Letters: 28 February 2016

Auto-goals galore

Indeed yes, and your correspondent scores a beauty, cracking shot (Michael Falzon, 21 February, 2016).

For your enlightenment both the Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University and constitutional expert Professor Ian Refalo have confirmed in print that Owen Bonnici was absolutely correct in his interpretation of the Constitution of Malta concerning the nomination of Caroline Farrugia Frendo as a magistrate.

This exposes the shrieks of Dr Busuttil and his cohorts as being based on ignorance. 

Furthermore, his attempts at bullying the President into doing the will of the Opposition over this matter show a worrying dictatorial tendency which would surely not be well appreciated by the majority of the Maltese population, were he ever to convince enough of them to elect him.

It is amazing that the Opposition in Malta are not learning how to do their job properly, but keep repeating the same error as “fools rushing in”, without proper preparation or analysis.

Another recent own goal was Marthese Portelli spouting that “oil is at its lowest price ever”, which displays such ignorance that one trembles at the thought of her ever running a ministry.

Indeed, at a time when mistakes in governance may well have been made, it is troubling to see that the proposed alternative seem to be incapable, even under far less stress, of offering a better replacement. Furthermore it is extremely doubtful whether anyone in the Opposition could begin to achieve anything near to the brilliant progress made by the economy, which benefits all the Maltese people.

Michael Turner, Hamrun

MCA decision on GO billing

With reference to the article published on 18 February, 2016 (Consumers’ Association says GO’s discriminatory €2 fee on bills must be removed), the Malta Communications Authority (MCA) would like to distinguish between two separate and distinct charges mentioned in the article, namely (i) billing charges, and (ii) methods of payment charges.

The MCA would like to remind the public that with reference to billing charges, towards the end of 2015, it launched a consultative process specifically addressing the issue of paper bill charges applied in the electronic communications sector. The MCA sought views on proposed measures that would enable subscribers to have access to their bills in a medium that they can access free of charge.

One measure in particular proposed that post-paid subscribers, who do not have access to the internet, are provided the possibility of receiving their ‘standard bills’ in hard copy format, free of charge.

This measure is also being extended to telephony services, where it is being proposed that post-paid subscribers, having no access to the Internet can obtain their itemised bills, in hard copy format, free of charge.

The Authority’s final decision on the subject is expected to be published in the coming months.

On the other hand, the issue of ‘methods of payment charges’, in this case charges applied to subscribers who opt to pay their bills via alternative means other than direct debit, falls outside of the MCA’s remit and is being addressed by the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority (MCCAA) which is to date the competent Authority responsible for this matter.

Sharon Scerri, Malta Communications Authority

'Harmless' firearm confiscated

Some weeks ago I was unusually surprised and most struck with dismay, when two police officers appeared at my residence in Swieqi, demanding the immediate handover of my harmless – and as had been officially licensed ‘hammerless and without registration number’ – automatic pistol.

I was hastily made to sign a briefly typed note addressed to Dr John Lewis Curmi without any official explanation for the unexpected seizure of this ‘harmless’ firearm, as licensed, and which had been in my possession for some years and was of great sentimental value to me.

Ever since I had turned 18 years of age, I had been strongly recommended not only to “purchase and keep” a firearm by the late CID senior superintendent Emmanuel Calleja, whose eldest son, Brigadier Maurice Calleja is still recognized and actively contributing as a leading and experienced forensic expert; but also encouraged to join the Malta Police Force, which at the time had not appealed to my parents.

Police records will attest to the fact that at age 21, I was issued with a special police licence to “export and carry abroad an automatic 635mm firearm”. Besides, I can prove that all firearms that I had kept in my possession, at different addresses in Malta, had been kept in a safe place, and, invariably covered by police authorization.

Regrettably, it later transpired that, prior to this confiscation  of my “harmless” pistol, a government social worker had also turned up at my home for the purpose of interviewing both my wife and myself, who, unfortunately, are separately suffering serious physical and health shortcomings, and urgently require medical intervention, as certified and on account of our very advanced age.

While in my study, this social worker must have observed the pistol under reference on a bookshelf  close by.  I, therefore assumed that when she was also having a friendly chat with my wife, the latter had also remarked, “my husband keeps a firearm” – which the social worker subsequently reported not just to superiors but also to the police at St Julian’s police station.

Consequently, a screed of complaints to the police by telephone promptly emanated from me. Most regrettably, however, I am still deprived of my perfectly innocuous firearm.

John Louis Curmi, Swieqi

Still waiting for January exam results

There are two examination sessions every year at the University of Malta – in January and June – where a subject within a course is finalised with examinations, assignments or both.

Five of us are still waiting for our January results, and I wonder what is taking so long. Understanding lecturers’ busy schedule, we are currently wondering what grades we got for our first semester. Even the examination timetable of June is now out. Most of my lecturers are quite efficient and great with us, however my suggestion is to hire more lecturers to correct examinations. We are only a small group and are still waiting for our results, what about the big groups, such as lawyers and doctors in which roughly, within a scholastic year, there are at least 100.

Taking it from a student’s perspective, it is quite necessary to have more hands on deck when it comes to correcting examinations and assignments. In addition to this, university students will most probably agree with me when I say that most assignments are around more or less 7,500 words in length, notwithstanding those of computing – having programmes to present.

I have my doubts that one lecturer (maybe two or three) would consider looking into each assignment if in a big group, such as those mentioned above. It is better for everyone to have more people organising our university better – Malta is considered to have an excellent education, so why not strive to be better?

Jael Busuttil

B.Sc Human Language Technology

University of Malta