LETTERS | Sunday, 26 August 2007

Insinuations and half-truths

Mario Debono

I have a number of private business interests that are hardly of public concern, but that have somehow attracted the attention and been hyped up by MaltaToday in the front-page articles of Sunday 29 July 2007 and of Wednesday 15 August 2007, as well as Saviour Balzan’s opinion column entitled ‘The Men We Are Not’ published on the 19 August 2007 and the back-page article of the same date.
For this extraordinary interest I feel that it is only right to demand that some misleading insinuations and half-truths are rectified.
In December 2006 the Police were alerted to a consignment of pills that were possibly counterfeit and that were delivered to an open-bond that is operated by a company of which I am a director/shareholder. In the course of the investigation that was carried out the police were given complete access to the complete audit trail of this consignment including documents, and anything that could possibly have a bearing on this matter, and more.
It seems that a small consignment of one of the many brands handled by and in the said company’s possession was in fact counterfeit. It has since emerged that counterfeiting of this particular medicine is very widespread in Europe and is the subject of numerous drug alerts all over the EU.
To date no charges have been brought against any official of the company possibly because it is more than evident that the company had acted in good faith and could not have known that the said drugs were acquired by my company’s principals in Canada from reputable companies in Europe and that in any event my company had absolutely no say whatsoever in their purchase and/or delivery. Its sole role was that of an open-bond operator involved in break-bulk process, which is a type of operation that is permitted by our law.
The point therefore is why does anyone go to the trouble of feeding your columnists with information about this incident to stir so much controversy and cause irreparable damage to my companies?
As was rightly pointed out I have represented pharmacy owners within the GRTU at a time that an agreement was being negotiated with Government in respect of the Pharmacy of Your Choice scheme (POYC). Various interests had an interest in resisting this scheme that will inter alia provide the public with a more efficient method of withdrawing their prescribed drugs from pharmacies of their choice rather than from hospital as well as providing other advantages; this scheme would also settle once and for all the issue of sustainability and viability of existing pharmacies in the community and as SMEs. It is a breakthrough because for the first time in Malta’s health history, there is now a viable partnership between Government and private pharmacies in the delivery of primary healthcare services in our communities. The huge success of pharmacies adhering to this system, over 95% and the great interest by the public to have this service is in itself a compelling testimony to this. It is a pity that your newspaper chose to allow itself to be manipulated by those who, for their own reasons, wish this agreement to be stillborn and to be used as an instrument for the sabotage of this agreement both before as well as after its signing.
Another of my companies is involved in parallel trading of branded pharmaceutical products. Here again my business efforts are not appreciated by all (patients excluded) and certainly not by some “exclusive” agents/importers of branded products that have every interest to retain exorbitant prices of pharmaceutical products and not allow market forces to work freely. These same interests overlap with those sinister forces opposing the POYC.
The latest attack refers to an incident involving a number of emails that were sent from my company more than four years ago. I was charged at the time with misuse of telecommunications equipment and I felt that in the circumstances of the case I should shoulder responsibility for the actions of whoever sent the emails to a newspaper website. It was wrong that the emails were sent and I sincerely said that incident is now blown out of all proportion and has absolutely no relevance to my work within the GRTU which I shall continue to perform for as “convicted” of anything more than what most editors of newspapers are “convicted” of in the numerous libel suits they face on a regular basis. Incidentally it would be interesting to know how many convicted columnists/editors are not “convicted columnists/editors” and how many convicted columnists/editors are made to resign every time they are “convicted” of slander and libel which some seem to do for a living.

