Monday, 4 August 2008

'Democracy of the Middle Ages'

Surprise! Surprise!

Those of you who got the patience of following our local medieval political system are aware that the 2 parties in parliament agreed to exclude The Malta Green Party from talks on the reform of the electoral system.

The Times of Malta gave a brief report on this and I am astonished by the amount of comments on the Times-on-line by people who believes that bi-partisan politics should end once and for all, especially now that none of the major political parties enjoy an absolute majority. Read Comments HERE.

The talks are being held by the government and the opposition in a parliamentary select committee chaired by the Speaker.

Stephen Cachia, Alternattiva Demokratika spokesman on democratic institutions and Civil Rights in his letter pointed out that in the 1992-1996 period AD had participated on a par with the other parties both in the Gonzi Commission for changes in the electoral system and in the Galdes Commission on financing of political parties.

"It would be an enormous step backward vis-a'-vis democracy if, today, over 12 years later, the two parties in Parliament would be deciding exclusively between themselves on an issue which directly involves other political parties". Stephen Cachia said.

"It is even more important than ever for Alternattiva Demokratika to participate fully in the discussions because the government of the day only commands a relative majority and represents less than half of the electorate"

"Because of the present electoral system Alternattiva Demokratika, which represents two and half times the difference between the two parties in parliament (3810 voters), does not have a seat in parliament. It is therefore even more imperative that the committee discussing electoral systems and party financing should include AD in order to ensure the widest possible representation of the Maltese electorate", Mr Cachia said.

Tourists…rubbish…throw them out…burn them…send them away

Aleander Balzan is another journalist who I feel is very promising in investigative journalism. Besides, his style of writing shows that he has, what in the books it is referred to as the ‘Maltese heritage’, close to his heart.

Aleander is a journalist with il-Kulhadd, and last Sunday he wrote an interesting episode which he named: “An archaeological treasure is transformed into a rubbish dump”. I suggest that you read this report of Aleander by accessing this link and understanding why I am mentioning this entry in the blog entitled ‘Tourists…rubbish etc., etc.’

I need to thank the AD local councillor for Sannat John Mizzi who took photographs in the area of Ta’ Lambert in Xewkija, more specifically, on the other side of Ta’ Cenc – right in the location of the heliport and where a couple of individuals closely connected to politics are saying that tourism in Gozo needs an airstrip in order to survive… see blog of gozoairstrip here.

This time John Mizzi has not been arrested for taking pictures in this despicable location. Do you remember when the police who reign Gozo deleted all John’s photographs which he snapped in Wied l-Infern while the people at MEPA came to clean the disaster made by the Zebbug mayor? If you forgot, you can read here.

But you would surely agree that while looking at these pictures you feel infuriated!

This is more so when the Superintendent in charge of the cultural heritage has just published his annual report and appealed to MEPA so that all the areas in Ta’ Cenc are protected (scheduled).

Furthermore, in his report, the Superintendent urged that in the other side of Mgarr ix-Xini,
that is, the side of the heliport known as Ta’ Lambert, there remain archaeological sites that are not yet so discovered and hence also need to be protected.

This is exactly what you can see in the picture, my friend!

But if you study these pictures closely you will start to confirm that this report, like numerous other appeals from various sources, the Gozo Authorities seem to be protecting those who go and destroy these locations in pure daylight.

And this is despite the fact that the government of a relative majority (not absolute) says (before election) that he is going to adopt Alternattiva Demokratika’s vision to transform Gozo into an ecological island.

And so as I commented in the report of the young journalist Aleander, I think that I am right in saying that “either the Prime Minister was not aware of what he was trying to copy or else the environmental pole has deteriorated.”

When you see these pictures you really feel like crying. You need to be uneducated, as they say, or couldn’t care less, not feel ashamed.

When will the Minister for Gozo start to understand that the protection of the environment and historical sites are of an enormous value and help in the development of another niche for tourism from which Gozo can greatly benefit?

Is it possible that she is not yet aware that Gozo is also frequented by tourists who come specifically for the island’s natural beauty?

In fact, I know friends from Malta who tell me that they like to visit Gozo specifically because they appreciate its peace and natural beauty!

I met tourists who visit Gozo for its historical riches.

I also know people who came to Gozo (and left money) specifically because they like to walk in our countryside and enjoy the flora and fauna that make the island as beautiful as God intended.

But look at this picture of the crucifix in the rubbish dump of Ta’ Lambert!

Those who followed us before election may remember that we issued an electoral manifesto specifically for Gozo and among a lot of proposals, we proposed the development of different niches of tourism. (See here). We mentioned, amongst other proposals, the need for Religious Tourism to be developed. Apparently they got us wrong even here because this poor crucifix ended up being placed here in this rubbish dump of Ta’ Lambert, close to the government bore hole. Could this also be part of the Gozo echo?

