As the election draws ever closer, we decided to look at and dissect what Independent candidate Kris Bajada is proposing if he is elected to the office of President.
Upon him launching his candidature, Bajada gave us 10 proposals, which are as follows;
- To have fruitful discussions with the private sector regarding post university employment.
- To collaborate with student groups to achieve solutions to specific problems.
- To propose the construction of an eco-friendly underground or above ground car park sustained mainly by solar panels together with retail outlets and small residential units for students with the private sector.
- Finding alternative bus routes for students at Junior College during flooding in Msida.
- Publication of exam results within a reasonable time frame.
- Malta and Gozo are rich in history and culture and thus, many cultural events on and off campus will be organised.
- Closely working with local and international publications for dissemination of students’ works.
- Providing better opportunities for students with KSU funds.
- KSU to become a strong non-political voice in local affairs.
- KSU is out of touch with the students and having one general meeting is not enough. Therefore, will have regular meetings with student organisations.
Besides this, Bajada announced a number of other proposals to the media earlier this week. The Gozo Subsidy Scheme (GSS) is one such proposal, wherein as part of the proposal rent prices for Gozitan students were to be subsidized by KSU collaboration with the government. Remaining on the sister island, Bajada also committed that he’d work towards Gozitans being allowed to sit for their exams in the Gozo campus, as opposed to having to come down to Malta to do such exams. He also wishes to introduce a scheme wherein student’s research can be published both locally and overseas.
Are these proposals feasible?
In short, some proposals are more feasible than others. Proposal 3 relating to the construction of an underground or above ground car park is one of those shouts into the dark. Without a doubt it’s a proposal that every student on campus would love and which would alleviate some of the parking problem that university students face daily. However it’s also a proposal which goes against the MEPA 2006 Northern Harbour Plan, a plan which university falls under. This plan clearly states that no more parking spaces can be added to the University area. When asked about this plan during The Candidate Grilling on Monday, Bajada did not seem fazed however and felt that with enough pressure on the government from University students, these plans would be changed. In a statement sent to the media today in fact, Bajada points out an article that was run by the Malta Independent earlier this month, which reports that Planning Authority Chairman Johann Buttigieg actually recommended that an underground car park be constructed as part of the renovations that are to take place on the University sports complex.
Several other proposals, such as proposals number 2, 6 and 8 are much more vague; whilst in terms of proposal 9, one could also argue that KSU is already a strong non-political voice in local affairs; having released it’s position on a number of issues through the social policy office and also given it’s inputs in situations such as the general election and the recent budget. Proposal number 10 meanwhile, one could argue, is already in process with KSU meeting up with all student organisations through its Social Policy office (KPS) once a month.
What has been Bajada’s main rallying cry?
Bajada’s slogan ‘It’s Time For A Change’ is a good summary as to what he is proposing by coming up for election. One of the main arguments he has made is that organisations such as SDM and Pulse are backed by political parties and that this backing then affects how KSU is run, or how government entities respond to KSU. Indeed, during the Candidate Grilling held last Monday, Bajada presented both SDM and Pulse with a declaration that essentially denied them having any affiliation or backing from political parties. Both organisation presidents signed the declaration during the debate; an event which Bajada called a major victory and proof that an independent candidate can unite university.
He is fielding himself as a candidate who can unite ideas and who can make them work as he is not politically affiliated to anyone. For instance, in the case of the parking problem on campus, Bajada stated that Pulse will never put the pressure on the government to change the current local, whilst the government as is today will never give SDM the satisfaction of solving the problem themselves. This is one example, Bajada states, that is proof that an independent candidate needs to be leading KSU.
How will he unite KSU if he is elected?
Of course another potential issue is that if he is indeed elected, he will have a KSU board made up of people who are not independent, and form part of the organisations that he himself is contesting against. On this matter, Bajada said that he is ready to unite both SDM and Pulse together through the setting up of an advisory council between himself, the SDM President and the Pulse President, so to be able to discuss issues and decisions with them and hence make KSU as representative as possible.