Għal Albert Buttiġieġ il-bieb tiegħi miftuħ

Bħalkom segwejt dak li qal Albert Buttiġieġ: li kien infurmat li uffiċjal mhux elett tal-PN, f’laqgħa ma spekulatur fl-inħawi ta’ San Ġiljan ħadha fuq spallejh li jwarrab lil Buttiġieġ u jassigura li jagħlaq ħalqu. Għax il-ħidma ġenwina tiegħu bħala Sindku ta’ San Ġiljan qed iddejjaq lil min qed ipappiha sew.

Albert Buttiġieg ma għalaqx ħalqu u għamel sewwa. Imma l-bsaten fir-roti fl-elezzjoni kienu bosta, kif spjega hu stess.

Issa tkellem l-oraklu, Ray Bezzina, l-id il-leminija ta’ George Pullicino fil-passat u ta’ Bernard Grech illum. “Mhux jien” qalilna! Talab li jkun investigat Albert Buttiġieġ biex jikxef dak li jaf.

Albert diġa qal li mhux ser jikxef l-identità ta’ min tah l-informazzjoni, u jagħmel sewwa.

Imma fuq insistenza ta’ Ray Bezzina il-PN ser jiftaħ inkjesta interna!

Il-PN qiegħed fir-rokna u jaf li ma jistax joħroġ minnha. Daħħluh fiha dawk ta’ bla skrupli, dawk li fid-deher juru wiċċ ta’qdusija, u fil-magħluq kollha konfoffi man-nies tal-flus.

Ma’ Albert tkellimt. Nifhmu. Nifhem minn xiex għaddej. Fil-ġimgħat li ġejjin il-PN ser jipprova jagħmlu kkapuljat.

Għal min hu ġenwin bħal Albert, il-bieb tiegħi miftuħ.

Saving the little that we have

Almost two years ago, Architect Edward Said submitted a request to the Planning Authority and the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage in order that they take steps to protect a Villa along the St Julian’s promenade. The Villa known as Palazzina Vincenti was designed and constructed for his own use by Architect Gustavo Romeo Vincenti. Architect Vincenti died in 1974.

As far as is known, neither the Planning Authority nor the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage have acted upon the submissions received requesting the protection of Palazzina Vincenti. At the time of writing the Superintendence has passed the buck to the Planning Authority! In the meantime, a development application has been submitted for the demolition of Palazzina Vincenti and its substitution with a 17-storey 136 room hotel, including three levels below street level providing garage space for 58 cars.

In a report drawn up by Architect Edward Said, Palazzina Vincenti is described as “a masterpiece of architecture defined by pure geometric volumes”.  It is considered as one of the earliest examples of the use of reinforced concrete in domestic architecture in Malta.  Quoting from a 2018 Masters of Architecture dissertation by David Ellul, Architect Said emphasises that by taking full advantage of the potential of reinforced concrete, Vincenti’s artistic expression was freed from the limitations of traditional materials. The result is this masterpiece which can be lost quite soon!

Even though to the untrained eye Palazzina Vincenti may seem to be an ugly building specimen, ill-fitting in its present-day concrete jungle surroundings, it is still a masterpiece worth preserving for posterity.

I fail to understand why two years after a request for protection has been submitted no action has yet been taken. As a result of such inaction, the message conveyed by the authorities is a very clear one: that the site occupied by Palazzina Vincenti is ripe for development. This is an inevitable conclusion conveyed by those in charge as a result of their failure to act.

At this point in time, as a minimum, it is expected that an emergency conservation order protecting Palazzina Vincenti is issued urgently. This would be a clear sign to those currently benefitting from a prolonged phase of “development greed” that a red line has been drawn around our heritage, thereby protecting it. It would also provide some breathing space which would be of considerable help in order that the Planning Authority may bring its house in order.

Some have the mistaken idea that all our heritage is necessarily old, very old, going back centuries. This is certainly not the case as this specific architectural masterpiece is less than 75 years old. Unfortunately, there have been other worthy examples of our architectural heritage which have been lost through carelessness, insensitivity and institutional ignorance.

