Thank God it's Easter

I trust you heard the great news. Alan Camilleri – the man who runs MaltaEnterprise and who said he would sue MaltaToday for libel every time we mentioned him – has decided to leave his job and exile himself.

If he and his colleague Jesmond Bonello of Content House (and a diehard government supporter) believe they will shut me up every time I mention them, they are very mistaken.

Well, if you ask me, the business community and all those at the industrial parks have been sending off a frenzy of 'smilies' and wild hurrahs to each other, celebrating the news that he will be gone forever.

It is a pity that Malcolm Miller of the Independent has now decided not to take the job. But then, he has enough on his plate and he has no interest being in the public eye, most especially after Louis Farrugia's The Times took his digital printing press to task.

Strangely, many people forget that MaltaEnterprise has unnecessarily sub-contracted its legal office to Mario de Marco's (of The Times) legal firm.

Alan Camilleri was considered not only a 'kiesah' by Maltese standards but someone who stifled the investment process with his lack of vision. He was considered to be part of the Gonzi posse, the one that includes his brother Ivan - a prejudiced writer with The Times and his bosom friend and former Times' journalist turned publisher and publicist Jesmond Bonello (more on Jesmond Bonello next week).

Finance Minister Tonio Fenech praised Alan Camilleri for all his work before the announcement, ignoring of course the fact that many people in his own ministry acknowledged that they had a problem with Camilleri's attitude towards clients.

Camilleri has no shame. He announced in public that he was leaving to support his foreign boyfriend who will be continuing with his medical studies abroad.

Well, I do not believe this to be the real truth but then, we are all entitled to believe what we want to or not.

Camilleri has been spending all the time he needs with his boyfriend. Last year, I was given a calendar of all the time his boyfriend spent at his office.

At the time I steered away from mentioning it for fear of being accused of being a homophobe, but now that he mentions the relationship himself, I cannot see why I cannot refer to it.

Camilleri runs a public-funded agency, not his own business. If it was his business he could do whatever the hell he likes. 

He told his close associates that he would like to "leave his legacy" at MaltaEnterprise. With the life science complex being built, he has accumulated overruns of 10 million euros, not to mention the 'temporary' HQ for MaltaEnterprise - which he created in his own 'Caesar'-like tastes - which also has overruns that have to be compounded.

But just to give everyone an idea, the temporary base for Malta Enterprise, housed in the former Nurses' quarters at Pieta, apart from having a luxe setting, even has stainless steel dustbins installed around its perimeter.

Nowhere in Malta does one find stainless steel garbage cans.

But then I guess even trash has to be respected and treated with dignity!

But Camilleri represents in my mind what best exemplifies the new way of doing politics: the politics of bigotry.

When I asked the Prime Minister, ages ago, about his take on 'gay partnerships', Alan Camilleri - then the PM's PRO - rudely interrupted and told me that these were not questions one could ask the Prime Minister.

Little did I know that Alan Camilleri was in fact gay.

Nothing wrong with that I guess.

But why was the question 'not right' at the time?

Years later the Prime Minister has surprisingly embraced gay partnerships in his biggest U-turn of all, much to the disdain of conservatives who are proud to be Nationalists. The same Nationalists who braved Tal-Barrani when Gonzi was not there.

But this kind of hypocrisy was seen at its best during the Papal visit. The protocol organised by the Prime Minister's office was captained by two individuals who are themselves separated and have partners. 

Again nothing wrong with that, until that is the Prime Minister's office issued a directive that MPs who were separated and had a partner could not attend Mass.

A perfect case of bigotry.

But back to Alan Camilleri, who went so far as to issue a directive to all his MaltaEnterprise employees about body hair and bulging wallets at the back of one's trousers and what not.

Again, instead of wasting time on investment, he was more preoccupied with the niceties so often found in a fashion outlet in Galerie Lafayette.

Needless to say, no one had the gall to remind him that his profile on the gay site 'Gaydar' promoted by his good self pictured him in an unsightly t-shirt, and that his preferences were - and read these words - for burly men with HAIR.

