No to boycotts, yes to Burkinis

Calls for boycotts, as is equating big business with corruption and greed, are wrong. At the receiving end of boycotts are hundreds of employees.

Recently, there was call to boycott the Tumas and Gasan group of companies following government’s approval of high-rise buildings as proposed by these two groups for Mriehel and another by the Gasan Group for Sliema. Tumas and Gasan’s contribution to Malta’s economy is significant.

If the policies that allow for the development of high-rise buildings are wrong, then change those policies. 

Boycotts are not the way forward. I’m not suggesting that the authorities should green-light all their proposals or that civil society should not speak out against developments which they believe will have a negative impact on our environment. However, calls for boycotts, as is equating big business with corruption and greed, are wrong. At the receiving end of boycotts are hundreds of employees who are trying to make a living.

The anger over fish farms

An online report [] quoted a U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization report as saying that aquaculture will grow by 50 per cent over the next 15 years, while fisheries will probably only grow by a couple billion tons.

It is a fact that half the fish and seafood that is consumed today comes from fish farms. The alternative to fish farming is large-scale fishing. That is not sustainable. Admittedly, it comes at a cost including an environmental cost. Government are therefore right in insisting that illegalities should no longer be tolerated and fish farm activity should be away from the coast as is possible.     

Malta’s fish farmers have recently admitted – and about time too – that regulations need to be introduced and operations that are not strictly according to permits removed. Both administrations are to blame for today’s situation. The previous administration is to blame for having failed to enforce regulations – the current administration is three years late in addressing the matter. People are annoyed and rightly so. However, it would be a mistake to cave in to pressure by a handful of individuals who fail to put things into perspective and are calling on the authorities to banish fish farming operations in Malta. 

In 2014, fish farming contributed to 1.35% of Malta’s GDP – the equivalent of €70 million. The industry employs 1,000 people. Revoking their permits is not the way forward. Enforcing regulations, clamping down on illegalities and moving the cages as far out from the shore as possible is the only way forward – unless we want to cause untold harm to Malta’s economy.

What to do with Jerma Palace?

There have been suggestions for the Jerma Palace site to be turned into a public space once the hotel has been demolished. I disagree on two counts.      

Firstly, it would set a dangerous precedent wherein business ventures that go bust are bought by the government – taxpayer’s money. Secondly, the southern part of Malta is crying out loud for projects that help to regenerate the area and boost commercial activity.

The Jerma site should be developed into a new hotel and touristic complex. It will have a spill over effect on the rest of the Marsascala community and its neighbouring villages.

Burkinis: Let women decide 

The control of women’s bodies is nothing new. The case of the Muslim woman at the beach in Nice a few weeks ago is the latest in a long list of humiliations.   

A Muslim woman committed the grave sin and dangerous activity of wearing a burkini to the beach. Armed policemen forcefully removed her clothing. The undressing of Muslim women goes against women’s empowerment and has no place in today’s society. Those who are calling for a ban on Burkinis, as well as on the burka, view this clothing as a symbol of the ‘degradation of women’, an ‘anathema to the concept of women’s liberation’ and an icon of the ‘backwardness of Islam’.

It is a very misogynistic belief that no woman would freely choose to wear the veil, that she must be forced to wear it by her husband or father. What choices a woman makes are hers and hers alone, not for a politician or the state to decide. There is no place for the objectification of women in the 21st century.

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