Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Time to Shut Down?

Well, I noticed that I've been losing out to Daphne Caruana Galizia of late with regards my blog, which seem to be getting less and less feedback as time goes by. Particularly disappointing was my last blog regarding the electoral system at University, which I actually thought would stir a debate because of two schools of thought attacking and defending the system accordingly. But alas, just as student apathy came to the forefront in the recent KSU elections, it once again came about in this situation. No one really does care.

Time to shut down the blog for good? I'll think about it, but it's a distinct possibility when you know that readership is almost certainly at an all-time low.

Or maybe my penchant for writing is finally gone.

God Bless You all,

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Why the PR system wouldn't work at the UoM

First things first, before I commence my arguments, I need to set a few things straight. While writing this blog, I am by no means representing SDM or any other organisation on Campus, but am writing in my own personal capacity. Secondly, this is what I am led to believe based on a period of study and a certain application of sense, and my text has therefore in no way been influenced by anyone in particular. Thirdly, I believe that all this bickering for a different electoral system - and subsequent counter-arguments in favour of the current system - are childish and unbecoming of students at tertiary level. However, that argument could be left for another time, if needed. Anyway, anyone who does not understand and grasp these points before reading is suggested to close this window/tab at this very point.

And now, onto the substance of my argument. In my honest opinion, it doesn't take much of a genius to figure out why the Proportional Representation (PR) system that PULSE proposed to introduce vis-a-vis the KSU elections will not work - only a basic knowledge of Constitutional Law is needed. Thereagain, this automatically makes me wonder if the organisation proposing the system even has law students in it and, if it does, whether the most supreme law of the land is an alien concept to them. Just like it is to Charlon Gouder, of course.

In law, the basis of the PR system is that one has a certain amount of candidates contesting an election with the aim of being elected to Parliament. Such candidates are elected according to preferences (in the form of numbers) given out by the electorate. This generally occurs via districts that are divided accordingly by the electoral commission of the day. Therefore, automatically, one already can see that the system, if it were to be applied to KSU elections, would be massively flawed. These elections are contested on an individual basis - granted, the majority of the time when the places are contested, they all end up by going to one party in particular - but the fact of the matter is that the parties present one candidate per post within KSU, whereby it is then up to the electorate to decide whether that candidate is suitable for election. This therefore means that one can have even four or five parties contesting the post of, for example, President.

Introducing the PR system would present immense logistical problems to all concerned. First and foremost, the parties would not be able to announce whether a person in particular would be given a particular role within KSU. It would be fine to determine that the person who gets the most votes becomes KSU President, and the second most votes Vice-President; but how the other roles within KSU would be filled remains a mystery. How would the election of, for example, a financial officer take place - would the person with the fifth highest amount of votes be elected, or something along those lines? And if that were the case, and the fifth person (for instance) elected were a medicine student, then how would he/she be competent enough to be in line for something like the financial officer of KSU, where a knowledge of accounts is needed - as implied by the job title. Going into an election, there would be no certainty and peace of mind vis-a-vis who would be assuming which role when elected. Or would it be the case that the first two positions would be contested via PR, while the rest of the positions would be determined by means of the current First Past the Post (FPTP) system?

As mentioned above, implementing a system whereby PR would be used as a mode of election doesn't make sense in the KSU context. When electing representatives to Parliament once every five years, one does not vote for a person on the basis that he or she will become a minister, if elected. Representatives in Parliament are elected on the basis that the electorate believes that they can do the best job possible for the country, but not on the basis of having a specific role. The KSU system presents candidates to be elected on the basis of a specific role, which is the main reason why the FPTP system has to be maintained. It ensures that if a person is best suited to his or her role within KSU, and the electorate think that that is the case, then that person will assume 'office'. From my studies, I can safely conclude that FPTP does not ensure, in any way, that bloc votes occur - such bloc votes only happen because the electorate happens to be sympathetic to a particular party or thinks that people presented by a party in particular are best suited for the post. By the same logic, when it comes to general elections, the majority of people vote either completely in favour of the PN or the PL; it is only a small percentage of votes that will be mixed.

