MaltaToday | 13 April 2008 | LETTERS

LETTERS | Sunday, 13 April 2008

A Sauerkraut ambassador

I have read with great indignation the article regarding the recent appointment by the Malta Tourism Authority of Mr Rainer Mitze as Culinary Ambassador for Malta, published in the MaltaToday of last Sunday 30 March.
I do not want to discredit any of Mr Rainer Mitze’s culinary abilities, as it was myself who promoted Mr Mitze and his German cuisine on our national television station during a lunchtime programme way back in June 2006. However in my opinion this appointment is an obscene and a direct insult to all Maltese and Gozitans who have traditional and authentic Maltese cuisine at heart.
My sympathy and support goes for the Malta Cooking and Food Association and for the Malta Culinary Association and for their reaction to this serious matter, as also, I cannot but fully agree with all the comments of MCA president Mr Martin Camilleri.
In my opinion a foreigner born, bred and trained in the land of Sauerkraut, Kartoffelsalat, Bratwurst, Frankfurter, Hamburger, Kirschtorte and Stollen, is definitely the wrong choice as a representative of our traditional dishes.

Peter J. Dacoutros

More of the same?

I would never in a million years have believed the day would come when I would find myself agreeing with anything your contributor Michael Falzon opines. Being Maltese and a Christian to boot, I do tend to bear a grudge perpetually, and as a pre-1987 ex-Kalaxlokk “irregular” employee, I received the lion’s share of the then Minister’s quite unique brand of Nationalist “solidarity”. A transfer note on your desk with your morning coffee was quite a common occurence at the time, so it’s quite understandable that I usually steer clear of anything the man writes.
Still, he’s spot on in his article “Jason can order Joseph’s......” (30 March). Has Mr Falzon a hidden agenda? I don’t know and I surely will not be the one to judge. I do not profess any expert knowledge of the machinations of politics, there are enough fools doing just that at the moment, but I do know one thing; having spent the past 20 years under Nationalist rule, treated mostly as a second class citizen just for voting Labour, I am tired of another new would-be leader professing to be the next Messiah, faffing about with grandiose ideas of 15-year projects and suchlike. So, our new would-be leader is raring to go and who, might I ask, has this guy consulted before launching this Utopian vision? Is the man just intrinsically arrogant or was this king in the making being groomed in the wings for much longer than any of us mere mortals know? Do we have to take this “more of the same” unquestioningly? Any which way, this does not bode well for all those of us who do not believe they can ever have a place in the Nationalist party, but are steadily losing sight of what makes them Labourites.
It’s about time the people at the Hamrun glasshouse give the power back to its rightful owners - each and every Labour party supporter. We have suffered for their bad decisions and personal ambitions too many times, for far too long, and projecting Joseph Muscat as the “Second Coming” is only serving to further insult our intelligence, by arrogantly assuming what’s best for us. And why are people like Jason Micallef still clinging to their seats of power, after the huge balls-up of 8 March? After all, they can rest assured that “Hadd mhu ghar-rimi”, and they can always redress any injustice suffered at the now defunct “Tribunal ghall-Ingustizzji”, like the rest of us common folk. There are still too many old wounds festering in our people, too many hurts that were conveniently ignored for the sake of “good governance” in the short span that Labour was in power. As one true great visionary once said, “In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends”.
In my humble and probably scantily informed view, the trouble that has ailed the Labour party for the past years only boils down to one thing – ignoring our grassroots, conveniently forgetting where we came from, mistakenly assuming that just because the Labour party is still made up mainly of the working classes, we can be force fed the crap concocted by the wise men at Hamrun. And while the powers that be battle it out at the glasshouse, out here in the real world we are still suffering the consequences of misguided ‘visionaries’, who have ripped out our souls for the sake of a new style of doing politics and one which I am certain will surely not happen in a very long time, if ever.

Giselle Scicluna

Lidl says yes to irregularity?

