MaltaToday | 11 May 2008 | Letters

NEWS | Sunday, 11 May 2008

In remembrance of Nicholas Azzopardi

Dear Nicholas,
We promise you that you will remain in our hearts and will always be remembered as a gentleman of honour who supported his colleagues with great honesty and trust.
With great responsibility you were our Health and Safety Representative and you were like a brother to us.
You were always ready to give a helping hand, and always present in our hour of need.
You treated our problems as if they were yours, and with a generous heart you always gave us a good example.
Nicholas, thank you for your friendship and be sure you will always be remembered as our ‘Big man with a warm heart’.

Signed by 198 Enemalta employees

Tyrrell’s tirade

The furious tirade from James Tyrell titled “The big global warming scam!” (MaltaToday 27 April), is a perfect example of how not to analyse problems. It has twisted logic, misinformation and a relentless indulgence in simple explanations of a complex physical reality.
The Sun-Earth system is in dynamic equilibrium as far as the condition of the Earth is concerned. The Sun heats land and sea during the day and at night-time land and sea radiate back into space some of the energy they have absorbed. But while the atmosphere offers little hindrance to the incoming energy (visible light), CO2 partially obstructs the infra-red (long wavelength) energy the Earth tries to radiate back into space – the more CO2 there is, the greater the obstruction and the warmer the Earth is kept. With the present Sun and an atmosphere of oxygen and nitrogen without CO2, the average temperature of the Earth would be a cool -15°C against the actual 15°C. So CO2 does have significant greenhouse (warming) effect despite its small abundance. The extreme greenhouse in the solar system is Venus, where with a slightly stronger Sun but an atmosphere of just CO2, surface temperatures reach around 450°C.
Tyrell’s repeated assertion that “CO2 levels… were very much higher in ancient times than they are today” gives no hint of how ancient is ancient. Sediments suggest one must go back at least 20 million years for CO2 levels above 400ppm. Ice cores clearly establish that from 800,000 years ago, the level – 280 to 300ppm – was lower than it is today: 384ppm. Moreover, over this period there is a close correlation between CO2 abundance and the temperature. Careful analysis points to temperature variations that precede the CO2 variations, strongly suggesting that climate change precedes CO2 changes. The succession of ice ages and warm, inter-glacial periods over the last 100,000 years illustrate the CO2-temperature connection clearly.
Though this might seem to vindicate Tyrell’s tirade, I fear it does nothing of the sort. The main CO2 reservoirs are the oceans: their CO2 storage capacity depends on their temperature. The warmer they are, the less CO2 can they hold. So an initial increase in temperature caused by some effect external to Earth (solar or orbital variations), leads to a release of CO2 into the atmosphere, which will in turn increase the temperature through greenhouse effect, leading to increased release of CO2 by the oceans: in short, positive feedback or self reinforcement. We are in that situation today; and as the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere continues, average temperatures increase, oceans let go of more and more CO2, icecaps melt faster, etc.
Tyrell’s fear that we may starve plants of CO2 if we institute cutbacks is completely off beam. The low CO2 abundances over evolutionary-significant periods up to the start of the Industrial Revolution, has led to plant types which are quite adapted to a low CO2 atmosphere. What has actually been observed in large-scale studies in the northern hemisphere is that high summer temperatures actually impair plant capacity to absorb CO2 in daylight—one more turn of the screw in self-reinforcing global warming.
Yet Tyrrell’s final arrow does hit a sort of target after all. Governments are taxing the air we breathe, but only that part of it we are all very happy to share with mechanical fossil-fuel burning devices. Air for human respiratory purposes is still free, even if in some places its quality leaves much to be desired.

Prof. E.A. Mallia,

Aborting the truth about contraception

There are more than two weights and two measures in the way that legal issues are discussed. No matter what statistics or studies say, when a women makes the mistake of conceiving an unwanted child, remedies concern only those which make a parody of the gift of life which so many other women are craving for at all costs.
In other cases of legal issues it is punishment that is advocated to curb corruption. Which is most condemnable? To behave irresponsibly towards the unwanted birth of another human being, or to destroy the environment, for example? Funny how visions change when one’s priorities also change! 
Couldn’t unwanted babies be given up for adoption? Or is it that there are women who whilst rejecting motherhood are not even willing to give their baby a chance to  live and be cared for by another woman? What kind of legality can alter the fact that sexual activity takes precedence before everything else?