Mario Debono is Vice-President of the GRTU

Let your vote do the talking

I read with interest the results of a survey, which intimated that the popularity of the PN was diminishing and that they are predicted to have lost 10.2 per cent of their vote to the opposition parties in Gozo. This is an interesting if not entirely surprising result, as it would tend to support the fact that the people of Gozo are finally waking up to the destruction of their homeland.
The unpopularity of proposed developments at Hondoq ir-Rummien, Ta’ Cenc and Ramla l-Hamra bay, to mention but a few, are finally coming back to haunt the Government. The Gozitan people are now beginning to realise that a vote for the PN means a vote for the continued destruction of their island. But even more telling are the effects this Government is having on tourism through their development policies.
I feel qualified to talk about this because I am a tourist. I spend my two weeks holiday every year on Gozo because I love the environment on the island. This Government is destroying that environment. I’m not unique in this love of Gozo’s environment. Gozo depends on its environment far more than Malta does, as practically every tourist who comes to Gozo, foreign or Maltese alike, is drawn by the natural beauty they find there. The continued destruction of this beautiful environment by developers aided by the Government through Mepa means the eventual destruction of tourism on the island.
My message to the voters is a simple one, which I have stated before. The hardest thing to achieve is the initial momentum for change. You have achieved that and must now maintain that momentum and indeed accelerate the process in order to save and protect the most important thing you have, your heritage.
Anyone can tear a hole in the earth and rip apart thousands of years of history in order to build a concrete box, but only you can prevent this by saying no, enough is enough. To do this there must be change and the greatest change will be in how you vote.
Most people vote PN or MLP or whatever because that is the way they have always voted. They pay very little attention to what they get in return for that vote. Present PN voters must now, for the sake of Gozo, ask themselves just what their vote will mean. If they vote as usual for the PN then the answer is simple. Through their front-line stormtroopers otherwise known as Mepa, they will continue the destruction of your island and its tourist industry. I cannot believe in my heart that any Gozitan wants this.
What your country needs more than anything else is a forward thinking Government. You need a Government whose primary concern is sustainable development, protection of your historical infrastructure and a wide-ranging concern for the environment. You need a Government who is willing to work together with the various NGOs rather than against them for the good of the country. I don’t need to point you in the direction of any particular party because you know in your heart of hearts which party is going to work the hardest to protect the interests of the Gozitan people.
Many years ago there was an advertisement for the Yellow Pages trade directory, which ran with the slogan, “Let your fingers do the walking”. I suggest the people of Gozo and Malta adopt a similar slogan, let your vote do the talking.

James A. Tyrrell,
Northern Ireland

Ryanair ruined my holiday

When RyanAir announced that it would be operating to Malta with subsidies provided by the government, I was delighted. I was looking forward to travel to new places while paying less. But I am not delighted anymore. What was supposed to be my first flight with RyanAir, departing from Malta to Pisa, Flight FR 9993 on Saturday 18 August at 17.45, was cancelled, and I was given no particular reason for the cancellation. The ground personnel were at a loss when I and the rest of the mostly Italian passengers enquired about any justification for such cancellation. To add insult to injury, we were told that no re-routing would be provided, and we were asked to check whether Air Malta and Alitalia had any available flights to Rome or Milan, and if there were flight availability we were told that we had to fork out the money.  
Besides, we were asked to show at the Malta International Airport on Tuesday 21 August 2007 for the next available flight, but at the same time the person in charge told us that that flight was already fully booked. So why on earth should I present myself when I am sure I would not be able to embark?
RyanAir managed to ruin my summer holiday. All my plans had to be cancelled. This shows that RyanAir is not only a low cost carrier, but that its service is also very low. I would have accepted a delay, but a total cancellation is unheard of. I am aware that airlines do ecounter technical problems, but one would have expected RyanAir to provide the best alternative to its clients who had chosen to travel with RyanAir. Alternatives such as rerouting or a delayed flight, not just a simple statement to call at the airport on Tuesday. This is shameful.
Not only did I not fly a flight which cost me Lm 113.55 – not that low for a two-hour trip – but also I lost EUR16 for the one way journey from Pisa Galileo Galilei Airport to Florence S.M. Novella Station, which I had booked with Terravision from RyanAir’s website. I’ve also lost EUR72 since I didn’t turn up at the hotel in Florence, and thus I was charged the first night. I also had two bookings costing EUR37 for the entrance to the Uffizi Art Gallery on 22 August, which of course are lost too. Luckily I hadn’t booked the train tickets from Florence to Bologna, Pisa, Lucca and Siena beforehand.
Thanks to RyanAir, my holiday is gone. Gone are my plans to visit Florence and Tuscany. I had spent hours on the internet planning my itinerary. Who will compensate me for that? Who will reimburse me the money I spent on books and maps about Florence and Tuscany? The least I expect now is that all my money is reimbursed, and I hope that in the future RyanAir will be more courteous towards its passengers. Definitely next time I will be flying Air Malta, or Alitalia, the airline that RyanAir doesn’t even want for free, but which is definitely better. This is because I have experienced the unprofessional handling of the situation by an airline which is not service orientated. On check-in the clerk just sent me to the help desk without any further explanation. The help desk just gave me a form to fill and I was asked to send it within five days when I feel that they should have processed it on my behalf. To add insult to injury, the handling of the frustrated passengers leaves much to be desired. Much as I was looking forward to my holiday and to travel with RyanAir, I will never click again on the RyanAir’s website, and I will ensure that all my acquaintances will never travel with this cheap carrier.

