The Malta Independent 11 July 2020, Saturday


Alfred Sant MEP Monday, 12 August 2019, 08:00 Last update: about 12 months ago

Some people get rattled when protests are organised about the environment. They suspect that such protests are driven by partisan interests. I would not be too surprised to discover that in part at least, they are right. But still worriers should calm down.

It is a good thing that protests are undertaken, wherever it makes sense for them to be organised, like to safeguard trees. I say this too with a dash of irony. Years ago, when the trees fronting the Auberge de Castille were removed, I think I must have been the only one to disagree. Later, the trees in the middle of the square at Castille were also destroyed. Now we have a square that looks like it is at the border of the Sahara.


We all proudly proclaim ourselves to be sturdy defenders of the environment but God willing, if it suits us to rubbish it, a hundred thousand options remain available by which to so so. The social dynamic to achieve this remains what it always was: rub my back and I’ll rub yours.

Today, as strong economic growth persists (even if we are warned that it is fading a bit), there can hardly be a worse dynamic by which to ensure environmental protection. 


Theft and evasion?

A priest recently hit the news headlines while pointing out that the financial services promoted in this country – and likewise internet gambling – amount to activities which encourage tax evasion and corruption. So they are immoral. It is the same critique that Malta (and countries with similar economic profiles) are subjected to by speakers coming from both right and left in Europe. There though, many of those who make the point take care to keep away from the extreme right as they do so.

Do technically valid reasons exist to justify why certain financial services come to be located in a country like Malta? I never was enthusiastic about the idea of attracting this business, but still I believe that such valid reasons do exist. So, I do not like it when financial services promoters keep back from defending the sector in professional terms, even as they find themselves accused of being “pirates”.

Meanwhile, on another front: over the years, I found it surprising that the Maltese Church never expressed some reservation or other about how betting shops rolled into our towns and villages, shunting aside the traditional lotto agencies.



“The Voice of the Violin” is another of Andrea Camilleri’s novels about “his” detective Montalbano – whose name is a take on that of Montalban, the Spanish writer who also wrote detective stories and was admired by Camilleri. Reading something of Camilleri’s was a way of paying him one’s respects shortly after his death had been announced.

Even in a minor novel like this, his writing style is excellent. Still, one soon feels that readers are meant to follow a formula that defines the plot: A corpse is discovered. How is it found? Whose is it? – quite usually that of a beautiful woman who has been raped and savagely murdered... or something equivalent. Here and there, one gets the description of a well cooked meal that the detective consumes when relaxing from his labours.

The formula was launched with brio by Simenon in his Maigret books. Successors, including Camilleri, kept going with it.

One can hardly blame them. Even as one notices how repetitive the formula became, a novel like “The Voice of the Violin” still succeeds in keeping the reader hooked.

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