Archive for October, 2011

My Attard 30kph proposal makes The Times editorial

October 30, 2011

The Times, Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Road users deserve to be better protected

The fact that according to official figures the number of cars on Malta’s roads stands at 310,409 is beyond doubt amasing considering the size of our population and of our country. Yet, according to a European Transport Council report released last June, the roads in Malta are the third safest in the EU.

Having said that, it needs to be always kept in mind that even if the risk of dying on Malta’s roads may statistically be slimmer than in other EU member states – in 2009 more than 35,000 people were killed in road accidents in the EU – every single traffic fatality on our roads remains one too many. Besides, the picture, of course, has an additional element.

There are also the people who get injured in traffic accidents. For instance, in the first eight months of this year, 174 people ended up at Mater Dei after being involved in traffic accidents, with the most vulnerable age group being that from 15 to 24 years, followed by those in the 25-34 age bracket.

The European Parliament recently adopted a resolution with the objective of halving, by 2020, the total number of road deaths in the EU when compared with 2010. It also called for further clear and measurable targets to be set during the same period.

The resolution is based on the Koch Report, an exercise containing a number of proposals, some of which could even be more pertinent to Malta’s continued efforts to tackle traffic headaches and improve on road safety.

The report suggests improving road users’ training and behaviour; harmonising and enforcing road traffic rules; making road transport infrastructure safer; putting safer vehicles on the road; using modern technologies for vehicles, infrastructure and the emergency services and protecting vulnerable road users such as motorcyclists, pedestrians, road maintenance workers, cyclists, children, elderly people and those with disabilities.

The European Parliament’s resolution calls on the member states to implement certain measures. These include introducing speed limits of 30 kilometres per hour in residential areas and on all one-lane roads in urban areas that have no separate cycle lane, with a view to protecting vulnerable road users more effectively.

This proposal seems already to be gaining ground in Malta. An Attard local council member has presented for discussion a motion calling for the maximum speed limit in all the locality’s residential roads to be reduced to 30kph from the national limit of 40kph.

Proposals in favour of reduced urban speed limits are mainly based on the argument that lack of proper speed restrictions, rather than increased exposure to traffic, account for the excess injuries or deaths among pedestrians, especially children, in residential areas.

Considering that the problem of over-speeding is still a reality despite all the efforts to educate drivers and the measures introduced to date to manage the situation, maybe it is time to re-examine the issue on a national dimension and not just at locality level.

There are a number of factors that can and do contribute to road accidents. Some are beyond a motorist’s control – like, say, the state of roads or obstructions of various forms along the way – but most are the result of inexperience, incompetence, negligence and sheer arrogance. Education goes a long way in addressing the situation because that is what makes for responsible driving. But, then, society demands that the transport authorities and/or the courts deal with irresponsible elements sternly.

My 30kph proposal in The Times

October 30, 2011

The Times, Saturday, October 15, 2011 , by

Kurt Sansone

Attard councillor proposes 30kph residential roads

Alternattiva Demokratika councillor Ralph Cassar this week submitted a motion calling for the maximum speed limit in all the locality ’s residential roads to be reduced to 30 kilometres per hour from the national limit of 40kph.

No date has yet been set for the motion to be discussed, but its proponent insists it is intended to promote greater road safety for pedestrians. “I have received a number of complaints on over-speeding from residents, and many feel uncomfortable allowing their children to walk alone on pavements or using their bicycles to travel around the locality,” Mr Cassar said.

Last month the European Parliament adopted the Koch report on road safety, which suggested more incentives to encourage people to walk, cycle and make use of public transport.

Reducing speed limits in built-up areas is one of the proposals in the report and is seen as a significant measure in lowering the number of fatal or near-fatal accidents. The report does not have any legislative bearing.

In his motion Mr Cassar says the council’s initiative to install a number of bicycle racks in the locality was intended to encourage people to cycle, but many felt “uncomfortable” doing so because of traffic.

Quoting EU statistics, the motion says that while only five per cent of people hit by a car travelling at 32kph die, the number of fatalities shoots up to 45 per cent when the car is travelling at 48kph.

