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michaelfalzon
Michael Falzon

Water, water everywhere

It is worth looking into how different parties choose their leader. No one seems to have found the ‘ideal’ solution

michaelfalzon
Michael Falzon
5 July 2016, 7:15am
It must have been the reference to 'the environment' that has led Godfrey Farrugia to think about water
It must have been the reference to 'the environment' that has led Godfrey Farrugia to think about water
A front page story in The Malta Independent last Wednesday gave a lot of importance to a report on drinking water drafted by Government Whip Godfrey Farrugia and submitted to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Dr Farrugia is currently leading a Maltese delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Georgia, if you remember, is not a country where one can really feel secure, with or without the OSCE. In 2008, it was involved in a serious international diplomatic crisis when Russia announced that it would no longer participate in the Commonwealth of Independent States economic sanctions imposed on Abkhazia in 1996 and established direct relations with the separatist authorities in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The crisis was linked to the push for Georgia to receive a NATO Membership Action Plan. Increasing tensions led to the outbreak of the Russo-Georgian war in 2008. After the war, a number of incidents occurred in both conflict zones, and tensions between the belligerents remained high. 

At times the issue of the Russian backed breakaway regions of Georgia was a very hot one and I do understand why a glass of water would be appreciated by all those involved.

On its website, the OSCE says it seeks to enhance border security while facilitating legitimate travel and commerce, protecting human rights and promoting human contacts. The border of Georgia with Russia is, of course, somewhat difficult to monitor... so it is better if this issue were to be ignored altogether! 

Before the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly gathered in Tbilisi, Georgia, for its 25th Annual Session later this week, high-level representatives of the OSCE participating States, Partners for Cooperation and partnering organizations explored how to revive cooperative security in a challenging environment, i.e. against the backdrop of current challenges to European security, during a three-day 2016 Annual Security Review Conference (ASRC), which was held last week in Vienna. 

It must have been the reference to ‘the environment’ that has led Godfrey Farrugia to think about water. 

As everyone worth his salt knows, water in Malta has always been a problem. When the Knights of St John sent a scout to report on the state of the island that was to be given to them by Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire at the behest of the Pope, the scout reported back that water was scarce and the knights would have a probelem. At that time the population of Malta must have been about one twentieth of what it is today! No doubt that Malta ‘is one of the most water stressed countries in the world’ as Godfrey Farrugia po inted out. This is no earth shattering news, but this statement of Godfrey was considered as deserving a heading in the internal page where Godfrey’s OSCE moment continued to be reported. 

I really chuckle heartily when newspapers put up as headings some fact that has been known for centuries, purporting to be the latest news!

In any case anyone who has some idea of the history of this precious resource in Malta would immediately come to the conclusion that Godfrey’s speech was nothing but a rehash of some well known facts and situations. Not even the ribbon around the parcel was new!

Godfrey should not try to be clever by half and speak about subjects where his knowledge is ‘mainstream’.

Water is a specialised subject and should be left to the hands of experts.

Experts like well-known and prominent Maltese hydrologist Marco Cremona – I would say. By sheer coincidence Cremona is now the temporary general secretary of the new Democratic Party founded and led by Godfrey’s partner, Marlene Farrugia.

I sincerely hope that Godfrey’s imprudent foray into Marco Cremona’s field of expertise has not pushed Cremona away from his newly found political vocation, a realm where plagiarists are one a penny.

Brexit revisited

Much has been said after the Brexit referendum shock result and I have no intention of repeating things that have already been repeated too often.

There are two reflections that I feel I ought to make. Both reflect the fact that the political system in Britain has suffered a devastating blow in a scenario that leads many to believe that the United Kingdom doesn’t look like staying united.

The first is about David Cameron. Rather than being a victim, I think he embarked on a risky course that was to lead to his political suicide. He should have risked UKIP winning some seats in the House of Commons rather than promising a referendum in which many ‘leave’ voters did not exactly know what they were voting for – more so with the influential, but stupid, British tabloids that are nothing but a way how two or three newpaper owners become richer by feeding drivel to the masses.

Cameron’s risky move gave Boris Johnson the opportuinity to pounce. And pounce he did. Historical irony dictates that it is Johnson who should trigger the effects of Article 50 and start negotiating with Brussels. Perhaps he will realise that he has to put his foot where his mouth is, although the man has no idea of the meaning of shame and embarrassment.

The second is about Jeremy Corbyn. Corbyn was elected Labour Party leader by the votes of Labour party card carrying members. Rumours had it that during the drive towards his election many left-wing romantic socialists – who never accepted Tony Blair’s New Labour – had rushed to become card carrying members to be able to vote for Corbyn. 

The number of MPs who have now declared as not having confidence in their party leader is incredibly large. In fact, Labour MPs voted by more than four to one in a vote asking Mr Corbyn to stand down. Corbyn says he still enjoys the confidence of the party members.

This poses some questions. How successful can a party leader be when the majority of his Parliamentary group have no trust in him? Who should vote in an election for a party leader? MPs? Delegates? All members? It is worth looking into how different parties across the world choose their leader. No one seems to have found the ‘ideal’ solution.

What is clear is that no party can afford having a leader who does not enjoy the confidence of his own MPs.

[email protected]

michaelfalzon
Michael Falzon is a former government minister who served under several Nationalist admini...
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