The Malta Independent 24 October 2021, Sunday

Urban centres

Alfred Sant MEP Monday, 27 September 2021, 08:00 Last update: about 28 days ago

It is the case that urban centres of our towns and villages are being scrubbed back and losing their character. Sliema where the damage has been proceeding for quite a while, was in the forefront of this process. But the situation elsewhere, running from B’Kara to Qormi to really small villages in Gozo is also getting from bad to worse.

Despite the complaints, the legal challenges and the protests, the demolition of old buildings continues. It’s never a frontal attack to which they are subjected but one that is insidiously deployed step by step. First a request is placed for a not-such-a-beautiful house to be demolished and replaced by three flats or so. This opening then provides the basis on which other houses in the same area get locked into “development”; following which yet others in nearby streets. Sometimes, not always, the commitment is made tactically to retain the frontage of the house that will be demolished to serve the same purpose for the new building.

All voices or almost all speak out against what is going on. Since not only has this not stopped but it has accelerated, one must conclude that most of those who speak against, actually are active in making it happen.

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STATE RELIGIOUS FUNCTIONS

I’ve always wondered whether it was such a worthwile procedure for parts of the programme covering public official ceremonies to be taken up by religious functions. True, this has been traditional practice, especially when church and state were an integrated institution. It remains the practice in some contemporary Islamic states.

Again, it will be argued that the Catholic religion is still considered as the state religion of Malta under its constitution. But does it make sense for the state “to have” a religion? I do not think so.

For if that were the case, it would also be a worthwhile procedure not just for the Church to hold an official function in which it addresses the state, but also for the thing to be done in reverse – with the state holding an official function during which it addresses the Church.

Now, this was done when Malta was a colony. At the Candlemas ceremony, every year the governor addressed the island’s parish priests. Post-Independence, the practice was given up. 

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FINANCING POLITICAL PARTIES

Too much verbiage has been expended on the financing of political parties. Like them or hate them, does anybody really deny that political parties (with what’s bad and good about them) are necessary and carry out a function that in a community is indispensable?

Can it be denied further that to keep afloat in the world we live in, political parties need to have full-time employees, in addition to volunteers, if they are to convey their message effectively? If so, the need for funds to underwrite such efforts is evident.

And the money has to come from somewhere. Voluntary contributions made by individuals are not enough (if they ever were) to sustain meaningful political activity. I write this even while acknowledging that I have always insisted on the need for political funds to come from the tiny contributions of many many people.

If we are against parties relying on businesses for contributions, only one option remains: parties must have some access to state funds. Models are available as to how this can be done; we do not need to try and reinvent the wheel.

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