I rest my case.

But Camilleri, a former Theology student, remains a character in this Faustian setting directed and produced by Lawrence Gonzi, where no one has the balls to turn round to him and say: "I am sorry Alan, this is not on. And you must leave."

Tony Blair I guess had the courage to face his ministers and tell them that they should leave. He did it to his best friend Peter Mandelson when he failed to declare a loan.

Just imagine Gonzi doing it to Tonio Fenech, after his bungling experience with the works at his house and the private jet saga.

Indecisiveness is perhaps endemic to Gonzi's great new way of doing politics - which is why a group (more on this in the weeks to come) within the Nationalist Party discussed a plan to oust him. 

His lack of decisiveness to, for example, face Franco Debono and call his bluff and not allow the country to be held to ransom, is perhaps, his biggest weakness.

***

If Alan Camilleri is worried about his legacy, he shouldn't be, I will be there to remind everyone else about his contribution to our great little nation.

But if there is someone who continues to believe that he is right and that everyone else is wrong, then surely it is Albert Mizzi.

I seemed to have forgotten what happened years before, when in 2007, the then Chairman of the Valletta Rehabilitation Centre Ray Bondin was unceremoniously removed from his post.

He had said in The Times that the Tigne project threatened the status of Valletta according to Unesco.

That comment was not taken lightly.

He was removed.

It is no secret that Albert Mizzi does not take criticism lightly. He is renowned for his litigious streak. He can be found in court over small and big issues and leaves no stone unturned.

The other day, in court, I listened to a case instituted against Josie Muscat who had taken umbrage against the Tigne development.

What Muscat said is perfectly true!

Let's face it, the whole peninsula at Tigne is a bloody eyesore. If there is any architect who thinks that there is something special in that design then they should speak up. It is like a bunch of bird cages stacked on each other. Renzo Piano would feel at home.

Now Albert Mizzi has admitted that the design could have perhaps been more considerate (my words), and surprisingly some days later, Chief Executive at Tigne, Ben Muscat, resigns.

Kumbinazzjoni, we would say in Maltese.

Well, everyone is entitled to believe what he wants.

But Mizzi's greatest quote is his comment about dishonest politicians - a comment that has of course led to a plethora of comments from readers and so many others.

None all of us have the memory and venerable age of Mizzi, but some do, and some do remember and it is no secret that Mr Mizzi was very close to Dom Mintoff, a politician who dominated Malta for over 50 years.

Was he referring to Mintoff?

When Mintoff faded into oblivion (because everyone does have an expiry date), Mizzi in spite of being ferociously attacked by Fenech Adami in a mass meeting (when the PN were in opposition) found this way of getting close to Fenech Adami.

And Fenech Adami, like all good politicians, swallowed his pride and words and welcomed him into the grand family of politicians and businesses.

The late Joe Fenech had an important role to play here.

Mizzi has had it good. If he is complaining then what should we be saying about politicians?

But he cannot say that politicians presented him with major hurdles. If anything they bent over backwards to accommodate him.

And if he argues that this is not the case, then really we must be living in two different worlds.

To accuse politicians of being dishonest comes at a time when he is concerned that Manoel Island may no longer be a viable investment project and that he will not be able to sell property there. 

And there have been suggestions that we should pay Mizzi back and get Manoel Island back. 

Really, there is no end to this farce.

First of all, we should remember at what price and what conditions Tigne and Manoel Island were given to this consortium.

Then perhaps we should start asking what the consortium was obliged to do.

It is about time that we start calling a spade a spade, and wave goodbye to the era of Dom Mintoff and Eddie Fenech Adami. The idea of giving out large tracts of public land to big business behind people's back is no longer on.

This is a different era, in which the third pillar in democracy - the media - have an important role.

In my humble opinion, the original plans for Manoel Island should be adhered to. If the plans need to be adjusted then MEPA - which is bloated with extra staff and constantly complaining about lack of staff - should hurry and get over with the job.

