MaltaToday | 06 April 2008 | Letters

LETTERS| Sunday, 06 April 2008

No ‘extraordinary control’ over RCC

I refer to the article in the MaltaToday of 30 March 2008 entitled “The return of the eminence grise”.
For the record, please note that, while serving as Minister of Foreign Affairs, my relationship with the Permanent Representative to the European Union Ambassador Richard Cachia Caruana was an excellent one. We worked very well together because we both have only one common objective: Malta’s interests. It is incorrect therefore for the article to give the impression that I had to exercise some “extraordinary control” over Ambassador Cachia Caruana in my years of service.
On the contrary, as with all other Ambassadors or High Commissioners, or Senior Officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, my consultations in the course of formulating foreign and European policy decisions, and our common work, were focused only on achieving the best results for Malta. Political direction was always implemented in an exemplary manner. In the case of the Permanent Representative to the European Union, the matters at hand are of special importance to Malta’s own political and economic development, and requires Minister and Permanent Representative to be inevitably closely in touch on a daily basis and working together intensely.
Had the working relationship not been so healthy, the results achieved in the course of these four years (2004-2008) would not have been possible.

Michael Frendo,

Caruana Galizias are granted no favours

Your journalist Karl Schembri (30 March) refers to me as “the lawyer chosen by (Richard) Cachia Caruana… the infamous €21 million purchase of Dar Malta in Brussels.”
Apart from getting the price wrong by some €6 million, he seeks to give the impression to your readers that my involvement as a lawyer in the purchase of this building was somehow a favour and more so, one granted to me as a form of special dispensation through the good offices of my wife. This would be risible if it were not so insultingly ill-informed.
I have had occasion to point out to you already, on at least one occasion, that the reason I was selected for the work, which involved months of research and negotiation, was because of my considerable experience in the field of property law, including the drafting of the necessary amendments to the law on acquisition of property by non-residents in the run-up to EU membership – and that was no grace and favour work, either.
If the Dar Malta work can be considered in any way a favour, I was the one performing that favour, for the work was extremely difficult, time-consuming and underpaid. You might also wish to take note of the fact that I was engaged by MIMCOL, dealt with MIMCOL and reported solely to MIMCOL.
If you choose to persist with these tedious allegations, which you have been making for some years now, I shall be left with no choice but to take the matter further.

Peter Caruana Galizia

Unimaginable loss

I have just read with huge shock and sadness about the untimely passing of Ebba von Fersen Balzan.
During my years in Malta, including my happiest which were spent working with her volatile yet inspiring husband ‘Salvu’, it was always a pleasure to meet Ebba, whether it was over a meal in their garden or a quick chat in the office.
I can picture her now, painting in the soft sunset at the Jazz Festival, always a smile and friendly greeting at the ready as we admired whatever she was working on.
Ebba also always had words of wisdom at the ready when the time was appropriate. I wish I had listened to her better when she had them for me!
Ebba and Saviour complemented each other perfectly and his loss is unimaginable.
My thoughts are with him and his nearest and dearest.
Miriam Dunn
Bristol, UK

No MEPA policy for poles and pylons

You quote MLP environment spokesman Mr Roderick Galdes as stating: “I don’t think we should go back to when Local Councils, for example, had to apply through MEPA to build pavements. This had increased bureaucracy and slowed down work.” Is Mr Galdes aware of the “pavement” being laid out by the Local Council in Marsalforn, by any chance? We already have a promenade there wide enough for a good number of people to stroll on and yet the Local Council deems fit to widen a pavement on the other side of the road (naturally narrowing that same road) - to many, unnecessarily (to some, perhaps, convenient?). Look where the lack of checks and balances leads you!
Mr Galdes adds, “In the same way, if Enemalta decides to erect pylons within development zones without consulting MEPA, then so be it. If on the other hand, the erection of pylons will in some way affect the environment then it should be up to Enemalta to consult MEPA or issue a Development Notification Order....”
“If on the other hand....”? Excuse me very much, should I take that to mean that erecting pylons within development zones does not affect the environment?! “Then so be it”, indeed!
I’m all against bureaucracy, red tape and what-have-you and all for a proper power supply for all, but at what cost? Sir, PLEASE tell me you have misquoted the learned gentleman...

M. Xuereb
Zebbug, Gozo

Healthcare insurance: go for it

Reference is made to your article “Dalli still thinks insurance companies should pay for hospital costs” (26 March 2008). Yes of course, I totally agree. If one pays for insurance cover, the insurance should pay for treatment in whatever hospital the patients wants to be treated. Obviously it is unfair that a patient goes to a state hospital to be treated for free, when his insurance could cover the costs. Yes, Minister Dalli, go for it, the free health care continues for those who cannot pay.
John Inguanez

Small island, big heart

Malta is a small island with a big heart. No wonder we are lauded as being hospitable; but above all we excel as the most charitable nation on earth. Whenever any catastrophe hits the world, we are in the front line in our support through donations. But we don’t wait for these calamities to occur to show our gentle side. We do so throughout the whole year. Who hasn’t heard of Dun Gorg Grima’s work in various countries, especially in Africa and South America? But perhaps fewer people have heard of what Wigi Duca from Ghaxaq is achieving in Guatemala. When Wigi visited the country and witnessed the immense poverty of the natives, he was deeply dismayed and reacted to alleviate their suffering. So he decided to replace their huts of reeds, thatch and plastic with solid buildings of bricks and concrete. So far, 55 houses have been erected. The next step is to furnish them with the meagre essentials: beds, wardrobes, tables and chairs.
What is amazing and unique in this venture is that Wigi has convinced an entire village to support his idea, and Ghaxaq isn’t one of our big places after all. Wigi will soon be leaving for Guatemala to follow the project’s progress but before he leaves he would be a happier man if his example were emulated by anyone who manages to convince his village, town or city to follow in his footsteps. Wigi is also the author of a book and everything is recorded for posterity. Will the next pioneer be Peppi/Peppa, Gianni/Gianna, Censu/Censa or Karmnu/Karmna? We wait and see and share Wigi’s joy if his dream turns to reality. In the meantime anyone’s little donation helps to alleviate the burden.