Adrian Muscat
Ta’ Xbiex

Citizenship – a matter of pride

It is indeed disturbing when such a prolific and investigative journalist of the calibre of Saviour Balzan states that he  has absolutely no idea why citizenship was extended to descendents of  Maltese migrants.
It would have been more appropriate if he undertook some research before he penned his piece under the heading “Frisking a Prime Minister isn’t  news…but encountering a kangaroo is”.
The writer concluded that the recent revision to the Citizenship Act would open the floodgates. This is a somewhat paranoid misconception. In past years, many of our politicians wrongly argued that by extending dual citizenship to migrants Malta was to be flooded with returnees. Statistics prove otherwise.
Malta and the EU had to be mentioned as well. To believe that Malta can acquire more from the EU if they can increase its population is indeed naive.  Truly, the many foreigners now being allowed to work in Malta are indeed increasing the population at a  fast rate. Not to mention that EU citizens can now live in any of the EU countries – including, shortly, Malta – and Saviour Balzan is concerned about persons of Maltese descent wanting citizenship as a matter of pride?
Maltese living in Australia and their descendants see dual citizenship as a vital link that binds together our people irrespective where they live. It is a perennial wish: a matter of pride in their country, and the country of their ancestors, that they should be able to hold Maltese citizenship together with the citizenship of  the country where they now reside.
While is it true that  Maltese citizenship opens up the gates to EU countries this is not the  principal reason why migrants and their descendants have asked for dual citizenship. Those pushing this argument may do so for political  reasons.
Extending the provision for dual citizenship to those who have Maltese blood in their veins is not dishing out citizenship. To say that these would-be citizens cannot utter a word in Maltese is factually incorrect and mischievous.  
Perhaps the writer could take a long and hard look around him.  I am sure he will find many so-called Maltese citizens born and educated in Malta who cannot utter more than a handful of Maltese words without adding excessive and unnecessary English words.
We live side by side with many other migrants with dual identity like the Greeks, the Italians and many other Mediterranean  neighbours. It not clear why Saviour Balzan compared refugees from war-torn countries with persons who can claim citizenship by descent, which incidentally is the benchmark of most citizenship laws.
Maltese  in Australia and most of their descendants are very well aware that citizenship and national identity are important. We wear it on our  sleeves. We promote it everywhere as we consider ourselves ambassadors of our culture, our identity.