If there is something we do not know from Albert Mizzi, then he should speak up.

If he has a change of mind over developing real estate at Manoel Island, then that is his problem not ours. 

It is about time we stand up and call a spade a spade. I am sick and tired of listening to people grumble and whisper and do nothing about this state of affairs.

***

The spring hunting season will be opened. And the hunters who are still grumbling (this opinion is penned before their Saturday press conference), continue to believe they can still hunt.

The Prime Minister and the leader of the Opposition continue to pander to the hunting lobby. Muscat, with all his progressive thoughts, still refuses to take a clear stand on hunting. Either that, or else just dances to the tune of the hunters' lobby.

It is a pity that in 2012 we remain with this ingrained problem. 

If it were not for EU membership we would still have unbridled hunting and trapping. 

In this regard our politicians do not have the guts to stop hunting. The only politician who legislated to curb hunting was Mintoff in 1980. And that was the first legislation about bird hunting after 1937.

And he only did this after nearly being thrown off his horse after a hunter fired a shotgun on the Marsa horsetrack.

Then again, I can understand that on the eve of an election both political parties do not consider hunting to form part of the bigger picture. But there are so many small pictures in the bigger picture that never get sorted because of electoral expediencies.

Worse however, is MEPA's role in this matter. 

The Nature unit headed by a former 'Din l-Art Helwa' stalwart Petra Bianchi has allowed this all to happen; waving the green card to politically appointed Louis Cilia of the Ornis committee to allow spring hunting to take place. 

Even worse is MEPA's decision to allow scientists close to the hunting lobby to carry out a scientific study, when this study was taken to the pieces by respectable bodies such as the British Trust for Ornithology.

Once again, there is no respite for our feathered friends who are shot down from the sky and the beasts that they shoot down from the sky.

***

Well done Louis (Farrugia), for raising the price of gas once again.  Quite surprising, considering that the price of gas around the world is going down. More bizarre is the fact that the price increase was announced by Liquigas and not by the Malta Resources Authority.  

I suggest The Times - where Louis Farrugia is a director and backed undoubtedly by Mario de Marco - investigates why the gas price increase for the consumer (10kg) was higher than the gas price for the 'industrial' clients (25kg) in fact decreased.  

If there is any logic here it is to be found in the profit motive of every company. Milk the consumer until you can.

Just in case The Times are short of staff, I could give them a hint or two.

(1)     The MRA have no teeth.

(2)     The consumers are subsidising Liquigas's relatively cheaper price of gas for industry.

(3)     Louis Farrugia of The Times wants to win over the sale of gas to industry where Liquigas does not have a dominant position.

(4)     Liquigas are making profits which are completely unjustified.

Footnote:  Two weeks ago, I gave the impression that Malta International Airport should be nationalised. 

I meant to say that the Maltese public should take over the Austrian shares and appoint a Maltese to run the show. And on windfall tax, I did not say the wrong thing.

I should have added that one needs to impose a windfall tax just the same way Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair did.

And instead of only including the banks, include other companies which have taken over government- run services. And these should include Joe Said's Maltapost and Louis Farrugia's Liquigas.

 

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Luke Camilleri
Hekk sew? Cekciekulna u telaq l'hemm ma siehbu.... Ghandhu minn fejn jaghtih is-support b'kuntratt bhal dan li sewwa aktar minn €10 million milli progetat! Ifakarni f'Eddie li kien jigi jaqa u jqum li jintilfu 10 miljuni l'hawn u ghaar miljuni l'hemm... http://www.maltatoday.com.mt/en/businessdetails/business/businessnews/Life-Sciences-Centre-to-cost-additional-10-million-20120409 Under outgoing chairman Alan Camilleri's helm, Life Sciences Centre to cost additional €10 million
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"Alan Camilleri – the man who runs MaltaEnterprise" Salv, please use a thesaurus and change the word "runs", here you are implying that something is actually being done.