Joe Baldacchino

A policy for poles and pylons

It is clear that issues which were never dealt with before are now at the forefront and some are asking for their solution as expediently as possible.
Of all things, the utility poles and pylons issue has been raised and to my knowledge the lack of policy regarding their installation has never been brought up before.
Since the environment has been placed up front, politically and otherwise, the haphazard installation of these poles is apt to be discussed further. Without doubt, transmission lines have to be hung from town to town often crossing fields and other environmentally sensitive areas. This cannot be avoided because carrying electrical energy is usually done using the shortest route possible in order to avoid voltage drop and also because these cables carry lethal levels of electric currents. Thus it is impractical to go inter-urban with these cables for safety and cost reasons.
One must admit that in Malta very few countryside vistas are impaired significantly because of these pylons, however it is good to develop a policy so that respective departments coordinate better and avoid having to reinstall poles which were not ideally placed initially.
Now that MEPA no doubt will undergo some badly needed changes in overall policy, it will be an opportune time to have some serious discussion along with other departments connected with the installation of these poles and pylons so that a policy will be developed and hopefully the right hand will know exactly what the left one is doing.
One thing emerges clearly. Recently more and more people have realized that in the past, we have not been so kind towards the environment and that it is time to share in the responsibility of preserving what we have – the very little of it, if I may add.
The only doubt in my mind is that there will always be a minority which does not give a hoot about the environment and a perfect example was when some 3,000 trees had been wantonly destroyed in Mellieha several months ago. However the rest of the public’s response was so gratifying!

Joe Martinelli
Via email

Open more routes from the German market

I’m not sure who decides the subsidies on certain airports to bring more business to Malta. One area that is really lacking is certain airports from Germany. I’m sure that if subsidies from certain airports from Germany are given, the amount of tourists to Malta would almost double. This would have a positive effect as Malta is too dependent on the British market.
For instance: Frankfurt-Hahn airport is over 120km away from Frankfurt city and would bring people from the Rhineland region rather than the Hesse region, where Frankfurt city is situated. Frankfurt-Hahn is a low-cost airport and would not hinder any traffic from Frankfurt Main (Flughaven) airport where Air Malta and Lufthansa operate. People who use Frankfurt-Hahn airport live in the far west of Germany, namely Rhein-Hunsruck Region. Malta is losing a big opportunity from this region, which is very wealthy. Meeting people from Rhein-Hunsruck region, many would not bother to go all the way to Frankfurt Main airport to catch a flight to Malta. They simply use Frankfurt Hahn airport, which is closer. It is not true that Lufthansa flights would be affected.
Another important destination is Dortmund airport. Again Malta is losing an important destination where lots of airlines use this airport profitably.
Perhaps negotiations with AirBerlin can be done in a way to get regular flights from Nurnberg, amongst other German cities all year round.
Palma del Mallorca was smart enough and managed to bring AirBerlin as a base there, offering more than 12 destinations in Germany. So imagine what Malta is losing! Why do we have to lag so far behind?
I hope this does not fall on deaf ears and that some action is taken before it is too late.

David Farrugia
Via email

John Bencini: a man for all seasons

I am 69 years of age, an ex-teacher and an ex-council member of the Malta Union of Teachers, where for 25 years I had the pleasure and honour to serve, among other posts, as its assistant organiser and for a time as one of its representations in the C.M.T.U Council. I served under the leadership of two distinguished presidents, i.e. Mr Abela Giglio and Mr Alfred Buhagiar. Both had one aim in common: to move forward the best interest of the union, and the innovation of Education. Yes, they had differences in tackling the harsh problems facing the union in their times. Yet they came out with flying colours.
I also know very well the current president Mr John Bencini and I can vouch for his integrity, solidarity, and dedication both to the union in general, and to the hundreds of individual teachers whose cases were handled personally by himself without any fees.
He followed two magnificent union leaders and he achieved great heights in his efforts to uphold the union’s principles. He was always straight-forward and to the point. He never budged when taking a difficult decision while also consulting the Council and all involved. He inspired the multitude of union members to move on and never look back.
He gave his full energy, self-dedication and untiring love to the union without reservations. He was and still is “Man for all seasons”.
He never wasted time on doubts and fears. His mission was always to help the council and all who were in need; to offer a helping hand and to ease the load; to cling to that which is good and true; to do the kind and friendly deed wherever the path in life may lead; to seize each chance that might come along, to meet a need and right a wrong, giving his utmost, his all, his best.

Victor Mario Abela,

Stop sending children to prison

We cannot but agree totally with Anna Mallia when she says, stop sending children to prison. Yes it is a shame when after investing so much money in somebody to get expertise in a chosen field this same expertise is discarded. It seems this only happens in Malta.
If Anna Mallia’s advise was taken so many years ago we would have been much better prepared when we started seeing younger and younger children breaking the law.
Having said all this we have to point out to Anna Mallia that she was wrong in stating that, and I quote, “ lobby groups have taken the stand against this gross injustice...”
May I point out that it was our organisation, Mid-Dlam ghad-Dawl, that issued a press release protesting against the incarceration of a thirteen-year-old girl immediately we found out this has happened. We did the same on the subsequent cases and we also organised a protest in front of the law courts for the same reason.
In fact we are sure that if we had not immediately made public the plight of these children the issue would not have caught the imagination of so many people.

George Busuttil
Mid-Dlam ghad-Dawl

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