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LETTERS | Sunday, 04 May 2008

Ghajnsielem mayor replies

I am writing with reference to an article published in MaltaToday, 27 April 2008, entitled “Court confirms Ghajnsielem local council illegalities”.
This article contains various false allegations made both in respect of the Ghajnsielem local council as well in respect of myself, on a personal basis.
The purpose of the present letter is to rebut the allegations made therein in my respect.
Therefore, I would like to stress out that:
All decisions made by the local council in respect of the appointment of executive secretary in 2000 were made by the local council, as a whole, and not by myself personally. So much so that I was not even personally present for the voting of approval by the local council of the said executive secretary;
Decisions were taken by the local council in utter good faith and with no intention to accommodate one person and disadvantage another;
At no point of the court proceedings instituted by Adriana Gatt Terribile against the local council, did I state that in my opinion, Bibiana Sultana did not have the necessary qualifications for the post of executive secretary;
It is not true that the local council contempted the court, as alleged in your article, and it is not true that proceedings shall be taken against the local council in this respect. Contrarily to this, the court refused Gatt Terribile’s application made with regards to contempt of court by the local council.
Furthermore, all allegations made about the local council issuing unauthorised wages and unauthorized expenses are completely untrue.

Francis Cauchi
Ghajnsielem Mayor

Editorial note:
The Gozo court sentence against the Ghajnsielem council speaks for itself, irrespective of Mr Cauchi’s declarations. MaltaToday stands by its story.


Gozo, a law unto itself

Reading this report in your paper (“Court confirms Ghajnsielem Council irregularities”) brought memories of my plight to purchase and refurbish a place in Gozo.
Whilst not entering in the merits of the mentioned case, I can confirm that things are done very differently in Gozo. When the right moment arrives, I will tell the world what I had to endure and go through to finish the property. Just a taste: stop order by MEPA, file sent to the auditor, lost receipt, lost file, etc.
I am not afraid of libels. Nothing and no one is going to intimidate me! One other thing, I am waiting for a court sentence by the Gozo Court in a case instituted against me. Whatever the decision I will not give up!

Charles Agius
Marsaskala

Marlene, I agree and disagree

Reference to the interview James Debono had with the new Labour MP, Marlene Pullicino, titled “The dame in Labour’s castle”.
Undoubtedly, Hon. Pullicino is a typical example how persons born with Labour blood in their veins, even if for sometime they might be astray from their traditional family political party, can come back in the party in a very convincing manner.
I congratulate Hon. Pullicino on her success in the March 8 elections, and always in stating openly that: “George Abela is the best person to portray the MLP as everybody’s party”.
In endorse also two declarations made by Hon. Pullicino, which I am quoting verbatim:
1) “I want Labour to be open, positive, proactive, and constructive enough to earn the perception of a worthwhile alternative government”.
2) “I want the party to publicly acknowledge the good that Mintoff did in the 1970s and early 1980s, and to rehabilitate his image as the pioneer of the nation as we know it. The same applies to people like Lino Spiteri”.
So far, so good. I am with Hon. Pullicino hands down. Perhaps the bone of contention is where she spoke about divorce.
Like the Hon. Pullicino, I am Roman Catholic. I know the teaching of the Church that marriage is indissoluble. But I have a big reservation about the latter.
I respect Hon. Pullicino’s opinion and could not expect her or other MPs, perhaps on both sides of the House of Representatives, to fall in line with me where divorce is concerned. But I have always maintained that the House of Representatives is a lay institution and is not formed by members of the clergy. So despite their own beliefs, I expect members of parliament to view the issue more as persons elected by the people to serve the people, and not as persons elected by the people to serve the Church.
I stress that the issue of divorce is something continually piling pressure on the members of the House of Representatives, and it is time that parliament took a definite step about it. Therefore I expect that such a motion should be put forward jointly by the Government and Opposition, and then every member is given a free vote to declare himself according to his conscience or the immediate needs of our lay and different denominations that forms Maltese society today.
I have nothing against the traditional family, but still feel that the State is in duty bound to find solution for all those couples whose marriage did not work out, as they might have wished “to live happily every after”.
These persons have every right to expect that the State enact laws that would permit them another chance, rather than force them to cohabitate when up to now, matters are not that equal and protective, especially towards the female gender.
Hon. Pullicino: way back in the 1960s, the famous six points put forward by former MLP leader Dom Mintoff were something that raised hell in Malta and Gozo. As Labour militants and true crusaders of democracy and freedom of expression, we resisted despite all the moral and physical pressure put on us.
Finally the light at the end of the tunnel was seen and the local Roman Catholic Church, enlightened by what developed in the Vatican Council called by “il papa buono Giovanni XXIII”, finally become more tolerant and a peace pact between Dom Mintoff and Archbishop Michael Gonzi was sealed.
Hon. Pullicino, times do changes and years must have taught me that you should never say never. Sorry to stress it again, you are a secular representative of the people, not an ordained religious person.
Shall we say that civil separation is enough to alleviate the plight of those couples who might feel in distress because of the situation in their marriage?

