Il-boathouses tal-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa : meta l-Ministru riedhom jaqgħu’


 Michael Falzon.PN2

Fil-bidu tas-snin 90, Michael Falzon, dakinnhar Ministru responsabli għall-Awtorita’ tal-Ippjanar kien wasal għall-konklużjoni li l-boathouses tal-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa kellhom jiġu mwaqqa’. M’huwiex magħruf kif wasal għal din il-konklużjoni. Jekk hux minn rajh inkella fuq parir ta’ terzi.

Jibqa’ l-fatt li kien wasal għal din il-konklużjoni. Mar il-Kabinett. Iżda ma qabel miegħu ħadd. Il-Kabinett irrifjuta li japprova l-proposta tal-Ministru Michael Falzon.

Għal madwar 19-il sena Michael Falzon baqa’ sieket sakemm iddeċieda li jinfurmana x’ġara permezz ta’ artiklu fil-Malta Today nhar il-Ħadd 15 ta’ Frar 2009.

L-artiklu intitolat They never heard of Jason Azzopardi! Hu dan :



They never heard of Jason Azzopardi!

While on a ‘once in a lifetime’ trip in Indochina and thereabouts, Parliamentary Secretary Jason Azzopardi keeps, incredibly, coming up to my mind!
Seeing the hustle and the bustle of the thousands of people in Bangkok and Hanoi who do everything ‘al fresco’ on the city pavements, I can only conclude that they have never heard of the guy.

In these parts of the world, people not only place tables on the pavements when they have a shop nearby. They even set up their stand-alone barber stalls; knife-sharpening workshops; grocery and hardware stores; and open air restaurants complete with kitchens leaving the streets and pavements stained with the cooking oil that goes to prepare so many hot snacks. The reek of oriental frying is unmistakeable.

I am sure that Jason would have not liked it one bit and had he been in charge, he would certainly order his army of ‘anti-alfresco’ reservists to swoop down on all this activity, checking whether everything is in order and whether the size of the stall, the number of pots, kilograms of all kinds of meats and all kinds of vegetables being sold – let alone the chairs and tables and the canopies – are all according to permit.

The mayor of Bangkok would make a killing if hires Jason to do this job for him. On the other hand he might not… seeing that he wants to be re-elected when the next election is due. The mayor of Hanoi would probably be in a similar position, except that elections might not bother him so much, and the task might be easier for him.

The trouble is that if they had to carry out a Jason Azzopardi-style exercise in Bangkok, it would not remain Bangkok. It would become a ‘Malta in Southeast Asia’!

All countries and peoples have their own ways of doing things – their traditions and their culture. I realised this so many years ago when on another trip I found myself outside the Stazione Termine in Rome and, as I always do in any European train station in winter, I decided to buy some freshly roasted chestnuts from the one of the portable stalls plying food outside the station. As soon as I made my wish clear, the Italian hawker, produced a paper bag that holds the number of chestnuts that he was to supply for the indicated price and then added another two – just out of ‘respect’ to his customers of course. The fact that more than two chestnuts were later found to be rotten did not reduce the munificence of the act in any way!
Later on in the same trip, I found myself outside Zurich train station. And what did I do? I went for that bag of freshly roasted chestnuts, of course! The Swiss hawker put the paper bag he produced on the certified scales that was on his stall and filled it with chestnuts. On perceiving that he had somewhat given me some fraction of a milligram more that I had bargained for, he simply removed a large chestnut from the bag and replaced it with a smaller one! I haven’t stopped hating Swiss precision since that traumatic incident.

Whether we like it or not, Bangkok culture, Swiss culture and Maltese culture are what they are. Forcing the Maltese to behave like the Swiss will never produce the desired results, whatever the ‘carrot and stick’ methods that are employed. We will always keep acting like the Mediterranean people that we are, even more akin to Neapolitans than to Romans. Membership of the EU has not metamorphosed the Swedes into Greeks or vice-versa. Not allowing some space for the culture that pervades the mentality of the Maltese people is a silly mistake on Jason’s part, albeit one that might have long term consequences.

Acting in a way that is obviously ‘strong with the weak’ and ‘weak with the strong’ makes it even worse. How can he justify his petty persecution of canopies on public pavements while he closes both eyes to the situation in the zone of Little Armier, where people have for years broken the law with impunity by using public land to build their summer shacks, with some making a business out of the whole shenanigan. I know what I am saying as when I tried to do something about it, I was left alone to burn my fingers alone, nay my palms, arms and body. The lack of support from my then Cabinet colleagues – let alone the then backbench – was overwhelming. I could almost hear them chant: ‘Burn, Michael, burn!’