With regard to the Lidl franchise being extended to Malta can I ask David Gatt, country manager for Lidl Malta, what steps they are taking to ensure that no stores are built on land Outside Development Zone as is the case with the proposed supermarket in Safi? Mr Gatt has stated in the press that Lidl aims to be a community supermarket. In reply to that statement can I just say that getting the community’s back up by supporting building irregularities is not a very good start to a good community relationship.
When quizzed about the controversy over the permit, Mr Gatt insisted that Lidl Malta is “in no way involved in the application process”. Not good enough Mr Gatt.
Construction magnate Charles Polidano, better known as ic-Caqnu made the application on your behalf. Once Lidl realised that irregularities had arisen in the application process, irregularities which we have to remember caused the resignation of a MEPA DCC board, they should have called a halt to the construction work and withdrawn their contract with Mr Polidano.
Rather than do that Mr Gatt has declared that Lidl Malta will still be opening its supermarket in Safi. Basically he is saying that: yes, the law was broken; yes irregularities occurred, but we’ve cleverly got away with it by passing the blame onto the constructor and MEPA.
It would appear that Mr Gatt and Lidl have realised at a very early stage how things work in Malta.

James A. Tyrrell
Larne, County Antrim,
N. Ireland

The PfP and NATO

When I read or hear something about neutrality in these days I laugh, but then I say to myself: are the people who demonstrate and write about our Constitution, and carry placards depicting the US as the world’s evil, serious? Or they have a hidden agenda? Their actions show that they are not neutral themselves.
Let for one moment say that our country is neutral, but neutral between what nations. They never tell us. The times of the Soviet Union, and Breshnev and Krushchev, are history now. The Berlin Wall has collapsed, and what’s left in the world is marxist Cuba and that eccentric North Korean dictator who are a bit of a headache in this world, but they are very far away, although distances are shortened nowadays, and that is perhaps why we need somebody to assist us in time of need.
Recently our government has reapplied for membership to join the PfP, which Dr Alfred Sant had ignored and withdrew from along with the application of the EU in 1996. A few individuals had came out in the streets shouting and carrying placards against it, some saying that our soldiers are going to war.
What is wrong with joining the PfP organisation? This organisation is not going to war, as far that I know this was set up in Europe to help other Nations in case of strife, but it couldn’t do this without some help from NATO. Nearly all European nations are in it, and so is Russia in it.
So perhaps it’s because NATO is involved. But NATO is a defensive military organisation, not an aggressive one, and I never knew that NATO had ever attacked anybody. But on the contrary: perhaps its existence was the only reason that peace reigned in Europe since the end of the second great war. With pleasure today one can see Russian ministers and generals in its Brussels headquarters. I am very pleased to hear that the Labour Party is willing to talk about amending this outdated part of our Constitution. After all everybody knows how it was entrenched. Hoping that a new leader of this party will see the same thing.

Joseph Muscat

The return of the eminence grise

I wonder what prompted Mr Schembri to write such a glowing report on RCC (MaltaToday, 30 March 2008). 
We need the likes of RCC who does not believe in pussyfooting around. Maybe we should have a few clones to get things going.  
I am sure Mr Schembri made RCC’s day!

Joe Martinelli
London, Ontario

Message or messenger?

