From boycotts to cocaine busts

Politicians need to start talking about vision and convince themselves that winning elections is not the most important thing that counts

The judiciary should be left to decide in absolute serenity, but magistrate Antonio Micallef Trigona’s decision raises concern
The judiciary should be left to decide in absolute serenity, but magistrate Antonio Micallef Trigona’s decision raises concern

I am dreading to think what the political temperature will feel like when everyone returns from their vacation.

There is a rumour that the election will be held in 2017. My guess is that it will be in the first two months of 2018. With the EU presidency and the last budget in October 2017, I cannot see a snap election just before Christmas next year.

But it is clear that the Nationalist party is not believing that an election in 2017 is an impossibility. It has told all its candidates to withdraw from TV and radio programming on NET. As a result we will be unable to enjoy the narrative of David Thake who, I discovered rather late in the day, will be standing for election. He seems to think that one political party is different from the other, obviously not realising that there is little or no difference.  

And those who continue to believe that one is worse or better than the other should really start reading some history books. One thing that no one is informing Simon Busuttil of, is that he cannot win an election solely by preaching honesty. Okay, he may want us to see him as the most honest chap in the universe, which I am sure is not at all the case, but like all politicians who wield any power he is surrounded by a posse of hypocrites and dishonest individuals.

And his party is no exception. You do not win an election by pretending to be honest and straight as a ramrod, not after you would have spent countless years being the opposite – you win it because you have a plan and a dream which you make others believe in.

My fear is that the election campaign will kick in far too soon. It will be fearsome, scathing, unforgiving and very cruel. It will push people into their trenches and likely make them more intolerant and aggressive.

There is little doubt in my mind that on many issues there is good reason to lambast this government. But it is not always easy, or at all acceptable, to sit down and listen to homilies from people who have little or no credentials.  

In my mid-fifties, I cannot digest lectures from certain characters, especially those who were faithful servants of the State in their role as consultants, and who now in their pensionable age have rediscovered a revolutionary streak and are calling on people to boycott those who want to build towers. 

Not so long ago this character was receiving a handsome salary from this government, and not long before that from the previous incumbent at Castille.

The truth is that the rape of our environment has been happening for decades, but it will than a boycott of a company that sells an insurance or a Ford, or not to have a drink in the Hilton lobby, to stop it. I really wonder that anyone can be so incredibly bigheaded as to believe that is the solution. Is it really cricket for someone who has a settled life, and comfortable circumstances, after serving incompetent and perhaps corrupt governments as a well-paid consultant, to turn to Joe Bloggs and call on them to turn to boycotts?

While I may lack the eloquence of these people, I can boast that I was never part of the system. Most people do not get to be so lucky. They live abnormally stressful lives making ends meet, working hard for their families, and do not have the time, or the luxury, to resort to such tactics.

But this does not change the fact that a large number of people who do not have a pension in place or comfortable circumstances, are against rampant development. They are not complicated people, and do their best to get on with life. They may not read all the blogs, or have time to protest, but they love their country and the way it looks and do not like the changes they are seeing.

The truth is that Joseph Muscat has gone far too far with this notion that the only way forward is literally shafting the environment. And he has gone too far with the construction and building lobby. There is no respect for what Malta will look like in Muscat’s way of thinking, and he is wrong if he believes he can convince everyone that wealth and the creation of wealth are far more important than anything else.

We want to remain living in the Malta we love, not in some Singapore. It is here where we want to continue raising our families. We believe that our country is a worthy place to live in. It is about the quality of our surroundings, and we do not want that spoiled. Comfortable and well-off folk always seek to have a penthouse with a view, a farmhouse in a secluded spot, a villa without an adjoining construction. And inside their homes they want space, a clinical design, clean and nicely decorated and stylish, and of course a garden with a pool. But if everyone aims at that, and many achieve that, they will find they would have ruined their own dreams, because Malta is too small to accommodate all that luxury.

Politicians need to start talking about vision and convince themselves that winning elections is not the most important thing that counts. And up yours with empty slogans like ‘Malta Taghna lkoll’, and ‘onestà’.  They are empty and hollow words that have done nothing to make our lives better.

***

There is so much to write about, so the following will be short and to the point.

It is very important to remember that very often people have short memories, or prefer to be economical with the truth.  

When between 2008 and 2013 The Times applied to mount its own television programmes the minister responsible for TVM specifically saw to it that The Times did not get what it wanted. No one raised an eyebrow. No accusations were made about the government.

Does that justify the fact that Times Talk has now been removed? No, but it is important to know all and have a full background.

And when someone at The Independent talks of discrimination, it should be pointed out that the man who is paid handsomely and runs their newspaper, while also running his own private business, has been selected to have a drama on TVM.

But never mind, eh?

***

Magistrate Antonio Micallef Trigona has granted a 23-year-old Gozitan, Rodney Grima, son of a well known Gozitan contractor, bail against a deposit of €20,000, and a personal guarantee of €50,000 after being arrested in a cocaine bust. As if a huge deposit and even bigger guarantee justify bail in such a serious case. 

Grima is not exactly old news. He may be young but is rather well known in Gozitan circles, and the 15 kilos of cocaine with a street value that some say could run into hundreds of thousands of euros, if not millions, was destined for the local market, especially Gozo.

The judiciary should be left to decide in absolute serenity, but Micallef Trigona’s decision raises concern. His decision has nothing to do with justice. And it raises many questions.

If I were the Justice Minister I would be asking myself if the magistrate has any sense or is even fit for purpose. This is criminal. The very expensive team of lawyers who represented Grima, who include Joe Giglio (he co-presents Iswed fuq l-Abjad on NET TV and was recently drafted to draw up PN policies), will surely disagree with me. But then that is why I never wanted to be a lawyer.

***

Last Sunday, the revelation that religious orders, and the Gozo diocese, had invested in GAP developments and their 20-storey Fort Cambridge development led the Bishop of Gozo to issue a statement arguing that the investment took place at a time when GAP Developments planned building the structures “to the same height levels as the then existing buildings in the area and not the high-rise buildings that are the current issue”.

It is of course a lame statement, and if 20 storeys are not high-rise, I would like to know what is. It also shows how the Gozo diocese runs its finances. Next time Mario Grech preaches about the morality of money or something similar, take him for what he is. I am sure you need no further clarification of what I think of the Church and charlatans.

***

The kettle called the pot black. I have learnt that a Syrian national with a Libyan passport, who is making some serious allegations on the official responsible for medical visas, had his application for residency denied. The police did not bother about the man’s apparent clout, having denied his application on the strength of his so-called proponent, who happened to be Joe Sammut – Labour’s former treasurer many moons ago and a Labour election candidate. And until some time ago he was accused of being protected by the Muscat administration.

Well, if it is fine to mention that Neville Gafà, the official in question, was a school friend of Joseph Muscat, surely it is as pertinent to point out that the Syrian, Khaled Ben Nasan, was promoted by Sammut. Just for record’s sake! 

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