MaltaToday: Letters
LETTERS | Sunday, 23 December 2007

Polidano supermarket in Safi

I refer to correspondence and reportage on the issue of a permit for a supermarket in Safi.
The permit recently issued for a supermarket in the vicinity of Kirkop and Safi, does not conflict with the emerging “Policy and design guidance on Agriculture, Farm Diversification and Stables” which has been approved by MEPA Board and is awaiting ministerial approval.
After evaluating the Planning Directorate’s assessment and recommendations, the DCC board took into consideration the following factors:
The site is located on the main road between Safi and Kirkop and is approximately 100m from the building scheme. It is also opposite a Secondary School. As such, the Board felt that the supermarket provided an essential service to the communities of the villages.
Part of the site in question is a disused farm building. In line with emerging policy, disused or abandoned farms so close to development zone boundaries cannot be used for livestock farming, and so other uses are acceptable.
The proposed use is not in conflict with adjacent legitimate uses such as the school and the urban areas of the surrounding villages.
Once these factors were considered, the DCC felt that the application could be acceptable in principle and therefore requested the carrying out of a Traffic Impact Statement to assess the possible impacts of the proposal. The results of the Traffic Impact Statement were acceptable and all traffic management improvements recommended were included in the permit conditions.
Moreover, MEPA would like to point out that it received no objections from third parties during the consultation period.

Sylvana DeBono

Attard’s ‘public open space’

A lot has been said and written about the press conference held at “Villa Bologna” in Attard on the 20 November 2007. The rumours that have been spreading around concerning Villa Bologna and the site adjacent to it, at the rear, truly have been included in the final draft of the Attard Local Plans, for development, incorporated in the building scheme area. This happened without the consultation required between all the parties involved in the matter. Incidentally the Attard Local Council disregarded the whole affair and never took part in the whole debate about the ‘Public Open Space’ in Lorenzo Manché Street, Attard.
An application to develop part of the land in question has been lodged with the Malta Planning and Environment Authority. The target for this application number 05878/07 is set for January 3, 2008.
Many objections have been lodged with MEPA and with the Attard Local Council. Obviously the residents of Lorenzo Manché are objecting to the proposed development because they were not consulted. This unique vacant site is ideal for an open-air piazza, or square amidst mass buildings, under construction, in this Ta’ Fgieni zone.
Both the MEPA Chairman Mr Andrew Calleja and the Director General, Mr Godwin Cassar have told the papers that no one had spoken or written during the past 11 years about the “Villa Bologna” scheduling and the rezoning of the “Public Open Space” in Lorenzo Manché Street. This is incorrect and it seems that the powers that be are not well informed.
My parents have been living in the area for the past 25 years. For the past 12 years they kept in touch with both MEPA and the Local Council about the land in question. Being very keen on the environment they always encouraged the authorities to develop this land, as it was being used as a dump, with rats roaming around amongst the six foot high grass, etc.
My parents have followed up two planning controls which were both rejected over the years. For all this I can vouch because I have witnessed it with my own eyes.
I understand that the Attard Local Council is due to meet shortly. The Deputy Mayor, Mr Charlo Bonnici and Mr Ralph Cassar (Alternattiva Demokratika) will bring this sad event up for discussion. Through their objections to MEPA they have BOTH indicated that lack of consultation in the whole process of rezoning. They are BOTH of the same opinion that resident’s rights come first. They BOTH will work to ensure that the resident’s fundamental rights are respected and the right of enjoyment of their property is assured and guaranteed.
Many thanks go to both of them. Let us hope the mayor and other councillors follow suit.
Heartfelt thanks also go to Perit Carmel Cacopardo for his continuous support.