I could remind readers of another outstanding example of modern architecture which has gone to the dogs, this time in Gozo, some 15 years ago. Parts of the Qala Primary School in Gozo were demolished to make way for an Institute of Tourism Studies campus in Gozo. The said school was designed and constructed under the supervision of Architect Joseph Huntingford who as the government architect in charge of schools was responsible for most new schools constructed in Gozo between 1950 and 1961.

Way back in 2006 the Chamber of Architects and Civil Engineers had described the Qala Primary School as one of the finest examples of modern architecture on the island. Even then the Planning Authority was advised to handle our heritage with care. But it was of no use. The advice was ignored as parts of the school were demolished to make way for the ITS campus.

There is still time to save Palazzina Vincenti from being sacrificed on the altar of “development greed”. We need to be more appreciative of our heritage. We have so little of it. I am not however so sure as to whether the Planning Authority is capable of taking decisive action. It has been desensitised for far too long.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday: 12 December 2021

Iċ-ċavetta li tista’ tiftaħ il-bibien magħluqa ………………

Opening door with key

 

Mhux l-ewwel wieħed li ser nikkummenta li bir-riżultati elettorali ta’ tmiem il-ġimgħa kulħadd hu kuntent. Ovvjament din hi reazzjoni artifiċjali ħafna u għandha titqies biss bħala l-ewwel reazzjoni sakemm kulħadd ikollu ċ-ċans li jifli ftit ir-riżultati daqsxejn iktar fil-fond.

Iċ-ċifri uffiċjali, per eżempju jgħidu li Alternattiva Demokratika kisbet 1.10% tal-voti mitfugħa f’dan ir-rawnd ta’ elezzjonijiet lokali. Dawn iċ-ċifri huma korretti imma ma jagħtux l-istampa rejali. Dan minħabba li AD ikkontestat biss f’7 lokalitajiet minn 34. Il-lokalitajiet li fihom AD ikkontestat l-elezzjonijiet nhar il-11 t’April l-anqas ma huma għal kollox l-istess lokalitajiet li fihom AD ikkontestat fl-2012 u allura ftit li xejn tista’ tagħmel paraguni.

Fil-Qala, fin-Nadur u f’Ħal-Qormi AD kisbet numru żgħir ta’ voti li huma kumparabbli kemm ma dawk miksuba fl-elezzjoni ġenerali kif ukoll, fejn applikabbli, ma’ parteċipazzjoni f’elezzjonijiet oħra tal-Kunsilli Lokali fl-istess lokalitajiet. F’dawn il-lokalitajiet mela jkun ġust li wieħed jikkonkludi li AD baqgħet fl-istess ilma.

Imma mhux l-istess jista’ jingħad fil-lokalitajiet l-oħra. F’Ħ’Attard reġa’ ġie elett għal darba oħra s-Segretarju Ġenerali ta’ AD Ralph Cassar li fl-ewwel għadd kiseb 7.3% tal-voti mitfugħa.  Mhux biss reġa’ ġie elett imma kiseb ammont ta’ voti iktar mis-soltu, u, iktar importanti minn hekk, wiret biżżejjed voti mingħand kandidati oħra (PN, PL u Indipendenti) biex ġie elett f’lokalita fejn il-Partit Laburista naqqas il-presenza tiegħu billi tilef kunsillier. Issa dan il-fatt għandu l-importanza tiegħu prinċipalment għax ifisser li Alternattiva Demokratika qed tikkonsolida l-egħruq tagħha f’dik iż-żona ta’ Malta li hi iktar sensittiva minn żoni oħra għal materji ambjentali.

Argumenti simili jistgħu jingħadu għal-lokalita’ ta’ San Ġiljan fejn il-kandidat ġdid u żgħażugħ Gulio Caruana irdoppja l-voti (ġieb 5.4%) li kisbet il-kandidat ta’ AD fl-istess lokalita fl-2012. Żieda simili kellu Simon Galea fuq San Pawl il-Baħar fejn irid jingħad li kienu bil-voti tiegħu, meta ġie eliminat, li l-PN seta jirbaħ il-lokalità ta’ San Pawl il-Baħar. L-istess kif kien ġara fil-Mosta fl-2012 bil-voti li dakinnhar kienu inkisbu minngħand Robert Callus.