As my friend John Mizzi said, who took these photographs, “it is a shame. This place need to be cared for and cleaned under the supervision of experts so that no more historical structures are lost.”

And if I form part of the Xewkija local council, I would definitely react to this!

Is it possible that from five local councillors (nationalists and labourites) nobody even stirs? How come the major did not mention this disaster when she attended the famous ‘consultation’ regarding the echo in Gozo in Lunzjata Valley. I was there and listened to every word that was uttered.

Do you want me to believe what they say, that is “Don’t we know who?” … oh come on!

Or is this a question of instilling fear by means of votes in those who should take care of and protect their locality?

If this is so, I have many ideas of what I can do!

So no wonder that those people who couldn’t care less, do not really care neither for the tourists. Rubbish…throw them out… burn them. In other words, send them away.

So excuse me but I cannot not criticise what they call Gozo Association of Tourism (GTA). Those of the GTA that straight after every budget they come on Net tv praising its merits.

I believe that there are a couple of genuine individuals in GTA, but like every association in Gozo that is controlled by a medieval system or perhaps even more recent … a system of feudal politics; these few need to keep their mouths shut.

Don't worry, I will not.


Sunday, 3 August 2008

MEPA gives green light for cruise liner berths at Xlendi Bay

Nothing against having a cruise liner visiting Gozo every so often. But I am still astonished by the fact that no feasibility and sustainability study was carried out. Moreover an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) seems to be out of the vocabulary of the Gozo feudal system or to be politically correct : the Ministry for the quasi-republic of Gozo.

Many of us are still astound to open the local papers and read that MEPA approved of this 'secretive' project at Xlendi Bay.

MEPA = Malta Environment Planning Authority under the auspices of The Prim Minister of our Republic.

Since no Environmental Impact Assessment took place and moreover no consultation ever took place either, many are raising justified questions:

1) So how does a buoy off Xlendi translate into full time jobs?

2) How many full time jobs is this going to create?

3) After all that money spent on Imgarr Harbour why can't the cruise lines make use of those facilities?

4) When was a study regarding the sustainability of cruise tourism on Gozo carried out?

5) What is the cost of these berths and has a swot analysis been done on this project?

6) Who actually benefits economically? Is it the country visited or is it only the owners of the cruisers and the tour operators?

7) If no traffic assessment was done, are they now simply going to add a few car parks,in Xlendi be of more use?

8) How does this futs into the eco-gozo concept?

9) How is marine life going to be effected?

10)Why was an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) dismissed once again?

As a common citizen, this morning I wrote to the EU asking for clarifications on whether the fact that the government decided to omit an EIA is in breach with the EU Directives. Will have to wait for an answer.

I did not dare ask these questions to the Gozo Ministry for obvious reasons.

'The Cittadella left in ruins' no more?

Some time ago, Joseph visited the Cittadella in Gozo and was shocked to see the dilapidated state this place finds itself in. He wrote a good contribution in the Gozo News. Com
He wrote about 'The Cittadella left in ruins' and you can read about it by clicking HERE.

Since many years we read in the local media about promises on extensive restoration projects for poor Cittadella.

In 2006 we read about this HERE (19th May 2006)

Nothing in 2007 (Perhaps too busy campaigning for the general election?)

Then again in 2008 HERE(20th June 2008) and HERE(25th July 2008) and HERE (30th June 2008).

Who does not agree that the Citadel fortifications are entitled to benefit from the restoration project financed by the EU?

We can all join hands together and speak about the importance of the Citadel and its role regarding the defence of Gozo as the sole fortification on the island.

Thanks to the EU and the European tax-payers, we will now have to meet deadlines.

So please get to action.

We all agree with the nice words.

Careers in Agriculture

Like you probably, I learned about this meeting from the media. Like you, I was not informed or even invited since this event was organised by the Ministry for Gozo....and by now we should all know how this Ministry works....

"Yes...alone everything is possible".

Anyhow, a meeting was organised by the ministry for Gozo through the coordination of the Institute of Agriculture within the University of Malta.

Apparently the director of the Institute spoke about the opportunities available to those who would like to further their studies in this sector.

How and what, the reporting of this meeting did not say.

What I can say is that I wrote many a times to this Institute of Agriculture to help tapping young Gozitans to work in the sector of agri-tourism. The Ager Foundation is constantly seeking a number of Gozitans working in this sector to provide agro-expertiences to tourists and visitors to our island., since the demand in the past three years is greater than the supply.

So if you are truely interested in working in this sector and learn more about job opportunities in agri-tourism, visit our website and contact me for a meeting.

I am glad that I managed to keep the Ager Foundation away from the local medieval politics.

Well done Ganninu

The 25th of July 2008, a soiree was organised for the launching of a book entitled l-Assedju ta' Għawdex 1551 - Ballata by Gozitan poet Ganninu Cremona.

A soiree' was organised for the occasion at the Cittadella.

Well done Ganninu.