What lessons are we to learn from the electoral results? When we use the word “politics” within the context of our elections what do we really mean, or after all, expect? When the five-year itch comes along how deeply do we scratch below the surface before making our choices? What about all this criticism of mud-slinging?
In the first place the political arena is not necessarily a showpiece of all that is good and great in our country (world?). Similarly we all know that vast swathes of the electorate vote one way or the other for all the wrong reasons (or right reasons, subjectively speaking). Furthermore the content of the alleged mud is often such as slips off without sticking, or on the contrary,is quite simply ignored. In some instances the mud itself has led to the individual MP receiving even more votes due to the “miskin” syndrome. Be that as it may, it comes with the territory and so be it!
The party in opposition is in duty bound to oppose. Part of this role necessitates the criticism of measures taken or positions held by individuals in the Government or potential MPs. Likewise, the Government can criticise the opposition at will. Put simply, the actual act of criticism is at the very basis of democracy and forms part of its essence. The manner in which this criticism is carried out is another matter, and it is here that the issue of mud-slinging arises.
What, in retrospect, has to be examined is whether the criticism levied was justified and whether there were any untruths. When the MLP was criticised for its mere mention of the possibility of re-discussing part of the EU package, was the criticism justified? When the PN was criticised by the MLP for allegedly making sure that last-minute MEPA permits were issued. was this correct? Where was the truth in the VAT on education matter? Were university students hoodwinked by the PN on the stipends issue? Why was the MLP vote in favour of Smart City repeatedly and conveniently forgotten? Why was the comment on the PN’s DNA made such an issue of? Should the Prime Minister have been crucified in the same way for his ridiculous five bulb offer? Was the MLP correct in its criticism of the ineptitude of certain ministers or was this just blatant mud-slinging? Time has already given us some answers and some voters must be feeling the proverbial egg on their faces by now!
Now that the dust has settled it is time to take stock. Keeping in mind the huge impact the EU issue had on the previous election and the fact that a number of issues relating to good governance were the supposed basis of this election, the one obvious fact that should worry us all is that a large number of the electorate really did not bother to vote, or chose not to vote. Needless to say to choose not to vote is a choice in itself, but it is not what we ought to hope for. A clear choice for the Government or the Opposition would have been more desirable but instead, the marginal victory to the PN is also a clear sign to the Government that all is not well. This message also applies to the Opposition in that its message of the necessity of change did not get through to enough people.
The impression I get is that in the minds and hearts of the electorate is seems that it is not the message which is important, but how this I portrayed and put forward. No more and no less.
Message or messenger?

Simon Micallef Stafrace

Introduction of parole

I would agree with the introduction of parole only if justified court sentences are given according to the crime committed. Prisoners guilty of first degree murder and most importantly those guilty of premeditated murder should not be eligible for parole. After all, we the relatives of the victims (in our case our dearest brother Brian Rosso murdered 10 October 2005), have to continue living the rest of our lives heartbroken with the sad loss of our beloved brother together with that of our Father John Rosso (who passed away 12 February 2006) after the shock of this tragedy.

Malu Rosso
Via email

Sad day for Gonzi

Thursday March 27 must have been a sad day for Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi. As the person taking responsibility for the Malta Evironment Planning Authority, two different websites must have caught his eye with their stories, named:
“Confirmed cases of abuse at Mepa were ‘buried and forgotten’”, carried on the; and “Curia’s Environment Commission voices concerns”.
These two stories must have hinted (not to say confirmed) that not all is so well in Mepa, aptly described by the Environment Commission within the Archbishop’s Curia, as the entity that was ultimately established as a guardian of our natural heritage.
Still in the first 100 days of regaining his leading role at Castille, and putting Mepa with his portofolio, the Prime Minister should really be looking forward to see what the outcome will be of the police investigation regarding the case of the permit issued for the building of a night club in a highly sensitive ecological site owned by the Nationalist Party MP Dr Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando.
I must admit that there is a legal procedure to be honoured before anybody could be found guilty, and till then the legal omen opts to consider such persons as innocent, though what is coming to surface one day after another really stinks.
But undoubtedly what the Environment Commission within the Archbishop’s Curia and Mepa auditor Prof. Joe Falzon had to say regarding the very dubious way in which Mepa was functioning lately, give much to be pondered on.
All the cases mentioned in the Curia’s Environment Commission statement are very senstive: the Sant’ Antnin recycling plant, the Safi Supermarket and the Mistra “disco” or building project.
As a resident of Marsaskala, I feel I have the right to know what will happen now regarding the Sant’Antnin recycling plant. This unfortunately happens to be in a very advanced stage. Are the Government and Opposition to give their blessing to that which seems not to have been done in the right way? Are there going to be two weights and two measures? If action is taken that might lead to the reversal of the permit issued regarding the Mistra project and Safi supermarket, would it be us, the “Skalin”, to be discriminated and have to bear all the brunt, remaining burdened with a project which from the start raised a lot of doubts and was carried out with no environmental impact assessment to put the Marsaskala residents’ (and nearby localities’) minds at rest? Time will tell.
Just a final observation: time will also tell whether what was being said by the Labour Party was “mudslinging” or the truth, and nothing but the truth.