Mr Cassar said there was a direct link between high speeds and increased fatalities, which prompted him to make the proposal. “All residential roads under the council ’s jurisdiction should have a speed limit of 30kph but the discussion eventually should lead to having a number of roads designated as mixed use where pedestrians and cars can intermingle safely,” he said. The motion called on Transport Malta to implement the council’s decision within one month of it being approved.

Politics for the few

October 23, 2011

Ralph Cassar – Secretary General, AD

Maybe you think that the issue is not important, and that politics is already the preserve of the few. Maybe you believe in a free-for-all where as the Maltese saying goes ‘min jiflaħ iħawwel’, the truth is that the proposals for regulating party and candidate financing and spending has just been reduced to whitewashing and condoning what has been happening outside and against the law for years on end.

The Sunday Times (25 September) has reported that individual candidate spending limits will b e increased substantially to €30,000, €10,000 and to between €3,000 and €5,000 for European Parliament, general and local elections respectively. Nowhere is the spending by political parties mentioned.

What does this mean? It means going back to the politics if the early 20th century when the landed gentry only had effective access to the ‘democratic’ process. Those proposing the new limits are either cut off from the reality of the vast majority of employees and workers, however qualified and interested they are in contributing to society through political action. It means that teachers, thousands in other professions who work in the public and private sector, managers, technicians, not to mentioned those with incomes below the average wage of around €15,000, will be effectively severely disadvantaged if they pluck up the courage to engage with politics. Who has a disposable income of €10,000, when the  median National Equivalised Income (NEI) which takes into account dependents on wage earners is a paltry €9,129? Maybe a couple of lawyers with hundreds of clients who charge a couple of hundreds of Euros and are used to incomes of hundreds of thousands of Euros. Not even a relatively well paid employee can afford €10,000 in campaign expenses, let alone  €30,000 for EP elections. The reality is that we live in a country where €30,000 is considered a very good salary. A quick look at statistics shows that most people, including professionals barely make the €30,000 mark. Only part-time MPs are lucky enough to earn a part-time top-up salary of €28,000. The figures proposed by Dr. Debono reveal the mindset of people for whom the MPs honorarium is mere pocket money. These rules will increase and favour those who have connections and can tap on funds from private interests and strong lobbies. This is laissez-faire, right wing politics at its best.

What about local councils? Why is there a need to increase the maximum spending ceiling so much? The current spending limit is good enough. Well, maybe for those used to organising lavish vote-buying receptions it is just too little.

The proposals do not in any why change anything. They just justify the current disregard of the law and do not in any way tackle the relationship between power and monied interests. It leaves the parties to spend their way to power rather than encourage politics based on discussion and an exchange of ideas. Worse still it will close the door to thousands of potential candidates who happen to be employees and favour a certain sector of society. The proposed rules, at least as reported in the Sunday Times, just confirm the status quo. It seems that we’re being dragged back to the past where the privileged few are favoured over the vast majority of lesser mortals, not just in practise but also by law.


The article in The Sunday Times: 

Sunday, September 25, 2011 , by

Kurt Sansone

MEPs’ campaign expenses to rise to €30,000

Candidates contesting European Parliament elections will be able to spend up to €30,000 on their campaigns according to a proposal in a draft Bill to regulate political party financing, The Sunday Times has learnt.

Disclosure and transparency are the fundamental pillars of any law regulating party financing, as is effective enforcement

Sources said candidates contesting a general election would have their personal expense allowance increased to €10,000 from €1,400.

The proposals being considered by the government also speak of expense thresholds for candidates contesting local elections.

The sources said there would be three separate thresholds for local elections depending on the size of the locality being contested, with the largest being capped at €5,000 and the smallest at €3,000.

The issue of candidate financing came to the fore in the 2009 European Parliament elections when two Nationalist Party candidates took an oath before a magistrate in court declaring that their campaign expenses were in breach of the electoral law.

PN candidates Edward Demicoli and Frank Portelli had said in court that while their personal expenses were within the legal limit of €18,635, the support by third parties meant they surpassed it.

