MaltaToday: Letters
LETTERS | Sunday, 20 January 2008

Too little, too late

The recent ‘forced’ resignation of the MEPA deputy chairperson is a classic case of much too little and far too late.
Especially when one considers that the resignation was not requested because of the alleged irregularities committed, but simply because they were revealed by an act of God - namely a heavy downpour.
It is not difficult to imagine that if nature had not intervened, the alleged irregularities would have been simply shrugged off and later covered by the infamous “sanctioning” procedure – which ought to be renamed “making crime pay”.
It is the whole of the MEPA board which should have been asked to resign – or even dismissed outright – on numerous occasions in the past.
On the other hand, since the members of the board are all hand-picked Government appointees, maybe the proverbial buck should find a permanent home much higher on the hierarchical ladder.

Victor Laiviera,

Illegal migration is the issue

This problem is increasing continuously at a very alarming rate. Europe has been completely impotent to control this problem.  A number of years ago a brilliant Italian writer, Oriana Fallaci, pointed out in very strong words that complacency does not work. Illegal migration increased,  and she had to run away from Italy because her life was threatened.  What a huge tragedy;  escaping from one’s own country to die in another. At least Fallaci did not enter the USA illegally. The USA accepted her.  Not because her skin was white.  She was accepted because she applied for permission to enter.
When a person enters another country:   secretly,  without asking permission, or by being assisted to do so by criminals, or by people who have ulterior motives to destabilise, etc, etc,  that person is referred to as an ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT.   No political party,  no preacher,  no do-gooder can change that reference. The illegal immigrant may “eventually”  ask for refugee status,  and that can be granted on humanitarian grounds. The fact remains that initially that person was or still is an illegal immigrant;  and illegal migration causes a huge amount of pressure on the countries where they are “lodged”, even if they are accommodated there against the immigrants’ wish.  It is a good to note that at least the new political party (Azzjoni Nazzjonali) has a principle to tackle this seriously,  even though they have some clarifications to make.
It is the do-gooders of the world who are multiplying this problem. They are creating a much bigger problem.  In this particular case would it not be better to teach these illegal immigrants how to solve their problems, instead of helping them escape from them?
Is it true that the illegal immigrants in Malta are racially hated because they are black?  The colour is only an unpleasant identification  which both whites and blacks refer to;  even if the world is not just black and white. A wider angle of perspective will show other interesting colours;  and these colours are people with their own personal feelings and opinions. The problem would be very much the same if illegal immigrants came from another country and were as white as snow! The real problem is that they are here “illegally” and that they cause instability, because there presence here (or in other countries) is not properly planned. Can Europe cope with such situations, or does it use Malta as a convenient buffer zone? The Maltese people knew that many other EU nationals would have the right to come here legally if we chose to join the EU.  The Maltese people are not as unkind and racist as we are depicted.  The Maltese people,  even within our very limited resources,  are quite capable of accepting and accommodating other people from other countries – but it has to be within a planned programme,  not a “free for all” to all those who take advantage.  
The truth is the reality. We are compelled to rescue the illegal immigrants, even against their wish. We are compelled to keep them here until we solve their problems. We are held responsible that they must not “escape” from here to the countries they wish to go to. Then we are accused of holding them in deplorable confinement.  Of course it is deplorable!   How can we cope with so many ? Of course we can cry in our guilt (?) that we know we are in the comfort of our home, whilst they are crammed in small tents suffering the cold and wet, or hot weather. So where is the answer? A few years ago the “do-badders”  (in Malta) used to take money from the illegal immigrants, who arrived in Malta by mistake, and help them reach their desired further destination.  The do-gooders stopped it. So now we are compelled to confine illegal immigrants.  Most of us just stand by and watch a tragedy increasing every day.  
Will the USA (or any other non-EU country) one day accept to accommodate half the Maltese population who wish to escape from what we are allowing to be created ? It is not illegal immigrants themselves who are the problem (they are human beings; but they should not take advantage if they are not blondes). The problem is illegal migration and our inertia to do something positive about it. Unless the political parties are being misunderstood or misinterpreted,  it seems that only Azzjoni Nazzjonali has proposed a sort of plan based on a strong principle. It is our freedom to choose people to represent us and to produce something positive,  and not people who just ‘oppose’ anything that is suggested.
If we want freedom it is also our responsibility to choose it.