Therefore, to conclude, I really think that there should be no debate - no matter how childish - on such a matter. If PULSE feel that the system at hand is anti-democratic because their members never get elected into KSU, then I believe that they should be looking at fielding better candidates for the KSU elections; candidates that can sway the University population to vote for them and make them a part of KSU. Until then, whining away will not do anything to improve their chances. Having said that, despite the fact that they're an independent organisation, it really does remind me strongly of a particular party and a particular individual in the local political scene. The only difference? At least PULSE actually had the decency to propose something, even though it is clearly flawed. That's much more than the above-mentioned party and individual can muster.

God Bless You all!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Paceville: Is it Dead?

How times change. (?)

Last Friday, I decided to head off to Paceville in what was probably the first time in an eternity. A real eternity - so much so, I don't even remember the time that I last went, prior to last Friday. It's no secret that Paceville and I really don't click, as a general rule - I don't like the clubbing scene and the clubbing scene doesn't like me either (due to my relatively low energy levels), so actually finding myself there, having arrived at 1am, was already a considerable achievement for me. Of course, this was all reliant on finding a parking space as close to the centre of Paceville as possible, as I sure wasn't up for a walk down to the St. Julian's Church car park afterwards; but having completed this task, I set out thinking that with quite a few friends there, the night should be okay, if not fun. Furthermore, I expected the place to be bustling with people, just like how it was in the olden times.

How wrong I was.

What I found in front of me - at a relatively late part of the night, as this wasn't 9pm! - was central Paceville about as barren as it would be during the day. Okay, granted, there were a few people here and there, but for the most part, the square was empty. Such a sight actually amazed me, as I wasn't expecting it in the least, especially on a Friday - and a public holiday, to boot. To my knowledge, there weren't any parties in particular on that day either, so that left me even more at odds as to how this could be explained.

This actually led me to question whether I'm so out of tune and outdated that Paceville, which was definitely the in-thing when I was in my late teens, has passed its expiry date. To see clubs such as Sabor - which was a Saturday must when at SAC - empty and shutting down operations at half 1 in the morning left me bewildered and flabbergasted to say the least. Needless to say, bars such as Republik were also as lifeless as anything. Peppermint Park was hardly bustling either. There seem to be two possible answers to all of this - either my above-mentioned query is indeed correct, or else crowds seem to favour things happening in a different part of Paceville. Comments in this regard would be appreciated, principally to appease my curiosity.

In any event, how things change in such a short space of time.

God Bless You all!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Joke that is Real Madrid

  • Cristiano Ronaldo: €94 million
  • Kaka: €65 million
  • Xabi Alonso: €40 million
  • Karim Benzema: €35 million
  • Raul Albiol: €15 million
  • Alvaro Arbeloa: €5 million
  • Manuel Pellegrini: €4 million
  • Real Madrid getting knocked out of the Champions League: PRICELESS.
I'd be lying if I say I didn't predict that Real Madrid would not make it past the last 16 of the Champions League for the sixth year in a row.  And the best thing about it is that this year, more than ever, it feels so good to see Los Blancos out of the competition, proving to the world over that money does not necessarily buy you instantaneous success.  Due to their own shortcomings, Madrid's plan to start paying off their debts by reaching the latter stages of the money pot that is the Champions League has to at least be put off by another year.

