Would fundamental rights in Malta be better off under British sovereignty?

Once more, one does not know if to cry or laugh; no, of course one should not laugh at the tragedy that Malta is causing many of the people in this country. In the former communist states, people were kept in prison without a trial. In Malta the state does exactly the same, see article in todays The Times. As stated before, the judicial system in Malta has collapsed and a thought has come to The Observer’s mind: In this sense may be Malta should be better off under British sovereignty. It is obvious to a foreigner that the government of Malta cannot live up to the most fundamental requirements for democracy, namely the one that a democracy do not keep people in prison without fair trials.

A Maltese priest’s distorted view of the judiciary's role in society

In yesterdays The Times a Maltese priest, Mgr. Anton Gaucia, complains once more that a High Court in London a few weeks ago gave a sentence ruling that “the Catholic Church can be held liable for the wrongdoings of its priests”. Mgr. Gaucia have earlier, January 8 in Sunday Times, made the same complaint. Now Mgr. Gaucia also complains over the fact that a Mr. Justice in London has ruled that “the saying of prayers as part of the formal meeting of a council is not lawful”, adding that “there is no statutory power permitting the practice to continue”.
First things first; of course the Church shall be liable for what its employees/priests do in Alphain their capacity as priests. The children in these cases were in the care of a Catholic institution. I wonder what Mgr. Gaucia would say about if a municipal employee at a daycare sexually molest a child that the child’s parents left in its care. Of course, the municipality would be responsible for its negligence and for its failure to protect a child. The same goes of course for the Church. Mgr. Gaucia may of course, probably not being a father himself in the more down to earth sense, not understand what damage the Church and its priests done to these children. The people The Observer talked to in this matter in Malta all agree with The Observer and I think it would be wise of the Church to listen to the people in this.
Second; it might soon be time for priests like Mgr. Gauci and his colleagues to realize what century they live in. The time when Catholics ruled southern Europe is gone forever. There are Muslims, Hindus, Jews and many other people of different beliefs that have and are going to have positions in the society among which, of course, also positions in a council. Does Mgr. Gauci really mean that these people must attend Catholic or Protestant prayers? Or shall they leave when such prayer is to be said? Another possibility would of course be to have, say ten, different rooms where people of different beliefs could pray in accordance with such belief before the council meeting. Mgr Gauci, please grow up and realize what reality you live in.


Mr. Gonzi's victory; was the contest necessary?

PM in Marsascala during his tour for support
In todays The Times one can read that PM Lawrence Gonzi gained 96,5 per cent of the vote in the PN leadership contest. It gives The Observer a flashback from the sixties when Leonid Brezhnev gained 105 per cent of the vote in former Soviet Union. That is what can be called a good and fair election! To avoid any misunderstanding; of course yesterday's election can not be regarded otherwise than fair. But was it necessary? Even if Mr. Gonzi felt that he needed to have his leadership confirmed, the outcome of the vote is still not a true and fair view on the situation in The Nationalist Party since Mr. Gonzi was the only candidate. Say for instance that Mr. Debono had challenged Mr. Gonzi regarding the leadership (he has challenged him about almost everything else). Of course Mr. Gonzi would not have gained 96,5 per cent of the vote. That is as certain as it is that Mr. Debone would have lost such a debacle. Mr. Debono has previously tried very hard to commit political suicide and if he had challenged Mr. Gonzi regarding the leadership he would surely have succeeded. One can wonder if all this really was necessary. Mr. Gonzi is the undisputed leader of the Nationalist Party no matter what Mr. Debono tries to do. Even if there are a number of opponents to Mr. Gonzi in the party they are not as stupid as to challenge Mr. Gonzo in this political situation. They would, in that case, have gone down together with Mr. Debono.


The collapsed Maltese judicial system

It is obvious that the Maltese judicial system has totally collapsed. In todays The Times one can read of a man who has raped his nephew and niece and sexually abused their cousin when they were five, eight and thirteen years old. The abuses took place during several years until 2007. The father of the siblings reported this to the police 2007 and insisted that the police should take immediately action. The perpetrator, when then heard by the police, immediately admitted the acts and also showed the police videos that he previously had shown to his victims. The videos contained sexual actions the perpetrator had had with his wife. One can wonder why these terrible crimes not ended up in court until 2012! The man was this week sentenced to ten years in prison. What has happened since 2007? How have the victims and their families felt during this time? Is there any excuse for this failure of the judicial system? There is no wonder that the people in Malta has very low confidence in the judicial system and that so many people think that judges accept bribes; they are probably more interested in their own wellbeing than the one of people who have been abused. Those people are not abused only by a perpetrator but also by the judicial system. This is a shame on Malta and its (lack of ) functional judicial system.


