Saviour Balzan | Sunday, 12 April 2009

Home truths 1987-2009

Long-term memory
Long-term memories are maintained by more stable and permanent changes in the brain’s neural connections. The Maltese prototype is remarkably hit by some severe problems. Which explains why the following tend to be forgotten:
- Josef Bonnici against hedging, Austin Gatt in favour of hedging;
- George Abela against Europe, George Abela in favour of Europe;
- Vince Farrugia against the PN in 1996, and for the PN in 2009.

Conflict of interest
It’s not a crime - just an ethical issue. So if someone is appointed somewhere and uses his know-how and networks to further his business interests or career, it usually leads to this sort of comment: ‘Kemm hu bravu, hux!’
Perfect examples of people who can’t be accused of a conflict of interest include Claudio Grech: former personal assistant to Austin Gatt, he negotiated the sale of prime land to Smart City only to be appointed Smart City CEO soon after! Nothing wrong with that, right?

Political beliefs
The vast majority of Nationalists or Labourites are so thanks to a dominant family relative. Only 1% will choose political ideology over genetical inheritance; another 1% choose or change party according to career promotions or if they are awarded tenders.

Owning a car
Next to everyone owns a car, even the most fanatical green. Those who don’t:
1) Do not have the money to buy a car;
2) Never learnt to drive;
3) Are not 18 yet;
4) Have a chauffeur.

Direct tenders
A special public contract awarded because:
1) There was no time to issue the call for tender;
2) The company’s directors are supporters of the party in government;
3) The fee quoted was exorbitant;
4) The contract is issued on the eve of a national election.

Obituary and appreciation
If the deceased was any of the following: corrupt, a womanising adulterer, arrogant, intolerant, racist, a fraudster; then the obituary must endeavour to present the person as: warm, caring, family-oriented, put money second to everything and was a great altruist and upright person whose place is in paradise.

The great taxation system, which doctors, dentists and lawyers and other privileged professionals do not pay. The tax system Vince Farrugia opposed in 1996 together with Alfred Sant. The tax you can avoid if you happen to know the right people at the VAT department. VAT, removed by Labour in 1996 when George Abela was deputy leader.

Richard Cachia Caruana
Known as the Cardinal, the fixer, the control freak. At the heart of the government since 1987. Renowned for his habit of influencing some journalists and opinion writers, and coaxing them NOT to pour bile on fellow journalists. Respected for his meticulous implementation of political projects and of opening and closing doors for people’s careers.

Individuals found to be either useless to the party in government, or who are not lackeys or sycophants of the leader or Kap. Examples: Silvio Parnis, Chris Agius, Stefan Buontempo, Robert Arrigo, Censu Galea, Jesmond Mugliett, David Agius and Ninu Zammit.

Political appointees
Persons who beg to be appointed to a board. Ideal candidates must have the following attributes:
1) Think Gonzi is God;
2) Wave the PN flag at meeting;
3) Make funny faces when Joseph Muscat is mentioned;
4) Donate €5 to the PN;
5) Listens to Radio 101;
6) Dresses like Karl Stagno Navarra;
7) Say ‘yes, minister’ without hesitation.

(The above does not apply to Alan Camilleri or Peter Fenech, two capable individuals that are the envy of Barack Obama. And not to the following, either:
1) Has a mind of their own;
2) Listens to Super one;
3) Presently a Labourite;
4) Thinks Muscat is human;
5) Reads Kullhadd;
6) Prefers meritocracy to nepotism;
7) Someone who would come to Sicily rather than vote for Vince Farrugia, Louis Grech, or Arnold Cassola.

New buildings
The scourge of the Maltese townscape. Perfected by the construction industry and sanctioned by the Malta Planning Authority (yes, ‘environment’ purposely left out) headed by Mr Austin Walker, Dr Gonzi’s former buddy at Mizzi house.

Wonderful stretches of thin asphalt placed on weak foundations - six years after EU accession they are in probably worse a state than ever before.

Representatives of the Maltese in cities far and beyond, selected on some mysterious criteria by some mysterious selection board sanctioned by the Prime Minister and his ever faithful saint-like personal assistant, the one and only Edgar Galea Curmi.