Justin Brian Clifford


Otters pool extension

In reply to the article printed in last Sunday’s newspaper entitled “Marsalforn 375 square-metre pool proposal encroaches on foreshore”, the Otters Aquatic Sports Club wishes to state the following.
Waterpolo has been played in Marsalforn Gozo for the last 45 years. Otters Aquatic Sports Club was founded in 1971, and is the only waterpolo Club in Gozo and thus represents Gozo in the national waterpolo competitions organised by the Aquatic Swimming Association of Malta. This club, as all other amateur clubs, is composed of members of the public who participate on a voluntary basis. These persons form part of a society which should have the promotion of sports as one of its prime objectives. Such persons, possessing genuine motives, should be helped in their challenge to promote their sport rather than hindered. They should also be provided with adequate facilities where to practise their sport in a safe and healthy environment.
Our committee reiterates that:
It is not true that the proposed pool encroaches on to the foreshore. The pool is set back from the foreshore by approximately 7m.
It is not true that the pool will limit access to the public. Apart from the fact that the members of the club and all swimming enthusiasts are also rightfully members of the public, the pool deck and the pool are to remain open to all, and one can freely stroll along the foreshore without any obstruction. As clearly shown on the plans submitted with the application (which plans are available to the public), the area in question is presently occupied by a concrete ramp, a concrete road/parking area, and only a small area of rock surface. Moreover our committee took the burden of including the upgrading of an otherwise degraded waterfront by forming a new pedestrian route, making the coast fully accessible. The timber decking route/belvedere submitted in the application will certainly make the area much more accessible to the public. Our proposal does not contemplate enclosing the pitch to members only. All this is in stark contrast to the position existing in many waterpolo pitches in Malta which have specific areas which are reserved for members only.
It is not true that there are any antiquities on site which deserve to be conserved. The area is in fact derelict. 250 square metres of the site on which the pool is being proposed is presently covered by concrete and used as a makeshift parking. The remaining area is uneven, disturbed rock, with concrete strewn over it.
Alternattiva Demokratika’s position contradicts its statements, namely that it is in favour of Gozitans’ welfare. By taking such a negative stand on this project, it is effectively striking another blow to sports in Gozo. On the contrary, the proposal for the excavation of this pool provides a partial solution to a severe handicap which has been considerably hindering Gozitan waterpolo players and swimmers. The frequently rough and jellyfish-infested seas of this north-facing bay have made safe swimming impossible on practically all days during the past four summers. On the contrary, in Malta, swimmers and waterpolo players enjoy Olympic standard facilities at Tal-Qroqq throughout the year, (and rightly so) funded by taxpayers’ money, and are spoilt for choice since there are several other swimming facilities spread all over Malta.
Alternattiva Demokratika should have been all in favour of such a proposal in favour of sports and made by a non-governmental association, and it should support such initiatives by including the construction of similar facilities in its electoral manifesto. As a political party, Alternattiva Demokratika should refrain from shooting down any proposal at first instance, but should examine the matter and consult the interested parties before passing judgement. If it chooses to oppose this submission it should propose alternatives and be pro-active. We sincerely hope that Alternattiva Demokratika understands that we Gozitans have a shortage of sports facilities when compared to our Maltese counterparts.
Finally Otters ASC are more than willing to meet on site with Alternattiva Demokratika’s representatives and/or any other interested parties to explain the proposals and to rebut the frivolous statements mentioned in the report carried in your newspaper.