The expenditure limits set out years ago by the electoral law have often been described as outdated.

The Bill currently being fine-tuned will also establish monetary thresholds for donations to political parties. Sources said a decision still has to be taken on the maximum permissible amount for a donation to be legal and the threshold above which donors will have to be made public.

The Bill is being piloted by parliamentary assistant in the Office of the Prime Minister, Franco Debono. However, when contacted yesterday Dr Debono would not confirm the thresholds.

“We are fine-tuning the Bill and rather than getting lost in the thresholds the more important thing is to have the structure in place,” he said, speaking from New York where he was accompanying the Prime Minister on his visit to the UN General Assembly meeting.

In the US, Dr Debono met with the chair of the Washington-based Federal Election Commission, Cynthia Bauerly, on political party financing.

The commission is an independent regulatory agency tasked to administer and enforce federal campaign financing laws.

“It is clear from my talks with Ms Bauerly that even in a country like the US with a well-developed regulatory system, any law on party financing remains a work in progress that needs to be changed regularly as it gets interpreted by the courts,” Dr Debono said.

An important aspect highlighted in the talks, he added, was the fundamental principle that the identity of donors should be disclosed.

“Disclosure and transparency are the fundamental pillars of any law regulating party financing, as is effective enforcement,” Dr Debono said.

A government-appointed commission, chaired by former President Anthony Galdes and composed among others of members from the three main political parties, in 1995 proposed that donations above €11,647 be made public and donations above €23,294 be made illegal.

The commission also proposed state financing for political parties linked to electoral success and capped at 0.02 per cent of GDP.

The proposals never became law and the Nationalist Party at the time wanted higher thresholds.

Today, 16 years later party financing remains unregulated as the two largest parties have grown into large commercial organisations running their own television and radio stations and mobile phone services.

Toroq aktar sikuri

October 15, 2011

Qed nagħmel proposta għal limitu tal-velocita fit-toroq kollha residenzjali ta’ Ħ’Attard ta’ 30 kph. L-idea tiegħi hija li ndaħħlu l-mentalita li t-toroq huma għall-użu ta’ kulħadd. In-nies għandhom iħossuhom komdi jużaw it-toroq tagħhom. Għandek tħossok komdu timxi jew iddur bir-rota. Kampanja edukattiva għandha tgħin biex tissensibilizza lil kulħadd dwar l-importanza ta’ imġieba responsabbli fit-toroq residenzjali. Xi ħadd fuq rota għandu KULL dritt isuq fit-triq.

Barra minn hekk biex taqbad triq prinċipali mit-toroq residenzjali f’Ħ’Attard b’veloċita baxxa m’għandhiex tieħu aktar minn 2 minuti massimu.

(Qed ninkludi video mill-kampanja twenty’s plenty tal-Ingilterra – 20 mil fis-siegħa ekwivalenti għal ħarira aktar minn 30 kilometru fis-siegħa)

20’s Plenty For Us from Streetfilms on Vimeo.

Il-mozzjoni li ppreżentajt titkellem waħedha.


Proposta biex f’Ħ’Attard tiġi implimentata veloċita massima ta’ 30 km fis-siegħa fit-toroq kollha residenzjali (dawk taħt ir-responsabbilta
tal-Kunsill Lokali).

Dan l-aħħar il-Parlament Ewropew approva r-rapport Koch dwar is-sigurta fit-toroq. Tali rapport jagħmel proposti biex jinċentiva l-mixi, l-użu tar-rota u t-trasport pubbliku. Il-veloċita tal-karozzi hija miżura importanti li tista’ taffettwa pożittivament is-sigurta fit-toroq l-aktar użati minn nies kuljum.

Għadna lura ħafna fejn jidħol l-użu tar-rota għal vjaġġi ġewwa Ħ’Attard stess. Il-Kunsill beda jieħu xi passi billi wasal biex jinstalla ‘bicycle racks’ f’xi postijiet. Ħafna persuni ma jħossuhomx komdi jużaw ir-rota jew jimxu minħabba t-traffiku. Huwa wkoll fatt li xi toroq għandhom bżonn jiġu ridisinjati peress li huma dritti u twal, tali mod li jħajjru veloċita għolja.