Malta Philharmonic Orchestra

Malta Philharmonic Orchestra has given concerts in series of concerts called Community Outreach Concert including one concert in St Gregory Church in Sliema, which The Observer attended. Conductor was Michael Laus. It was a fantastic experience to listen to this orchestra, that Malta has all reasons in the world to be proud of. The concert included such well known works as Sarabande by G. F. Handel and Adagio in G minor by Albinoni. The entrance was free of charge. It is a pity that so few people came to listen to this wonderful concert. One can only admire the people who took the initiative to these concerts and hope that more people will attend future concerts. Well done Malta Philharmonic Orchestra!


Donald Duck government

When reading The Times one does not know if one should laugh or cry. Malta government seems more and more like a Donald Duck government, a joke, with government officials, sadly including members of the Judicial, being so dishonest that it is difficult to comprehend. The government officials seem so eager to be just bigwigs that they have forgotten who they are put to serve.The judicial system seems to be in a mess.

The Observer just wants to give a few examples from todays The Times.

Once more a new bribery probe is ongoing against Transport Malta officials.
This governmental body seems to be one of the most dishonest not only in Malta but in the whole EU. This time the bribery inquiry concerns three officials so far, but in 2010 another three officials and 230 other people were charged in connection with hundreds of driving licenses granted to people who had not even sat for a test. This proves that The Observer was absolutely right in the article “Traffic in Malta, a risky business” of Feb 14, although some of the licenses have been seized by the police. However, one thing was not correct; the driving licenses are not issued by Disney World or come with the cereal packages from Scotts, but are issued by Transport Malta against a monetary compensation. This way of giving out driving licenses must surely be promoting road safety in Malta.

Malta has a very old fashioned system for ensuring that people can show that they are entitled to vote in the coming council election. Policemen deliver the documents to every single voter in person. This means that the policemen knock doors for several weeks; no wonder that there are more policemen in Malta in relation to the size of the population than in most EU countries. In Sliema the police have failed to deliver documents to 58 % of the voters.

Since Sliema is said to be a PN stronghold one can wonder if this is one more situation in which bribes are occurring. A policeman who delivers documents in Sliema and is a convinced PL supporter can easily neglect to deliver in areas with strong support for PN. The Observer does not state that this is the case but has a time saving suggestion that also will exclude the possibility of bribes; Malta should modernize its system and this is very easily done. Malta has computerized lists of the population which easily can be sorted (if not this has been done already) by place of residence in voting lists. People then just have to show their ID cards when coming to the polls and be ticked off. The present system is just ridiculous.

The Observer just want to stress what is said in the article of Feb 15, “Reflections on the judicial system in Malta” by referring to the following articles in The Times of today. Here.

And do not forget to look into this one!


The Government, The Catholic Church and the prostitution in Malta

In today's The Times, you can read in an article by David Pace O’Shea, that, in general, Maltese are a helpful people, generous, hardworking, humble, careful with their money, welcoming, peaceful and unaggressive and that they love their families and, especially, their children. In the Observer’s opinion, anyone who states that he or she has all those qualities also might add the words conceited and boastful. The word humble is not the first that comes to one’s mind when reading all the other characteristics Mr. O’Shea states that Maltese in general possess. Thank God (just an expression!) that most Maltese do not consider themselves to have all those qualities (and I do not know of any other country’s citizens that would claim all these good characteristics). Since the article is written by a convinced catholic believer it might be interesting to hear his humble view, from a moral and Christian standpoint, on prostitution in Malta. Every time one passes the area around the closed Empire Stadium one can see prostitutes hanging out from windows or standing on the street offering men their services. In Malta it is allowed to buy and sell sexual services; such services are forbidden in many other EU states. One can ask how this complies with the Maltese character as described in today’s Times. The Maltese government and the Church might not officially be in favor of prostitution but they certainly do not try hard to solve the problem. Prostitution is closely connected with criminality such as trafficking and drug related crimes. There is no reason whatsoever to let young women be treated like slaves in any country and especially not in a country like Malta, which is said to be one of the most Christian in the world. It is a shame for Malta!


Rubbish in the sea and in the streets

Pieta Creek i March
One can wonder why a country like Malta, depending totally on its tourists, does not care more for the impression it gives its visitors.

Pieta Creek in February
The creeks, for instance, in S:t Julians, Sliema, Msida and Pieta are very often full of floating rubbish that could be taken out of the water easily; the rubbish gathers very often in the end of the creek and could be taken out of the water with landing nets. When going with Captain Morgan’s underwater safari you can see where the garbage ends up, something I several times have heard tourists complain about.
Pieta Creek in February
The system for collecting garbage, put out on the pavements, about every other day is very old fashioned and unhygienic. Very often people seem not to be aware of when to put out garbage in accordance with the timetable every household has received from the government; that is why one often can see plastic bags full of garbage standing on the pavement for almost 24 hours. There are high fines if you put out garbage on unauthorized time, but I have never heard of anybody that has been forced to pay such fines. Very few countries in EU have a system like this. The normal way to handle garbage is to use closed bins. Surprisingly, I have never seen rats eating from the garbage.
It seems like people think it is ok to throw papers, plastic bottles and a lot of leftover from quick lunches and many more things everywhere. Sometimes people even hide them under the few bushes although there are trash cans almost everywhere. The government has done what it can do to stop this but it is up to all of us to ensure we get cleaner streets, because, as it is now, it is disgusting.


