The Porte des Bombes as reproduced in Times of Malta
CHAPTER 74 OF THE LAWS OF MALTA
PORTE DES BOMBES AREA (PRESERVATION) ACTTo provide for the preservation of the area outside Porte des Bombes.
(5th July, 1933)*
Enacted by ACT XX of 1933, as amended by Acts
XIII of 1983 and XXIV of 1995.
1. This Act may by cited as the Porte des Bombes Area (Preservation) Act.
2. In this Act -“the area outside Porte des Bombes” � means the whole public space between Pieta Creek, Porte des Bombes and the public gardens at Blata l-Bajda, Marsa, shown in red on the plan which, after the introduction of this Act, was laid on the table of the Senate and of the Legislative Assembly and a copy whereof, signed by the Governor, the Chief Clerk of the Legislative Assembly is hereby ordered to attach to the fair copy of this Act which, in terms of section 52 of the Malta
Constitution Letters Patent, 1921, he is required to cause to be enrolled on record in the Office of the Registrar of Courts.
3. The area outside Porte des Bombes is hereby declared to be a non-building area and excluded from commerce, and any deed of conveyance of any part of such area or of any real right over such area which any Government Administration may make in favour of any third party shall be null.
4. (1) The right of action for a declaration of nullity in respect of any transfer made in contravention of this Act shall appertain indistinctly to any person and he shall not be required to show any private interest in support of his action. (2) No fee shall be charged by the Registrar of Courts in respect of the filing by the plaintiff of any judicial act in connection with the exercise of the said action or of the service of any such act, and no registry fee shall be levied in respect of any decision on such action.
5. It shall likewise be competent to any person, in the public interest, to bring an action for the demolition of any building or other structure erected by any person, or by the Government, on the area outside Porte des Bombes.
6. In any action under sections 4 and 5 the court shall, in allowing the claim, order the defendant to pay to the plaintiff a sum not less than fifty liri nor exceeding five hundred liri: Provided that such sum shall be awarded to that plaintiff only who shall first have brought with success the proper action under this Act.
*See Government Notice No. 218 of the 19th of June, 1933 and Act No. V of 1927 omitted under the Malta Statute Law Revision Ordinance, 1936, and the Statute Law Revision Act, 1980.
�See the Porte des Bombes Area (Exemption) Act, (Chapter 119) exempting a specified site from the provisions of this Act.
The Porte des Bombes Act is a clear indication of the significance of this monument to the Maltese people. Much before the advent of UNESCO Heritage Sites, the Maltese self-government was enacting legislation intended to protect the area. Il-Bombi as it is affectionately known, is our Arc de Triomphe, our Tour Eiffel, our Colosseo, in its own way. The inscription on the Arch decries “For the greater comfort of the people”. Much more eloquent than the Amsterdam Arch with the witty aphorism but a description that befits an Arch placed there to serve the people.
And it is the sons of the sons of the very people who it was intended to serve who were forced to wake up to the humiliating attack on this monument. Some cave-dwelling cunt decided to daub oil across the face of this very monument. The arch that is there for the people was defaced by a part of the people. Il-Bombi does not seem to have been the only target of the desp-oil-er but it is the most significant one of them all. It is an insult. A spit in the face of the people. It is not a political protest. It cannot be. Political protests are intelligent and most times constructive � even when you disagree with them. This is the basest form of expression of disagreement and the perpetrators should be hung, drawn, quartered and preferably daubed in oil and burnt.
But everyone knows that. It is ironic that the law protecting the Bombes is the only one in Malta that allows for an actio popularis. Articles 4 and 5 allow any person to act in the interest of protecting the monument. It could be one person or a group of persons (a collective action). The patrimonial value of the monument could not be more evident than in this exceptional case under Maltese law. You do not need to demonstrate a personal interest, a lien, with the Porte des Bombes. Anyone. Anyone can defend it.
The question is�. Will we?
If civilisation has got the better of barbarism when barbarism had the world to itself, it is too much to profess to be afraid lest barbarism, after having been fairly got under, should revive and conquer civilisation. A civilisation that can thus succumb to its vanquished enemy, must first have become so degenerate, that neither its appointed priests and teachers, nor anybody else, has the capacity, or will take the trouble, to stand up for it. If this be so, the sooner such a civilisation receives notice to quit the better. It can only go on from bad to worse, until destroyed and regenerated (like the Western Empire) by energetic barbarians.
– John Stuart Mill