Lawrence Dimech

The role of the notary

Premising that your reporting is precise, the article “Anger as Pender Place claims private garden” Maltatoday midweek only scrapes the surface of the perilous situation in the acquisition of immovable property in Malta.
The way the article is written – or definitely its conclusion – leads the man in the street (although in this case it is prime investors who have put their money in Pender Place) to believe that a notary is some sort of guarantor to title. It’s a “whatever-happens-it’s-the-notary-who’s-responsible” warped thinking.
Saying that “convention in Malta is for searches on titles (sic) on property to be conducted by the notary nominated for the deed by the buyers”, is indeed saying a half-truth as we are aware that we are not defining any terms. What is meant by “conducted”? What is meant by the term “searches”? (Editorial note: These quotes do not come from the article referred to above.)
When a person is investing his hard-earned cash, that person wants no grey areas; it is either black or white and nothing in between. The person wants to know that erga omnes that property he acquired is his and nobody else’s.
To remotely hint that this certainty is obtained in Malta, or ought to be obtained from a notary or what a notary does or ought to do, is totally misleading. It is indeed ironic that just recently, the Chamber of Advocates gave a directive to its members i.e. lawyers and advocates, not to advise on contracts; and these are the only people who at law are competent to tender legal advise. Had the convention referred to in your article been in place, such a directive would totally be out of place!
In order to give a better idea of what “searches” a notary “conducts” let me draw a distinction between property in a Land Registration Area and property that is not in a Land Registration Area. A search on property in a Land Registration Area is carried out on the basis of a specific plan on which the exact site is indicated in a particular colour by an architect, which the notary submits to the Land Registry.
Although more often then not the notary submits the search at the land registry, and this under his signature, can it be said that such a search is carried out by the notary? If the plan is erroneously drawn up and the result of the search would be erroneous, this can in no way be attributable to a notary. Hence, to sweepingly state that conventionally notaries carry out searches without giving the whole picture, is misleading. This same argument is equally applicable to searches carried out at the public registry. Such sweeping statements therefore are totally unwarranted.
In many other jurisdictions it is the notary who has the responsibility to not only carry out searches, but indeed certify them with full responsibility good title. Thus the notary is indeed the guarantor. However in these jurisdictions the notary’s remuneration is commensurate with such responsibility and furthermore he has all the adequate tools to enable him to give such a certification with that certainty that a person acquiring immovable property as of right expects.
The Maltese notariat is not sceptical in accepting the responsibility of guaranteeing the title, nor does it shun it. Far from it. It could be said that disaster has so far been kept at bay only thanks to the extreme diligence of most notaries, give or take – unfortunately – a couple of bad apples. However as things stand, it would be insane to even discuss such a possibility here in Malta.
But as things stand it would be insane to even discuss the possibility of notaries accepting such a responsibility here in Malta. Some years back, the Public Registry was computerized by the government. Prior to that, individuals at the registry deputized for notaries, and searched on behalf of the notaries for the indexes of transfers and liabilities of individuals. Although shorn of any official status, these were the searches that could be obtained. These clerks were rightly remunerated by notaries. What was not right was that these clerks (thanks to whom many property owners today owe, to a certain extent, the certainty of their title to them) were not allowed flexitime. Perhaps there was abuse in that during office hours, more attention was given to carrying out searches; the notariat, privy to the situation, sat on the fence save for a few exceptions.
But at least, through these unofficial searches notaries could know in real-time whether any transfers or liabilities had been contracted, even immediately prior to publishing a deed – a service which the Public Registry, with all its officiality could not provide and still does not to date provide.
Even if any mistakes were committed (because the indexes were built manually), these mistakes could be traced from the handwriting of the clerk. And thus there was an “unofficial” audit trail too, where tampering was easily recognisable and quizzed.
So what was the result of the computerised system? From knowing exactly what the situation was vis-à-vis a vendor, now an official search only produces the situation as it last stood 17 days ago; that is what an “official” search now produces, because an online verification is not deemed official at law, and hence is worthless.
There is absolutely no audit trail, so any tampering with the computerised indexes will go by unnoticed. Data protection is thrown overboard and absolute arrogance is the only order of the day. For while a bank can provide clients with the up-to-the minute and precise picture of their accounts, there is nothing precise about the “official” searches from the registry’s computerised system. The State expects notaries to sell the idea that everything is fine because of its “official” searches, which are retrieved by notaries.
There are other problems: the Joint Office (responsible for the transfer of Church lands to the State) can register property, yours or mine, simply because it is included in the so called Annex 8 list of properties allegedly owned by the Church; and registered in the name of the State without any documentation, backdated to the year in which the Church-State agreement was signed. You and I cannot backdate the registration of our property. The Joint Office may and so it does.
I would not like to enter into the merits of the Pender Place case as it is not my competence. I put these thoughts to paper for the simple reason that things are not right and it is high time that they should be put right. The only thing I can say about Pender Place (or for all it matters any other case of any Tom, Dick or Harry who has been bitten by the system) is that it is most unfair that any person, for any reason under the sun, tries to attribute to a notary who was honoured by the trust of his clients to publish such a deed, the sort of responsibility in the scenario as reported.
Is it too much to admit that the State, except for collecting the tax from property transfers, is totally disinterested in providing the necessary framework to ensure certainty and peace of mind when acquiring property in Malta; and this irrespectively of the property being a multimillion site or a simple garage space?
The more the State reneges on this its responsibility, the more justice will be delayed, and the sooner will the development of this industry be curtailed. I think we can ill afford such caprice.
Notary Michel Dingli

