The Malta Independent 20 July 2019, Saturday

Hunger Strike: Prime Minister says it with kiwis

Malta Independent Wednesday, 27 July 2011, 00:00 Last update: about 6 years ago

Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi met Emanuel Cini, the man on a hunger strike who has since called off his action, and convinced him to eat two kiwis, 10 days after he last had had anything to eat.

Mr Cini’s concerns about the new bus routes were satisfied at the meeting, held on Monday.

After a long discussion with him, Dr Gonzi begged him to eat. Dr Gonzi had someone bring the fruit and he peeled it for Mr Cini, with whom he spoke for over two hours.

This happened after Dr Gonzi apologised to Mr Cini in person about the inconvenient bus service and then sent him a formal apology by email which he wrote there and then.

The Prime Minister’s letter read:

“Dear Mr Cini,

Thank you for your email dated 23 July. Thank you also for the opportunity to meet with you this evening and to discuss your concerns regarding the new bus routes announced as a result of the public transport reform. 

I have personally apologised for the fact that this reform has so far failed to achieve the high standard of service which I and my government expect as a result of the agreements that had been negotiated with the operator. More importantly, I confirm my government’s determination to address the public’s complaints and to deliver a reformed public transport system that achieves European standards both environmentally and operationally. I take this opportunity to send you my best regards.”

The letter was signed: Lawrence Gonzi.

Speaking to The Malta Independent yesterday afternoon, after Mr Cini cooked himself one of his favourite Lebanese dishes, he described Dr Gonzi to be a “lovely man”.

Perceiving politics as “the dirtiest business in the world,” Mr Cini felt Dr Gonzi ought not to have become involved in it.

During the meeting, which started after 7.30pm on Monday, Dr Gonzi phoned Transport Minister Austin Gatt asking about changes to the new routes. At first Dr Gatt told him the Marsascala route would stop near the previous Jerma Palace Hotel but then he promised to make sure the route will keep going to St Thomas Bay.

Mr Cini, who is disabled after having contracted toxoplasmosis three years ago, had been used to swimming at St Thomas Bay or going to the Park of Friendship, taking a bus from his Cospicua home twice a day. But changes to the public transport routes made him a prisoner in his own home, he had complained, going on hunger strike.

Since the public transport reform was introduced on 3 July, he has needed to take three buses to get to the beach and that provoked him into going on a hunger strike and not eat anything until Monday evening.

He requested accountability and asked Dr Gonzi to dismiss Dr Gatt because he had not delivered.

During the discussion, Dr Gonzi explained he could not fire the minister at that moment but told Mr Cini he could do something better.

He took out his notebook, and wrote and gave him the apology there and then.

Mr Cini found Dr Gonzi to be very genuine. They talked about many things including music and Dr Gonzi complimented Mr Cini on his intelligence.

Dr Gonzi kept begging Mr Cini to eat something and make him happy, and so he did.

He was not taking the action for himself but for all Maltese people, Mr Cini said. However, he came to the conclusion that Maltese people are very Marxist and when someone stands up to argue against something, people “cut his head off”.

“The conservative elements of Maltese society are the most Marxist of all and they are not worth dying for,” Mr Cini believes.

He admired the PM for making such a public apology. He denied rumours that the prime minister had planned to visit him last week but put off the idea after finding out that Mr Cini had been a gay porn star.

“This was a complete lie,” Mr Cini said, referring to the rumours, not to his past, and explaining he had never been contacted for an appointment before Monday and the prime minister was surely not just going to turn up.

“The sources that gave such information to sections of the media were surely wrong and this information was never mentioned to me,” he added.

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