Reggie Debono

Scrutinising statements

Please consider the probability that Mr Evarist Saliba’s statements in his memoirs may not be as fantastic as you think because the personalities directly involved proactively declined the offer to contest them during the relevant Bondiplus programme and, since then, they have not challenged them in any way.
You say (MaltaToday, Sunday 30 December 2007) that these statements “should be scrutinised not swept under a carpet”. Incredibly, what you actually did was to rubbish them while admitting that you had neither read the book nor listened to the interview! By no stretch of the imagination could that be accepted as responsible informative investigative journalism.

Dr Francis Saliba
via email

Cartoons and the CIA

In line with your editorial in MaltaToday of Christmas eve, I wish you a Happy New Year. At the same time I note that the caricature above it, for which you are editorially responsible, is totally devoid of the true Christmas spirit which you preach. This follows your ignoring to publish a very brief email which I sent you from abroad in answer to your criticism (19 December) of my interview on Bondiplus, a programme which you boasted not having seen, though you did print a snide remark referring to my email, adding that your attention was diverted to other matters.
Coming from a journalist claiming investigative credentials this is most unprofessional. You have not bothered to investigate what I have written and said in connection with the allegation made by an American industrialist, yet you have fired your blunderbuss at a target which you had not seen or heard (or read). You have also depicted me as a decrepit, bedridden imbecile suffering from amnesia, reading or writing fairy tales, while twisting what I have written about this incident.
For the record, this is what I wrote in my book (page 348) after referring to the allegation made by the American industrialist.
“It was public knowledge that the MLP had engaged the services of an American public relations firm led by a certain Phil Noble. It is not for me to judge if there is any connection between Phil Noble’s activities and the alleged CIA link. It is still pertinent to ask ‘Why would the USA help the MLP?’ “
This question was followed by two pages in which I quoted instances when the Nationalist government of tiny Malta had resisted strong pressure from the superpower USA. These were in addition to three other pages (291-4) dealing with the early release from prison of terrorist Ali Rezaq, which provoked the unanimous USA Congress Resolution 118 which condemned Malta and ‘urged the President to review the United States relations with Malta, including foreign assistance and economic relations’.
Again in line with your editorial, I wish your caricaturist a happy new year, and I augur that when he reaches my age he will have the health, clear mind, memory and ability to express himself in the lucid manner which I have done in my book and in the Bondiplus interview.

Evarist V. Saliba
Ta’ l-Ibrag

Poezijaplus persists

With reference to the article ‘Frustrations of a Maltese Arts Connoisseur,’ penned by Mr David Darmanin (Sunday 13 January) I assume that my friend Tony Cassar Darien was misquoted in stating that Poezijaplus no longer exists.
I would like to inform your readers that the Poezijaplus’ events are still going on and are held on the last Monday of each month at the Manoel Theatre’s Courtyard.
In fact, Tony himself, a founder-member, has throughout the last eight years, rarely missed a Poezijaplus event and his experienced advice and contribution is very much appreciated.

Sergio Grech

Swim with AD

I would like to draw attention to the fact that part of the public coastal area near Otters Waterpolo Club in Marsalforn has been taken away from the public through a parliamentary deed in 2005. Now a pending application awaiting MEPA’s approval to “construct a seawater pool, for waterpolo and swimming purposes, to occupy part of existing Otters Club House and adjacent land, and replanning of part of existing ramp next to St Mary’s Street, Marsalforn” is being processed.
While I would like to point out the fact that Alternattiva Demokratika (AD) has long been insisting that the government should invest in aquatic sports in Gozo, I question the need for this limited proposal. Why should the Otters Club have to undergo such hassle to get a semi-decent pool? Why should historic saltpans be threatened and why should the public give up yet another piece of coastline? All this for only a few months of use just in case of possibly jellyfish-infested waters.
Was a national swimming pool in Gozo not part of the Nationalist Party’s manifesto in 1991? We are still waiting 17 years later and the Labour Party ignores such a proposal even in their current plan for Gozo. Green members of Parliament will urge cross party co-operation to safeguard the interests of all Gozitans and Gozo’s specific needs. We will get the government to invest in sports in Gozo rather than opening further public land for speculation.
Two national swimming pools already exist in Malta; hence we believe that Gozitans deserve, by right, a national pool in Gozo. In its electoral manifesto for Gozo, Alternattiva Demokratika is proposing that a national heated pool to be used all year round and aquatic sports facility would form part of the existing sports complex in Victoria, where adjacent land is available, or in other locations such as the abandoned Hondoq ir-Rummien distillation plant which could be rehabilitated and transformed into an indoor solar power heated pool for all citizens.
EU funds could be tapped to subsidise a public aquatic sports facility for Gozo.
Given the socio-educational advantages of aquatic sports in Gozo, I sincerely hope that in the-not-so-distant future the sport finds itself on the national agenda, and not used as a favourite subject for lip-servicing exercises that seem to have become somewhat of a national pastime. Stop taking away further public land and give Gozitans what is theirs by right. We are fed up of empty promises. Swim with AD and leave the old political system sink.