Small village, big heart

Just before departing back to the UK, a word of appreciation to the organisers of the GIC – Festa Edition 2007. It was very well-attended a truly represented the theme “Celebrating Tradition”. Smashing event, and I urge people of any Christian or non-Christian denomination to attend this coming together of peoples.
Qala is a warm village with a heart far larger than its size.

Tracy Mc Afee
East Anglia, UK

Josie’s sound and fury

Let me ask Dr Josie Muscat to stop his vicious attacks on Mayor Mario Calleja. Since he has been elected to our council he can only find time to attend its meetings if he happens to be here, and not abroad attending to his various business interests. Instead of helping and assisting his Mayor, Dr Muscat delights in throwing mud at him and exults when somebody criticises him in the media. He is always ready to take the part of the Mayor’s critics and never feels it his duty to show his appreciation for the fact that in order to be at the residents’ disposal the whole day, Mr Calleja has abandoned his commercial activity.
Dr Muscat asked us to have a look at the minutes of the council’s meetings to realise how many motions he has tabled to upgrade Marsascala. I did just that and all I could read were hundreds of senseless, aimless and banal motions that truly deserve Shakespeare’s comment that they are “a tale told by a idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
During 20 years of political exile, it seems that Dr Muscat, like the Bourbons, has learnt nothing and forgotten nothing. When he was a front bencher in the Nationalist opposition he shot himself in the foot the minute he went negotiating with Dom Mintoff behind his party’s back. He continued doing so even when he was instructed to leave such matters to better men. His ambition and obstinacy brought him ruin and an exile of 20 years, wandering in a political desert.
Now he is at his usual game again. In his frantic efforts to step out of the desert into the promised land of parliamentary politics, he is once again hatching plots, this time against his mayor. He hopes to kick Mario Calleja out so that the new Supreme Leader of AN will run his electoral show as a mayor. The two Nationalist councillors are ready to back him in his bid. However, he still needs to find a Labour Judas to achieve his ambition. Try as he might, he will never manage to pierce the solid Labour ranks.
Instead of wasting time and energy aiming for the moon, Dr Muscat should be man enough to call it a day and try to do his duty as a simple councillor, representing the barest of minorities. Anyhow, running his electoral show either as a mayor, or as a successful businessman, or as a medical doctor, won’t make any difference. For surely he will never make it to Parliament. He had better resign himself to eternal exile.

