After a long-awaited change of government and many electoral promises, people’s expectations of the Labour administration are understandably high. So how in tune is the Muscat government with voters’ concerns and top priorities?
Josanne Cassar asks a wide spectrum of people: if you had to become Prime Minister tomorrow what would be the first thing you would do?
I would remove time-barring (“preskrizzjoni“) for all cases, so that the laws in Malta would no longer protect those who have stolen from others. In that way you would get rid of corruption because at one point or another either they or their children would have to give back what they took.
I would abolish karozzini immediately, pay the karozzini for the horses and send them to an old horses home (the horses, not the cab drivers). Karozzini should only be on postcards.
I know this may sound trite but for me it’s a greater priority; I hate needless animal suffering and in other areas, I believe the country isn’t doing too badly.
If I had to be a Prime Minister I would change all the top positions and give them to people who I know have the same beliefs and view of my policies, so I can carry out my electoral programme smoothly, because if I am elected Prime Minister it would be because the majority want my programme. I would do this completely in all departments. If I could, I would also see that all those who work part time are doing so according to law, and make sure that they are competing with the same regulations as us full timers because as things are, we can’t compete with them.
I would research carefully to see who the people with the most expertise in each area are, who can act as consultants and/or contribute to develop policy, then engage them and ask them to draw realistic action plans. There is so much one needs to do, and it is very difficult to prioritise. Many areas like health, education, infrastructure, traffic management, environment, etc. are equally important. Sadly, although there was a lot of goodwill in the PL camp around election time, this all fizzled out when people who have no adequate background were appointed on the various boards. This is my biggest disappointment as regards to the Labour Government – there was so much one could have done, and yet these opportunities are being wasted through engaging people who have no justified reason to be there in the first place.
There are several matters that immediately spring to mind as high priority. These include addressing the proliferation of construction activities all over the country, the transport problem, regulation of noise pollution, in particular (but not only) that caused by fireworks – certainly, petards ought to be banned outright, illegal boathouses, secularisation… Many of these are not a matter of a decision, “the first thing I would do”, but require deep study, to be followed by concrete action over time. A very early decision would be to comply with the EU Birds Directive and ban spring hunting, without any ifs or buts.
I would implement short term measures to increase the number of jobs and long term measures to improve education…the biggest problem in Europe is youth unemployment so we need to create jobs and opportunities for our youth. In practice that means encouraging businesses to locate over here and help local businesses grow internationally.
I think the first thing I would do is to try to get all illegal immigrants out of Malta if possible. It’s very difficult to say how, but one thing for sure is I would send back those who I think come from a safe country. The new ones which are coming would be sent back to Libya and I would make sure that other EU countries would help Malta by sharing this burden according to the size of their country.
I want the removal of the Arriva buses – they have made Malta a laughing stock, especially with the British . At least two mornings a week I see them either broken down or resting on a centre strip or worse still having crashed into something! They are truly a joke and a health hazard. They are too wide for our roads and the bendy busses scare me so much. They’re a huge no no for our beautiful island .
John Houghton, a Member of the House of Keys (the parliament of the Isle of Man) was reported as saying, “Let’s not become a laughing stock like Malta where over-sized buses have been seen trying to manoeuvre themselves along the narrow streets of its historic towns with all the grace of a rhinoceros stuck in a Wendy house.”
I feel the highest priority is the lack of equality and the rights of minorities. I cannot accept that in the year 2013 there are still people who are perceived as being “inferior”. I cannot understand how, if we see two gay people spending time together in a public place, we have to stare at them rudely and gossip about them. Even though I am Catholic, I do not believe that the Catholic religion should be included in our constitution as “the official religion” especially since we have introduced divorce legislation, which I agree with.
The worst cases of discrimination, however, take place against those with special needs.
How can you allow a child with a disability to go to school only if he has an LSA, and if the LSA doesn’t show up, the child is sent back home or left to play on his own?
I also feel that people who have a yellow card for the hospital are not always given their due rights and have to wait much too long for their appointments. I would like to see disabilities divided into different categories, because it is useless to propose one general law to cover all disabilities. It also upsets me to see people parking on ramps when they know they are needed by wheelchair users, and are hardly given a ticket by wardens. If I were the PM I would emphasis the need to create national awareness on these issues.
I would create favorable conditions and incentives for employers in the catering industry to target and cater better for the tourism market such as opening longer hours and during weekends and public holidays.
From personal experience I believe that one of the main priorities of this country is in the field of health care with regards to the increasing amount of complaints for appointments and at the
Emergency unit at Mater Dei. I would definitely try to improve the administration of the hospital and the staff at Mater Dei so that timely care is given to all the patients who need it.
I would set up a committee to scrap our electoral law that’s been the same since circa 1929. I would carry out a referendum proposing a fresh one, where no candidates of the same party will have to compete with each other.
I think the top priorities are:
1. People need more money so one way or another the cost of living has to go down.
2. Equal rights for everyone. Gay marriage should be introduced to Malta as soon as possible. It’s only fair that all people are equal.
3. Tougher laws when it come to abuse, whether it is abuse on children, men or women and even animals. You can’t abuse and not get the punishment you deserve.
Corruption is the biggest problem. It is everywhere and needs to be addressed. One has to stop throwing away money on stupid projects but improve the pay of important workers like nurses, police etc. We have what I call institutional money laundering and we legitimize giving enormous loads of money to people and even losing money on systems and projects without anyone being held accountable.
Public transport reform is the main priority and was needed way before Arriva came along. Only since Arriva though have people suddenly woken up to the poor state of the public transport system. The reform would also include better and more congruent preparation for the car license and a fair examination process. Up to now, that sector is benefiting from the poor state of the public transport.
Being a Prime Minister is such a big responsibility that I wouldn’t accept to become one overnight. The Prime Minister’s decisions affect people’s lives in no small measure. Our democratic credentials dictate that a potential Prime Minister has to put forward a programme, win approval in the general election, and then form a government and use Parliamentary tools to deliver the said programme.
In some instances, a member of government is appointed to fill the role without elections being held, but the person still has a programme to deliver; such a mandate having been confirmed in the previous general election. Without this framework my position as an ‘overnight’ Prime Minister would be untenable, being undemocratic in the making. Having said that, I do have a rather long list of things I would like to see done, and many of these were mentioned in the electoral campaign by the political parties. I am looking forward to taste the pudding!
There are many issues that every Prime Minister needs to tackle whenever he becomes a Prime Minister. However I feel that music education in Malta is not given as much importance as it should be.
It’s a pity that a country like Malta with emerging talented musicians have to go abroad to be able to further their studies, due to the fact that we do not have a Music Conservatory. We do have a School of Music which unfortunately cannot work the way it is managed. We cannot have various subjects taught in the school of music scattered all over Malta. It’s not ideal for either students and teachers. We need to have one building where students from a very young age can attend, and as in all the other countries where there is a Music Conservatory, you can obtain an undergraduate degree and subsequently a post-graduate degree in your respective instrument. In this way those who would like to take up music as a career have the opportunity to study with professional teachers in the said Conservatory.
By professional teachers I mean professional musicians who have had a good musical background and a wide experience, and who do not think that they rule over all other Maltese musicians.