Enzo Dimech
President, Otters ASC


The Church and gambling

Reference is made to Dr Anna Mallia’s article of 16 December 2007, entitled “Insensitivity to gambling”, particularly to her references regarding the Church and gambling
Over a year ago, immediately after the publication of another article by Dr Mallia carried by the MaltaToday on 16 July 2006, the Public Relations Office of the Archbishop’s Curia, replied as follows (see MaltaToday, 23 July 2006):
‘Various were the occasions when Archbishop Mgr. Joseph Mercieca warned on the negative effects of gambling, and the risk that such a passion may lead to enslavement.
‘The Church cannot but condemn any games of chance, any practice of gambling, that may end up in depriving people of what is necessary to provide for their needs and of those under their responsibility.
‘The Archbishop’s stand against the culture of games of chance (kultura tal-loghob tal-flus) and gambling, and the harm they are bound to inflict of vulnerable people, is clear enough. Mgr Mercieca is on record as stating his strong belief that whoever really wants the highest good for the people cannot but be concerned seeing our community being bombarded as is happening, with messages that encourage people to gamble and keep on gambling (Message to Journalists, 24 January 2005). On that same occasion, Mgr. Mercieca asked: How can it be possible that we fail to recognise that the passion for gambling is gripping certain people as if it were a drug which they cannot live without? How can it be possible that we are failing to recognize that this crave for gambling is leading to disastrous situations in the life of many people and families?
‘One recent occasion when the Archbishop spoke on the subject was in his message of this year to journalists on the occasion of the Liturgical Feast of St. Francis de Sales, their patron saint. On that occasion, Mgr. Mercieca said as follows:
‘“I believe that journalists and the media can be of great assistance in helping the Maltese family to stand strong against the harm that certain serious passions may lead to, such as games of chance.
‘ “Up to now the media is being used a lot for the promotion of invitations encouraging people to buy lottery tickets in the hope of winning certain prizes. The bigger the prize, the more intensive is the promotion encouraging one to try one’s luck.
‘ “The consequences of the crave of gambling (vizzju tal-loghob) may be serious. One, in fact, hears stories of people who, to be able to buy tickets to try their luck in cases of very attractive financial prizes, would deprive themselves of certain things. I think that it would be a very good thing if the media investigate such situations and bring them to light to help families understand the harm that they may end up facing if one loses control in such situations.
‘ “Similar investigations by journalists may also be widened to include problems like illegal betting which, it is suspected, is perhaps a grave wound. The media could be of big service to the Maltese family and the community if they succeed in bringing to light the how and why of similar problems and what leads people to end up gripped by similar bad habits.
‘ “When the media started to investigate problems like that of usury and began to open people’s eyes regarding the suffering that it causes to victims, this was a very much appreciated service. Similar action on the part of the media as regards the gambling problem may have a very beneficial result.”’
The Church did speak and continues to speak about the ills of gambling. The problem was also mentioned by Archbishop Mgr Paul Cremona O.P. in his very first Pastoral Letter for Lent (2007). The Archbishop listed gambling as one of the obstacles in a person’s life and surroundings.
Moreover, the Justice and Peace Commission, in its reflections on the pre-budget 2008 document expressed its big preoccupation regarding gambling, online betting and internet gaming. Furthermore, in a recent programme on ‘Haddiehor’ on PBS, the Chairperson of the Justice and Peace Commission mentioned the problem of Super 5 and appealed to everyone not to be taken in by the substantial prize and spend money on this game while abandoning one’s social responsibilities towards one’s family, even more at this time of the year with Christmas coming up. Additionally, some weeks ago the topic of gambling and usury was discussed in one of the RTK programmes on the social teachings of the Church run by the Justice and Peace Commission jointly with the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice. In this programme one of the guest speakers was a Caritas representative.
Caritas Malta does a lot of work in this field. The Self-Help Gamblers’ Anonymous Group, set up by Caritas over 20 years ago, is a case in point. Caritas also enters into contact with gamblers through its counselling unit and the Foundation for Victims of Usury. Moreover, Mgr Victor Grech, the Caritas Director, speaks on the issue of gambling and its negative consequences whenever the opportunity arises during his weekly RTK Radio programme ‘Kelma ta’ Farag’ and his weekly TVM slot. Furthermore, Caritas has had several contacts with government authorities on the problem of gambling.

Charles Buttigieg
PRO, Archbishop’s Curia


Frendo’s Commonwealth and Malta’s wealth

It is very strange that the Opposition has remained silent on Michael Frendo’s defeat in the elections for Secretary-General of the Commonwealth.
Why are they keeping mum? Why aren’t they asking the pertinent questions in the circumstances? Has the Frendo reckless adventure meant the squandering of precious public funds, for which we are paying through our noses? Are we going to get any tangible benefits from Dr Frendo’s foiled exploit? Did Malta gain anything from Dr Frendo’s humiliation? Couldn’t he have used his time and his energies to get us benefits from the EU instead of embarking on this personal enterprise which got him, and us, nowhere?
I can understand the silence of government MPs, who must really be feeling let down by their colleague. But I cannot understand the Opposition. Why are they shutting up? Does it mean that our entire political class is callous enough not to ask whether our Foreign Minister is being profligate with our hard-earned cash?! At least one MP should ask Michael Frendo how much the whole futile, myopic exercise cost Malta’s coffers.

Jonathan Abela
St Julian’s


A government in shambles

All governments of all colours have good ministers and incompetent ministers. Lawrence Gonzi’s government has certainly had its share of the latter. Jesmond Mugliett’s performance as Minister for Roads and Urban Development is shocking and gets you thinking about whether he is actually the most incompetent Minister of the last 10 years. The handling of the Manuel Dimech Bridge is definitely the cherry on the cake. Mugliett’s management of the bridge construction is leading to a big wastage of public funds. The Opposition claims that the Manuel Dimech Bridge project smells of corruption and incompetence.
A reputation for incompetence is much more politically deadly than a reputation for sleaze. Many voters don’t have much faith in politicians’ ethics but they hope for basic competence.
So far three dates have been mentioned for the completion of the project, the latest being November this year, but to date only half the work has been completed. Whilst
Minister Mugliett is insisting on a March 2008 deadline the contractor has mentioned May as confusion reigns over the completion date for the project. As for the total expenditure, it has originally been estimated at Lm1.6million but it has already overshot the target by Lm400,000. Having said that the final expenditure is still unknown.
After 20 years in power, it seems Gonzi`s government still hasn’t mastered that fairly basic requirement of government, that is, running the country competently. All the spinning, the fiasco over the electricity bills, the John Dalli saga. U-turns every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. This latest mess over the management of our country’s infrastructure shows exactly why we need a new government. It’s not just because the Nationalist Party has no vision for the future. It’s because this government is incompetent. No wonder people are saying it’s time for change.