Victor Galea,
AD Spokesman for Gozo,

AN’s plans for MEPA

I refer to the article featured in your Sunday paper of 6 January 2008, written by Charlot Zahra.
Mr Zahra chose to ignore the main contents of our party press conference held to outline our proposal for the restructuring of MEPA, with the aim of making it a more efficient and transparent organisation and enhancing public confidence in its operation.
Instead he decided to go for the sensational and write what is in actual fact a personal opinion piece, commenting on the application I had submitted in my personal capacity as a businessman and entrepreneur for the development golf course 12 years ago. Whilst I do not wish to use my political platform to comment on my personal business ventures, I think that Mr Zahra’s piece requires clarification and cannot go unanswered.
The decision to refuse a permit for the development of a golf course at Verdala was a political decision taken by the Government, a fact which could easily be noted during the final presentation, where it became exceedingly clear that a decision had already been taken prior to the undemocratic informal discussion held before our presentation. Our architects, who had worked on the project for over 10 years, were given less than five minutes to present all information and to deliver the exhaustive presentation they had prepared.
However, while on personal note the saga of the golf course has given me first-hand experience of MEPA’s modus operandi when other applicants faced with similar situations, it in fact happens to be just one example of many of which I am aware, which have prompted Azzjonali Nazzjonali into proposing that applications outside development zone (ODZ) be decided by Parliament, and not by MEPA. My experience at Verdala has benefited me and the party I represent in that it has given me a clearer view of what measures need to be taken to ensure that ODZ applications are dealt with transparently and justly, whatever the final decision.
It is a well-known fact that MEPA is the finger Government chooses to hide behind, particularly when faced with decisions of a highly sensitive nature. Azzjonali Nazzjonali is of the firm view that since in reality the government has final prerogative on the decision to be taken, it should at least be honest enough to issue it as a government decision and not present it as a MEPA decision when it is not. This will ensure that the government is finally held accountable and is made to answer for its own decisions.
Why should the Maltese electorate feel like beggars, imploring Ministers and Government Authorities for what is constitutional and democratically its right: that is the public’s right to know the real process leading to a decision and the identity of the real decision-maker, and the applicant’s right to due process and fair hearing and judgment? If we did have independent Planning Authority, then we would be of the view that it should be left to work and act freely, without government intervention. However, since this is not the case, the Government should declare its intention in relation to any applications in ODZ including golf courses, schools, petrol stations, Smart City project, the proposed harbour projects, other infrastructural projects, etc. In reality we do not feel that there is anything wrong in that, since every government of substance is expected to take certain decisions. After all, that is why it is elected to govern. But let it be in the clear without hiding behind a smokescreen.
The proposals presented at our latest press conference on MEPA, together with others already put forward by Azzjonali Nazzjonali, as well as others still in the pipeline, are all geared to strengthen MEPA’s structure and organization. And above all, to make it more efficient and transparent for the benefit of all Maltese and Gozitans, as well as to rehabilitate MEPA’s image and enhance public confidence and perception.
Azzjonali Nazzjonali wants, as I am sure all Maltese and Gozitans do, a credible Authority which concentrates on sustainable development so that our present and future generations would be proud of today’s decisions.
Azzjonali Nazzjonali’s recent proposal to reduce the need for outline applications or to merge outline applications with full applications through the same process, will definitely help MEPA be more efficient while saving applicants the thousands of euros being spent on this process.
Azzjonali Nazzjonali knows that there are capable and experienced personnel within MEPA, who, with less Government interference coupled with the careful re-organisation of MEPA structures, can assist in making MEPA the credible and democratic organisation which this country deserves.
Azzjonali Nazzjonali is of the view that the Maltese electorate should not be made “beggars” before the Authorities and Ministers, and applying for permits of whatever nature should be a transparent process which above all unequivocally upholds the citizen’s basic constitutional right to a fair hearing. If Charlot Zahra considers this reasoning far-right, then so be it, however we are unwavering in our view that fair hearing and due process is of right to all the Maltese and Gozitans and reiterate that Azzjonali Nazzjonali is fully committed and prepared to fight for all citizens’ rights.

