The Malta Independent 26 June 2022, Sunday

Will they heed the warning signs?

Noel Grima Sunday, 19 June 2022, 07:52 Last update: about 8 days ago

This past week has been characterised, in my opinion, by at least two significant statements by two prominent and long-standing icons of the Labour Party, Manwel Cuschieri and Jason Micallef.

They both wrote in their personal name and they were heavily critical of recent decisions that have been taken. Micallef, a former secretary general of the Labour Party, and chairman of the party’s media, criticised the Planning Authority’s approval of a massive development in Gozo, identified with tycoon Joseph Portelli, which will include a pool in an ODZ area in the Marsalforn valley.


A few days earlier Micallef had heavily criticised the situation at the Blue Lagoon in Comino after activists led by Graffitti had taken direct action and removed the loungers and umbrellas crowding what otherwise would be an idyllic site.

Manwel Cuschieri, a former president of the party, also wrote about the Marsalforn valley application and called for an inquiry.

These separate statements caused a flurry of comments, soon forgotten in the wake of the announcement Malta had been taken off the grey-listing. On the PN side, these statements were greeted by an avalanche of derision, predictably.

It is short-sighted to heap derision.

First of all, these negative statements were not the only ones coming from the Labour ranks. Similar negative statements came from a multitude of lesser lights.

Taken together they signify a growing disenchantment of the Labour grassroots with the development lobby being pushed for all it’s worth by so many contractors big or small and facilitated by a weak PA and a weaker MTA.

These words by the two Labour worthies must be carefully considered given the silence by the Nationalist Opposition which took around five days to say something about the situation at the Blue Lagoon.

Subsequent revelations in the still free social media have revealed the close links between the Blue Lagoon entrepreneurs and the Labour Party and now too the family links between the tourism minister and some Comino ferries.

This country has lost its third and smallest island. It used to be a pirates den many, many years ago. Then it suffered from serious neglect. Now it risks over-crowding and massive exploitation by the get-rich-quick so-called businesses maximising their links to Labour ministers, MPs and even MEPs.

A couple of clicks away, one can see what our neighbour Italy has been doing. Take Sicily, for example, or even Sardinia. Ask the Maltese who have come to prefer going there instead of queuing for the Gozo Channel ships. Or who are buying property at a fraction of what it would cost them here. Or who delight in the restaurant fare they find there, at a cheaper price too.

The Blue Lagoon and Marsalforn valley developments are the wrong patterns for the future. When the prime minister takes out his boat and starts crossing over every weekend all he has to do is look around and consider how Malta can be far better if he stands up to the would-be developers crowding around him and pushing him to ruin Gozo eg the Xlendi and Marsalforn bays just as many bays in Malta have been ruined.

But he won’t do this. He won’t stem the tide. He will still give in to the land gobblers and the builders of tiny boxes on top of each other and all those out for a quick buck. Manwel Cuschieri and Jason Micallef and all the rest might as well give up.


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