Anthony Aquilina

Abortion and rape: facing the hardest question

It is an undeniable though unfortunate fact that pregnancies resulting from rape test the convictions of even the most dedicated pro-life people. It can seem as though a child conceived as a result of rape will, later on, be a constant reminder of the attack. For this reason, abortion is often viewed as the obvious response to a sexual assault pregnancy.
One cannot help but sympathise with the dilemma faced by those who tend to lean towards this view, because rape is a truly horrific crime against women.  Whether or not it results in a pregnancy it can leave a woman with a complex of feelings such as anger, fear and guilt. Rape can have a crippling effect on a woman’s self confidence and self-esteem.  It is not known exactly how many abortions each year are carried out following rape, although anecdotal evidence suggests that it is a very small number – a fraction of the 40 million abortions carried out in the world each year.
It seems to be relatively rare for women to become pregnant after a sexual assault. Estimates vary, but most statistics suggest that rapes result in pregnancy in around three to five per cent of cases.
At Gift of Life we often find that people agree with us that abortion is a tragedy but when it comes to rape – and other “hard cases” – they find themselves unable to commit to a fully pro-life stance.
Opposing abortion in all circumstances is frequently seen as uncaring, hard-hearted and dogmatic.  Gift of Life’s central tenet is that abortion ends the life of an existing human being, therefore a consistent and logical pro-life position demands on us that we oppose abortion in all cases; anything else would be illogical. At the heart of the pro-life case is a simple conviction: that an unborn child, at whatever stage of pregnancy, is a human being who has as much right to life as you or I have. This applies regardless of the circumstances of that child’s conception. Therefore, as difficult as it may be, truly pro-life persons cannot ever see abortion as the right response. A victim of rape has not chosen to be pregnant; but then neither has the unborn child chosen to come into this world in such tragic circumstances. Why should the child be made to suffer the death penalty for his father’s crime when he/she is entirely innocent? We cannot discriminate against an unborn child simply because of the identity of the father. Who, nowadays, can honestly believe that children should be held responsible for the crimes of their parents?
Many children have to live with parents who are inadequate, cruel or violent. A large number of children grow up with parents who have serious social problems (are in prison, or drug addicts. Life is not easy) that make life difficult for these children; but do we discount their life as worthless because of their parents’ failings and problems? We have to accept that they are all individuals, to be valued because each is a unique human being. We can never know how a person’s life will turn out. Throughout history there have been great achievers despite their extremely difficult or deprived upbringing. Surely all of us deserve a chance to be born and make something of our life, however we were conceived?
What is, unfortunately, very often ignored is the possibility of adoption. If a woman really feels that she cannot bring up a child, there are thousands of couples who are desperate for  children, but are unable to conceive.
It is often argued that abortion after rape should not be thought of as wrong because “the woman has not chosen to be pregnant”. But this is to misunderstand the entire nature of the pro-life argument. Being pro-life means that we recognise a simple scientific reality; an unborn child developing and growing in the womb is a human being and deserves the respect that we would accord to every other human being, at whatever stage of their life. The circumstances in which this unborn child came into the world do not alter our recognition of the child’s humanity. That is, admittedly, not an easy principle to cling to. It is, however, a very important one.
The root of the word compassion comes from the Latin "compassio", meaning “to suffer with”. And this is exactly what Gift of Life is committed to. We recognise that a pregnancy resulting from rape is a traumatic and devastating situation. But a woman who is facing a crisis pregnancy as a result of rape need not face the situation alone.
An abortion cannot undo the fact that the rape has happened, and abortion can bring with it a whole new raft of potential problems. Some women report that the trauma and emotional intensity of an abortion can exacerbate their existing difficulties.
And even if a woman does find that abortion brings a sense of closure or relief, the fundamental objection to abortion – that it ends the life of an existing human being – remains an inescapable reality.