Jason Micallef
The Labour secretary-general who should be taken seriously only if you think discussing politics with your goldfish makes more sense. His story appears on page 4. Needless to say whatever Jason says in the future will be taken with a pinch of salt.

The Constitution
The charter that states in no uncertain terms that the Roman Catholic religion is the official religion of the nation – just as Iran might argue Islam is their official religion. Anyone said we were a secular state?

A dirty word.

Ditto, lest you are ready to incur the wrath of Gift Of Life.

Separation cases
Only one in four marriages and on the increase, so please move on.

Drink and drive
Yes, you may. No questions asked.

Created by Austin Gatt and tailor-made for entrepreneurs willing to make a quick buck at the expense of the taxpayer.

Means of transport for anyone with the severe disability to appreciate the value of money. It costs more to travel from St Julian’s to Rabat than from Frankfurt Airport to its centre. With all that tough talking from Gatt last summer, nothing has really changed when it comes to taxi tariffs.

Election survey
A survey that never gets publicised by PBS unless it is carried out by foreigners and more importantly, shows that the PN is at a disadvantage (remember: if you show the PN is at a disadvantage it means more disgruntled Nationalists might not join me on my Sicilian trip).
Plus ça change
1) Finding a grave at Addolorata;
2) Beating the Mater Dei waiting list;
3) Hearing someone say ‘Thank you’;
4) A hunting moratorium;
5) Thinking black people are not inferior;
6) Pot-bellied policemen;
7) Visiting the countryside without seeing a dumping site;
8) Finding a cheap and good bistro;
9) Having the names of paedophile priests banned by the courts.

Speed cameras
Installed to make more money for the likes of Kenneth Demartino & Co, they will record your movements and send you a fine higher than the average European speeding ticket.

Broadcasting Authority
Sometimes confused with PBS, in reality an authority run by the two parties, ignores its Constitutional responsibility and allows all the other stations, most especially One and Net TV, other than PBS, to do f*** all when it comes to balanced reporting.

The Belgian capital city with a permanent overcast sky that serves as home to our MEPs, God bless them. Supported by a salary not only beyond anything anyone earns in this country, but completely absurd considering their irrelevance.

The Church
The institution that remains out of synch with society and believes that wearing a condom does nothing to stop the spread of sexually transmitted infections.

Gaming and Super 5
That hideous industry that depends on people’s false hopes and ignorance. An industry that makes massive profits from ‘stupid’ people. The industry that is promoted by a government that finds nothing immoral about gambling but everything wrong about everything else.

The one-minute resto crit

Catania Restaurants
(For all those who wish to join me in Sicily when everyone else will be voting for candidates who wish to jump on the Brussels bandwagon for the fat salary).

Al Gabbiano
The name refers to seagulls, but none of the dishes served here are based on winged creatures. Instead, fresh seafood and fish is the norm in this restaurant located in the very centre of Old Catania. €30 per person. Open for dinner. Closed in August. Via Giordano Bruno 128

Cuisine served here is best described as traditional with an original touch, something creative to complement the place’s elegant decor. €40 for lunch or dinner. Major credit cards are accepted. Via Crociferi 76

Man of the week

George Abela
I always believed Dr George Abela was a cut above the rest, intellectually and culturally. Since this week he was being interviewed by none other than the greatest music critic this side of the galaxy, it was expected he would want to know more of Abela’s musical tastes. Which turned out to be Dolly Parton. Just in case you happened to tune in to the interview, Abela’s talk about Dolly’s attributes referred to her voice and not her breasts.
However, Abela’s gaffe in the programme was his earnest reference, incorrectly, to ‘Mohammed’ as Barack Obama’s second name. I thought it was only US Republicans who thought Mohammed was Obama’s second name. I guess Abela had no time to brush up on the vital stuff. Don’t blame him. I’m sure he has had much better things to do with his precious time, such as going over all the MEPA legal cases he was paid for by direct order. Well, I guess with a personal assistant with the name of Olaf Terribile, nothing could be more... you know, terrible?


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