being reduced, they are getting angrier. And rightly so. The problem is not anger but what one does with it.

Many times this is taking place in the form of violence, most notably but definitely not exclusively in Greece. Be it over students stipends, pensions or unemployment, more and more Europeans are taking the streets and having protests escalating to violence is becoming all the more frequent. Many times this is controlled by police who end up abusing their power. (For example the use of “kettling” is on the increase despite the controversy it caused since many peaceful protesters as well as passer-bys end up harmed).

From the law enforcement side, the only ethical solution is curbing the violence without the brutality. However, what I want to talk about is preventing the violence, rather than dealing with it. As much as I disagree with their violent stance, I also understand these people are not throwing Molotov bombs, breaking windows and burning cars just for kicks.

All hell breaks loose whenever the phrase “austerity measures” is mentioned. Obviously no one likes having his wage, stipend or pension reduces, or worse still ending up unemployed. However, it is not only that what is driving people towards violence. It’s the injustice.

While the “austerity measures” are taking place, the elite are not taking their share (which should be the major part) of the responsibility. Unfortunately for them, most Western European countries are democracies and even though attempts of media control sometimes not only take place but also succeed (Italy being most notable example), people are realizing this. Corruption is rife, and most CEO’s, bankers and politicians are immune from austerity. Knowledge of this, coupled with losing his job, turns an otherwise law abiding citizen into a human time bomb.

What about here in Malta? We haven’t seen political violence for decades and that is a positive thing. However, rather than protest what most Maltese are resorting to is grumbling and complaining – on newspapers, social media, schools and university and their place of work, even on bus stops. This seems to be giving politicians the impression that they can keep controlling and alienating the masses for ever. Thankfully we are not that stupid. Yes, thankfully, however there is a downside to this. The more and more we suppress the anger, the more it builds inside and the unexpected might easily take place at the most unpredictable moment.

We are still in time though. All that is needed is political will – loads of it actually. Politicians should first and foremost start by declaring a war on corruption. Not the usual farce, strong with the weak, but a real crackdown. This in itself will ease the financial burden on the Maltese people, but even more than that, it will also instill trust in politicians because weather they are realizing it or not, they are losing it (amongst other things, the number of non-voters in elections is on the increase). This will in turn have a soothing effect on the people as they start to realize something is being done. That at least, they are not paying for the mess created by the elite on their own.

People should also start taking the streets – non-violently of course. Venting one’s anger is not only healthy, but gives a timely warning to politicians that enough is enough.

Otherwise if the pressure on the human time bomb is too much for people to handle, it will detonate in a matter of minutes. In the wise words of a police officer, “bahnan wiehed iwaddab gebla” (it just takes one fool throwing a stone), before the elite wake up from their denial with visions of smashed windows and cars burning, coupled by the smell of blood.