Rape, Lies and a Jordanian Constructor’s University

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Did I say gullible? More extraordinary news today as the Sadeen University (I’m not falling for the American crap) saga continues to unfold.  The story in the Times under the headline “University plan viable only with the use of ODZ land” is particularly intriguing (read the text of the story below). We are told that a government source has confirmed that the American University project is only viable if ODZ land is used because the land there is cheaper “and that is the price government is prepared to pay”. Government? Pay? Really?  Here’s just a few of our observations:

1. The mask has fallen quickly on this one. Much quicker than it ever did on the Citizenship Scheme and Henley and Partners. The words “American” and “University” failed to constitute sufficient snake oil to lubricate the painful reality of the truth: Public land that is not designated for development would be raped and the little private owners involved will make a killing thanks to Labour’s sale. Education has nothing to do with this. This is pure and simple speculation of the ugliest kind. Muscat is the construction industry’s messiah and it does not cost his pocket one thing. It’s the public and its land that will pay the price.

2. Investment? What investment? Since when does attracting foreign investment involve “the price government is prepared to pay”? Not only are we allowing foreign constructors to rape our nation’s limited surface resources but we are paying for it. Isn’t that brilliant? Taghna Lkoll my backside.

3. “The land will be given to the investors, Sadeen Group, through a concession on temporary emphyteusis authorised by a parliamentary resolution. It is not yet known how long the period will be. The contract for the land will stipulate that it can only be used for educational purposes.” Sweet. For an undefined period  we are giving away yet another chunk (90k square metres) of our land. The inclusion of a derisory clause limiting the use to educational purposes can only be seen in the light of the recent arse-minded decisions in the domain of planning including Michael Falzon’s “this is not an amnesty”. So much for a guarantee.

4. The university and american bit might be too complicated for mere mortals to be able to assess the extent of the travesty. Let’s imagine a parallel scenario. Muscat announces that the Sejfeddin Group is willing to invest a billion euros to build a leisure resort on Comino. Present at the launching are two senior managers from Disney World Paris who, it turns out, were paid a handsome fee by Sejfeddin Group to provide designs for the new resort based on their experience. Announcing the Disneyish Resort of Malta, Muscat informs the general public that an area amounting to three quarters of Comino including the Blue Lagoon and St. Mary’s Bay will be handed over to the Sejfeddin Group under temporary emphyteusis. There are no real alternatives to this since Comino was the only plan that would make the Disney Resort viable. All that is missing from this fictitious example is the sale of a few patches of land owned by persons linked to Labour. Spiffing isn’t it? Then we could truly say that this is a pajjiz tal-Mickey Mouse.

from University plan viable only with use of ODZ land (The Times of Malta):

The new American university in the south has to be built on land in an outside development zone or the project will not be financially viable, a government source has confirmed. Any ODZ land being used for agriculture has a much lower value than land allocated for development, and that is the price government is prepared to pay. The land required is 90,000 square metres – the site identified is mostly public land, which also brings down the cost.

But 10,000 square metres of the total consists of seven areas of privately owned land, which lies at the centre. The owners include people renowned during the era of controversial former public works Labour minister Lorry Sant: Michael Axisa (il-Lay Lay), Piju Camilleri, Joe Chetcuti, Norman Clews, Joe Formosa, Joe Camilleri, Paul Abela and Manuel Farrugia.

The land will be given to the investors, Sadeen Group, through a concession on temporary emphyteusis authorised by a parliamentary resolution. It is not yet known how long the period will be. The contract for the land will stipulate that it can only be used for educational purposes. It is understood the government has made an offer to each landowner within the assigned area and is awaiting an answer from the individuals involved. The negotiations are not easy, but the government always has the option to expropriate land.


American Lie

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Gullible. That is the only word I can find that describes the citizens of this nation. The question really is whether the immediate entourage surrounding Prime Minister Muscat are also equally prone to swallow his tales hook, line and sinker or whether they are in on the scam. The sparkle in their eyes when they declaim the latest “achievement” of Optimist Malta seems to favour the former theory of a bunch of gullible politicians. There is no hope other than to patiently wait for the travails of time to work their magic and uncover the cobweb of deceit that is being spun as we speak.