Lina Caruana
Via email

The destruction of Gozo

Recent articles in the media regarding Dwejra, Nadur, Ramla and Hondoq, etc., have impelled me to put pen to paper once again.
The whole farce that is MEPA should be tossed over Dingli cliffs (Ta’ Cenc cliffs would also do, but Gozo is polluted enough already). I apologise to the many Maltese who really care for their environment.
How is it possible that the monstrosity at Dwejra is still standing and that the powers that be are still flaffing over what to do with it! There is only one thing to do with it, and that is to pull it down and try and heal the dreadful scar as best as possible.
When will MEPA, the mayor of San Lawrenz and Nature Trust finally realise that:
firstly, Dwejra does not need a restaurant or take-away outlet. The kiosk, bar and mobile vendors are more than sufficient to cover present needs. The tourists eat their lunch elsewhere and the locals bring their own picnics. Most visitors only buy drinks or ice-cream.
Secondly, the interpretation centre is really not necessary. The fort is perfectly good enough and the information charts spread around are very informative and most of them are easily accessible. I do realize that the Fort is not ideal, as it is difficult for disabled people to visit. In my experience, however, most people with physical disabilities would simply hate the thought that precious land had been destroyed in order for them to reach something which is not really necessary to reach.
If this was a criteria, then in Dwejra alone, in order to make it accessible to all, one would have to make a ramp right down to the Azure Window, another one up to the cart ruts and one across the window itself. How ridiculous! MEPA and the mayor of San Lawrenz will have to think of another excuse!
With all the new boathouses that have been sanctioned, I have not read anything about what is going to happen to the ensuing sewage. I believe that it is now (officially) illegal for boathouses to have their own cesspits, rightly so, in view of how many there are now and how many people spend the summer there. Before even thinking about new buildings, I would have assumed that arrangements would have been made by the authorities to provide public toilets for the boathouse users and a waterproof holding tank which can be emptied as necessary, as is the case with the existing toilets. Nobody enjoying a drink down at the Inland Sea is going to walk all the way up the hill to empty his/her bladder....
The powers-that-be still seem to be bent on destroying what is left of Hondoq ir-Rummien, despite the referendum and despite the protests. What are MEPA and the government thinking about? Once the Comino Channel is completely contaminated with diesel residue and boat effluent (as is the Blue Lagoon on a sunny day), what is going to be left of Gozo’s natural assets? Not much!
The construction of a new cemetery for Nadur is yet another huge environmental problem which should never even have arisen.
There must be many, many farmers’ souls crying over the outrage that is happening to, and the desecration of, the beloved valley which they and their ancestors cared for during their lifetimes! How sad. I sympathize with the present generation farmers fully – why did nobody listen to them? Surely by now, it is an accepted fact that people who have such close contact to nature see things that us city people never would?
Has anyone thought that someone might have an ulterior motive for rezoning this wonderful ODZ area – perhaps to enable a new Lidl supermarket to be built there shortly? Or a block of flats which could in future be named “Death Valley View”!
How incredibly sad it would be if Ramla were contaminated by this construction on one side, and by the horrendous building plans on the other.
I can understand that the present cemetery is too small, but why, oh why, try to build the new one, firstly in an ODZ area, and secondly where it could conceivably damage an aquifer? There are so many disturbed areas on the island already. In view of the fact that the church owns so much property, I am quite sure that a suitable plot within the town of Nadur could have been found for this purpose. This would have eliminated the need to build yet another chapel. Does Gozo really need another chapel? Several are falling down already – reminiscent of the five-star hotels.
Gozo is so small, why can’t it have a central cemetery? For example in the derelict industrial area of Xewkija? A cemetery there would not disturb anyone and would slowly but surely make it a place of peace and beauty and replace the present day eyesore.
Is there in fact an overall plan for this archipelago, or are developers and the very rich just going to continue to do what they like where they like? It would be such a pity!
I would assume that the Prime Minister and MEPA are aware that the protection of the landscape is enshrined in Malta’s Constitution which states: “The State shall safeguard the landscape and the historical and artistic patrimony of the Nation” (Chapter II, paragraph 9). To date, the State has done an appalling job of this.
It is up to all Maltese citizens to stop the rape of their islands once and for all.

Lesley Kreupl,

Why no video telemetry service?