Huwa fatt magħruf li l-veloċita fit-toroq twassal biex in-nies iħossuhom skomdi jużaw t-toroq. 5% tal-persuni li jintlaqtu minn vettura miexja b’32 km/h jmutu, mentri b’veloċita ta’ 48 km/h, 45% imutu. 85% tal-persuni milquta minn vettura miexja b’64 km/h jmutu (SafetyNet, 2009). Ir-relazzjoni bejn il-veloċita u l-fatalitajiet hija ċara. Għalhekk huwa essenzjali li nbaxxu l-veloċita massima permessa f’toroq residenzjali.

Bħala pass biex it-toroq isiru aktar sikuri l-Kunsill jirrisolvi li l-veloċita massima fit-toroq kollha residenzjali għandha tkun ta’ 30 km fis-siegħa u titlob l-approvazzjoni ta’ Transport Malta biex tapprova fi żmien xahar mil-lum l-implimentazzjoni ta’ din id-deċizjoni.

Proposta minn: Ralph Cassar, Kunsillier


October 14, 2011

Someone spotted this quote from an article in today’s Independent:

“It is already suffocating that our parliament is only made up of two political parties.”

… no it is not an AD activist/candidate/whatever who said it.

Read for yourself.

Nationalist MP threatens to abstain
by Francesca Vella

Article published on 14 October 2011

Nationalist MP Franco Debono said yesterday that Transport Minister Austin Gatt should shoulder political responsibility over the situation in the public transport sector, and expressed his intention to abstain in the parliamentary vote on a motion in which the Opposition is seeking the minister’s resignation.

Speaking to this newspaper, Dr Debono said a democratic system should mean much more than a general election every five years.

“I want something good to come out of this. Let’s start a debate on constitutional reform, on the dignity of parliament and the need for parliamentarians to be accountable. Why is it that nobody ever shoulders responsibility? Ministers respond to parliament. It is unfortunate that our model of democracy is run on a strong executive and a weak parliament.

“I’m not saying Dr Gatt should resign, that is up to him to decide, but he must assume political responsibility; this is what happens in all other civilised countries. It is already suffocating that our parliament is only made up of two political parties. I feel that MPs are firstly Maltese, then members of political parties.”

Dr Debono’s abstention would mean that the Speaker, Michael Frendo would have to use his casting vote.

In December 2009, when he was absent for a vote on two amendments to a government motion, Dr Debono had also raised the issue of parliamentary dignity and had also mentioned fundamental problems in the justice sector, as well as problems in the south, specifically the “huge environmental deficit” in Birżebbuġa.

In an interview with this newspaper a year ago, he had said parliament is not an institution for MPs, but belongs to the people. He had complained that parliament, the highest and most representative forum of discussion for the people, lacks adequate facilities to fulfil its fundamental role in a democracy.

Yesterday, he brought up the issue of parliamentary debates being broadcast on television, saying this would be a direct link between parliament and the electorate. People have the right to follow debates involving the politicians that they themselves elect to parliament.

Lifted from here:

Meta “kulħadd” jagħmel li jrid…

October 11, 2011

Dan ritratt ta’ għalqa fit-tarf taż-żona ta’ żvilupp f’Ħ’Attard – eżattament kantuniera Triq il-Ġibjun ma Triq il-Pitkali. Mimlija plastik u żibel ieħor, mormija x’aktarx minn persuni li joqgħodu viċin, ħajt maqlub, x’aktarx mit-trakkijiet ta’ maħżen f’Triq il-Ġibjun, u issa anke qed tintuża bħala parkeġġ.

Saru rapporti fuq rapporti – imma xejn. Min suppost jara li ssir xi ħaga? Il-MEPA infurmati. Ilhom infurmati.