Launching a ‘hotline’, whereby people may anonymously report others for ‘illegally occupying’ public spaces, is the very culmination in Jason’s stubborn insistence to ignore our culture. As a lawyer and an MP for so many years, he should have by now realised that people in Malta ‘report’ their neighbours of wrongdoing not because of some public spiritedness but because of spite and jealousy. It is a convenient way how one ‘gets even’ with one’s neighbour. ‘Love thy neighbour as thyself’ is, perhaps, the Christian tenet that has failed most spectacularly in Malta Cattolicissima!

Jason’s report-thy-neighbour-anonymously system has probably been a runaway success. The problem is that Jason might be fooling himself by thinking that he is on a sure winner. He is in for a surprise.
A surprise so big that, I am sure, it will keep on haunting him for the rest of his life. At the last PN meeting before the general election last March, while moving around in the crowd, a middle-aged lady approached me and asked me whether I recognised her. My answer was negative. She then went on to ‘remind me’ that as Minister of Education, over 12 years earlier, I had refused to authorise leave with pay that her husband had requested. I probably had a good reason for doing so – a thought that I confirmed when I saw the look of disdain on her face. People might forget that you helped them but they never forget that you refused to do something they wanted – however correct your decision might have been.

This country refuses to be a humdrum place where everywhere runs by clockwork, whatever Jason Azzopardi says and does. Over 30 years of communist rule have not persuaded Saigon (sorry, Ho Chi Minh City) to behave like Hanoi. Five years of Jason Azzopardi will leave Malta exactly where it was.
It will never be a Switzerland in the Mediterranean!

Il-PN jisserva bl-Armata

Il-Malta Today  u l-Illum tal-Ħadd li għadda 19 ta’ Frar 2012  ippubblikaw storja li fiha żvelaw kif  Lawrence Gonzi uża ajruplan tal-Forzi Armati biex jattendi laqgħa politika tal-Partit Popolari Ewropew ġewwa Palermo f’Mejju 2011.

Skond l-Illum l-ispjega li ngħatat kienet illi kieku ma għamilx hekk ma kienx ilaħħaq jiġi lura biex jindirizza konferenza internazzjonali tan-Nurses iktar tard fl-istess jum.

Mela issa qegħdin tajjeb. Il-Gvern iġib l-għajnuna tal-Unjoni Ewropeja biex jixtri ajruplan Hawker Beechcraft Kin g Air li sewa €9.6 miljuni. Ajruplan intenzjonat biex jissorvelja l-fruntieri marittimi ta’ Malta kif ukoll biex jagħti għajnuna ta’ salvataġġ li tkun meħtieġa.

F’jum minnu dan l-ajruplan flok ma jintuża fuq xogħolu jintuża biex iwassal Kap ta’ Partit Politiku għal laqgħa ta’ partiti politiċi.

M’hiex skuża aċċettabbli dik li nġiebet li m’hemmx flights ta’ l-Air Malta disponibbli.

Il-kaxxa ta’ Malta m’għandiex tissussidja lill-Partit poltiiku ta’ Lawrence Gonzi.

Tajjeb li nkunu nafu x’għamel  l-Awditur Ġenerali dwar dan il-każ ta’ abbuż fejn l-armata ta’ Malta qed tiffinanzja l-attivita’ politika tal-PN billi wasslet lill-Kap tal-Partit Nazzjonalista f’Palermo u ġiebitu lura.    

Parties in cahoots with squatters

Earlier this month, the Malta Environment and Planning Authority’s environment and planning commission, which deals with applications outside the development zone, turned down an application by Enemalta Corporation for the construction of a substation at L-Aħrax in the limits of Mellieħa. The planning directorate itself had recommended the refusal of this application.

This substation aimed at reinforcing the supply of electricity in L-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa with Enemalta effectively posting the message that the crime of taking over public property does pay.

While Alternattiva Demokratika and seven environmental NGOs opposed this application, both the Labour Party and the Nationalist Party have not uttered one single word on Enemalta’s attempt at ensuring that the squatters are adequately supplied with electricity. Clearly, the PN and the PL think that being silent is essential in view of their commitments to purchase votes through squatters taking over public property.

The PL and the PN have not taken up the challenge spelt out by the greens to go public on their position relative to the illegal development of boathouses at L-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa, that is at Armier, Little Armier and It-Torri l-Abjad.

During the Mepa reform exercise, the Prime Minister repeatedly emphasised that “ODZ is ODZ”, meaning that no development will be authorised or permitted outside the development zone unless really necessary.

Dr Gonzi tried to convey the message that his safe pair of hands would ensure that abusive development would now grind to a halt. Yet, on the eve of the 2008 general election, Dr Gonzi participated in secret meetings with the illegal boathouse lobby which considers that its members have some god-given right over the public land that they have taken hold of. The result of those meetings was a PN commitment to protect illegal development carried out before 1992 on public land.