Saviour Cachia,

Car tax reform

The EU has made it clear to Malta that its car taxation system should be changed. Word is being spread that new cars shall be cheaper. Such reform is welcome. However, the issue goes beyond this.  
One hopes that government will not counterbalance any projected shortfalls in revenue on car tax by adding burdens on low and middle-income earners whose purchasing power is limited.
Government can make up for any shortfall of revenue through progressive means, for example by increasing taxation on luxury cars which consume excessive amounts of fuel and by taxing persons who own an excessive amount of cars for private use, over and above a reasonable and just maximum number set by Government.
Any attempt to boost car sales won’t cut CO2 emissions in the long run. The best solution to cut emissions is to tackle the issue holistically, thus also including a reform in public transport. Over the last years, the number of cars on our roads has increased significantly while the use of public modes of transportation has declined. The State should assume greater responsibility in ensuring accessible, cheaper and efficient public transport, which in the long run should provide the best solution against pollution and traffic congestion.

Michael Briguglio
obo Zminijietna

Confusing political scenario

Known to one and all, there is a confusing political scenario reigning supreme over our tiny Republic. The political sovereign, alias the electorate, is confused because over 50% voted against a Nationalist administration governing our country.
The elected representatives are equally confused because the MLP obtained numerically a majority of seats in the House of Representatives, and GonziPN have ended up obtaining legally more Seats with persons whom the electorate did not elect!
There is great discontent within the PN due to the manner the election result materialised; furthermore, a number were not pleased with the Cabinet as nominated by the primus inter pares: (my opinion is that Dr Gonzi made a wise choice which could have done with a bit more pruning - thank you for bearing in mind the welfare of our nation).
There is amazement within the Labour Party, which should now alter its name to reflect Modern Malta in its divergent work and social hues, that its Leader called it a day and resigned in the wake of the confusing election result outcome though before the complete electoral picture was known. This was a premature resignation.
Labour should have called a Mass Meeting by way of a civilized “Thank You” to the 48.7% voting for their party. All the barking dogs ran away, leaving dear Michael Falzon to face the Naxxar tension on his own.
Confusion is equally in the air as to who will be the MLP’s next leader while the “Hosanna’d” Alfred of a mere few days earlier has already become history emphasising the fickleness of humanity. The leaders of two of the smaller parties, who however forked equally substantial sums in their electoral campaign, fizzled out almost on the heels of Dr Sant: no wonder the political sovereign is shaking its electoral head and raising eyebrows, wondering whether our politicians are only after parliamentary privileges and the quest for power !
Some of the much smaller fry who barely got a mention throughout the Election Campaign are still there, ready to give their small but significant contribution. However, the electorate is deeply disillusioned as no one has won and no one has lost in the circumstances. Hence with a minority Government, the views of the majority Opposition cannot go unheeded.
A National Conference should be called in due time to analyze the quixotic outcome of Malta`s 2008 General Elections. The political sovereign has an imperative right to know why their democratic wishes were not respected and this under the fictional guise of a legal canopy.