The possibilites for a disabled person to enjoy Malta

Disabled people shall not visit Malta if they intend to see the islands and not just stay in their hotels. There is almost nothing done in Malta to help disabled people. The pavements mostly lack ramps and are far too high. The new buses are a little bit better than the old classical ones but not enough improvements have been made. When entering or leaving a bus, persons in wheelchairs cannot manage themselves but have to rely on helpful fellow passengers due to the fact that the bus is too high up from the street. That could be helped if the buses stop close to the pavements, but very often they stop one or two meters from the very high pavement.
The old classical type of bus no longer in use
There are very few shops with ramps, a fact that makes it almost impossible to visit shops if you are sitting in a wheelchair.
The pavements are, with very few exceptions, in a condition that makes it impossible to go by a wheelchair. The main exceptions in the Gzira, Sliema and S:t Julian’s area beeing, of course, The Strand and Tower Road as well as George Borg Oliver Road. In Marsaskala, Marsaxlokk and other towns by the sea with many tourists, there are also roads that are suitable for disabled people. BUT, how to get there?

Fireworks - a dangerous trade

One thing that astonishes many foreigners visiting Malta for a shorter or longer period of time is all the fireworks going on both day and nights. What many visitors to the islands don’t know is that people die or are seriously wounded every year due to accidents with manufacturing fireworks. About a year ago almost a whole family was tragically wiped out in an explosion in connection with manufacturing fireworks. An independent inquiry has warned that Malta would experience at least one large-scale fatal fireworks accident in this year or the next. An inquiry for public consultation is opened and still pending. This week a new accident took place where three people were hurt, one of them is in a critical condition, in connection with making fireworks. It should be said that the responsible people were licensed to make fireworks. It seems like it is far too easy to obtain permission to make fireworks without very strict rules about where a factory might be placed and what chemicals should be allowed.
One can also argue, from an environmental point of view, that the use of fireworks should be restricted to times when Maltese traditions absolutely require it. Fireworks contain lots of harmful substances that, when exploded, are emitted into the air.

Reflections on the judicial system in Malta

One is often surprised when one reads about the trials and their outcome in Malta. What is most astonishing is how long time it takes in Malta between a crime is committed and the perpetrator’s identity is known to the police and the trial takes place.

The Court House in Valletta, Malta
In today’s The Times one can read about a hold-up that had taken place in 2007. Obviously a firearm was used and goods of substantial value were taken. If the police got to know about the robber’s identity in 2011 one can understand why the trial took place in February 2012, but that seems not to be the case.

One of the most outrageous cases is the one regarding a man, who was jailed in April 2011 and sentenced to 29 years after he was found guilty of the murder of a prostitute who was killed in 1999. The circumstances around the killing and the man who was later convicted were known to the police in a much earlier stage. 

One can reflect in these cases on what the then suspected men did during the time between the crimes and the trials. Were they still on the loose or were they kept in custody without trial for all these years, probably not the latter. One can also wonder how the murdered girl’s relatives felt. All their sorrow must have been experienced once more, especially as Maltese papers publish names and details and even the name of the community where they live.  It is also unfair to a suspect not to have his case tried; he might be innocent. Almost every week you can read about cases like these. 

The same, or even worse, goes for civil cases that can go on for much more than a decade to be ruled by a court.


Traffic in Malta, a risky business

I have often been surprised how dangerous it is to cross a street in Malta, especially if there is not a pedestrian crossing. It appears that motorists among themselves have a contest to see who can scare the pedestrians most.  It is not surprising that Malta is among the countries with the highest accident rates in traffic in Europe. If the roads were in a better condition the victims would, due to possible higher speed, probably be many more.
Another thing that amazes a foreigner from northern Europe, is the constant honking. If honking were an Olympic event Malta would undoubtedly win a medal of high value. Many people I have discussed this matter with have expressed a thought that may be Maltese driving licenses are issued by Disney World or come withe the cereal packages from Scotts.
Another thing that is surprising to a foreigner is the rule that cars, that have been involved in an accident, must not be moved before the police has arrived and documented the damages even how small these are. For instance I saw two cars touch each other at Tigné Seafront in Sliema. It was only a small dent on one car. Both cars stopped traffic so that no vehicles could pass the place of the accident. This happened in rush hour. A motorcycle police arrived after about 10 minutes and marked the cars position by spraying marks on the road. It took about ten seconds. The queue, which was formed, probably reached St. Julians. But, of course, many young Maltese men were excited; there was a good reason to honk!