Saviour Cachia
Marsascala


The malignant growth in our society

One does not necessarily need to be a professional columnist to write to the media and give a small contribution in support of the political party one believes in. Nevertheless we would not be true to ourselves if we failed to admit that, besides trying to promote the political principles that we truly believe in, we should also give due consideration to our own image and try to look professional. When we are expressing our beliefs, deep down we also strive to win the respect of others and to be perceived as credible.
We would like people to evaluate us as credible, intelligent, professional, equitable, sensitive to fair play, and above all champions of respect for other people’s intelligence and the attendant human dignity related to those of different credos.
Prompted by our self-esteem, we try to entrench these values in our character and hope that other exponents will also put them into practice when responding to others. When any of the basic decencies is absent we ought to register our disgust and refrain from lowering our standards to hit out at the insensitive writer. It should make us happy to note that this approach is not rare as many contributors I know are conscious of these values and generally share these principles.
Value judgments are very difficult to avoid for those with strong beliefs like some of us have. However, we must strive to minimise our bias and base our arguments on facts which can be checked and proved. Sorrowfully that goal is not always attained.
The few columnists that are generally the diametric opposition of the two camps are different due to reasons that contain a low level of self-esteem, instability as well as an obsession to project a superlative protective image of their political idols and in the process feel safe, being their protégés. However, sometimes their demonstrated political agenda is only a camouflage and their true inspiration is the by-product of a sinister conspiracy which make them look on their perceived opponents as prospective émigrés.
It is however a sad fact that we are not the only place on earth plagued with this illness. Some people would love to have a person to hate and although the agitators are seldom lauded, their spectators are easily influenced. Hence the result of violence on television contributing to the high level of crime worldwide.
Our local notorious hate mongers do not need us to tell them the obvious as they are well aware of the negative and weak elements in the human race. They are also aware that although the bad guys in the movies are not applauded by the picture-goers, their fame, financial rewards and other benefits are nothing less than those enjoyed by the good guys and possibly more lucrative. Like the bad guy in the movie, the gutter level writers play their role, even though they are aware that their performance is the unenviable role of the villain.
For some, the benefits derived from defending the wrongdoings of the powerful incumbents justify the means; but that is immoral and puts our moral standards in serious jeopardy.

Charles J. Buttigieg
Mellieha

Fighting violence in schools

Everyone, especially people who working in education, are deeply worried about reports of violence at schools. Violence is unacceptable everywhere, but more so at the places where our children are taught human values of tolerance, altruism and mutual respect.
It is everyone’s duty to do his but so that violence never rears its ugly head, especially in our schools.
Perhaps not everyone is aware that besides local legislation dealing with the problem, there also exists a “Framework Agreement on Harassment and Violence at Work”. This is an EU-sponsored agreement between European employers and trade unions, which after difficult negotiations was finally signed in Brussels on 26 April 2007. During my time at CMTU I had the honour to be the Maltese workers’ representative on the negotiating team of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC). The Maltese employers’ representative was from the Federation of Industry (FOI). This agreement is based on various EU directives and though not legally binding on member states it is the responsibility of the local social partners to exert pressure on their governments to implement it.
The text of the Agreement can be found here (.pdf).
I invite all Maltese trade unions and especially in this case our union, The Malta Union of Teachers (MUT), to study the agreement and together with Maltese employers’ associations, exert pressure on the Maltese government to implement it. This should help in no small way to tackle the problem not only in schools but also any other workplaces.

