Letters, MaltaToday, 29 January 2016

Simon Busuttil
Simon Busuttil

Not fit for purpose

Another one of those “corruption scandal” stories – the story about the medical visas corruption allegations made by Libyan businessman Khaled Ben Nasan – used by the PN and its allies in the media to attack the PL government, is about to be blown to smithereens.

According to this report, the police investigations have given the result that the so-called ‘whistleblower’ Ben Nasan, who was making the allegations against civil servant Neville Gafa, had in fact been sending mobile phone death threats to himself using one of seven mobile phones he owns! The same report says that the police had found no proof whatsoever of any graft involving Neville Gafa, who not only had denied the allegations but had suspended himself from work until the investigation is completed. It is expected that Ben Nasan would in future be charged in court.

Although serious doubts had been cast about Ben Nasan’s allegations even by the representative of the Tripoli Administration, Simon Busuttil had attacked the government for “not protecting” Ben Nasan and went as far as to state that he (Simon Busuttil) would hold the prime minister “personally responsible” if something were to happen to Ben Nasan or his children!

Yet again, the leader of the opposition continues to prove that he lacks good political acumen. In his greed to clutch on to any story which he believes could earn him political points, he invariably ends up with egg on his face! Apart from his decision to accept Salvu Mallia as a PN candidate, this has happened to him also on the Individual Investor Programme (IIP), the AUM project, the Barth Medical School in Gozo, the Vitals Healthcare Group’s  projects in Malta and Gozo, and the last but certainly the biggest project, the ElectroGas power station at Delimara!

I said it and will say it again. Dr Busuttil is not fit for purpose as PN leader, let alone as an alternative prime minister.

Eddy Privitera, Mosta

A hand dealt from the bottom of the pack

Ok, you belly-aching Maltese. You’ve been griping for the last four years about how democracy has dealt you a toxic hand. What would you have done, had you been in America, democracy’s torch-bearer, and you were dealt The Donald?

You may not have done anything much, just as you haven’t here.

Perhaps all you would have “done” was to say that you were dealt a hand from the bottom of the pack, and called democracy a mockery, just as you seem to be calling the EU now. A trump card and a bum steer on a rogue map?

Joe Genovese, Birkirkara

Cecil Pace
Cecil Pace

Appreciation: Cecil Pace

As I set out on my career as a journalist, my budding years were also taken up by taking down notes from Cecil Pace when the business magnate was sharing his story with MaltaToday in 2003.

As Saviour Balzan will remark about that particular year, the BICAL stories – which detailed the rise and fall of Pace’s business empire at the hands of the Mintoff government – had been crucial in lifting the profile of MaltaToday. They are stories that merit revisiting and fine-tuning, especially since the pen with which they were written reflects the author’s youth.

Now that Cecil is no longer physically among us, it behoves me to share my memory of the gentleman. I was 23 and sat inside the large living-room of his Ta’ Xbiex home, Shangri-la. The stale smell of cigar smoke clung to the furniture inside his living room, where Cecil recounted the ordeal he endured when BICAL was taken under administration. He was generous and shared his Cohibas with me, and took interest in my unimportant musings on life, by dispensing grandfatherly advice on such mundane problems as relationships, family and work. He did this with kindness and patience, happy to share his time with me.

Cecil Pace’s dethroning in 1973, in the main resulting from his bank’s liquidity levels, was never a fact he shied away from. But when he recounted his ordeal, Cecil was angry (his anger never manifested itself in any form of rage) at the way his business empire had been ruthlessly dismembered and at what he felt was a wilfully long prison term designed to put him away for good.

He spoke fondly of his late wife, and children, with me; it was evident that his incarceration had taken a toll on his loved ones. He was also a devout Catholic who placed a great deal of importance on spirituality. From the way he spoke, I gathered that Cecil accepted with grace the ordeal he had endured, in that this was the plan, unenviable and unwanted though it was, that his life had to go through.

He was certainly a fighter. The injustice with which the control of his assets had been carried out, propelled him into long legal battles to challenge the wrongful administration of BICAL companies. It was an exasperating chore to endure such long drawn-out court cases to regain companies that were being broken off injudiciously.

There is no single anecdote that captures my experience of Cecil Pace. I remember him smiling, and also comforted that a newspaper had taken up his plight. And I also remember the cigars more than anything else. I never got the impression that Cecil was an unhappy man. As a business magnate he was no longer in ‘Xanadu’, but as a man of humility, he looked content in Shangri-la, where he enjoyed the memories of his wife and the company of his family.

Matthew Vella, Editor, MaltaToday