Emmy Bezzina

Spring hunting – the killing fields

It is written that sweet spring, full of special days and flowers, is the year’s pleasant king. However, I wonder: will the countless migrating birds which have the misfortune to pass over the Maltese islands think so highly of this royalty? For this detested sport of hunting – that owes its pleasures to another’s pain –is I daresay rather similar to a war, only without any of the guilt attached. It is remarkable that only humans hunt for sport, as animals only do so to survive. Perversely, it is only “civilised countries where so-called hunters go hunting on a full stomach, and with apologies to Oscar Wilde it is a case of the unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable! Especially apposite in Malta.
It is my submission that this indiscriminate massacre will continue unabated courtesy of under-nourished enforcement of regulations, dare I say complicity, and that we shall rather resemble the clocks in our attitude – whereby we spring forward, only to fall back.
I will leave you to ponder on an obituary I once read, where a hunter made his column through a confusion of ideas between him and his quarry. For he thought the lion was dead and the lion thought it wasn’t! It is manifestly apparent that vice does indeed pay homage to virtue.

Peter Murray

Pacifying the hunters

We do not need to wait for the EU Court to tell us what to do; we can do it by ourselves.
With just a part of one sitting in parliament, we can solve this long-dragging problem. It should have been solved a long time ago – we had 65 MPs to solve it, now we are paying for 69 MPs. They have to take an “open” vote; so no danger of destabilising the present government’s mandate; and no more hiding behind political parties, and no more “secret” promises. This “open” blackmail has to stop by an “open” vote.
If the licensed hunters (the ones officially authorised to carry shotguns) are 16,000 then they represent more than 4% of the Maltese population. The 1.2 million tourists are not included in the equation; that could be unacceptable to the hunters. So if the hunters represent about 4% of the Maltese population they should be allowed to use 4% of the countryside. The remaining 96% of the countryside should be free and accessible to the remaining 96% of the Maltese population. No EU interference and no tourists’ interference. Just a simple decision by our Parliament.
Nobody must assume the right to dictate to the hunters. They have their rights and the power to represent those rights very democratically; in fact the election result have shown that power very clearly. Hunting must not be abolished completely. Hunting is the traditional occupation of all those people who needed to hunt if they wanted to have food on their table. It seems that over many decades neither the MLP nor the PN have succeeded in eliminating this “hunger” poverty. A very satisfactory solution for all can be reached very easily in our Parliament. The hunters will be authorised to use 4% of the countryside, and the rest of the Maltese population will have access to the remaining 96%. If the 1.2 million tourists do not approve of this they have a choice. Do we have a choice?
R. Debono