What’s the latest problem? Well. As soon as I heard of the agreement to set up an “American” University in Malta I smelt a fish. The general public’s reaction was thrown off track by the question of siting since the area earmarked for this new institution of partaking of tertiary knowledge was in an ODZ. So the chickens got cacking about the horror of the siting without really asking the most pertinent question of all: What the flying copulation is an American University? The heirs of socialist Malta and “jew b’xejn jew xejn” (and no there is no great distance between this lot and that lot – after all wasn’t Varist signing the agreement?) were proudly parading an agreement for a private fee-paying University to be built by foreign speculators on land not previously earmarked for development (far from it) and slapped with the label of “American” to boot. Mintoff is not just turning in his grave, he is spinning faster than Kurt Farrugia ever managed in a lifetime.

Instead of losing our heads on the ODZ development issue – which is a major distraction that would somehow still turn out to be the answer to the why of all this – our first question should have been “What do you mean American?”. This is not some internationally acknowledged guarantee of educational quality. This is not Oxford, Cambridge, MIT or College of Europe opening a campus in Malta. It turns out, thanks to the work of Antoine Vella, that the much vaunted DePaul University only lent a guiding hand to the prospectors and will have nothing to do with the University. The prospectors turn out to be Middle Eastern blokes who are in the business of construction – so much for education eh… So in the end a Trojan Horse of a University is what we have. The important thing is that they will build and ruin more of the South and its coastline.

As I said, the American bit made me sit up and check what was going on. In my student days I had met a couple of students during exchanges abroad who would come from Middle Eastern and Maghreb Universities. They would invariably state that they came from an American University – whether it was Cairo, Lebanon, Tel Aviv, there was always an “American” label somewhere. There is nothing really American about these universities. The label serves to sell the image as a Western style uni by giving an added agreeable ring to it. You can find “American” Universities in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and India. They tend to be reserved for higher paying classes of the local population – enclaves for figli di papà. We are not even sure whether the building contractors who will run the University that is to be built on virgin undeveloped land will be able to guarantee a proper quality of education.

Malta has already had its famous share of Made in America salesmanship. Nidal Binni has made a killing selling snail creams, Blue Pain Relief and all sorts of similar stuff (and has now ironically branched into Real Estate). For a very long time his catching marketing came under the title of “Made in America”. It’s the kind of quick marketing that appeals to a certain type of customer. Shall I say gullible?

I wish all the luck in the world to the hard working Nidal. It’s the snake oil merchants in government who cannot be trusted. Especially after this latest American Lie.


The Statesman of the Dead

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They’re not gone. The boats full of hopefuls attempting the dangerous crossing are still there. We might have shifted our media attention to the new parliament but wave upon wave is still being intercepted – only yesterday a couple of hundred persons were to be distributed between Sicily and Puglia.

The problem remains notwithstanding the incredible show of caring and compassion that was put up by Europe’s leadership in the wake of  the 800 dead. I use my words carefully. It is Europe’s leadership and not the EU that is guilty of the dragging of feet and of an overall reluctance to deal head-on with the issue. Juncker tried hard to push the leaders into doing more but in the end the EU remains the sum of many parts and without the real determination of those parts to look the issue of immigration in the face we will not move on.

They’re not gone. We have managed simply to focus on one part of the problem that had hitherto not got the attention it deserved. European leaders chose to focus on the people smugglers. They are base beings who profit on other people’s misery. It is the 21st century form of slavery in many ways. The only difference is that the price paid is by the very people who are being trafficked and not by a European buyer. The Europeans stand aloof disgusted at the large numbers and threats to their integrity – rushing to the latest wagon prepared to brandish populist ideals.

Smuggling is part of the problem.  One German scientist observed that a flight to Europe from central and Saharan Africa costs less than the trips of death. Why don’t more immigrants use that route then? Simple really. Through legislation the European states have made sure that airlines are burdened with the “processing” of individuals before they even set foot on the departure gate. No visa, no flight – so forget processing for refugee status unless you are prepared to submit to the ordeal of trial by Mediterranean Crossing. In other words we (the Europeans States) force the immigrants into that route.

