Monday, 31 March 2008

Farewell, Sliema Apartment!

This is the last post that I am writing from the "study" room of the Sliema apartment. The latter has been a pleasant home for my sweetheart and for myself during the past year or so. The time has come, though, to move to a place of our own. No matter how beautiful and/or comfortable a rented place is, someone else dictates the rules; it is similar to living in a colony. We are now going to live in a place where we - and only we - establish all the regulations.

Monday, 24 March 2008

Meeting Resistance Trailer

As the US enters its sixth year of an unjustifiable war, I am posting the trailer of what appears to be a very interesting documentary. President Bush, stop the bloodshed and call for an immediate return of all the US troops in Iraq! Long live peace!!!

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Lessons Learned From the 2008 Election

Even though the PN failed to secure an absolute majority of the electorate's votes, the thousands of individuals who cherish leftist principles have to endure another five years of Gonzi PN. I cannot hide my disappointment about the fact that the MLP lost this election; I really believed that the latter was going to win.

During the past few days, I have been able to reflect a great deal about life in Malta, the trends exhibited by the Maltese electorate from one election to another, leadership issues...I must say that there were many lessons to be learned from this election.

One of the first - and probably most important - lessons that I learned is that Malta is still not ready for relatively small political parties. Throughout Malta's political history, a number of parties were formed, but none of them have ever remained active for a long time or managed to win a seat in Parliament. AD has been around for almost 20 years and even though they managed to obtain more than 3000 votes, this is still a far cry from the amount that is needed to be able to carry out substantial changes in the country. In this country, if one wants to take an active part in determining the country's future, I believe that one ought to join one of the big parties.

Whoever has been reading my posts over the last few months knows that I have often campaigned in favour of a political party that would start talking again about Socialism, just as Dom Mintoff and Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici used to do. I believe that one of Alfred Sant's worst faults was that he brushed the Socialist ideology to the side and focused too much on specific issues. When one focuses exclusively on issues, it becomes fairly easy for the other parties to steal ideas and to compete in such a way that makes it hard to identify which organisation is trying to promote which type of ideology. I would not be surprised to find many young MLP supporters who do not have a clear idea of what it means to be a Socialist. I strongly hope that whoever is elected as the new leader of the MLP is able to remind the Maltese electorate about the importance of being a Socialist when trying to build a more caring society rather than one revolving around the greed for profit.

Following the outcome of the March 2008 election, I no longer believe in campaigning for new parties. AN had contacts and truckloads of cash; in spite of having such resources at their disposal, they only managed to obtain a little over 1000 votes. If this happened to AN, just imagine the outcome for a small party with extremely limited financial resources and virtually no contacts!

I am not saying that new political parties should not be created. People should be free to establish new parties if they believe that such organisations can truly lead to a better country for everyone. I am merely saying that I am not interested in being a minor player in Malta's political field. I see little point in devoting countless hours and Euros to an organisation that will probably never be able to contribute substantially to improving the quality of life of the country's inhabitants.

This election has also taught me a great deal about the importance of democracy. At the end of the day, no matter how interesting a person's ideas are, it is essential to have a majority of the country's inhabitants approving of such ideas if they are to be implemented. Some people believe that ideas should be imposed on the members of society, but I believe that such efforts tend to backfire after a certain period of time. If most people do not agree with a number of proposals, these will never be implemented successfully and there will also be widespread unrest.

The March 2008 election has taught me a lot about the importance of persuasion. As we go along with our daily lives, we will all meet several people who disagree with us. This should not make anyone feel threatened. It is important to communicate reasonably and to attempt to persuade using peaceful techniques rather than aggressive ones. Forcing other people to agree with you through, say, fear will never bear long-term or succesful results.

This election has also taught me a great deal about the need for tolerance if we want to build a better country. I enjoyed the fact that there was virtually no violence when the electoral result was announced. When I write about tolerance, I am not only referring to tolerating individuals who belong to a different political party; I am also taking into consideration intra-party tolerance.