Anthony Micallef Debono
Sliema


A right royal reply

In your paper’s edition of last Sunday 20 April 2008, you carried a report on page 3 entitled “Court refuses to settle faux nobles’ chivalric feud”.
Apart from a brief reference to the court judgement in the case instituted by me against Carmel (Sandro) Calleja and David Formosa, against which an appeal is being lodged, the rest of the report is a rehash of another report published in your paper on 23 May 2007. Under the title “Royal aspirations”, you had reported as follows:
“Alfred Baldacchino was last Monday morning the centre of attraction at the law courts when he tried to justify his newly-donned identity before Magistrate Anna Demicoli as… Sovereign Prince Grand Master of the Ordo Byzantinus Sancti Sepulchri... The claim is being challenged by another pretender to the throne, former Nationalist Party Candidate ‘Count’ Carmel Sandro Calleja… (who) claims he has been appointed Regent until a blood successor assumes his rights over the Order.”
Last Sunday’s report repeats the same slanted version of events regarding my legal and documented rights and Calleja’s baseless pretensions.
Last year I was not in Court to justify my “newly-donned identity”, but to give evidence in the Case “Police Vs. Carmel Calleja”. Calleja stands accused by the Police of having falsified a document, of having made use of this false document for personal gain, and of having made use of this document before a public officer.
The Document referred to is a letter allegedly signed by the late Grand Duke Dimitrij di Russia and published on the Internet in an unauthorised website – after the death of the Grand Duke, when he could not challenge it – stating that I had been expelled from the Order (OBSS) and that Carmel (Sandro) Calleja had been appointed Vicar Grand Master for life and Regent ad interim of the Order.
As you well know, comment is free but facts are sacred. The facts are as follows:
1. During the court sitting of Thursday 15 March 2007, a court-appointed expert testified under oath that this document was, without any doubt, a computer generated fake and as such a false document. So much for Calleja’s credentials.
2. During the court sitting of Monday 21 May 2007, a court official testified under oath that Carmel (Sandro) Calleja had presented the said false document in the court registry, in connection with case No. 482/5005 (Alfred J. Baldacchino vs. Carmel Sandro Calleja and David Formosa).
These two witnesses have thus established beyond any doubt that: Carmel Sandro Calleja can no longer lay claim to being Vicar Grand Master ad vitam and Regent of OBSS, because his credentials are false; that Calleja had made use of a false document before a public officer, an offence which carries a possible prison sentence.
If your paper was interested in reporting the truth, you would have reported the above facts, and not merely that “Calleja claims he had been appointed Regent”. But seeing that this is the fourth time you have featured this story, always biased against me, it has become patently obvious that you have a political agenda to denigrate me at all costs. This is tantamount to character assassination.
Your closing comment about my family is superfluous and further confirms your personal bias against me, for reasons which I fail to comprehend.

Prof. Alfred J. Baldacchino
Valletta


In defence of MUT general secretaries

In a recent 10-minute interview on TVM Programme “Reporter”, Anthony Micallef Debono, who I believe is contesting two posts for the next MUT Council, thought it fit to refer to the position of general secretary of the Malta Union of Teachers as a “glorified clerk”.
To teachers this unfair and unjust statement is, of course, not a gullible one and is indeed in bad taste. Throughout its almost 90 years of history, the MUT has always employed general secretaries of stature, who have always shown a deep sense of leadership, direction, integrity and who have given proof of hard work, negotiating skills, dedication and responsibility.
However the very vast majority of those who might have followed this programme and listened to Mr Micallef Debono’s shocking remarks and who are “outsiders” to the MUT have been given a totally distorted picture. Mr Micallef Debono – a former MUT Council Member and a former teacher, now a Head of School – is fully aware that his statement is very far from the truth and so, one wonders what’s behind such an uncalled for remark.

G. Camilleri
Hamrun

Many thanks

May I express our sincere thanks to the two choirs who sang at St Paul’s in aid of the Organ Restoration Appeal: the New Choral Singers from Malta and Dodecantus from UK, sponsored by Bentley Trust Ltd.
We must also thank the many who filled the cathedral to listen to their most enjoyable performance, and donated generously.
Thanks to the generous sponsoring by Mr Bill Hermitage of Delicata Wineries, and Mr Robert Zammit of Café Caravaggio, the enjoyable evening continued with a reception at the Café in St John’s Square, for which we are extremely grateful.