Processing centres in Africa? Just look at Spain’s underhand collaboration with Morocco in the case of Ceuta and Melilla.  Seriously? Meanwhile much of Europe mourns Italy’s abandoning of it’s earlier programs. They had begun to serve as a buffer zone. Renzi managed to make some noise thanks to the 800 dead and Joseph Muscat was quick to join the dance.

You had to be stupid not to realise that there is some sort of arrangement going on between the two. Muscat has arranged to “deal” with the dead while Renzi would transform Italy’s south into a showcase of the impossible nature of dealing with such a huge wave of arrivals. Muscat put up a show with the ignoble grandstanding surrounding the burying of the souls of the unidentified. Ah yes, unidentified. It really turned out that the bodies were only useful for the show for the media. When relatives turned up in the hope of identifying the dead they were refused access to the body. Human? Who are you kidding Joseph Muscat?

Some corners of the press were quick to hail Muscat’s roundabout turn in policy – from pushback to statesman they said. I don’t see how this latest cynical move qualifies as statesmanship. A hundred years from the Gallipoli campaign when Malta proudly stood up as the Nurse of the Mediterranean all Muscat has managed to do is transform our island into a supersized Charon, the ferryman of Hades.

One can only wonder what coin was placed in the mouths of the dead in order to appease our modern day Charon.


Bird’s Eye View

Kestrel; Falco tinnunculus; hovering; Cornwall

The youth known as Il-Benghazi was unfortunate enough to be the hunter who would bear the brunt of his companions’ anger – the one who would be the ultimate scapegoat in this charade that has been the 2015 Malta Spring Hunting season. I say unfortunate when I mean that this fool deserves the full force of the law for his brazenly ignorant action of shooting down a kestrel close to the precincts of a private school and in full view of kids.

The charade ended much in the same fashion as it had begun – with an imperial tweet by his excellency the prime minister exercising what seems to be his own prerogative of opening and shutting the spring hunting season at will. The biggest loser is of course the law – the rule of law. A season that should never had been (legally) whose foundation was (legally) challenged in a failed referendum and that was kept open at the mercy of a questionable prerogative of a prime minister came to an end and the scapegoat was punished in a court of law that also acted rather questionably when it came to reasoning with the FKNK and KSUmbertu’s presence.

We now have time for a Bird’s Eye View of what happened and of the damage caused – both civic and political (not to mention the dead birds and injured little dutch boy). Let’s do this in steps:

1. The season should never have opened. The lie of the automatic prerogative was spread by the Prime Minister the day after the referendum ended. The wheels had already been put in motion by the puppet ORNIS committee recommendations. No whiff of how and why the derogation criteria would be satisfied. We still act as though hunting is a god given right sanctioned by an EU directive. Even the people behind the NO campaign have much to blame for this. No education.

2. Muscat’s tricks. They’re wearing thin. I’m sure he is painfully aware of the fact that nobody was impressed by the last minute “iron fist” approach when the season would have ended anyway within three mornings. Well, some people might still swallow the line that Muscat was being tough with his “last chance” talk with the hunters – and they might be convinced by the wailing and gnashing of teeth of the presumed 9,500 innocents vaunted by Lino Farrugia who are being “punished” for the wrongdoing of a few.

3. That last statement. This idea that hunting is a right and that there is this Imperial Prerogative in the hands of a government to open and shut the season so long as the hunters “behave”. That’s dangerous reasoning that results from the erroneous thinking outlined in point one above. Even Magistrate Depasquale confusingly spoke of FKNK’s interest in the case against the last hunter as being one of an “injured party”. Really? Under what law exactly? Before Magistrate Depasquale was a man who had broken a clear cut law – his crime would exist whether or not the hunting season was open because the man shot at a kestrel (near a school) which is a bird that cannot ever be hunted. How then do the FKNK feature in this? Are the hallowed courts of law to fall into the trap of the political twisting of our laws?