Epilepsy is the most common neurological disorder. One percent of the world population has epilepsy and in Malta there are over 3,000 persons who have this condition. It is a hidden disability and many people may not know that another person is having a seizure even if it happens in front of them. This may have a negative effect on the person’s social life.
The treatment and management of this condition goes a long way to enhance the life of persons affected by it. For this reason it is expected that every possible effort will be taken in order to offer these people the best treatments and the latest interventions possible for an optimum diagnosis and course of action. The recent conference organised by the Caritas Malta Epilepsy Association, attended by over 170 persons, including several family doctors, pharmacists, several health care professionals and all three neurologists, discussed how best to ensure an interdisciplinary approach to the management of persons with epilepsy, across primary and tertiary healthcare.
All persons with epilepsy in Malta are given the best with respect to pharmacological treatment, since they are all entitled to free medication under Schedule V; however a critical aspect towards improving the management of this patient is the accurate diagnosis of the epilepsy, since there may be over 40 different types. This requires the concurrent monitoring using video and electroencephalographic (EEG) techniques (video telemetry) for the accurate monitoring of patients and their seizures over several hours. As an association we are aware that state of the art video telemetry equipment has been purchased for use in Mater Dei hospital. This equipment is vital both for persons with epilepsy as well as person with other conditions. Yet to date we have heard absolutely nothing regarding the commencement of a video telemetry service. This diagnostic procedure is eagerly awaited by the relevant medical staff, as well as the persons with epilepsy and their relatives.
We would like to enquire what is hindering the installation of this equipment and its use. Persons with epilepsy and their relatives have a right to this treatment and it would be a pity to leave this expensive equipment out of action, wasting precious tax payers money.

Mario Dimech
President, Caritas Malta Epilepsy Assoc.

Freemasonry in the isle of the Jesuit Network

The new MEPA Code of Ethics could potentially flout the European Convention on Human Rights.
In the case Grande Oriente d’Italia di Palazzo Giustiani vs. Italy, “examining the issue under Article 11 of the Convetion taken alone, (the European Court on Human Rights) found that the prohibition on nominating Freemasons to certain public offices for which the (State) was the appointing authority was not ‘necessary in a democratic society’. It observed that penalising someone for their membership of an association was unjustified, since that fact was not in itself legally reprehensible.”
It follows that if any of the Masonic Lodges operating in Malta decide to take the Maltese Government to the European Court, they would win outright. On the other hand, no sane freemason would dare take the Maltese Government to Strasbourg, because he would be disclosing his membership of the Craft thereby.
Freemasonry is really impotent in the Isle of the Jesuit Network. In Malta, the government can flout the European Convention on Human Rights, and because of the peculiar circumstances of Malta, it cannot be taken to task.

Miriam A. Briffa

Survey messages

This newspaper kept its pre-election habit and regaled its readers with yet another survey; now of course surveying the people’s thoughts about their choice about who they’d wish to see as leader of the Malta Labour Party.
It is not my intention to delve into the complicated world of numbers and statistics but rather I am more inclined towards trying to extract the various messages that this survey could be relaying.
The overall result is somehow distorted precisely because the survey population itself is distorted. The Nationalist voter’s reply to the question is, in my opinion, quite irrelevant. It would have been relevant, however, had a supplementary question been asked to the nationalist respondent on whether he/she would be willing to change party had the one he/she picked be chosen as leader. The overwhelming response to such question would have probably been no. From the data published, this skew cannot be identified and therefore cannot be eliminated, thereby blurring the overall result.
Yet the obvious and very pertinent message is that Muscat is by far the strongest in the market which is clearly the Labourite vote. His tally is equivalent to that of Abela, Muscat and Preca put together.
Muscat’s strong standing among the core vote puts him as the most likely candidate capable of rallying his troops in unison. Unity, of course, is of lifeblood importance for a party coming fresh out an electoral defeat and a change in its leadership. It is here that the Party should make its first major surgery in its road to recovery.
On the other hand, Abela’s strong standing amongst the floating vote is also of significant importance. It remains a very valid assertion that whoever masters the floating vote is most likely to be successful in garnering electoral victory. However who exactly is the floating voter?
This particularly dynamic segment remains without a clear definition. A demographic analysis could prove futile. Presumably the floater tends to re-shape its interests, demands and affiliation continuously and makes its choice the closest to the general election as possible.
There is no particular trend and the floating segment in a particular election is surely not identical to that in another one. Two very recent examples: The promise to eliminate VAT probably mobilised the floating vote to tip the balance in favour of MLP in 1996, and the accession into the EU mobilised floating vote (the same?) in favour of the PN in 2003.
But where was the floating vote this time round, with an election result that was so close to call? Has it translated itself into a protest vote? Has it cancelled titself by moving in opposite directions?
The point here is simple: The floater title is sexy and catchy indeed. But it is purely subjective and contingent on many variables. To choose a Party Leader merely because he/she is strongest amongst this segment today, when the election is in five years time, is an argument which in my opinion does not hold too much water.
There is also the very important segment that could have tipped the balance in favour of PN this time round: the new vote. Demographically, the Labourite’s vote is perhaps older. If the MLP continues to fail in attracting the new vote, which tends to display cross party changes more than any other segment, then it clearly risks its political relevance. Statistical data show that the people aged between 18 to 35years for the upcoming election would top 100,000. This is too relevant a figure not to tap.
Again, Muscat comes out very strong here. It is clear that Muscat did not choose his slogan, Winning Generation, as a mere catch-phrase that would accompany him for campaign, but he did so out of conviction that he can rally the new vote behind him. This survey vindicates this in unequivocal terms.
This survey also clearly selects Abela and Muscat as a cut above the rest. For the MLP to maximise its chances, the tandem idea, in whatever version, would have been ideal. But a tandem idea, in a leader’s election context, is in my opinion, defeatist by its very nature.
What is also clear is that Muscat represents not only the present but also the future. If the Labour Party wants to change, not merely faces, but also in political substance, then Muscat should be the choice. In choosing Muscat, the Party of today is giving itself the chance to rebuild, re-invigorate and change into the progressive party of tomorrow, which, by the way, is the time when the next general election will be held.
As statisticians like to say, numbers are indeed indicative. Choosing the right ones, however, remains the key.
James Piscopo