At stake are 230 tumoli of land (26 hectares), which, since way back in 2003, on the eve of another election, the PN-led government had agreed to transfer to the squatters’ holding company, Armier Developments Limited. The agreement between the government and the squatters’ holding company indicates a lease for 65 years against payment of €366,000 per annum. To date, this agreement has not been submitted for Parliament’s approval in terms of the Disposal of Government Land Act.

The squatters also expected the PL to protect their illegal constructions, which agreement was forthcoming. The newsletter Il-Bajja, published by the squatters, in October 2007 had referred to a meeting with the then Leader of the Opposition, Alfred Sant. It said that he had promised to honour an earlier agreement with the squatters, which was entered into way back in 2002.

As far as is known, Joseph Muscat has not repudiated Labour’s agreement with the squatters.

During this legislature, Minister Jason Azzopardi has embarked on a crusade of evicting squatters from public property including clearing squares and pavements of encroachments by restaurants and open air cafés. His staff members were meticulous in ensuring that an extra chair or table not covered by a permit was removed forthwith.

While noting and acting on the odd chair or table, Dr Azzopardi has turned the Nelson’s eye to the large-scale use of public land by the squatters at L-Aħrax tal-Mellieha. In so doing, he has applied the policy of being strong with the weak and weak with the strong.

Former Minister Michael Falzon wrote in an article entitled They Never Heard Of Jason Azzopardi (Malta Today, February 15, 2009) that he (Mr Falzon) was not supported by his Cabinet colleagues when, as the minister responsible for land use planning, he tried to clean up the Mellieħa boathouse mess. He was left “to burn my fingers alone, nay, my palms, arms and body. The lack of support from my then Cabinet colleagues – let alone the then backbench – was overwhelming. I could almost hear them chant: ‘Burn, Michael, burn!’”

It is clear that the PN is committed to supporting the illegal development on public land. By being silent on the issue, Labour too supports the PN’s stand without any reservations.

This is the new politics of Labour and the PN: being in cahoots with the squatters in order to exchange votes for public land, which they have occupied illegally for years. It is an issue on which PL and PN policies converge!

The environmental NGOs campaigning for a resolution of the illegal development at L-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa undoubtedly understand that there is only one way through which the land used by the squatters is restored and returned to public ownership and use. This can only be achieved through the election of green members of Parliament. The others are committed to supporting the squatters as they have been doing throughout the years.

There is no other way. If you seek real change, voting green is the only option. The others are compromised.

published in The Times on Saturday January 21, 2012

Politka tan-Ngħam


Il-politika tal-Gvern dwar l-attivita nukleari fil-Mediterran hi politika tajba għan-ngħam. Ta’ min ideffes rasu fir-ramel biex ma jismax u ma jarax.


Fi tmiem il-ġimgħa l-oħra kien ippubblikat artiklu fil-gazzetta Taljana  Il Sole 24 Ore iffirmat mill-ġurnalista Federico Rendina. L-artiklu ntitolat Il Governo rilancia sull’atomo. Berlusconi: contatti per costruire centrali nucleari nei Paesi vicini. jimplika li Berlusconi qed jipprova jħajjar pajjiżi bħal Malta, l-Montenegro u l-Albania biex fihom jinbena impjant nukleari.


Wara tlett ijiem ta’ skiet u biss wara li AD ġibdet l-attenzjoni għall-artiklu, d-DOI ħareġ ċaħda li l-materja qatt kienet diskussa. Kompla biex qal li l-AD kienet irresponsabbli talli fil-publiku ġibdet l-attenzjoni għal dan l-artiklu. Il-fehma tiegħi hi li huwa rresponsabbli l-politiku li bħan-nagħma jdaħħal rasu fir-ramel u jibda jemmen li dak li hu m’huwiex jara ma jeżistix.


X’ser jiġri iktar dwar il-proġett nukleari Taljan għad irridu naraw.



Imma llum hemm oħra fil-gazzetti. Kummenti dwar iż-żjara tal-President tar-Repubblika fil-Libja. Il-ġurnalisti huma interessati fil-kwistjoni tal-impjant nukleari tal-Libja, għax bdew jifhmu kemm huma gravi l-konsegwenzi fuq Malta “jekk” xi ħaġa tmur ħażin meta jibda jopera l-impjant nukleari Libjan.


Karl Schembri għall-Malta Today minn Tripli jirrapporta li uffiċjal Malti qallu li l-kwistjoni nukleari hi “a non-issue” li tinteressa biss lill-media!


Mark Micallef għal The Times minn Tripli ukoll jirrapporta li l-Gvern m’għandu l-ebda intenzjoni li jqajjem mal-Libja l-kwistjoni nukleari.


Il-politika tal-Gvern Malti dwar in-nukleari fil-Mediterran hi politika għan-ngħam. U l-Opposizzjoni ? Billi qed jiżviluppa consensus fuq il-politika barranija, l-Opposizzjoni baqgħet ħalqa magħluq hi ukoll !