Angelo Xuereb
Deputy Leader

Depressing Dwejra

Mr Riedhammer’s letter published in your paper of January 13, was very much to the point. There have been so many letters written over the past few years on this subject, some of which were written personally, but has anyone heard our pleas? Has anything actually changed? Has anyone in the relevant Ministries/Departments/Authorities done anything to improve matters on this delightful, wonderful island?
Does the rejection of the proposed waterpolo pool at Otters’ in Marsalforn mean that MEPA has had a change of heart as far as people’s rights and the environment goes, or is it merely due to the pressure of the upcoming election?
Fort Chambray, Ta’ Cenc, Ramla and Hondoq ir-Rummien have all been discussed at length so let’s go to the other side of the island for a change and talk about Dwejra.
For a start, the road going down there is a nightmare which gets worse and worse each time one travels it. If you stop your car just beyond the cemetery, you can still read the vandalised sign (next to the No Entry warning painted on the road at the side of it) welcoming you to the Dwejra Heritage Park which has been sponsored by various well known organizations.
One tries very hard to avert one’s eyes from the unsightly mess that is being made on the opposite hills under the pretext of filling the quarries and all the paraphernalia used by hundreds of bird trappers and hunters.
If you are lucky enough to reach the parking lot without having to change a tyre, you will find an asphalted parking area interspersed with soil or garbage filled “features” which will, so I have heard, be planted with palm trees – hopefully ones without weevils. Most of the tamarisks that were growing down there and that are suitable to the windy salty conditions in this part of the island, have been ruthlessly killed.
On the way down to the Inland Sea, one passes a huge construction hole on the right hand side which will become another suspect building in this ODZ area! I have heard that a restaurant (without view, in this magnificent area of views) and a diving school will be built here! Or possibly a villa for someone special? Since the MEPA notice is placed out of reach of anyone without access to a crane or stepladder, we cannot be sure.
Further on, the gentlemen offering to take tourists for a “ride”, pun intended, around Dwejra certainly do just that! At Lm3.00+ (€7.50+) per person for a maximum ten-minute trip out to sea and back, it is a total rip-off. Tourists expect to go to around General’s (Fungus) rock, or at least past the Azure Window and once they are out to sea are told that there are too many fishing nets out for them to go there!
The pollution caused by these diesel boats in the Inland Sea itself is disastrous, especially in summer when the water is not washed out by storms. The ecological damage which has already been caused by diesel and sewage in this tiny bay is immense. It used to be pleasant to swim there, at least at the start of the season, but nowadays it is certainly not advisable at any time.
In other parts of the Mediterranean, for example Sicily, boats taking tourists around are strictly forbidden from using their engines within bays, and have to use “man-power” and row once they are within a specific distance from the shore. The upside of this is not only from a pollution aspect, but the sight of boatmen quietly rowing in and out of the bays adds to the charm of the surroundings. Why can’t we do that as well? Imagine how lovely it would be to quietly glide through the tunnel to the open sea instead of being smothered in diesel fumes and deafened by a powerful engine. I have swum though the tunnel several times in the past (early in the morning before the boats are out) and it really is magic.
Mr Riedhammer could have been describing the public toilets that are built into a wet cave en route to the Azure Window.
There has been an attempt to smarten the place up and there are still several information points around that have not been vandalised. When is the government going to stop people destroying the environment by punishing them where it hurts most, i.e. by imposing heavy fines?
When are fines for littering going to be enforced? When are developers/builders going to be forced to “make good” (i.e. by revoking business licenses, for example) the damage done to green areas, bridges, historic sites, neighbouring properties, etc?
Instead of just issuing parking fines, wouldn’t it be more to the point to convict the people who vandalise bus stops, who bribe officials, who pollute bird sanctuaries or archaeological sites with motor oil or dump garbage in fields or valleys? Someone somewhere is barking up the wrong tree!
How many other people, now in the autumn of their lives, invested in this lovely sunny island years ago so that they could enjoy their retirement, in good faith, only to find themselves now trapped in a dark hole which was once a sunny courtyard, or a quiet alley which is now a main road to a quarry or a garbage dump, or even worse, watching their home crack and disappear into a huge excavation hole next door?
There must be hundreds, but unfortunately most of them are not in a position to complain in case one of their relations gets the chop from someone else. It is simply a vicious circle of corruption and greed.
Like Mr Riedhammer, my heart breaks for the inheritors of this island – your children and grandchildren. Do something now, before it is too late.