Ultimate responsibility

The Prime Minister bears and carries the full and ultimate responsibility for whatever happens in government. Ministers are all nominated and handpicked by him alone. The success or failure in their field of ministry will affect all the citizens of this country, both Nationalists of Labourites. So every citizen wants to have an efficient and progressive government. Let us then all hope for a better future to our islands and its citizens.
 I knew the Prime Minister quite well from the time he was the Speaker of Parliament. He is likeable, intelligent and a very shrewd person. I used to compare him with his uncle the Archbishop Gonzi. Last term he had the ministers selected by his predecessor whom he left in place. This did not make him any less responsible for the deeds done by all the team, both ministers and members. His position dictated and had the ultimate responsibility for whatever happened in the government and country.
So it is quite strange for me to see that some individuals the Prime Minister appointed as part of his team, have dubious and questionable past dealings. This when he did have others from whom to choose. The Prime Minister knows and has the reasonability to his own credibility. If he loses this credibility, then all the country loses face. To start a new chapter is well enough, but still, the Prime Minister cannot shed off any past happenings that are dubious and very much in the news.
Mepa has been on every person’s agenda. Citizens from all sectors of political life, have questioned its ambiguous rulings. The minister responsible couldn’t possibly not have known what was occurring. If he continues to deny what everyone in these islands knew, then this definitely makes him incapable of any form of authority. Let alone a ministry. If he knew, then that makes him an accomplice. Either way he didn’t have good and efficient management in his ministry. The Prim Minister couldn’t possibly not have been informed, when this issue was on the talking agenda of all the population. In fact he promised that he would take this office under his own wing. His takeover of Mepa only means an admission by the Prime Minister that not all was well. This in itself creates a vote of no confidence in the previous minister.
Yet it was very confusing for the Prime Minister to confirm the same ministerial appointment to the same person, with the exception of Mepa. This for me only means that all the past is forgotten as if nothing happened. The people definitely do not agree with this. On the contrary, the citizens expect full and clear cut transparency of every past dealings. As Prime Minister, the buck stops with him.
The Member of Parliament involved in the Mistra controversy – and it appears clearly that the Nationalist Party want to get rid of him now – is causing a dilemma for his own party. The Nationalist Party can disown him. Nobody can make this person resign his seat from Parliament, not even the Prime Minister  
This creates a very complicated aspect for the Nationalist Party. Say his party washes its hands of him. He can then be on his own in Parliament, and thus will be able to hold the Government to ransom at whatever time he wants.
This is my belief of what is holding the Nationalist Party back from being more aggressive in its dealings with the individual concerned. But above all, it’s the Prime Minister who bears the ultimate responsibility. It will be his credibility on the line, not the member’s. This saga still has to unfold. The Prime Minister can delay the issue for some time, but not forever.
Eyebrows were also raised by the reappointment of the Mepa board after their resignation, days before the election. The number of cases seen and approved by this board before the elections raised further controversy. The number of 2,500 ODZ permits issued during the past years has to be reviewed by an independent board acceptable to both sides of the House. Only by creating this board can the public be appeased by the findings.
The Prime Minister already started on the wrong foot with the Opposition and people by deciding to join the PFP without any consolation. The government definitely will want to have a workable parliament, which all citizens want. Surely this decision was not the one of how to start the new legislation. Lets all hope for the best.
Lino DeBono

