Panettone politics by Palumbo

If Palumbo did not want to have legal fees to pay, he could have gone to the root of the noise problem and eliminated it. 

It is with grave concern that we announce that the complaints raised by the irate residents of Senglea against the Italian company Palumbo are simply offensive, vexatious, invented and a direct threat to the Maltese maritime sector.

The last comment on the maritime sector must find its origins in a moron.

It is of course impossible to comprehend and believe that a reputable Italian company such as Palumbo could possibly have drummed up such an environmental threat.

I really think that in the spirit of carnival the Sengleans should erect a gigantic middle finger and attach it in an upright position to the bastions for Palumbo to see.

Palumbo believes, and I have no doubt he does, that his company is doing Malta a favour and that we owe him an eternal thank you.

Palumbo, you see, lives by the same yardstick as many big businesses do which operate in Italy and Malta.

And Palumbo is no newcomer to environmental court cases. He has faced legal procedures over a very serious case linked to illegal dumping of waste in Messina, Sicily. His collaborators have already been condemned to two and three years, in March 2015, and according to an online Italian media report Palumbo is waiting for a verdict on the same case.

Antonio and his son Raffaele were accused of using maritime transport to dump tonnes of residual ship grit which is sprayed, using high-pressure compressors, to treat ships’s sides. 

The Italian police accused them of criminal association in committing crimes against the environment, particularly in the traffic and illegal organisation of hazardous waste. The Palumbos were also charged with tampering evidence, specifically the identification papers of the waste their ships carried.

So it appears that Palumbo, who was even placed under house arrest in 2013, is not exactly a novice when it comes to being accused of environmental misdemeanours.

This week Palumbo asked his Maltese lawyer to try some arm twisting. A case instituted by the residents of Senglea against an ongoing din during the night supposedly originating from the shipyard, was decided in Palumbo’s favour, and Palumbo called on the residents to pay up his legal fees or face the freezing of their assets.

He wants his pound of flesh.

Now I am quite sure that advocate Matthew Brincat, the lawyer from Mallia & Associates, knows the law inside out. But a lawyer is a lawyer, and will not turn down any case. That, after all, is how they make their money.

It cannot be that he does not realise, or has not metabolised, that his demand to have Palumbo’s legal fees paid by the residents is a gimmick. A very cheeky gimmick, to start with. If Palumbo did not want to have legal fees to pay, he could have ignored the residents’ case. Or, better still, get to the root of the noise problem and eliminate it. To let the residents have their beauty sleep. As he does, in his cosy residence.

I guess he has seen too many of those films set in downtown New York and Chicago where big Italian business runs amok among the small town folk who dare speak up.

Palumbo of course has all the money in the world to pay his lawyer but he wants to send a message that he is not one to be trampled on and shafted around with. He also wants to instil fear in the residents. You have taken liberties this time, don’t try it again, he must be wanting to say.

Well I guess, one needs to inform Signor Antonio Palumbo, in a no nonsense manner, that Malta is a far cry from Naples and Sicily.  

We may have the Italian looks and Latin hormonal levels but we have a little more respect for civil society than our neighbours. And we have a little more disrespect for those who think that they can have their way in the world just because they have tonnes of money.

We are not ones to genuflect when we see someone with loads of money. Most Maltese still have enough pride to know that we all have a mouth to use in eating, and the same goes for defecation – everyone has the same outlet.

Worse still, in the proceedings of a court case that was instituted by the police, the workers at Palumbo walked to Castille.  

They claimed that they should be allowed to work and that they had a right to work.  It was as if we are in a Banana republic (though PN leader Simon Busuttil believes that we are, even though he failed to notice that we have been a Banana Republic for longer than he admits) and the PM is supposed to stop residents from complaining.

These were a handful of workers, a small grouping compared to the angry thousands that once ran the former docks, and instilled fear in the country.  

In previous years, there were hardly any concerns about standards at the docks, because (1) we had no standards and (2) the dockyards were the biggest employer.  

Most of the workers hailed from the surrounding areas and could not care if they lived in polluted environments.  

Today we are living in a different political and cultural context.

Years later, we have zero tolerance for noise, emissions and waste. We also have EU directives and in Malta we try to respect them, unlike other places in Europe, which treat directives with disdain, if not worse.

We as Maltese may not be virginal about all these concerns but at least we try.  

We stand up to be counted, to counter governments, local councils, big business and contractors. The media play their part and the media in Malta, unlike that in Italy (which is subsidized by the State) is not all influenced or run by big business.

In the Italy which Palumbo hails from, civil society is far from active, the Italian media is complacent and local politicians are even more tight lipped than the ones we have in Malta.

In the threat to freeze the assets of those who protested, lawyer Matthew Brincat emulated the common sense of a typical pompous Italian advocate who applies what he (not she) has at his disposal to intimidate the common citizen.

I guess it is completely legal and legitimate. But it is bloody wrong and unethical.

What we all should be doing is telling Antonio Palumbo that this is Malta not Naples or Messina and that people have only one price and it is dignity and respect. If Palumbo thinks that doing business comes with no respect for the rights of residents then he is wrong.

And in my case, the next time he decides to deliver a Panettone for Christmas I suggest he redirects it to his lawyer Brincat, who is so badly in need of getting paid.  The bright lawyer would definitely love to gobble one of those delicious and unique Panettone’s for free.

I for one am not impressed with freebies and presents, less impressed when the purveyor of the freebie happens to be someone who thinks that everyone is expected to understand that his business comes first and the rest is all very irrelevant.