Min-naħa l-oħra kienet esperjenza ġdida l-kandidatura taż-żgħazugħa Monique Agius fuq Ħaż-Żebbuġ li kisbet 3.1% tal-voti l-ewwel darba li kkontestat.

Dan kollu jrid ukoll ikun ikkunsidrat fl-isfond tad-49.6% miksuba mill-LE fir-referendum kontra l-kaċċa fir-rebbiegħa. Dan ir-referendum kien riżultat ta’ petizzjoni li bdiet Alternattiva Demokratika flimkien ma’ 13-il għaqda ambjentali fil-pajjiż. Fil-parti l-kbira tagħhom dawk li ivvutaw LE m’humiex votanti li soltu jivvutaw Alternattva Demokratika. Huwa ovvju li fil-parti l-kbira tagħhom is-soltu jivvutaw lill-partiti oħra. Ta’ l-inqas fil-konfront ta’ uħud, dan mhux bil-fors jibqa’ l-każ u dan in vista tal-kummenti diversi minn dawk li ma qablux mal-posizzjoni li ħadu l-partiti l-kbar.

Din hi storja li għad trid tiżviluppa matul it-tlett snin li ġejjin. Jekk tiżviluppax jew le f’ċaqlieq ta’ votanti min-naħa għall-oħra tal-ispettru politiku huwa kmieni biex jingħad imma l-ingredjenti biex dan iseħħ qegħdin hemm. Għandek persentaġġ għoli ta’ votanti li ma mxewx mad-direzzjoni indikata mill-mexxejja tal-partiti l-kbar. Għal uħud mhux importanti li kellhom opinjoni differenti mill-mexxejja. Imma għal oħrajn li ivvutaw LE fuq prinċipju tal-ħarsien tal-bijodiversita fir-rebbiegħa il-mistoqsijiet mhux imwieġba huma interminabbli. Huwa l-ewwel darba li l-partiti l-kbar kellhom l-opportunità li jagħmlu għażla ċara. Għamluha u issa ħadd ma għandu l-iskuża li ma jafx fejn hu.

Għax bla ma trid bil-fors tirrifletti u tistaqsi lilek innifsek : kif tista’ tieħu posizzjoni favur l-ambjent fir-referendum u mbagħad ma tagħtix l-istess piz lill-ambjent f’elezzjonijiet oħra?  Għal uħud mill-votanti ma hemm xejn ħażin li l-ambjent jingħata prijorita sekondarja, imma għal numru dejjem ikbar jidher li dan mhux il-każ.

Kemm hu kbir dan in-numru għad irridu naraw. Kliem l-ambjentalista Alan Deidun fis-Sunday Times ta’ nhar il-Ħadd li għadda huwa ċar:

“Effectively, the spineless stance taken by both PL and PN MP’s effectively meant that over 124,000 Maltese citizens were not represented by their elected parliamentarians, bar one. This is the boldest of statements about our political class…..the aspirations of such a large minority have only been voiced by a party – AD – which is not even represented in Parliament…..yet another quirk of democracy.”

Din hi l-isfida li Alternattiva Demokratika għandha quddiema bħala riżultat tal-votazzjoni tal-11 t’April. Hi opportunità unika li mhux ser tirrepeti ruħha fil-futur qarib. Il-futur ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika jiddependi fuq kemm ser tkun kapaċi matul ix-xhur li ġejjin taddatta ruħha biex issarraf din l-opportunità.

Bħala konsegwenza tar-riżultat tal-11 t’April diversi qed jinteressaw ruħhom iktar fil-ħidma ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika. Dan jawgura tajjeb għall-futur għax jagħti l-possibilità lill-Alternattiva Demokratika li torganizza ruħha aħjar, biex twassal b’mod iktar effettiv il-messaġġ tagħha li l-ħarsien tal-ambjent jiddetermina l-kwalità tal-ħajja ta’ kull wieħed u waħda minna peró l-iktar ta’ dawk fil-periferija tas-soċjetà.

Ir-riżultat tal-votazzjonijiet tal-11 t’April fih iċ-ċavetta li biha jistgħu jinfetħu ħafna bibien li illum huma magħluqa.

Dejjem sakemm ma tilħaqx tinbidel is-serratura.