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Vella Gera turns down Republic Day medal

Best-selling author says he won't be made pawn in “insidiousness of the Maltese political game”

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella
13 December 2013, 12:00am
Alex Vella Gera: I feel I’ve made the right choice not to involve myself in this farce.
Alex Vella Gera: I feel I’ve made the right choice not to involve myself in this farce.


The best-selling author of Is-Sriep Regghu Saru Velenuzi has turned down a Republic Day honour to be awarded the medal for service to the republic.

Alex Vella Gera, who lives in Brussels, was to be awarded the same honour awarded to Mark Camilleri.

Camilleri was the editor of student pamphlet Ir-Realtà, who published a short story by Vella Gera entitled Li Tkisser Sewwi. The story was reported to the police by the rector of the University of Malta and the two were charged under obscenity laws, but later acquitted. The Attorney General appealed the judgment, but the Appeals Court upheld the acquittal.

While Camilleri, today chairman of the National Book Council, accepted the award, Vella Gera said he felt he could not accept even though like Camilleri, he faced the prospect of jail under the outdated obscenity laws.

"I cannot accept an honour from the Maltese political class which, apart from some exception, has been causing so much damage to my country," Vella Gera announced on Facebook.

"I see clear contradictions in this honours' list, amongst them a Russian politician who is close to Vladimir Putin, whose anti-gay campaign we know so well about, and at the same time there's transsexual Joanne Cassar... I feel I've made the right choice not to involve myself in this farce, where someone who is given a national honour becomes a pawn in the insidiousness of the Maltese political game."

Vella Gera said he was refusing the honour in the "name of a future where genuine, independent spirit is truly freed from the cage of partisanship, and in the name of those forces who fight the superficiality and mediocrity of this republic."

On his part, Mark Camilleri accepted the award but failed to turn up at the ceremony.
matthew_vella
Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.
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Yanika Chetcuti
@bidlafilgvern <<>> You have hit the nail on the head with "why are Maltese authors all "based in Brussels" today?" A very realistic answer is "jobs for the difficult boys" by the PN. Now that was one way to silence and power down critics. Very effectively used by GonziPN/RCC!
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THOMAS BORG
Snob.
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Raymond Mintoff
Malta's own John Lennon, get a life Alex. It's been done before nothing new. You are behind the times.Are we supposed to be impressed?
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kudos!
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Janice Sant
I can understand what the young Gera might be feeling, but at the end of the day if you want to survive you have to belong. SimonPN is trying to make us forget that it was them (simonPN)that tried to crucify Gera on the cross of the convenient and conservative Maltese Courts.
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Anneke Grixti
It seems that in Malta one becomes a Hemingway or a Huxley by writing a mentioning human body parts many times over. What was that again? Superficiality and mediocrity? Precisely.
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Raymond Mintoff
Nice gimmick, next step write a book or present yourself for the MEP elections. You are so retro.
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David B
@historian Oh come on credit the man with a mind of his own. If anything, it was a highly predictable action that those who recommended Vella Gera for the national award could have anticipated had they read his book Is-Sriep Regghu Saru Velenuzi. Your comment Is a sad reflection of the paucity of the public discourse on culture which allows politicians across the political divide to take advantage . You are assuming that Art should kowtow to the political agenda. A mature European democracy is the one that is not afraid of letting its artists speak their mind and acknowledges that Art and Culture flourish best when politicians keep their distance.
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Another one has made the news, even though in a negative manner! Who on earth decided to give a medal to such people? There are many more authors in Malta who deserve such a medal. On what merits were these two chosen? Just because they made news about controversial writings?
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Manuel Scicluna
Here's a man who despises politicians as much as I do. I thank him for that.
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emmanuel grech
Best-selling author?!!!!!! You're joking of course.
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Karl Cucciardi
Is-sriep regghu saru velenuzi!
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Marcus Iwanik
Alex Vella Gera, now there is a man of principles. He, and that is very unusual for a Maltese refuses to be mixed up with Maltese Politics. Mr Vella Gera deserves the medal but not if it comes with the politics of the day. I salute Alex Vella Gera for his candidness and I nominate him to receive a medal for refusing to fall into the Maltese politics trap. We should learn from this man.
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I am sorry to say it Alex,but you are using the same lingo the PN MEP.s have been using there recently.Why should a good writer involve himself in any political controversials.Its your decision.But a popular newspaper correspondent also tempted another inline for the award to refuse it.
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justin spiteri
Well said, by a man of sound principles.
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@bidlafilgvern- 'dirty stories'? How old are you, 5? And is that all you read in this story? Seems to me that some travel would indeed do you good. Well done Alex-a decision that is a statement and one that speaks volumes.
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@bidlafilgvern- 'dirty stories'? How old are you, 5? And is that all you read in this story? Seems to me that some travel would indeed do you good. Well done Alex-a decision that is a statement and one that speaks volumes.
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Anneke Grixti
What a fuss! I don't think that a writer of dirty stories merits medals anyway. And another thing: why are Maltese authors all "based in Brussels" today? Writing novels about dubious Maltese characters who shuttle between the Belgian capital and Malta? Is this the only thing which can be the subject of a novel in Maltese? And does living in Malta somehow not inspirational enough for writers?
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George Busuttil
My sincere respects, sir. Mr Vella Gera does not need a medal to highlight his service to the nation but he is undoubtedly a beacon for those who are disillusioned with the blatant hypocrisy of our political elite.
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mario grillo
ukoll !!!!!!!!! Camilleri jista jkun awtur tajjeb pero zgur mhux il persuna li torganizza l-book fair. Vroma kbira din is sena.
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David B
That's the real service to art and literature. I think Alex Vella Gera hit the nail on the head. Good on him!
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ruth mallia
Qbizt ghalih meta nqala' dak il-ghajb dwar il-'Li tkisser sewwi' u ma soghobinix. Nirrispetta din il-ghazla tieghu
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ruth mallia
Qbizt ghalih meta nqala' dak il-ghajb dwar il-'Li tkisser sewwi' u ma soghobinix. Nirrispetta din il-ghazla tieghu