Sins of the past and present blemishes

Lino Farrugia is expected to stay on as CEO of the FKNK, because the guys around the table of that executive committee do not have the balls to sack him 

FKNK CEO Lino Farrugia
FKNK CEO Lino Farrugia

So it seems to be acceptable for Lino Farrugia to assault a senior government official during an Ornis committee meeting and get away with it. As CEO of the hunting lobby, Farrugia effectively represents the reason why this government was elected with a 40,000 majority and keeps treating hunters like demigods. 

Lino Farrugia is expected to stay on as CEO of the FKNK because the guys around the table of that executive committee do not have the balls to sack him. Vintage Farrugia of course, since he has always used his clout to put pressure on politicians. Simply put, when hunting and trapping come under pressure, he becomes a nasty piece of work. 

And that’s how hunters and trappers, in general, think that they have some god-given right to do as they please and shoot at whatever flies, and take over public land and make it their own. 

Farrugia is certainly not new to controversy. When he organised protests and his faithful followers caused panic and threatened other people, he would typically be quite mellow in the criticism of their actions. Years back, at one of their protests, hunters raised a poster taunting the German NGO CABS (which operates in Malta) with the Holocaust, saying it should deal with that national legacy. Lino Farrugia was probably none the wiser about the outrageous comparison. 

Farrugia argues that Malta should be treated differently from the rest of the EU, which is why he was instrumental in bringing the Nationalist Party to their knees and managed to place his fingers on Labour’s testicles as well – just see their overtures to this lobby and the ministers lining up to have their photos taken with them. The parties are effectively puppets in his hands. 

Had it not been for Joseph Muscat, who rallied the troops in Gozo, the FKNK and Farrugia would not have won the spring hunting referendum by a few hundred votes. 

But it is clear that Farrugia is a man of the past, a man who thinks that no matter what, we should do as we please and keep hunting as if it were a human right. His greatest trump card is the election vote, the one thing that concerns the political parties, but most especially the Labour Party, that has been willing to sell its soul and defy the EU. 

So you can see what a bad kind of a joke it is when Labour calls itself the party of the environment, with its dismal track record on planning laws, its attack on the countryside, and its weak wildlife protection rules. 

The FKNK’s Lucas Micallef said the lobby should now “move forward”... in other words, let Lino Farrugia be, perhaps have him back in Ornis, and the rest of us get on with life. But I know Lino Farrugia. I’ve known him from those early days when I founded the Ornis Committee in 1999. And he is one of a kind, a man who serves his tribe’s cause  

An FKNK spokesman said that we should put the past behind us and get on with life. In other words, let Lino Farrugia back to the Ornis Committee. 

I knew Lino Farrugia from the very first days I founded the Ornis Committee in 1999. He is one of a kind, serving his cause as if the tribe he represents are fighting for their life, or that the activity they practice is a sacred mission in life, and that without hunters and trappers the world would be a sadder place. 

Farrugia cannot see the changing world and values, but he knows that our politicians are narrow-minded and only interested in getting elected. So fuck the rest... But Lino Farrugia must not be allowed to return to Ornis. And if the FKNK cannot take a decision, then the Prime Minister should. Assaulting a public official at an Ornis committee meeting is an unforgivable episode. 

Lino Farrugia should be past tense. 


Hili Ventures have decided to block San Niklaw bay and other paths in Comino. A similar situation exists at Fomm ir-Rih. Typically, the super-rich in this country do not only buy silence but they also decide what is the law. Access to the coast, supposedly protected at law, has turned out to be absolute bullshit. 

Nothing seems to irk the government of the day, no one seems to hear a word of disapproval from any MP or party trombone. If Sandro Chetcuti’s decision to block Fomm ir-Rih raised eyebrows and outrage in the newspaper columns, the decision to stop people from entering a popular bay would have raised a tsunami of complaints. But wait... it is Melo Hili and an upmarket tourism project we are talking about here! 

Here we are then, with nary a voice in protest because we are living in an age where many of us are exhausted, resigned to expect the worst, unable to find a voice that can give our fears and anger proper representation... or worse, refuse to embrace a courageous organisation like Graffitti, who have the gall to stand up and call a spade, a spade. We are simply resigned to think the established rich have acquired the right to bulldoze their way through anything they want. 

But people have to start speaking up, make sacrifices and take a stand. Because if we do not do that now, more of this island will be taken up and gobbled up by the rich lobbies that have silenced our political class, who believe they are doing us all a favour when they deface this little country of ours. 

It is time to talk of the unacceptable extension of the Excelsior hotel next to the bastions of Valletta. We need to back the NGOs that are speaking for the public, and petition our MPs to convince their leaders that action, not empty promises in electoral programmes, is what is needed. 

Robert Abela must respond to the general interests of the community, and not to the narrow-minded interest of companies and magnates driven by fast revenues and profits and greed. 


Last week, I referred to the Bank of Valletta payout in the Deiulemar saga, and I pointed my finger at those who should have been held responsible for past cases of litigation and financial mismanagement. I mentioned the former BOV Chairman Roderick Chalmers and former CEO Tonio Depasquale, and of course, there were those who were shocked that I suggested some form of accountability from these gentlemen. Present BOV chairman Gordon Cordina defended the board at the time when interviewed on Xtra. 

Other folk who prefer having a few politicians’ heads on a spike, took offence that I asked for the established elite to take responsibility. 

And it did not stop here. One commenter was incensed that my opinion had omitted to mention BOV’s archaeological origins – the great National Bank of Malta scandal. How my historical brevity on BOV could be somewhat connected to everything else that is wrong in Malta (the lexicon borrowed generously from the anti-Labour mantras) baffles me. After all, it was this newspaper that dedicated countless issues to recounting every single detail of the National Bank of Malta saga and reaffirmed this long-drawn-out case as a matter of national justice. 

Now, neither I nor anyone in my family has ever had a National Bank of Malta account. Yet this newspaper believed that the National Bank of Malta story, and the way it was aggressively taken over by Dom Mintoff (for good reason, others would say, but that’s another story), was a matter that deserved extensive reporting. We did it because we believed it was an interesting story that needed closure, not because we had an axe to grind or some family wound that needed healing. A newspaper does not see things through the prism of its owners’ interests, believe it or not, but by assessing its function to give readers truth in the marketplace of information. 

There is no question that the Deiulemar, Falcon Funds and La Vallette fiascos raise an issue of accountability at all levels, and that’s not something that should be borne by some hapless bank clerk, but by its top brass. Now I won’t expect everyone to give MaltaToday its due credit for what it reports about, but when it was reporting the National Bank of Malta’s tragic story, did any other media house bother to take up the story and talk about BOV’s skeleton in the closet? These scandals were not written about out of some self-interest or imagined benefit. On matters of justice, the victim’s political hue counts for nothing. 

It truly is a thankless job.