Għelieqi abbandunati misshom jinxtraw mill-gvern u jew jinkrew lil min irid jaħdimhom jew jinbidlu f’imsaġar.

Fit-titlu għidt ‘kulħadd’ jagħmel li jrid, għax il-ftit u n-nuqqas ta’ infurzar mill-awtoritajiet kompetenti jagħtu l-impressjoni ta’ ‘free for all’. Fil-verita imn’alla l-maġġoranza kbira ta’ persuni għandhom sens ċiviku. Anke fil-każ tar-riċiklaġġ.

Imbagħad ghad hawn min għadu jinsisti li joħroġ iż-żibel nhar ta’ Tlieta, avolja it-Tlieta jinġabar biss materjal nadif għar-riċiklaġġ Ħ’Attard, u l-Ħamis jinġabar biss karti u kartun għar-riċiklaġġ. Noti jispjegaw is-sistema intbgħatu biżibilju. Min jagħmel ħiltu jispiċċa biż-żibel fit-triq minħabba xi ftit nies egoisti.

Hawn taħt ritratti ta’ boroż suwed li mhux suppost inħarġu illum it-tlieta 11 ta’ Ottubru f’ĦAttard, fi Triq il-Pitkali u Triq il-Gradilja. Meta se ningħataw is-saħħa u r-riżorsi nimmultaw lil dawn in-nies?

Fejn jidħol Peppi…

October 10, 2011
Mistra 30 May 09Mistra 30 May 09Mistra 30 May 09Mistra 30 May 09Mistra 30 May 09

JPO attends AD Press Conference, a set on Flickr.

Ghal Joe Azzopardi il-PN u Gonzi jigu qabel kollox, anke qabel sfregju fil-Mistra. Araw il-links hawn taht.

Ara kif qatt xi hadd jista’ jhossu komdu fuq xi programm minn tieghu meta dejjem bid-dubju jekk intix qed tigi ‘set up’ u li l-persuni l-ohra kemm fl-udjenza u anke fuq il-panel (minn liema partit ikunu gejjin m’hemmx ghalfejn nghidilkom) ikunux diga miftehma mieghu biex igibuk bicciet.

Haddiehor jaghmlulu hajtu nfern jekk jazzarda jaghti sehmu fil-politika, f’mohhi jigu diversi hbieb. Imma Joe Azzopardi u shabu jistghu jikkapparraw TVM u fl-istess hin jibqghu attivisti u l-agenzija tal-PR tal-PN. Tant qeghdin sew li l-istazzjoni nazzjonali minflok ghandu l-apparat tieghu jikri l-apparat minghand il-kumpanija ta’ Peppi. Dardir Malta mark II.

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others… fejn jidhol Peppi m’hemmx rispetti.

Rapport The Times

Rapport Maltatoday

Here we go again – Chris u l-mina u Gonzi u t-tiċpis

October 9, 2011

Il-ġenn tal-mina bejn Malta u Għawdex reġa fl-aħbarijiet. Il-mina issemmiet minn kandidat ġdid Laburista, Mercieca, bi Chris Said jaqbeż malajr fuq il-karru u jikkummissjona rapport. Każ ta’ ‘big projectitis’ ta’ qabel l-elezzjoni. Kastelli fl-arja. Każ tal-PN u l-PL jisfurzaw ruħhom biex jiskurjaw il-punti u jwegħdu ċ-ċuċati.

Hawn hu r-rapport li deher fit-Times fuq l-internet:

La semmejt lil Mercieca (dak il-kirurgu li jrid jaqbeż il-kju tal-vapur t’Għawdex), illum Gonzi qal li dan Mercieca ‘iċċappas’ bil-politika. Tajba din! Minn kliem il-Prim Ministru stess kull min hu fil-politika ‘imċappas’ – mid-dehra tant għandu nies maħmuġin madwaru (jekk tiċappas b’xi ħaġa titħammeġ, mhux hekk?), u tant dara jara ‘ħmieġ’ li l-espressjoni ħarġitlu sħuna, sħuna: ‘imċappas’.


Artiklu li ktibt aktar kmieni dis-sena: