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frank_psaila
Frank Psaila

When civil society stood up to be counted

Whilst NGOs are ‘celebrating’ their ‘partial victory’, the government refuses to publish the heads of agreement with the Jordanian contractor.

frank_psaila
Frank Psaila
26 August 2015, 7:13am
Joseph Muscat tours the Dock No 1 Area that will be handed to Sadeen Group to develop into part of its American University of Malta. The split was a partial victory for Front Harsien ODZ. The government knows it cannot ride roughshod over NGOs unless it wants to pay a hefty political price for doing so (Photo: Ray Attard)
Joseph Muscat tours the Dock No 1 Area that will be handed to Sadeen Group to develop into part of its American University of Malta. The split was a partial victory for Front Harsien ODZ. The government knows it cannot ride roughshod over NGOs unless it wants to pay a hefty political price for doing so (Photo: Ray Attard)
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s decision to reduce the size of the Zonqor footprint for, what we are told, is the new American University of Malta (AUM) has been welcomed by Archbishop Charles Scicluna and described as a ‘partial victory’ by the Front Harsien ODZ.

They, together with other NGOs, the independent media and the Nationalist Party have been vociferously against Muscat’s original plans to allocate huge tracts of ODZ land at Zonqor to a Jordanian contractor.

They presented a united front against government plans, and Muscat was caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place. He had no option but to reduce the size of the intended Zonqor footprint and split the ‘Campus’ between Zonqor and Cottonera.

It was a partial victory for the Front Harsien ODZ – kudos to the likes of Michael Briguglio and James Debono. The government knows that it cannot ride roughshod over environmental NGOs unless it wants to pay a hefty political price for doing so.

Publish the agreement

Whilst NGOs are ‘celebrating’ their ‘partial victory’, the government refuses to publish the heads of agreement with the Jordanian contractor. We’re giving tracts of public land and property to a foreign businessman, but we are completely ignorant of the details to this agreement. Let’s just hope that this will not turn into a complete nightmare.

Not in consultation mode

The morning after announcing his decision to split the ‘university campus’ between Zonqor and Cottonera, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat visited Cottonera and was welcomed by a small crowd of Labour party supporters who, like the rest of us, have no clue about the details of the agreement with the Jordanian contractor.

Barely had Muscat left Cottonera, that we learned that the government did not inform the Cottonera Rehabilitation Committee, ahead of its announcement, about its decision to give Dock No. 1 to the Jordanian contractor. The committee chairman, Charles Flores, found out about it through the news reports. He’s reported to have welcomed the decision.

An opportunity lost

After months of endless parliamentary sittings, public demonstrations, newspaper articles and TV programmes discussing the pro and cons of the Zonqor development, our political parties and NGOs failed to chart the way forward on the use of public land in Malta. Another opportunity lost at the expense of future generations.

Labour’s first two and a half years in government

Its two and a half years since Joseph Muscat recorded a massive victory at the general election. Here are what, many believe, were the new Labour government’s best measures, and its worst. 

Best: The introduction of civil unions for same sex couples; free childcare; launch of the National Literacy Strategy; Implementation of the last tranche of the PN government commitment to cut the income tax rate from 29% to 25%; better paid maternity leave; energy tariffs reduced by 25% for households

Worst: Meritocracy; transparency; traffic management; overcrowding at the Mater Dei Hospital; the building of a new power station at Delimara way behind schedule – this was the kernel of Labour’s electoral programme; environmental credentials and the MEPA reform: environmentalists claim that the situation at MEPA has gone from bad to worse.

Let the experts decide

As the government reviews proposed amendments to IVF legislation, the women’s sections of the Labour and Nationalist Party trade barbs on surrogacy and embryo freezing. Hopefully this discussion will not degenerate into another political football. Let the experts decide – please.

No sleepless nights

After many a sleepless night trying to find ‘solutions’ to Greece’s financial problems, EU leaders are now too exhausted and unable to afford more sleepless night this time to find a solution to another massive challenge faced by Athens – thousands of illegal migrants crossing over from Syria. It’s a humanitarian not a financial crisis – it can wait. Shame.

Merkel created Tsipras

German Chancellor Angela Merkel continues to face huge political challenges at home as she faces the prospect of presiding over the breakup of the euro. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras goes to the polls, in a snap election, next month. His country is in a mess and his political future uncertain. Merkel and Tsipras are politically poles apart, but the German Chancellor has only herself to blame for Tsipras’ rise to power. German-scripted austerity in Athens gave Tsipras the fertile ground he needed to flourish. Merkel created Tsipras.

frank_psaila
Frank Psaila, a lawyer by profession, anchors Iswed fuq l-Abjad on Net TV. He was formerly...
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