4. This is not the end. It is the beginning. Muscat has lost most of his street cred with hunters. Busuttil cannot illude himself of some kind of tryst with the deluded lover. He must move fast and do it now. The time is ripe for the PN to reflect on its policy towards hunting. It has all that is needed on a plate – a directive with clear conditions and one that is intended to safeguard the environment and protect the fauna that flies over and in the islands. All the PN needs is to commit to applying the letter of the law. That would mean never again abusing of the weakness of the derogation, it could mean championing the cause of conservation and severely limiting hunting rights to what is allowed by law and by scientific testing. Heck, why not go all out and promote a policy of turning the island’s reputation over its head and transforming it into a bastion of nature observation and conservation?

Yes, the referendum did bring about some “good” when it came to voters not following the leaders. Interest may thin out now that the season is over. For the leaders among us this is no time to be complacent. In less than eleven months time the hunters will be back knocking on the door for a new spring season. No prizes for guessing that the best prepared for that eventuality will come out the victors for the future.

Addendum:

Just as I finished typing I checked the news and there it was: Muscat not ruling out the spring hunting season opening in 2016. As though it were up to him to decide.


Panacea Mediterranea

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The power seems to be in the numbers. If it’s birds then we’re asking how many must be illegally shot before it becomes blatantly obvious that the season must close. If it’s votes then we’re interpreting results as best suits our party of choice – and it seems that everybody can be happy in their own way. If it’s migration then we must sadly count the dead. Yes, the power lies in and among the number of dead because the political situation is such that unless many die (and preferably in as tragic manner as possible) nobody will give a damn.

So a tragedy involving close to 900 souls just about made it to push the issue of migratory flows onto the EU agenda. The Council of Ministers (Foreign Affairs) is having an extraordinary meeting in Luxembourg as I type. We have reached the point (again, may I add) when (as a Union) realise that there is a huge problem at our doorstep. It is impossible for the nordic nations to continue to turn their noses away from the stench of floating dead (I would apologise for the graphic nature of the description but then again there is a bit of anger built up and words are my only weapon).

We must understand though that there is no Panacea Mediterranea. What we see is actually a symptom of problems that originate elsewhere. The sub-Saharan belt will continue be the source of migrants in search of a land that treats them better, that will provide them a sense of decent belonging and dignity. The story of Moses and the errant Israelites of biblical fame continues to repeat itself century after century with huge masses of humans being displaced from areas of uncertainty either because of natural disasters or human cruelty.

The migration flow will, like water, seek the easiest passage to flow through, and right now the easiest exit point is the chaos that is Libya. So long as the Maghreb nations are in chaos they will prove to be the choice transit point for these peoples who have been so reduced to desperation that even risking their lives to Triton the god of the sea becomes a no-brainer.

Politically and diplomatically an entity such as the EU has two different spheres that it needs to influence and assist. First should be the source of the migratory flows – the war and famine torn dark belly of Africa – and secondly the transit nations that are currently submerged in chaos. Heaven (and more practically Earth) forbid that Daesh take further control of these exit points because they will exacerbate the religious tension thrown into the equation (and fools are those who will fall for the trap deeming Muslim migrants as some form of Satanic reincarnation).

It’s a tall order and one that has to be placed into the geopolitical context too. The UK is facing elections soon. Greece is still menacing to play a Samson and pull apart the pillars of the EURO by forcing an exit. Economic recovery on the Old Continent is still way away from forgetting the word “austerity” (though it has been banned from the books). Getting the electorate to understand the importance of economic (and maybe military) intervention in the weak points of the migratory flows is no easy task.

There is no panacea really. What we can strive for is more respect and more humanity. Whether it is when we are discussing the issue and whether it is in our engagement (in our smallness) whenever we can. Demonisation of migrants who made it through does not help anyone and only further increases the tensions. Playing into the facile hands of the populists who would erect a big wall in the sea and forget the problem until it explodes in their face manifold in the future is neither here no there.

It’s a human problem. One that involves all humanity. Whether we like it or not.