For a united Left

Beyond its symbolism and commemorative importance, Workers’ Day should inspire forces on the Left of Maltese politics to increase their collaboration in order to bring about a more equal society.
Malta requires a united left movement which aspires for governance in order to bring about the necessary changes so that Malta will be more equal, socially just and ecologically sustainable. In this regard, political parties and NGOs on the left side of the political spectrum to increase their collaboration and form alliances. Besides, Malta’s trade unions to bridge their differences with the hope of forming a Trade Union Council.
Malta requires a strong left in view of various realities which are being faced by thousands of people. One example is that of increased precariousness faced by workers. This includes not only full-time workers, but also part-timers, workers on contract, casual workers, and even those with middle-class jobs and the small self-employed. In addition, the cost of living of various products and services keeps increasing.
Zminijietna - Voice of the Left shall therefore do its utmost for the creation of a joint leftist movement in Malta.

Michael Briguglio,
PRO, Zminijietna - Voice of the Left

Censoring your own candidates

Kindly allow me to refer to an article, appearing in another section of the local pres, titled, ‘No more secrets’ by columnist Claire Bonello (‘The Sunday Times’, 6 April) which revealed that on 1 April, the Malta Labour Party Vigilance and Disciplinary Board wrote to Joe Falzon in his capacity as chairman of the Malta Labour Leadership Electoral Commission urging him to order all Labour leadership contestants, (which leadership competition should be held on 5 June), not to speak to the press and not to take part in any debates, and/or, interviews whatsoever.
The article went on to say that, on the same day, Joe Falzon promptly wrote to all leadership candidates strictly forbidding them from taking part in any type of discussion about the leadership contest. This decision was subsequently reversed, but it helped to reveal a sorry (Stalinist) mentality still prevalent in the Malta Labour Party: a party which manipulated national broadcasting for propaganda purposes as from December 12, 1981 up to May 9, 1987; and in point of fact, muzzled the Nationalist Party’s voice and, as if they were not enough, then tried to suppress the viewpoints of its own (socialist) leadership candidates in 2008.
One final, friendly word of advice from an outsider to nearly all Malta Labour Party leadership contestants: whoever wins the leadership contest should launch an inquiry/investigation into whether the order, which was issued by Joe Falzon, (an order specifically saying that any contestant deemed to have disobeyed the directive would have been disqualified from the party leadership contest), had been designed with the aim of lending a hand to only one particular candidate in the (leadership) race.