Sadly, during the past few days, I have heard many people say very nasty things about some other individuals who belong to the same political party. I find this totally absurd! At the end of the day, we are all highly fallable, flesh-and-blood human beings; it is ludicrous to expect any person to never make any mistakes! Whether the mistakes were committed by a party leader or any other individual within the party's administration, I believe that the most important thing is to identify those mistakes and to devise a plan to avoid repeating them. This should not be a punishing process; it should be an enlightening journey aimed at improving the person and the party to which he/she belongs.

Whilst acknowledging the fact that every political party represents a general set of beliefs, I disagree that any constructive criticism within the party should be stifled. As human beings, we are always searching for new ways and techniques to improve our lives; innovation should, therefore, not be discouraged.

When focusing on a specific political party, I believe that all its supporters should be considered as useful. Every person can offer something to the party and to the country. Hence, NOBODY should be ostracised. A party should act like a caring family. Elitist or intolerant attitudes should be avoided at all costs.

This election has changed me very much. I am still a Socialist because I still believe that Socialism is the best tool to build a much better world for everyone. When it comes to certain issues, I might have been misled in the past by certain things that I read, but the undeniable reality of an election's outcome is more than enough to encourage a person to change one's thoughts about many matters. At this stage, my biggest hope is that during the next 5 years, the MLP will act as a Socialist organisation. The MLP must be able to show the Maltese electorate how different its vision is from that of the PN. It must avoid scaring people. Most importantly, it must persuade this country's inhabitants that every person is extremely important in order to create a better world.


Sunday, 9 March 2008


I have been glued to the TV screen for the past three hours or so. This seemingly endless wait for the electoral result is really terrible! Some of the latest rumours are pointing to a victory for the PN (Gonzi PN would be more appropriate!), but a friend of mine is still confident that the MLP might be declared as the winner. I really hope to know the result as soon as possible!

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Election Day 2008

The big day has finally arrived! After a very intense campaign which was far more personal and aggressive than the 2003 one, the time has come for the Maltese electorate to vote. Even though the Malta Labour Party (MLP) is not waging any war against the evils brought about by capitalism, it is traditionally the party of the Maltese working class. Ideologically, it is still committed to the struggle to safeguard the rights of the thousands of individuals who make up the working class in the Maltese Islands.
In the absence of a purely anti-capitalist party, I decided that the MLP - in spite of all its shortcomings - would be the best choice for this country. Consequently, I cast my vote for this party.
During the past few weeks, I was disgusted by how the PN utilised the personality cult technique with Dr Lawrence Gonzi to cover up the scandalous behaviour associated with a great deal of his ministers. There is nothing wrong with praising a leader's virtues and portraying that person as a role model, but when all attention is diverted to the leader to avoid shedding light on the dirty deeds of other important people, such a tactic is very worrying.
As a lawyer, Dr Gonzi comes across as a good orator. He tries to present himself as a very humble man and this seems to appeal to many people. When confronted with difficult questions, he knows extremely well how to skirt around the matter and hop onto another subject. Dr Gonzi cannot, however, escape two important things: first, he is surrounded by a number of individuals that have repeatedly been perceived as untrustworthy or highly arrogant by a substantial portion of the Maltese population. Second, he belongs to a party (the Christian-Democrat one) that has embraced the neoliberal economic model.
No matter how smart or humble Dr Gonzi appears to be, voting for the Nationality Party amounts to voting for a party that will almost surely continue to deregulate the labour market over the next few years. In simple terms, what does this mean? When a government removes certain regulations that protect workers' rights, it becomes easier for employers to hire and fire their employees without any restrictions. As employers tend to strongly approve such deregulation, the Nationalist Party would surely be able to talk about more companies coming to the Maltese Islands during the next few years. Yet, what about the working conditions of hundreds of thousands of Maltese employees? What is the point of shouting that you are going to create countless jobs when many of these jobs would probably not be associated with decent working conditions?
If the MLP wins this election, I am not expecting dramatic changes. At the end of the day, this party has not pledged to struggle against capitalism or to embark on an intensive campaign aimed at promoting a socialist way of thinking in our society. Given that it is extremely unlikely that the MLP would ever try to achieve such goals in the near future, I strongly believe that another party is necessary in this country. Of course, it will take some time to put all the necessary ingredients together for such a party to become fully functional. Yet, a time will come when the Maltese working class will have a party that will truly struggle to safeguard its interests. It will be a party that will cure this country of the evils of capitalism and that will, consequently, ensure an end to exploitation. Once exploitation will no longer exist, all Maltese people will be able to live together peacefully.
Until such a time comes, I hope that the MLP will be able to govern this country. Long live Socialism!!!