Gone Cuckoo, in flagrante

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In his first interventions following the referendum result, Prime Minister Muscat embarked on a wonderful exercise in tautology. “Illegal acts will not go unpunished”, he thundered. or something to that effect. The audience was supposed to stand back in admiration (never be condescending to local politicians) and applaud this strong willed PM who was prepared to punish illegalities. Really? Why? Would they have gone unpunished had he not uttered those words?

Then there was the ultimate threat of cutting short the hunting season that had miraculously been declared open without so much as a by-your-leave (so long as the hunter-leaning ORNIS committee says so… backed by Labour of course…then hunt,  hunt, hunt). However Muscat did say that he would stop the hunting season should it turn out that there are “flagrant illegalities”. Flagrant eh. We smelt a rat in this blog. The key was obviously in the control Muscat had over what would be termed flagrant and what would not.

Muscat had slipped however. He had tried once again to set the goalposts but in his shocked post-referendum rush (it may be true that he did not expect such a small margin) he failed to choose his words carefully so when first a cuckoo then a lapwing were shot the trend on twitter was rightly #zommkelmtekjoseph and #closetheseason. No amount of pharisee stances on immigrant deaths would change that.

Why had he slipped? Well. He had chosen the word “flagrant” – and, no matter how many stooges he can send to provide a warped definition of the term in the hope that by the time Lilliput settles on the matter the hunting season will have come and gone, the terms meaning is blatantly evident to all. Flagrant does mean blatant, obvious, in your face. There is no implication of gravity or duration over time other than that the violation is so obvious and immediately so.

The latin term “in flagrante delicto” (caught red handed committing a crime) is where we all have got this expression. When you refer to an illegality and you tag the word flagrant you cannot be meaning anything else. Unless, of course, Muscat is prone to amnesia or short-sightedness – the dreaded curse of illegal hunters.

There is no way around this mess other than to admit that flagrant is what flagrant does. And close the damn season.

Addendum: Notes on a hunting season (The Hunter’s Runs)

  • Law: We still fail to understand the derogation and how it works. Nobody is asking what justification was given for this hunting season to open. What proof was given that the derogation criteria were fulfilled?
  • Work and Play: A postman and a bus driver. Gone are the gentlemen in tweed and their hounds. Classes aside, how far does hunting affect the employment industry? I happened to be in Gozo on the day of the referendum result. A young boy, not more than 12, approached a teacher of his who was dining at table with me. “Don’t expect me in school on Tuesday and Wednesday. I’ll be in the dura with dad.” That’s two schooldays and two workdays out of the economy. How many more of these stories?
  • High ground: It is stomach churning enough to see the bodies of the dead washed ashore following the migrant tragedy. It is even more disgusting to see the sudden moral stances being taken by many who had barely bothered with the issue before but who took to the ether to scold those speaking about the shot cuckoo and lapwing. It seems we must become a one-issue nation – for the convenience of a few.
  • Education: It strikes me that I learn what a lapwing looks like only after one is shot. If only all this energy were geared into bird spotting, bird watching and a greater national pride in caring and conserving for the birds that pass through this land. If only the hunter and his son who get up early to enjoy nature did so with a good camera, a thermos and a diary for spotting. Would it be so damn difficult not to have to pull the flipping trigger?

 We must plant the sea and herd its animals using the sea as farmers instead of hunters. That is what civilization is all about – farming replacing hunting. – Jacques-Yves Cousteau

 


Hello 119

– Hello 119?
– Bongu. X’gara?
– Sparaw ghasfur iehor.
– X’inhu beccun?
– Le lapwing
– X’inhu?
– Lapwing. Illegali jisparawlu.
– Ijja imma miet?
– Le dan kemm laqtuh imma imwegga’.
– Allura ma hix flagranti.
– X’ma hix?
– Flagranti.
– Mela xinhu flagranti?
– Flagranti kieku zvojtah fuqu per ezempju.
– Xi zvojta?
– Is-senter hux. Jew qatel xi 400 ghasfur.
– Int qed tiggennen?
– Le qed insegwi li qalli Galdes.
– Ok . siehbi.