Paul Vincenti
CEO, Gift Of Life Foundation

Watching behind a sack cloth curtain

No; the photo attached is not a wartime bunker. It is a mobile nougat selling table, which was placed in front my residence by the local council, obstructing whatever is taking place during the last two days of the St Mary’ festivities at Mosta.
It is true that selling nougat during religious feasts (if any is left of them) is a tradition, and I am all for anything which is a traditional, provided nobody is hurt. I remember them surrounding the piazza; but that was a time when laws remain laws, even during the festa season. It was a time when a religious festa remained religious, and was not turned into mass commercialism and pique. Today, bars and clubs compete between them for how much public space they are able to grab, leaving these nougat sellers with little or none at all where to assemble their tables, if not in front of residents.
This used to happen some years back, when this was the responsibility of the police, but after some complaints this was solved by moving some of these into other places along Constitution street. This year on 14 August at about 5pm, I noticed one of these nougat sellers constructing a nougat table not more that 10 feet away from my doorway, blocking all the view including that of Mosta church. I approached him and told him not to block me, but he excused himself and said very sorry, but that is the place which the local council had given him. He also told me that he used to set up his stall down the road, but wonder of all wonders he was given a new place by the new Labour local council. Thank you, Labour. I did not believe what he said, but when I went to the Police Station to ask – although you feel uncomfortable asking them something. because they show you that you are unwelcome there – they too told me that now everything is in the local council’s hands. All they have to do is to see if they have got a permit. The inspector told me everything is the Local Council hands, but I asked how can I complain to them when they are closed… even tomorrow, a feast? It’s wrong, wrong. Mr Government: what do we need the police for, if we citizens have nowhere to go for our rights? I do not want to put all the police in one basket; I know that there are sections in the force which do sterling work but in the districts it is horrible. Perhaps it is not their fault, when responsibilities are taken away from them.
After two hours, police sergeant and a constable approached this nougat seller, and I heard from my doorstep the sergeant asking him if he had a permit. The seller said yes. He was then asked how many tables he had. Guess how many? He said six, and he had a permit for all of them. Next year he probably will have 12. Who cares? More money for the council, and the people who attend these tables are not a problem; the one in front of me was attended by a boy of about nine years old. The sergeant and constable then approached me and told me that he had everything in order, and it is the right place where to stay: he should stay at number 11, and it is painted on the road. It’s a shame for the Labour council.
Perhaps the new Labour council never thought of the misery of those two days the 14 and the 15 August for my family and myself. I am not expecting any apologies, but I do expect some respect towards residents. It’s not only that the enjoyment of the moment has been usurped by the local council’s action; but that, when you go out you find a wall about eight foot high in front your eyes, it is also unbearable. One big thank you only to the nougat seller, because after the police sergeant left he moved his table to the middle of the road as traffic was closed to give me some space.

Joseph Muscat

Floriana: all-inclusive policy

Kindly allow me to pass a comment in answer to the letter ‘Attacking gays in Floriana’ by correspondent David Newson (MaltaToday, August 19, 2007) since a number of impressions carried in this article stand to be corrected.
As soon as the Floriana Local Council became aware of what was taking place in the Crucifix Hill/KGV Garden (Floriana) vicinity where, reportedly, clients frequenting Tom Bar, (and not Tom’s Bar as your correspondent called it), were being subject to frequent abuse and humiliations, the Floriana Local Council promptly informed the Valletta Police Station and, also, the General Headquarters (Depot) of the Malta Police Corps.
This resulted in immediate action being taken on Tuesday, August 14, 2007 and, as a consequence, many youths suspected of anti-social behaviour were apprehended. In point of fact, on the following day, the Tom Bar management contacted me at the Floriana Local Council in order to thank the Council for lending a hand. The situation is now back to normal with a peaceful and quiet atmosphere in that zone.
Due to the above, allow me to express gratitude to all police constables and officers on duty at the Valletta Police Station on the above-mentioned date and, also, allow me to express similar gratitude, in particular, to Police Inspector Angelo Gafà who, on the day in question, was duty officer in charge at Police General Headquarters in Floriana.
While, of course, regretting the shock correspondent must have felt, he (the correspondent) can set his mind at rest that the Floriana Local Council follows an all-inclusive policy, so much so that, informal discussions between the Tom Bar management and the Floriana Local Council are already going on with the aim of organizing cultural activities in the bar in question in the near future, as, after all, the Floriana Local Council has already done in the past.

Edward Torpiano

Joke of the year

Readers have recently expressed what in their opinion is a joke or even the biggest joke of the year.
As a health conscious individual and an environmentalist, in my opinion – and I am sure I am voicing the opinion of by far the majority of the people – the biggest joke of all is that, whilst my car, which is regularly serviced, is subjected to the most stringent VRT, and its emissions are tested rigorously, at the same time route buses, coaches, mini vans, etc., are belching out black smoke full of deadly CO, polluting the atmosphere, and miracle of all miracles, they are all VRT certificated.
To a sensible person the smell of corruption is more pungent than the emissions. Action is anticipated from the authorities concerned. Where are the so called environmentalists?

Dr Herbert Messina Ferrante


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