To all intents and purposes, Madrid conducted a perfect transfer market last summer.  Following the turmoil under Ramon Calderon, Florentino Perez went unopposed to claim the Presidential seat at the "White House" and promised a revolution.  A revolution is indeed what Madrid and the rest of the world got.  Transfer targets that were previously seen as insurmountable suddenly became reality.  Before we knew it, Kaka was gone for a then world record fee of €65 million - this after having rejected a €108 million bid from Manchester City in January - and shortly after, Madrid once again caused shockwaves by announcing the signing of Ronaldo from Manchester United.  Perez also addressed defensive concerns by bringing in Valencia centre-back Raul Albiol, thereby seemingly not repeating the same mistake from his first tenure at the club - the constant purchase of world class attacking talent coupled with the neglect of his team's defensive unit, to the extent that it became weak and frail.  In addition to this, the poaching of coach Manuel Pellegrini from Villarreal was seen as an astute move as Madrid had decided to entrust this mega-project to a tried and tested coach, one who has worked in Spain for many years on a shoestring budget and simultaneously produced miracles, including a 2nd place La Liga finish in 2008.

Granted, over the last half a year, a marked improvement has already been seen.  Madrid are currently top of La Liga, have scored a whopping 67 goals in 25 matches and have shipped in only 20 - the second best defensive unit in the league following that of arch-rivals Barcelona.  But with the players at Madrid's disposal, you'd expect them to be there or thereabouts - and furthermore, this is a league where competition doesn't really extend beyond these teams.  Indeed, the last team outside of Madrid or Barcelona to win the league title was Valencia in 2001 and 2004, and prior to that, Deportivo La Coruna in 2000.  However, the cracks in Madrid's armour already began to show way back in October, in the now infamous 4-0 Copa del Rey defeat to previously little-known Alcorcon.  Following the humiliation, rumours were already rife that Pellegrini was to be shown the door but Madrid were confident that they would get their shot at redemption in the return leg at the Bernabeu.  They didn't - they won 1-0 and were swaggeringly knocked out of the competition 4-1 on aggregate.  The possibility of equalling Barcelona's "triplete" season in 2008-09 was already over, and not even a quarter of the season had passed.

With all the money spent, it was all too easy to point fingers at Real and criticise their lavish spending.  And justifiably so, because this group had been reduced to nothing but a joke - after all, Alcorcon are a team playing their football in the third tier of Spanish football and not challenging for the top spots in Spain, like Madrid.  However, Madrid's reaction to this was positive enough, as the team went on a run of good results that culminated in them topping La Liga for the first time since November last weekend, with a 3-2 win over Sevilla.  Furthermore, in between, they had managed to top their Champions League group - despite a home setback against a then underachieving (and now seemingly overachieving) AC Milan and get a favourable draw in the form of an Olympique Lyon side that is no longer the dominant side in France, having lost their mantle to Bordeaux last season.

But fast forward to the last 16 of the Champions League, where Madrid once again came up short last night by losing 2-1 to Lyon on aggregate (0-1 in France, 1-1 in Madrid) , leaving their season pretty much in tatters.  Once again, criticism has rightly come Madrid's way, for results and statistics show that the sum in excess of €250 million spent last summer was, in a way, spent for nothing.  Of course, media pressure has been a crucial influence in Madrid's performances, but the players out there should have been at least willing to justify their incredibly hefty price tags.  Their over-reliance on Cristiano Ronaldo - despite him being nearly the only player to justify the price paid for him, as their best buy, Alvaro Arbeloa, is playing more like a €20 million man than a €5 million one(!!) - reeks of lack of tactical identity and ideas within what is meant to mirror Barcelona in terms of creativity; and gives the ordinary spectator the impression that Real Madrid have become last year's Manchester United.  It has been proven time and time again this season - take Ronaldo out of the team, and the rest of the side is the human equivalent of a bunch of headless chickens.

On the other hand, at least Barcelona are a side that back up whatever money they might spend with outstanding results, on the whole.  Six trophies out of a possible six last year is testament to that.  Oh, and there's also the small matter of their star of star players, a certain chap named Lionel Messi, not costing them a cent.

Madrid now must win La Liga this season if they are to salvage any form of pride, if possible, as otherwise, this could be a team labelled as the most expensive bunch of flops in the history of football.  And it would be deserved - Real Madrid is nothing more than a joke.

God Bless You all!