The Malta Independent 7 December 2019, Saturday

TMID Editorial: That Qala room - To resign or not to resign

Thursday, 7 November 2019, 10:18 Last update: about 29 days ago

Two Opposition MPs have resigned from their roles at the Planning Authority and respectively at the Lands Department and at the Planning Authority, both of them citing bureaucratic problems and interference that they would no longer take responsibility for.

They both come in the wake of the controversy created by that dilapidated room in Qala that was soon to be turned into a villa replete with swimming pool controversy after the PA gave it its stamp of approval.

But should they have resigned? Was it merely a publicity stunt riding on the bandwagon of public outrage over the proposed development?

At the PA, the main problem with that permit appears to be a loophole being rampantly exploited which allows for development in Outside Development Zone areas, and under which the development, applied for by infamous developer Joseph Portelli, had been approved.

The loophole provides that in order for such a development to go ahead, the applicant needs to prove the structure was once an abode.  In this particular case, that as done by furnishing the death certificate of a 84-year-old woman who had been found dead in the area back in the 1920s.

But the fact of the matter is that the Qala case is just one of very many flies in the ointment.

As the minister responsible pointed out to this newsroom yesterday, the case in question was one of the dozens if not hundreds that had been approved along similar lines.

The other fact of the matter is that a change in policy is in the offing but feet have inexplicably been dragging on the issue for the last year and a half.  Would not the best place for the MP to remain be in a position in which such policy review meetings are pushed ahead?

As such, one questions whether throwing in the towel is really the best option, or a better option than remaining on in a continued attempt to set matters right.

This is even more true when meetings to resolve the situation also are also meant to involve the NGOs and the Opposition itself.

Of course, crying foul at every opportunity, loud and publically would still very much remain an option.  The two are not, of course, mutually exclusive.

It may be true that, as the Opposition said yesterday,’…the PA, like other institutions, has been taken over by forces and people who completely ignore the common good, work for personal interests and care only for their political conveniences, obligations and personal friendships.’

It may be true, as the Opposition also said yesterday, that, ‘We are here facing a systematic institutional breakdown, and the PN shall not be part of it -this is a matter of principle, because people matter."

But the truth of the matter is that while resignations may make for grand statements at the time but the loss of the ability to help cure this malaise from within is all but lost as a result.

Is is not more useful to fight these problems from within rather than from without?

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