Roderick Mizzi


Commonwealth election

Allow me to reply to the letters entitled ‘Torpiano owes an explanation’ by correspondent Josef Cachia, ‘Zero tolerance’ by correspondent Charles J. Buttigieg and ‘Welcome to the real world, Edward Torpiano’ all published in the same issue of MaltaToday of 16 December, 2007.
The letter by correspondent Josef Cachia discussed Malta’s alleged betrayal by His Excellency British High Commissioner Nick Archer who, according to the local press, was reported as having “gone out of his way” to tell the international community that the visit of Queen Elizabeth II to Malta on the occasion of her diamond wedding anniversary happened to be only a mere “coincidence”.
One can now take the opportunity to ask the British High Commissioner and, also, correspondent whether this was a move whose (not so hidden) message meant that Malta was no more important than any other country in the run-up to the Commonwealth secretary-general election despite Michael Frendo’s candidature.
In point of fact, the United Kingdom government never convincingly denied that Malta was the victim of disloyalty in Uganda. This helps to explain my previous suggestion, carried in the letter titled, ‘Expel Archer’ of 9 December 2007, in which article I expressed a personal opinion by saying that the person occupying the post of British High Commissioner to Malta should have been expelled from Malta by the Maltese government (irrespective of who the person is). This was an opinion I still hold.
To my mind, correspondent has a rather lop-sided, or odd, (if not dictatorial), view of democracy if he is campaigning for my (supposed) resignation, or removal, from the Nationalist Party simply because my ideas on this matter happened to differ from his, and, incidentally never differed from those of the Nationalist Party.
Correspondent Josef Cachia should pluck up courage and apologise to the people of Malta and Gozo for having sided with a colonial power while it was being accused of having trampled upon his native land.
As regards correspondent Charles J. Buttigieg, allow me to say that whatever sentiments Nationalist Party supporters might have harboured towards Dom Mintoff during the Malta Labour Party (socialist) minority rule from 12 December, 1981 up to 9 May, 1987, this was harmless in comparison to what Alfred Sant called Dom Mintoff on Tuesday, June 9, 1998 during a Birgu meeting when Sant repeatedly called Mintoff a ‘traitor’. Was correspondent praising Mintoff in order to belittle Alfred Sant?
Since correspondent claimed that Malta Labour Party sympathisers were “sent to Canossa” during Eddie Fenech Adami’s rule as Prime Minister, one can ask correspondent whether he has forgotten that Richard Muscat, subsequently a Member of Parliament, was ordered not to return to Malta from Ragusa (Italy) where StudioMaster Radio Station was broadcasting on behalf of the Nationalist Party during the 1981 election campaign. The vile intimidation was carried out from the Department of Information. Did correspondent approve of this?
As regards the Malta Labour Party’s supposed zero tolerance against corruption, also mentioned by correspondent, one can remind correspondent that it was only on 23 March, 1990 that the MLP vigilance and disciplinary board decided to suspend Lorry Sant from the party due to corruption allegations. The former Public Works Minister was indefinitely suspended from the MLP only after the PN was returned to office in 1987 and only when, on 14 March, 1990 the Permanent Commission against Corruption publicly stated it had come into possession of clear proof of corruption in the building (construction) industry.
One can remind MaltaToday readers, including correspondent himself, that Alfred Sant occupied the post of MLP president as from 1984 up to 1988 and, in this influential post, never once publicly condemned corruption. This was because it was carried out by his party (then) in government.
Was this zero-tolerance against corruption? And is a political party and a political leader more credible, since correspondent made use of this word, when party and leader both hit out against corruption but only when in Opposition?
As regards my letter, contrary to what correspondent said, I never asked for Nick Archer to be expelled from Malta simply because Great Britain might have voted against Michael Frendo but I suggested to the Malta government that the British High Commissioner to Malta be expelled because he had taken an active part in Malta’s alleged betrayal and, also, because he then followed this up by trying to repair matters (but only when found out).
I defy correspondent to point out when I had ever stated that any country should not enjoy the right to vote as it thought fit in the international sphere. Telling a country one would support it, and then urge every participant not to vote for it is a different kettle of fish however. Evidently enough, if correspondent Charles J. Buttigieg is not in a position to understand simple English due to his political bigotry, this is his problem. He now has two alternatives, the first one being to attempt to brush up his English and, the second one being to verify facts before foolishly rushing into print.
In conclusion, in answer to the letter titled, ‘Welcome to the real world, Edward Torpiano’ by correspondent Anthony Borg; since he stated that “India is now an economic powerhouse and a big trading partner with the United Kingdom” this is only further proof, if any was ever needed, that Archer should be expelled by the Malta government.