Michael Turner
Valletta


Nicholas Azzopardi: Police denial

With reference to the report which was published in MaltaToday on Sunday, 27April 2008, we declare that contrary to what was claimed, the Police immediately informed the public with what had happened and this through two press statements issued on 9 April 2008.
Secondly, they took the steps required in terms of the law. The facts show that the legal proceedings of a magisterial inquiry led by Magistrate Dr Anthony Vella were taken immediately.
The proceedings of the above-mentioned ‘process verbal’ followed their normal course, the relative evidence was presented, including the testimony of the deceased Nicholas Azzopardi, which testimony was given directly to the inquiring Magistrate in the absence of other witnesses and persons.
At no stage of the proceedings have resulted to the Police Corps the allegations of beatings or throwing of people which were mentioned in the above-mentioned report in MaltaToday.
The Police Corps have faith in the investigating Magistrate and in view of the fact that this is at an advanced stage, we will wait for the result of this inquiry and reserve the right to take the necessary steps according to the results as we have always done.

WPC 101 Roberta Grima
On behalf of the Commissioner of Police
Floriana


Disgusting abuse of power

No sooner has this government got back into power than the abuse of that power began again. It was announced last Thursday that “acting on behalf of the Prime Minister, the President of Malta has directed the Hon. Giovanna Debono BA (Educ.), MP, Minister for Gozo, to assume the additional duties of Prime Minister with effect on Thursday, 3 April, 2008, during absence of the Hon. Lawrence Gonzi, KUOM, LLD. MP”
And what is the first act of the Acting Prime Minister? She approved the expropriation of a strip of land in Nadur, Gozo, right in front of her own driver and relatives’ houses! Lying within a building scheme, the piece of land at Bishop Cocco Palmieri Street is owned by at least seven families and if developed, the result would be an obstruction of the present view enjoyed by Giovanna’s driver and the Minister’s relatives.
This case first arose back in 2004 when a belvedere was mysteriously built in the area known as Ta’ Truppu in Nadur. This meant that the families who own the land could not apply to MEPA for a development permit, as it would have been refused, claiming that the belvedere would have been ruined. It should be noted that the belvedere was declared by a court in 2004 to be irregular and built on private property.
However, governmental authorities opposed the court sentence, appealing at every stage in a bid to prolong the execution of the decision. Every single court case since 2004 was decided in favour of the families. Indeed they were told by Magistrate Paul Coppini in 2004 that they had the right to remove the railing and lampposts and return them to the local council and build a wall to indicate the boundary of their property on the belvedere itself.
This work was to be carried out on 1 March 2008 and to be supervised by an architect appointed by the court. However on 22 February, the Lands Commissioner asked the court to postpone the execution of the sentence because of the proximity to the local council elections. This was granted and a new date was set for Saturday 5 April 2008 to remove the belvedere and erect boundary walls.
In a move worthy of a banana republic, literally just hours before the court order was to be executed, the families received a notice that the land, which was “irregularly” taken and turned into a belvedere, will now be taken over by the state, depriving the families of the right to build their own houses on it. To say that this is a disgusting abuse of power by someone who was in the role of Acting Prime Minister is an understatement. If this was carried out by Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe we would take it for granted, but should such actions be tolerated on Gozo? I hereby ask the Prime Minister whether this fits in with his pre-election promises and what he intends to do about it.

James A. Tyrrell
Northern Ireland


MTA feels the heat

I refer to Mr Stephen Cassar’s letter, “Nonchalant MTA” carried in the 27 April edition of MaltaToday. I wish to point out, first and foremost, that the comments in the article Mr Cassar refers to were first of all badly misquoted and secondly taken entirely out of context. The Malta Tourism Authority is far from being ‘unconcerned” about Malta’s future in the tourism industry. Quite to the contrary, as can be attested by hard and fast facts. Should he wish further clarification on the MTA’s stand and view points however, Mr Cassar can access the unadulterated opinion piece on the subject, carried in the 19th April edition of the Business Today newspaper.

Catherine Zammit
PR and Communications
Malta Tourism Authority

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