What Lies Beneath


Beneath the Firework

Only last Thursday the Times (of Malta) editorial expressed concern that not enough was being done to stem the flow of firework related dead. Even J’accuse is horrified that less than one week later we have another man “in danger” of dying thanks to explosive mixtures. Then you look at the statistics – over one hundred persons in a century – not a nice figure it’s true but from the statistician’s cold perspective it pales in comparison to at least two figures that immediately come to mind. I do not need the stats at hand I’ll just mention immigrants dying in the waters around our country and road victims (and that’s only because birds do not count as humans otherwise I’d have three sets of stats). Firework factory accidents infuriate us a little bit more because they are even more nonsensical. Beneath the firework death is the man who walked into an unsafe factory, “worked” with unsafe materials and all this within worrying distance of inhabited homes. That is not something to mourn about.

Beneath the Red Palm Weevil

Alternattiva Demokratika have their balls in a twist about something called the Red Palm Weevil. It must be the pest with the coolest name in history after the Tasmanian Devil. Apparently the Weevil has hitched a ride on some of the trees being planted in Malta for the afforestation programme. The AD press release is worrying to the common man. It is, in not so subtle political terms, a shit stirrer. Let’s see it in detail:

“ Alternattiva Demokratika cannot but put the blame on the government for the way it is handling afforestation and tree protection in the Maltese Islands, without any policy and without any strategy whatsoever. If one looks at government projects, one cannot but notice the great percentage of imported trees that are being planted. And imported trees carry the potential for disease and the introduction of new species to the Maltese Islands, as in the case of the Red Palm Weevil.”

The inevitability of the blame is not so evident once you see what the implied problem is. There is apparently a great percentage of the new trees that originate from yonder – as in not Maltese. The blip in the policy is that these trees CARRY POTENTIAL for disease and the introduction of new species to the Maltese Islands. So what got the proverbial balls in a twist is not a real problem… but a potential one because there is a suspicion that our government is not intelligent enough to ensure that the trees are not ill. Well it turns out that the Red Palm Weevil is alive and kicking in Melita. It also turns out that since it lives in Palm Trees this could not have happened because of the afforestation programme because … it does not include palm trees.

Like so many shit-stirring statements in politics this one was constructed on wrong assumptions. The conclusion that we reach is that AD were after the government’s environmental credentials and wanted to remove some of the afforestation programmes brownie points. Not a very good move. Especially when this government has so many other policies that are criticisable. The pity is that they do not include attention grabbing names such as that very evil Weevil.

Beneath the Detention Centres

Lies a great big stink. You might read in today’s paper that Brussels will once again be kicking up a fuss about Malta’s detention centres. You should also know that Malta has featured in the radio and TV in France over the past week and it was not thanks to a Tourism Authority advert. You see the news reports about the inhuman conditions in the detention centres made our country sound like the Yanks in Guantanamo or a revival of Idi Amin’s regime. If the situation of fellow humans in such ridiculous conditions does not make you cringe and do something about it… then at least some pride and worry about this negative vibe should get you moving.

And once we are on this matter I’d like to know what nerve the government spokesperson (I think it was a govt spokesperson) had when commenting about the Pakistani appointment to the Commonwealth in lieu of Michael Frendo. The sour grapes note had something to do with the democratic credentials and lack of respect for human rights. Well it’s true, the Pakistani government has not been very good at sweeping it’s problems under the carpet of late… but as long as the detention centres exist and as long as the current conditions subsist I think stones and glasshouses should spring to the mind of such person much faster… Beneath the image of the shiny calypso of the Mediterranean lie the desperate souls imprisoned in a camp… and yes… they’re your problem too.


7 responses to “What Lies Beneath

  1. There are such things as ‘quarantine’ for imported species in other countries…. we HAVE to STOP being ameteurish here… this is another case of private-public partnership…where the ‘private’ profits and the public pays…for roundabouts full of Lm1,000 palm trees!

  2. Of course there are Ralph. Instead of replying let me ask a few questions maybe in that way you will understand what was irking me in this case:

    1. Did AD know that the Weevil only attacks palm trees?
    2. Did AD know that the afforestation programme does not include palm trees?

    If both answers are YES then we have a problem. Why does the AD press release bring the afforestation programme into the question if it has nothing to do with the problem? ITo me that smacks of trying to denigrate a good programme.

    If both answers are NO then Ad must admit it was misinformed.

    In both cases I cannot agree with Ad.

    Now if the question was privately imported palm trees flouting quarantine laws (or a non-existent quarantine law for privately imported trees) then it is another story. A story which deserved to be treated better. Instead of creating a spurious link with the afforestation programme Ad should have concentrated on the roundabouts, the private importers and the taxpayers money. As it is they have only fallen into the able hands of the PN government spin machine.

    Weevil as it is.

  3. 1. Yes.
    2. Public landscaping projects DO include palm trees.
    3. There are imported trees in afforestation projects: lack of screening/quaratine can lead to other pests/diseases which affect other species. There is obviously an interest in importing by the ‘privatized’ government nursery.
    4. As regards the PN spin machine… whatever one says they’ll say you said the opposite….
    5. PR info given by people who know the subject well.


  4. Geez, this is incredible: a Green Party PR that does not make mention of (a) the third voice in Parliament and in Government, (b) rent reform and (c) the 2,500 voters in one district who’ll make all the difference. C’mon guys: I’m sure rent reform will kill this bug.

  5. And fausto proves my point. Little slips like these allow PN sympathisers to come up with this kind of comment /joke. And the trees will continue to be imported without the proper quarantine checks, taxpayers money will be squandered on the sick palm trees and yes… the evil weevil will be at large…. thanks Fausto … just the sport. How come you got tea in a glass in your last post by the way? Are you back in Malta?

  6. Little slips? Like “partnership” third voice in Parliament and rent reform will cure anything from common cold to advanced stage cancer. Here’s the latest — rent reform would have saved a man who dies recently when a roof of a controlled-rent dwelling collapsed. How? Well, probably the real commercial rent would have been so high the man would have been unable to pay. Thrown out with all his furniture on the curb, there would have been no one for the roof to kill.

    Tea in a glass? It was a bit of a wishful thinking. Think of the little pleasures in life: at Crystal Palace early Sunday morning, te fit-tazza, pastizzi tal-pizelli and Daphne’s column on Joe Mizzi uncovering something fishy at MMA.

    Alas, at the moment I’ll have to make do with frites.

  7. How silly! How very silly….if the Government i.e. the State (if you know what that means…) took the housing problem seriously he wouldn’t be living in sub-standard housing. But the concept of responsibility of the state is old fashioned I suppose ….

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