Edward Torpiano

Editorial note:
Correspondence on this subject is now closed.


Not accountable to taxpayers

The Maltese government is recently indulging in all sorts of stunts in its pre-election run-up.
The latest one is the laying of 45 Euro ‘carpets’ down the length of Republic street, carpets which certainly had to be ordered specially to fit into the pattern of the paving, at God knows what cost. Even if they only cost Lm200 each, which is highly unlikely, 45 carpets at that price would amount to Lm9,000. This gimmick of distracting the people with ‘bread and circuses’ seems to be catching on, as earlier this year, so I’ve been told, the Arts Council even paid to bring over two foreign clowns who pestered Valletta visitors to such an extent that the police were eventually called in.
Have the Maltese authorities nothing better to do with their people’s money? If Malta were a place where everything is already first-class, such an expenditure would still be questionable, but since Malta still lacks resources in so many areas, surely Lm9,000 or more could have been put to far better use, say to restore the façade of one of the many knight’s gates or buildings which are on the point of collapse due to neglect.
These are not the only cases of wanton and profligate waste of the Maltese taxpayers’ money. What about the paid Budget 2008 adverts which continued to be aired long after the Budget was over, and all the large advertisements which appeared in the media, trumpeting Austin Gatt’s harbour regeneration plans? These half-page adverts were repeated ad nauseam in all the newspapers and even magazines; in the name of my many Maltese tax-paying friends I ask the good minister to inform us how much it all cost – many, many thousands of dishonestly wasted liri as the projects may never even take place, given that the coming election might upset all the present government’s plans.
The mind simply boggles at the thought of all that money poured down the drain. It seems that not only does Malta import clowns, but sadly it is also run by clowns!

James A. Tyrrell
Northern Ireland, UK


Public support for BirdLife

BirdLife Malta would like to express its appreciation of the letter entitled “Joe Abela panders to hunters” which appeared in the MaltaToday on Sunday, December 16 and signed by Franco Farrugia. It is indeed heartening for our organisation when members of the public make their voice heard and add their weight to the public debate on the issue of illegal spring hunting and killing of killing of protected species.
However, the organisation needs to clarify that the booklet referred to by Labour MP Joe Abela in his speech in Parliament, and in turn picked up by Franco Farrugia in his letter, was not funded in any way by the European Union, as erroneously claimed by Mr Abela. In fact, this booklet was paid for through funds collected from our thousands of members. This was also clarified in a press release issued by BirdLife Malta on December 12 to correct a number of false statements made about the organisation by Mr Abela.
The only project which sees European Union funding and of which BirdLife is a co-beneficiary is the EU LIFE Yelkouan Shearwater project. This project is Malta’s largest conservation initiative of its kind and is working to protect Yelkouan Shearwaters at their largest breeding site, Rdum tal-Madonna, in the North of Malta as well as improving this protected site for wildlife and visitors. For more information on this project or to book a visit of the site, readers can visit and for more information on BirdLife Malta, please visit

Marija Schranz
Communications Coordinator,


The judicial code

Your newspaper dated 9 December, stated that the government has decided to formally exclude a judge and a magistrate from all official functions with immediate effect.
On page 79 of the magazine “Circle Christmas special edition” December Issue we have the same judge in the company of a leading entrepreneur attending a Xmas celebration for her firm’s Xmas celebrations.
Was he invited as a friend or a as a client?
On the 13 December, reported a silent protest by the judicial cadre on Republic Day.
Can the Commission for the Administration of Justice explain if this attitude, by the said judge in question, is also part of the code of ethics? Does this behaviour endanger the impartiality or independence of the judiciary?

Jean Borg


Floriana war memorial decorations

Which brilliant, innovative mind decided to decorate the olive trees around the War Memorial in Floriana with dancing fairy Christmas lights? Does this budding Phillippe Starck of lighting design not realise that this memorial and its surroundings are but a reminder to those of us who fought and died so gloriously defending this island? It is a place of prayer and quiet contemplation. That is the meaning of that stone column. Those olive trees, those bay bushes, signify peace and quiet dignity, not merriment and fun.
Can you just imagine the sort of reaction this would cause were it to happen at the Cenotaph in London or the tomb of The Unknown Soldier under the Arc de Triomphe in Paris?
What next? Christmas lights around the perimeter of the Addolorata Cemetery? Fairy lights on the grave of our departed perhaps? So idiotic, so insensitive.

Anthony Fenech
via email


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