Automatic for the people

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The island of saints and fireworks experienced yet another tumultuous bump on its road to democratic fulfillment yesterday. By late morning you were either looking deep into your soul and trying to decipher the reason why it would still be possible for some of your co-islanders to sport (ha!) a gun and kill birds during the mating season or you were out carcading in full camouflage dress having savaged some trees to decorate your car for the occasion.

In many quarters the crux of the discussion was who to blame. Do you blame the hapless Saviour Balzan and the running of the no campaign that managed to (cliche’ warning) snatch defeat from the jaws of victory? Do you blame the political party leaders who had pronounced themselves personally to the YES vote (biex nissalvagwardjaw id-deroga li innegozjajna – ugh more on that later)? Do you blame the voters in the districts where the YES vote was overwhelming? More importantly, how do we get rid of those Gozitans? Independence or boycott? Bridge zikk.

And what about the planters of hate and discord who had called the other side all sorts of names? Surely a referendum on a factual question such as it was ended up being lost or won because you really cannot ever call someone “uncivilised”.

I could only stand back in awe and watch the events unfold. I read a few opinion columns here and there and watched the infamous breakdown analysis on a few of the tv stations. The main impression is that facts, the real facts, have been thrown out of the window. Faced with the rule of law, legislation to interpret and scientific evidence we panic, we freeze like rabbits facing the headlamps of an oncoming car, and then we take solace in theatrics and cliches.

I was reminded of the hunter who accosted Simon Busuttil on the campaign trail in Rabat last election. There he was arguing that having paid I don’t remember what sum of money for a license (later to be rescinded by the Hunters’ Friend Joseph) he had the right to enjoy his “hobby” bis-shih. Busuttil replied quoting an ECJ court case where “ahna iggelidna ghalikom” (we fought for you) and won the right to keep holding a spring hunting season. That to me is the source of all the evil. Of all the misinformation.

In the beginning I thought I was being too technical. Too long-winded. To lawyerish. I must admit I got carried away by the charade and started to think that maybe just maybe I am not too well versed in the politics of electioneering and gathering votes. Maybe, just maybe, it was right for the NO campaign to ignore the issue of when and how the derogation came about, how it is supposed to be applied and how the referendum would never really end the possibility of the derogation being applied in Malta – even if the No camp won.

I was told to shut up and be careful (not that I did, but I did tone down my insistence) because that kind of information might render voters complacent and that they might abstain from what would be an ultimately rhetorical No result. It’s a mistake though. It always will be. To attempt to lead people on the basis of  lie – or half truth if you will. The modern antipathy towards legal and competent interpretations of the law is also to blame. Yes it is technical. Yes it is how things work. Finding ways of explaining it to the people is the business of electoral machines – not hiding it from them.

Yes, I was guilty of claiming that the referendum result would be meaningless on a technical level. Article 9 of the Derogation that is the basis of the legal Notice that we were trying to abrogate would still exist. I was however also responsible for saying that interpreting the result this way meant that the No vote should be much much louder than a simple majority because it would be binding on both parties as representatives of the will of the people. Which in layman’s talk means that even though the door would still be open to the derogation written into the Birds’ Directive they would not have dared open it for quite a while.

I was also guilty of constantly trying to remind anyone who cared that this derogation had nothing to do with anything negotiated by Malta prior to accession. Article 9 of the Birds’ Directive exists independently of what Malta negotiated. It is a list of very strict conditions under which hunting would be allowed. In my amateur non-scientific assessment (that could be proved wrong but I doubt it) it would be very very hard for Malta to ever justify the opening of a spring hunting season under this derogation.

Which brings me to the leaders’ vote. Not that we should be caring about how they voted (the little triumph of the 49 point something per cent is that of not having followed their call).

Busuttil is the biggest disappointment. Not so much because he declared his vote in favour of the Yes camp. That was understandable because he neutralised Muscat’s hope of a double-victory and turning the vote into Muscat vs Busuttil. What disappointed me most was the justification as to why he would vote Yes. Busuttil is in fact guilty of repeating the lie that this was a vote in favour of a derogation “acquired” by a previous PN government. That, to me, amounts to misinformation.