Edward Torpiano

Analysis of a meeting

The following is an analysis of what was said during a public meeting on Sunday 27 April.
1) Quote: “But instead of dwelling on the past, he said, I want to look forward to making the MLP electable so the party wins the next election.” Comment: Who started, without any provocation, to mention the past? Who referred to what happened within a restricted group of persons 10 years ago?
2) Quote: “...and not only to serve factional interests.” Comment: Is this not an innuendo to criticise the set up of the party he wants to lead? Or shall we emarginalise the hundreds, if not thousands, of Labourites who do not fancy Dr … for not having aided the Malta Labour Party when it was in need?
3) Quote: “The party, Dr ... said, should be in regular contact with its hundreds of volunteer activists to sound out their ideas and to more involve in the party’s”
Comment: But he is against people who, of their own initiative, criticise him for having come forward after apparently refusing to give a helping hand? Is leadership by a particular person... more important than the whole Malta Labour Party?
4) Quote: “Dr ... has returned to contest the MLP leadership position 10 years after having resigned as deputy leader in protest against the party’s choice to go for an early election in 1998, which ended up costing the party dearly at the polls.” Comment. Did Dr….’s conduct enhance the chances for the MLP to win the elections or did increase the chances to fail?
5) Quote: “Ms ... ... said that being disassociated with the MLP during the past 10 years, when the party did not satisfy the people, was a positive factor for Dr …... The MLP must be united in order to win an election.” Comment: I would not mention what happens in case of a sinking ship. The captain is the last to quit the ship, or sink with it. But who are the first? And yes, the party has to be truly united and not otherwise. Sincerity is essential. People who return to the fold ought to do it without reservations or preconditions, and avoid to create havoc. Otherwise genuine people of any age start sniffing.

F. Farrugia
Ta’ Xbiex

What Labourites want

At the moment there is a bit of a mess in the Malta Labour Party but after three defeats this is normal. To cap it all there is an election of a new leader, which after three defeats is also normal. Another thing that is normal is to ask what Labourites now want after all these defeats.
Lots of Labourites are angry because they where promised a victory and it never materialised, but the funny thing is that instead of getting down, some Labourites pulled their socks up and instead of throwing themselves into a limbo situation they are trying to put the party in a recovery situation. They are asking for help and involving themselves in the party machinery like never before. Most people would do so before an election, when their aim would be to get some help whilst in government; but these Labourites are doing so now, to see their cause and their party revive as it should. These are the true Labourites.
These Labourites could be the hope of MLP and they could even push the right leader to be in power. The truth is that Labourites don’t want a leader who mentions the past. They do not want a leader to be in power just to get revenge on the previous party administration. They do not want a leader who shows only negativity, and promises that if ever they will be in government he would solve all the problems. They definitely do not want a Mintoff-style leader. But they do not want not a Gonzi either. They do not want a leader that kicks out a faction and creates another one in its place.
They want a leader who lasts long, much longer than just one election. They want a leader who points out from right now the problems in the party and offers a solution for these problems. They want a leader who knows how to move in Europe because the Europe issue is going to be the main factor in the next election since Malta is going to have the presidency in 2014. They want a leader who knows how to manage the party by including all those who want to work with him and who are ready to put the party on the right track financially. They want a leader who is ready to bring up issues for discussion that are really the topic of the day. They want their leader young, old or whatever; but to be a leader different from those there are at the moment.
This is what these Labourites want and let these Labourites involve themselves because Labour is in the era of creating a new generation of party people who can lead the party into a new image, ideal and way of working. Maybe these Labourites are the new wave in the party who could make the difference between MLP and PN, and it would be wiser to leave these people work and join them in their efforts.
This is what Labourites want.

Ramon Muscat
Via email


Whatever the outcome of the inquiries currently in progress, the authorities should do well to ponder on what Francis-Marie Arouet (Voltaire) had written on 1 April 1766 i.e. ‘Once the people begin to reason, all is lost.’

Henry A Dandria,

Any comments?
If you wish your comments to be published in our Letters pages please click button below.
Please write a contact number and a postal address where you may be contacted.



MaltaToday News 
11 May 2008

Government calls for pact over Malta’s sustainable development

Condolences pour in from Azzopardi’s colleagues

Gozo eco-island remains a GonziPN pipe dream

Migrants’ arrivals could soar as Libya cuts ties with Italy

After Armier, St
Thomas’ Bay

Mintoff’s claims rejected in last episode of Delimara soap opera

Malta safe, but drivers ‘aggressive’ - US crime watchdog says

Malta enjoying fewer press freedoms

Abela: ‘I’m still in the race'

Anatomy of a controlled press conference

Mother’s Day celebrates 100th anniversary


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