The downturn in church attendance in Malta seems to be quite an important topic for the newspapers to tackle. Ranier Fsadni in the Times writes an article called The Narrowing Vision. Ranier is rarely given a mention in J'Accuse which is a pity because he provides one of the few first class reads on the Times. It might be high time that I start highlighting positive aspects too rather than constantly criticise - that way we do our little bit for good old Brand Malta. But back to the church - if you missed Arcibald's satyrical comment then scoot over quickly to Ajjut and then come back. A classic if I may say so.
Another strong social organisation that is passing through its moment of crisis is the General Worker's Union. The resignation of the entire Port Worker's section is a strong sign in the constellation of Maltese politics. This open challenge and display of disgruntlement and dissatisfaction with their representation is a promising indicator that certain rooted habits of the represented might be waning. The Port Section follow the Maritime and Aviation section out of the safety of what has been Malta's biggest Union and declared their intention to form a new Union. This is not MLP2. It seems to be a stronger attempt to break with the past meshes and entanglements of Malta's realpolitik. Third Way politicians should not let this opportunity past them by unnoticed.
ii. Flights of Fancy
Ryanair got closer and closer to start their operations in Malta. Pundits who were hoping for a large-scale operation would be largely disappointed as the Irish based airline opted for the routes of Luton, Pisa and Dublin. Mr Cawley, Ryanair's Deputy Chief executive, calculated that 36.4 million euros would reach Malta's coffers from just these three routes over one year. Hope still springs eternal as Mr Cawley also added:
Ryanair has not shelved its original proposal to establish a base in Malta, Mr Cawley said. "It is a long-term plan, the timing of which is dependent on the government and the airport." The proposal to the government to establish a base in Malta dates back a year and would mean bringing up to two million passengers - effectively "doubling the size of the airport".The main culprit of this failed dream for now remains the MIA. In Mr Cawley's words:
There was absolutely no denying that low fares stimulated the market and economic activity hugely, Mr Cawley stated. He believed the proposal was "the start of a new era for Maltese tourism", primarily attributing the decline in the number of visitors to high airport costs and no low fares. "A monopolist was a monopolist forever," he said, referring to MIA, which he pointed out was clearly not interested in tourism, but in its own profitability. There was no denying that tourism in Europe has grown by around eight per cent per annum over the last eight years, while it has declined in Malta, he said, describing the situation as "catastrophic". Mr Cawley believed Malta was an attractive destination which could be sold well in Britain, Ireland and Italy.iii. Caqnu
Mr Polidano continues to make the news. His illegal dumping escapade in Birzebuga has seemingly come to an end. We have still not seen how far the strong arm of the law can reach. An exemplary punishment is expected otherwise we will remain convinced that we live in the land of cowboys and barons - no matter how many times we get slapped in the face. Polidano has now taken an anti-labour stand as the party's media continue to harangue the contractor for his misdeeds. If the government does not take any action it risks having Polidano's guilty soul attached to its c.v. like an obstinate limpet. not the best kind of baggage to carry - best it be dumped quietly away (preferably without too many people noticing). Labour has in the meantime released a statement that once in government it will "take harsh steps against anyone who pretends to be above the law". What it would do if, as happens now. some people don't even need to bother with the pretending bit is still anybody's guess!
iv. Food, Glorious Food
I am lucky to share the same roof with the Queen of Cooking. Yesterday evening Mel prepared a dinner for five and I am still reeling and dreaming of the taste of every plate. Here's the Menu served up yesterday evening at 22, rue de bragance:
Stir Fried Prawns on a bed of Soya smothered in Satay Sauce
Veloute' de Patate douce a' la poire
Yam and Pear creamy soup
Paves de saumon grilles et beurre d'ail au gingembre
Grilled salmon fillets in ginger and garlic butter sauce on a bed of wild rice
Brownies au chocolat et aux noix
Chocolate muffins with walnuts accompanied with berry assortment
Like Mel... to die for!