Lesley Kreupl,

The euro and Western Union

Last week, I contacted the Post Office to find out how much it would cost to send some money abroad via Western Union. I was told the charges would be Lm7.50 for the amount I intended to send, or the equivalent in euros which would be €17.47, at the official rate of exchange.
At the time, they had not yet received the official euro charge list and were still quoting in Maltese currency.
I went this morning to dispatch the money and I was charged €18 (Lm7.72), in other words an increase of 3% for no reason, other than we had switched our currency. A rounding-up? If they had wanted to operate a fair or honest round-up, they should have charged €17.50, but no!  What is the excuse going to be?
Is this not the kind of abuse we were told the public would be protected against? Were we not told that we should report such overcharging, so the matter could be taken further by the relevant Euro body?
Well, I am publicly reporting my experience and hope they had not been merely empty promises! The ball is in the authorities’ court,if they wish to convince us they meant business.

Alexander Cortis

Bees and credit cards

Oh what a bee in his bonnet poor Mauro Anastasi has (letters - last week). In her column, as far as I have always understood, Mona always asks for better service, a better selection, and overall better value for money. In her review of Madliena Cottage, which I had to go back and read online because my impression of it was completely different to his, she wrote that the food was impressive, but the service and the setup and ambiance less so. Fair cop I say.
Obviously, Mr. Anastasi has his LM1.50 glasses of wine diluted with Bailey’s, which is why he gets everything mixed in a muddle. In his rant, he also manages to slip in his brother’s love of LM100 soups and his trip to Gleneagles to taste Oswald’s food. This led me to think that rather than being a regular diner, like us, he must be involved in the catering industry somehow. How many of us travel so far to taste the food of a local chef that’s cooking abroad?
Some of your letter writers are priceless. For everything else there’s Mauro’s brother’s mastercard.

Eleanor Ellul



Any comments?
If you wish your comments to be published in our Letters pages please click button below



Go to MaltaToday
recent issues:
10/02/08 | 06/02/08
03/02/08 | 30/01/08
27/01/08 | 23/01/08
20/01/08 | 16/01/08
13/01/08 | 09/01/08
06/01/08 | 02/01/08
30/12/07 | 23/12/07
19/12/07 | 16/12/07
12/12/07 | 09/12/07
05/12/07 | 02/12/07
28/11/07 | 25/11/07
21/11/07 | 18/11/07

14/11/07 | 11/11/07
07/11/07 | 04/11/07

MaltaToday News
20 January 2008

Three wanted by Italy over human trafficking

BirdLife urges PM to withdraw plans for spring hunting

EU still investigating alleged misuse of public service funds at PBS

PBS ends up without news editor on election eve

Court told how VOM did fall under public procurement rules

‘Smart Island’ ads blocked after BA waves the red card

Oh myGov!

Absolutely Ratzinger

Leo Brincat in ‘political panic’ – Austin Gatt

Food and health prices twice those of Europe

AN promise tough law and order regime

Copyright © MediaToday Co. Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann SGN 9016, Malta, Europe
Managing editor Saviour Balzan | Tel. ++356 21382741 | Fax: ++356 21385075 | Email