Sunday, 2 March 2008

The Right to Live in a Decent Home

During the last few months, my sweetheart and I embarked on a plan to buy an apartment for ouselves. We have been living in rented places for a very long time and given the fact that I will be 30 next year, it was decided that buying would be the best option for us. How little we knew about the countless hardships involved in the process!

After identifying a beautiful three-bedroom apartment in Ta' Xbiex, we decided to go to the bank to see how much we could get as a mortgage. The owner was willing to sell us the place for Lm50,000. All those people who have never been engaged in the purchase of property should realise that the property cost price is the starting point of one's expenses. On top of that, one must add the notary fees, bank fees, etc. The bank usually gives a loan amounting to 90% of the property's cost price; the remaining 10% should be forked out of the pocket of the person interested in buying. This 10% is normally referred to as the deposit. When talking about a property that costs Lm50,000, the amount of money that the purchasing party would need to come up with is Lm5,000!!!

Over the last few years, given our particular circumstances, it was not possible to save any money. There was a fairly long period of time during which my sweetheart was unable to work since she was not an EU citizen and we were not married. The dependence on one salary crucified us; I often had to ask one of my colleagues at work to lend me some money in order to make it to the end of the month! By the way, my sweetie and I do not smoke or drink heavily, meaning that we never spent any money on such things.

Things have changed a great deal since then. My partner and I are now married and we are both working in the financial services sector, which is said to be one of the fastest-growing areas in Malta. Having said this, in spite of having two salaries, it has never been possible to put aside a considerable amount of money. When we went to the bank, it became extremely clear that unless we were going to receive some help, it was not going to be possible to get the desired mortgage. We were short by a few thousand pounds! We eventually managed to obtain the mortgage plus the money required to cover most of the additional fees by begging a close relative for a guarantee!

Although we were very happy when the bank issued the sanction letter, we soon realised that the expenses were far from over. While still at the bank, both of us were taken to a room to talk to a financial officer about the insurance policies that would have to be purchased as part of the process. We will be paying the premiums later on this year given that they are relatively expensive!

We should be moving to the new apartment in April. At the moment, we are still paying rent (Lm250 per month) to our landlady in Sliema. Before signing the convenue, we seriously believed that we could just give notice to our landlady and she would allow us to leave. That was not the case. She informed us that our rental agreement binds us to pay rent until the end of he contract (October 2008). While talking to her on the phone, she kept insisting that she already has commitments related to our rent money; she needs to keep sending her daughter to guitar, karate, and ballet lessons!!! Yes, we were foolish to think that she would show any mercy towards us, but the bottom line is that unless we manage to find somebody to start renting the Sliema apartment as soon as possible, we will have to continue paying her Lm250 every month until October!!!

The whole situation makes me want to scream! I still find it so hard to believe that one should undergo so much pain in order to have a decent home! I am quite sure that there are many other people out there who believe that all human beings should have the right to live in a decent home without having to pay a cent! A true Socialist government would ensure that every person would be able to live in a decent home for free. That is why every country in the world needs such a government!