Muscat’s position is easy to assess  – until the end he remains the hunters’ friend. If you needed any confirmation you just had to look at his statements after the vote. He has done all he can to allow them to hunt – now the ball is in their court and he cannot be blamed for doing his duty and stopping them once and for all should they break the law again. He did add the term “flagrant” to violation as though there is a scale of permissibility implied.

Now to the main issue: the use of the derogation. The Times carried a constantly updated article on the day of the Yes victory. One of the statements carried was to the effect that now that the referendum had passed in favour of the Yes camp the spring hunting season would start. Automatic. For the people by the people.

The Times (and most of the fourth estate) had swallowed the lie. The main reason why we voted on Saturday was never understood. Maybe because it is too mind-numbingly technical. Maybe because we prefer arguing about what other hobbies are threatened. The point is that the referendum result is about Malta’s button that activates the request to use the derogation – not about the derogation itself. The Legal Notice empowers the Minister to evaluate whether the conditions exist for the spring hunting season to open. That should be far from automatic.

There are flaws in the system sure. The Commission – guardian of the treaties and their application – relies on information brought to it by the government of the day when it comes to overseeing the application of the derogation. When the government is in cahoots with the hunting lobby and knows that the general population cannot be bothered with a minor scandal of the killing of a few extra hundred birds (no matter how many storks and swans appear on the front page of the Times) then bob’s your uncle. Even the police are thwarted.

Malta never “won” the hunting case before the ECJ. It was a slap on the wrist telling Malta to be more careful next time. If the NO lobby does not want to die an ignoble death the next thing on the cards should not be a campaign for Birdlife memberships (to do what?) but an educational campaign on the ins and outs of the Birds Directive.

Maybe next time we can talk facts and law. And stop blaming the Gozitans.


Thought for Food

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The British election campaign kicked off in earnest this week. The Tory chief has been caught red-handed eating a hot dog with the use of a fork and knife – and nowadays that kind of information hits the headlines just as readily as a decision on nuclear disarmament. Cameron’s error lies in the fact that he was at a voters BBQ trying to look as unposh as is conservatively possible – the people’s man with rolled up sleeves (we can still spot the cuff links) and guzzling beer. It all went Pete Tong when Cameron failed to brave the hands on approach and opted for the cutlery (a historical frog import to boot – no kniffs and focks before the Normans).

Faux pas indeed! In these days of plastic politics when the Ken and Barbie approach is preferred over moral and values, knowing how to chew on your designated lunch is part and parcel of the PR. Ed Milliband learnt a thing or two about this when he was caught on camera struggling with his bacon sandwich and his reputation has suffered ever since.

Gastronomical issues have also formed part of the Hunting Referendum debate. Of course I am mildly suspicious of a hunter who tries to justify his right to shoot to kill by claiming that he intends to consume his prey. I love quails mind you, especially when cooked right, but I don’t see why your average gun toting primate cannot head for the nearest supermarket and buy his own rather than importune a breeding population (and others) during the mating season.

Prime Minister Muscat tries to give the impression that he would gladly share tripe with most hunters (that’s a bastardisation of a Maltese expression (“tiekol il-kirxa ma’) which implies a close level of friendship and familiarity. He’s played his cards quite well when it comes to this hunting business, playing as usual on misinformation, half-truths and downright lies. Originally Muscat comes from hunter territory so you could not blame him for some affinity with the shooters. The thing is though that we have gotten used to Muscat’s very macchiavellian calculations – he is prepared to enact shoddy badly prepared laws, sell off public land, give tax discounts (without any idea of where the money will come) and lie with developers and real estate magnates complete with building violation amnesties. All that and more to stay in power.

In short the most gastronomic our PM and his party can get is when they have their mouths in the trough and are busy guzzling away at the public’s expense.

Think of that while you’re having today’s lunch.

 

And don’t forget… vote No.


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