News | Sunday, 28 June 2009
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Il grande depistaggio

Pianophilia, Tranter-nomics and the Cachia Caruana diary

There will be a lot of commotion and theatrics in the coming weeks. It will have a lot to do with Renzo Piano.
Allow me to be poles apart from all the rest, and declare that I am not party to this Pianophilia. Mr Piano has been chosen as our architectural consultant in complete disregard for procurement regulations. Local architects have also been welcomed on board this orgy of public spending, without any due respect for public procurement procedures.
I am sure most of the Maltese public will not give a toss whether government tenders are awarded according to legal procedure, but this is the very reason why this country has experienced a fiscal apartheid – perfected no doubt by the cronies within this government.
Fiscal apartheid allows people with no merit, individuals with no value for risk, to become financially independent at the expense of public funds. They include all the sycophants appointed to government boards.
Yesterday evening, the Piano plans were officially unveiled. The Times was given more than a privileged sneak preview a week beforehand – but then why should we be too surprised if The Times is the official appendage to the establishment?
Back to Piano, creator of my most hated edifice, Centre Pompidou… Piano comes to a country with an architectural and urban setting that is in urgent need of a facelift. Everywhere in Malta and Gozo seems to be a perfect setting for downtown Baghdad.
Father Beirut was right. Renzo Piano does not know this.
But the politicians who invited him over to make a feast of our public funds know this. Renzo does not know that public projects in urban Malta depend a lot on who happens to be the minister of environment or infrastructure.
So over the last 35 years, the projects that were needed to embellish our towns and villages very much depended on the constituency in which the minister was sire. And when something gets done, even if it happens two decades late such as St Anne’s Square in Sliema, the minister – in this case George Pullicino – will do everything to take credit for it.
In every town and village in Malta and Gozo, the most basic of public amenities are falling apart: pavements in a shambles, roads potholed to kingdom come, public gardens in a state of neglect, underground or parking lots completely absent, historical sites crying out for restoration, playgrounds in dire need of serious attention, public transport in disarray and public amenities absent.
Local councils across the islands are under-financed and cannot deliver, and in all this administrative mayhem we are faced with this grandiose megalomaniac project propelled to quench the ego of one man.
That man is Lawrence Gonzi.
All those who have waved flags of approval for the project have good reason to rejoice. They either think that Lawrence Gonzi is the Messiah, or else they have no problems when millions of public funds are redirected to big fat cats.
Now let me underline one important thing about personalities who have a high opinion of themselves. If it were not for them we would not have all these pretentious edifices in the World.
As a direct result of so many self-interested rulers, tyrants, prime ministers, dukes and counts today, we can cherish monuments which we now sort of refer to as stunning or simply fascinating.
So if no one will say it, I will: this project will only serve a number of purposes:

1) To have a reference in the history books that City Gate was reconstructed by Lawrence Gonzi.
2) To ensure that some big fat cats become fatter.
3) To use up millions of public funds.
4) To serve as ‘il grande depistaggio’

Il grande depistaggio
Bang in the middle of summer, and the last thing Joe Bloggs wants to listen to is a sermon about politics. But if the public is deaf, GonziPN is deaf and dumb.
In today’s edition, councillors from the PN speak their mind about their party. And all Gonzi can think of is this grand project for City Gate, and the definite postponement of a general council after the European Parliamentary elections.

The life and times of The Cardinal
Chapter I
Richard Cachia Caruana was born on 11 February, 1955, a day after the anniversary of St Paul’s Shipwreck. His star sign is Aquarius and his favourite colour is blue.
His early years were spent as a boarder at St Edward’s College where he failed to learn the Maltese language to a level which would have made him spell the word ‘awtokratiku’ at the age of 12 without difficulties. He failed to render himself useful in sports and did not win trophies for sprinting or hide and seek, or for the card game ‘cheat.’
In 1979 he graduated in marketing from the London School of Economics and it was after this that he become a central dark figure within the Nationalist party.
After the PN election in 1987 he was awarded a plethora of directorships, which included posts on the board at MDC, Air Malta and the Central Bank.
From 1987 to 1996 he was Eddie Fenech Adami’s personal assistant and was renowned for his hysterical outbursts and his control of all appointments in the secretariat in the minister’s secretariats.
He was central to the party’s strategy but always managed to keep a low profile in the secretive character group. He had his usual posse of journalists who would gravitate around him to spin stories.
In the mid 1990s he was the unfortunate victim of a knifing attack which led to the infamous Żeppi l-Hafi declaration and false accusation of attempted murder against Meinrad Calleja, the son of Brigadier Maurice Calleja, who was forced to resign after a news story that was spun in the Sunday Times.

Next Sunday: Flying with The Cardinal

Mr Tranter has taken umbrage at last Sunday’s comments. He replies to many points, but not the most crucial point raised – the only one of any substance, the fact that he cannot guarantee that the incident that took place at Enemalta will not repeat itself.
Beyond the other points raised in his missal, the question of guaranteeing an electricity supply is the most crucial one.
Regarding today’s story about his conflict of interest, it would be worth pointing out to Mr Tranter that had it not been for MT no one would have known about his involvement with a company that has been subcontracted for works on the power station extension.
Think he may have to go. You see, Ing. Tranter works with and for Mr Zaren Vassallo, one of the PN’s biggest friends!

Lino Farrugia and hunters
Since the banning of spring hunting, countless birds have started to breed in Malta and Gozo. Lino Farrugia says this is not because of any ban on hunting. But then we all know that Lino Farrugia thinks that if a hunter shoots at a bird, he is doing the feathered creature a favour.
Well since Gonzi thinks that hunters are more important lobby than the whole damn nation, he as minister for environment has allowed hunters to be issued with rabbit hunting licences and this has led to the mass slaughter of breeding birds.
TVM announced to the chagrin of BirdLife activists that some bee-eaters were nesting in Siggiewi. BirdLife believe that nesting sites should not be announced in the media and I agree with them. But then – unknown to PBS chairman Claire Vassallo Thake and editorial board chairman Joe Pirotta – TVM’s Head of News Natalino Fenech is not exactly on the best of terms with BirdLife.
He had the same problem when he was a journalist with The Times. In his days at The Times he would write about birds but avoided ever mentioning or getting a comment from BirdLife Malta.
In the feature on these new breeding birds, instead of inviting a BirdLife spokesman, the head of news chose to invite Lino Farrugia, a man who says he heads hunters and insists that he can control hunters, but then argues that he cannot guarantee that every hunter respects the law.
Well, proof that most hunters break the law is the back page story about how swifts are being decimated by hunters just for the fun of it.
Well, this time, perhaps TVM will have the wisdom to invite the very learned Lino Farrugia once again to ask him for his valuable opinion on how hunters can be such bloody idiots.

Next Sunday: Why Lino Farrugia’s argument that the European Court’s decision will not impinge on hunting in Spring is complete bullshit
Joe Saliba goes freelance
I am not quite sure if anyone is aware of what is going on.
Joe Saliba, the former secretary general of the Nationalist party, has gone freelance and is offering his services to the world. His apparent job is to advise people of this universe how to get things done faster and in an effective way.
Now that is of course a very nice way of putting it.
But when I start seeing Joe Saliba in the company of big business, and in encounters with chairmen of various public funded companies, I start to ask myself: what is this all about?
Good question!


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