Towering Lija

I write in my capacity as the architect responsible for the development referred in article entitled Four Storey block set to dwarf Lija belvedere, (MaltaToday, Sunday 13 April 2008) where it is alleged that the permit in question was issued just four days before the election. It is to be pointed out at the onset of this letter that this statement is manifestly untrue, since the permit in question was issued by the DCC on Thursday, August 23, 2007, that is more than six months prior to the General Election. This certainly  can be verified from a close look at the MEPA website. We therefore fail to understand why the article is stating that the permit was issued just four days before the election.
In all fairness, the article in question  admits that the development under examination accords to the provisions of the approved Local Plan for the area, which permits building heights up to three storeys overlying a semi basement and overlying receded floor. It seems however that the Lija local council is taking exception to the contents of the approved Local Plan for the area.  
May I point out that this local plan had been endorsed by the minister on the 3 August 2006 as per Article 27(2) of the Development Planning Act 2001 and is deemed to remain valid for a minimum period of two years (that is until 3 August 2008). Any changes to this Local Plan can ONLY be effected after the minimum period of two years following final approval by the Minister, and such review of the Plan will be undertaken within the legal provisions of the Development Planning Act.
It is to be noted at this stage that applicant applied for his permit on the 20 September 2006 after the Local Plan in question had been approved.
The Local Plan under attack which allows three storeys overlying a semi basement and an overlying receded floor has been devised in general conformity with the Structure Plan, following  the Report of Survey (Nov, 2000) and the Public Consultation Draft (Jun, 2002) which I understand has been formally communicated to the Lija Local Council prior to the formal finalization of the said Local Plan.
 It was only after MEPA analysed the comments and submissions received from the  geenral public (presumably including those of the  same Lija Local Council which today is questioning the development), that the local plan was eventually approved by the Minister on the 3 August 2006.
This infers that MEPA had ample opportunity to designate otherwise the height limitation of the area if it had a different opinion. Yet MEPA nonetheless has today officially endorsed the height limitation of the indicated area as three floors and a receded floor at roof level, plus semi basement. Consequently there is no point in debating further and the permit that was issued is in congruence with this limitation of floors. Case-law is in fact consistent, unequivocally stating that the Structure Plan is a legal instrument which acknowledges that once a local plan for any particular area has been approved applications in that particular area  to be considered in the light of what is specified in that particular local plan covering the area.
It is imperative for me to point out at this stage for the benefit for those people who are not conversant with the significance of a local structure plan to define its importance.
 The Structure Plan was a measure urgently required to control development way back in early 1990. However, the authorities recognised that  for a local plan to be effective it was necessary that a more in-depth study of each particular area was carried out prior to the plan being made in order to determine the particular needs of each area, and thus address the  best way for  development requirements.
Those studies took almost 16 years to complete, but once completed and the relative local plans were approved, it is only natural that each local plan has addresses the particular requirements of each particular area in much greater detail and with much more attention to the individual circumstances of that area than the Structure Plan itself.
Hence once a local plan has been approved, it becomes absolutely illegal for MEPA to identify further additional views, and suddenly impose further restrictions which are not specifically highlighted in the local plan. In fact, case law is consistent, indicating that the Structure Plan is a legal instrument which acknowledges that once a local plan for any particular area has been approved applications in that particular area are to be considered in the light of what is specified in the local plan. This signifies that all planning decisions are to be based on the approved building heights in the relative maps contained in the Local Plans as underlined in all planning decisions. (vide decision PAB 224/04 ISB. PA 0597/02 to corroborate this rationale).  
John Citizen is entitled to base his financial projections and decisions on a particular development upon the existing framework of legislation. It would be manifestly unjust if it were possible to have a legislation retroactively  in such a manner as to prejudice individual applications already processed. This is synonomous with the general principle at law of lex non habet oculus retro. This certainly would be a throwback to Medieval times when the absolute monarch had the power of life and death over each of his subjects, immaterially of what the law stated.
Fortunately things have changed since then and the Constitution of Malta and the European Convention of Fundamental Human Rights have a lot to say on this matter where in the rights of John Citizen are protected.
Any arising issues now being pointed out by the Lija council and the HAC, and which could have a planning bearing on this application, should have been addressed before the local plan was formally approved. The Lija local council and the HAC may request any changes to the current local plan only after 3 August 2008, after which it would be legally possible for MEPA to effect any amendments to all current local plans if deemed opportune, following a public consultation process. Until then, ALL planning decisions must be taken according to the existing legislative framework regulated by the approved local plans.

Robert Musumeci

Editorial Note:
MaltaToday’s story was true to the facts.
The permit was issued on March 4 2008.
Before that date no development could take place in this sensitive location a few metres away from a Grade 1 historical monument.
The report did not dispute the fact that the development abides to the local plan but it also noted the serious objections of the local council and MEPA’s own Heritage Advisory Committee.

Citizens’ safety first

I had never understood why we tend to compare everything with abroad and use this sort of inferiority complex to put forward our arguments. Take, for example, recent articles written on various newspapers regarding a weaker stance towards criminals. The argument seemed to revolve around the fact that such practices had been introduced in countries like England and proved to be a massive success. With all due respect but we are talking here about a nation which, according to UN reports (2002), had been considered as having the worst criminality rate amongst the world’s leading economies. Therefore I wonder what success such new ideas had brought in and why we should implement such ideas in a system which had guaranteed relatively low criminality rates for decades.
While I do value human rights and the idea of giving people a second chance, I believe that peace of mind and safety to honest citizens should always be given first priority. We should consider ourselves very lucky to live a country where it is not the norm for our students to carry weapons in their bags and where home secretaries are not afraid of walking in the streets of Valletta at night. That is a luxury that more ‘advanced’ countries may not have, a luxury which we have to do all that it takes to preserve.

Cleo Zarb
Via email

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