Letters: 18th May 2014

Leave the birds alone

I can agree with Phillip Sword that Chris Packham was a bit over the top, but he seems unaware or ignorant of the science of bird migration, like the shooting lobby in Malta.
During the spring migration from the South to the North, the birds are at their weakest, and any reduction in their numbers affects their breeding in Northern Europe. When they return south in the autumn they are in a much stronger in numbers and health. As for the few birds that breed in Malta in the spring, they –like all birds – should be left alone to produce their young unharmed.
I refer to all breeds of bird because there are still a few barbaric renegade shooters who will kill anything that flies, even at night, when they are roosting: as what happened to the Montegue Harriers again this year.  
Every year, protected species are killed regardless of the law, which thankfully has stamped on those caught with commendable zeal, although some of the fines have been much more than for crimes against “the person”.
It is not true that few shots are fired. Down in Marsaxlokk, from 6am it sounds like a battle – most of it from Delimara, where I’ve seen raptors shot at.
I understand the Police were a bit miffed with Packham since he didn’t highlight their increased efforts to counter illegalities.  
I’ve been coming to Malta for way over 20 years, and things have improved hell of a lot over that time – being in the EU has helped of course. Although the majority of the Maltese would prefer there to be no bird shooting at all.

David Castle, Lincoln, UK

Ad Nauseum

Mr Guillaumier’s letter under the heading ‘Papal hypocrisy’ (11 May 2014), is actually a
vitriolic coda to his ‘An art auction at the Vatican’ (16 March 2014) and ‘The Church should sell its rich art’, which appeared in another  paper.
The man sadly persists, ad infinitum and ad nauseam, in attacking the Heads of the Catholic Church, in what is apparently a vain and desperate attempt to drive home his sinister hatred of all things holy. Apparently, a reply to his allegations in the letter entitled ‘Wrong perceptions’ (30 March 2014) did not satisfy him.
Well, in an attempt to somehow get him to touch ground and appease his angst, I’d suggest we contact either Fr Xuereb or Mr Joseph F.X. Zahra, on their next stop in Malta, and ask them about the Holy’s See’s commitment towards poverty and people in need. These two dedicated men are both overseeing the reforms about the Vatican’s ‘scandal plagued accounts’, and I assure Mr Guillaumier that he will be awfully struck by the information provided.
In the meantime, he is always cobbling together pathetic and useless degrading remarks. I believe it is time for him to put a silencer on his rattling machine, for he is certainly behaving worse than a petulant child.

John Azzopardi, Zabbar

Cold hard look at migration

Traditionally with the coming of summer, political issues  recede from the centre of public attention and give way to village and town festas and relaxation on the beaches and at the sea side. For some years, this has not been the full story of the Maltese summer, since apart from holidays and merry-making June, July and August do also witness the landing of small boats filled with would-be migrants seeking a better future for themselves in Europe.
Malta and Gozo are over-populated islands and unfortunately cannot possibly accommodate these would-be migrants in this country and so although we assume responsibility for these persons saved at sea on humanitarian grounds, we look forward to an early resolution of this problem by the institutions of the European Union, after the renewing of their mandate following the Parliamentary elections later on this month.
The reason for this human traffic is the disparity in social conditions prevalent in the developing world when compared to that enjoyed in the advanced countries. The ‘Western’ world intelligentsia and political parties have over the past century revolutionised the political science by which these countries are governed, by applying to the concept of  worker full civil rights – as a result of the granting of citizenship. The establishing of this principle has opened the way to the ending of discrimination and persecution in society based on sex, gender, age, race or religious affiliation.
Another important innovation is the welfare state or welfare society that have become accepted norms in the advanced countries, although still being contested in several regions of the developing world in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Due to pressure from several lobby groups, the workers in several countries of the developing world are still subject to precarious economic conditions which were prevalent in Europe in the 19th century and are subject to political discrimination prohibited in the advanced countries. In the advanced countries in Europe, North America, Australasia and the Far East, workers have now been organised in trade unions and in political parties for decades.
Consequently, they can partake of benefits which were beyond the dreams of their fore-fathers centuries ago. Housing Estates have been built to cater for the needs of workers’ families and social services have been introduced like social security, education for all and generalised health care, making up a welfare system fitting the dignity of man. Alas, this state of affairs is now being challenged and changed for the worst even in the advanced countries with the introduction of precarious work on a much larger scale than hitherto.  
The disparity in social conditions between the advanced and developing countries has become more evident with the spread of the communication media. Thus since travel – even inter-continental travel – has become commonplace, workers in Africa, Asia and Latin America are on the move in their hundreds of thousands, if not in millions as economic migrants. Apart from these economic migrants there are those who because they have been engaged in political struggle have been forced to leave their countries as political refugees. Internal contradictions within individual countries have become international problems with movement of capital, goods, services and labour across continents on a level not seen before.
In our case as Maltese, this affects us in two ways: first, it makes our membership of the European Union a necessity since our country is too small to face such problems on our own. In the second case, since we are on the frontier of Europe we are affected disproportionately to our size by the numbers of migrants landing on our shores.
Thus it should be clear to one and all that all those migrants who do not qualify for refugee or humanitarian assistance are to be repatriated to their country of origin. The European Union should provide us with the necessary assistance, so that we may complete this process in a speedy and humanitarian manner, so that all the economic migrants landing on our shores may be sent back to their country of origin and Malta would only have to domicile the refugees and those migrants who qualify for humanitarian assistance on a quota basis commensurate with our population.  
Integrating these with the local population will in the course of time enable these newly-arrived to benefit from travel arrangements, possible to the Maltese within the European Union. The most important factor is that we understand the rules that we need to follow and act transparently and that the Internal Rules of the EU – in particular Dublin 2 – are changed as promised to the Maltese public by the two main contenders to the post of President of the European Union during their recent visits to Malta.

Mario Mifsud, Hamrun