Monthly Archives: August 2012

Can we really call ourselves civilised?

A few days ago a small group of residences from Marsaxlokk area went out on a peaceful protest march to protest against the illegal camping and general abuse of a public beach. This protest march ended up in a brawl between 1 man on the part of those protesting vs. 5 men, or should I say cowardly thugs – 1 vs. 5, come on… they are the typical ‘ZOMMUNI’ type of bullies, on the part of those illegally squatting on a public beach.

A photo posted on the Times Of Malta website, and also in the printed version, which was taken by Darren Zammit Lupi displays perfectly the anger and violence in the squatting thugs faces. Anger against what? Anger against the simple fact that someone had the temerity to challenge their illegal status and their unfair and selfish commandeering of a public beach that is nowhere in their rights to do.

Somewhere in our convoluted legal framework I believe there is a law which states that camping no matter how temporary is illegal on public beaches in Malta and its sister islands. Yet, as is typical to the barbaric nature of these thugs, they get all offended and violently angry with whoever tries to challenge them.

The emphasis on this whole situation here is most definitely on the illegal status of their camp site which is situated on public land.

Photo Copyright of Darrin Zammit Lupi – Click to read Darrin’s account of the affair 



Lets dissect the situation a tad…

Public Land
The beach in question, found on the coast of Marsaxlokk, is a public beach – i.e. that beach belongs to all and every single Maltese citizen. That also means that no one, absolutely no one whoever he or she may be, has the right to occupy and make as his/her own any part of that land no matter how temporary that occupation may be.

Illegal Status
Apart from the fact that it is public land it is also illegal to set up camp on beaches. So these guys should have been moved away, told to decamp immediately and without any need for residents to have to put their well being at risk just to get something moving.

So… we have two breaches of law and decency and these guys see it fit to pick a fight against the person who was well  within his right to protest. The Law?? Who gives a damn about the law is their line of thinking. We want to camp on that beach, have a good time and to hell with the inconvenience I am causing, and to hell with cleanliness. Where do they perform, to put it extremely politely?

And the display of unwarranted violence and public disturbance, of crass swearing and of threats and abusive physical harassment to the two breaches of law already mentioned and what does one get? €60.00 fine? Hardly a deterrent is it? Neither does it accurately reflect the severity of the situation. I forgot to mention, it seems that one of these lovely examples of civilised Malta is currently serving a suspended sentence – i.e he has relapsed even before his previous sentence had been served. Much remorse and effort to improve that shows doesn’t it? Another factor which I wonder would be worth mentioning is: is it really worth while to go to all the hassle of arraigning a bunch of rednecks who couldn’t be bothered to show any iota of respect to the highest institution of law in the country and turned up for their court case in beach clothes and even discarded their used soft drink bottles on the floor near the entrance to the courts? Is it worth all the expense and man-power to take them their, to use up precious time at the Law Courts, a judge, the escorting police, the various lawyers and aides required to record and mete out justice just for a mere fine of €60.00?

A slap on their hand and a kick up their butt would have had just as much effect.

In a follow-up article in the carried in The Times of Malta a couple of days after the ruling was made public the incredulous anger and consternation by most level-headed Maltese was highlighted and a judge gave an explanation for the ineffectual fines. The Judge said that the fine was for swearing in public and for disturbing the public peace – things that carry a maximum fine of €60.00. They were not fined for their violent conduct because, the Judge said, the defendant withdrew his charges and had forgiven them.

There is something quite fishy here I would say. If you have a look at the photo Darren took and that was posted on the Times Of Malta website you would see see one guy with a look of primal violence and anger holding another person with a grip around his neck and his other hand pulled back in a fist poised to strike. In the meantime behind this attacker there is a second larger man with an equally evil look on his face screaming some profanity at the victim, both arms pulled back in a pose reminiscent of a street fighter. And the victim forgave these guys? He was there peacefully and rightfully protesting against these very thugs and that they have commandeered public land illegally and to the detriment of everyone else and he forgives them their violent attack? No… no it really does not make sense. Not to me at any rate.

It sounds like someone who is backtracking because he is scared of repercussions. This guy lives in the vicinity of the public beach in question making me wonder if he is scared that some harm may come to his family or home should he have pushed the case too far.

Has anyone, a journalist, reporter or even the authorities bothered to check up on his reasoning, to follow up this sudden u-turn as I see it?


Memories of Summers past

There are two distinctive sounds from summers past – summers of my childhood – that will always retain that element of wonder and beauty that endeared them to me as a young and carefree child. Sounds that will always bring back the nostalgic memories, smells and emotions of those summers so many years ago.

One sound unfortunately I do not hear anymore. Or maybe it just isnt there. The other however is impossible to miss.

The sounds I refer to are that of the cicadas singing in the summer’s heat and that of fireworks bursting in the sky.

Cicadas.. I either don’t hear them anymore – quite possible due to my bad hearing – or maybe there just aren’t any cicadas in our garden anymore. I wouldn’t be surprised if there aren’t there anymore considering the increase in the number of houses that have sprouted in Iklin over the years. We have probably scared them off and destroyed their habitat. I do remember though hearing their constant undulating buzz, their love song, during the hottest days of summer. A sound that would merge into the background – sort of providing a backdrop to the lethargy that the heat would bring on. Almost forgotten while it was there but clearly and deeply missed when it was gone.

In those young and carefree days the sound of the cicadas oni a hot summer’s day was something of a mystery to me. I could not see them but I could clearly hear them. It was as if summer itself was calling out to us. Its a surprise to me now that I could hear them at all and I am glad that I did and that I still remember the sound (though only vaguely) as due to Malta becoming more and more built up they are a very rare occurance.

A big pity that.
You can read more about cicadas here: Wikipedia – Cicada

August was always the month of fireworks for me… being in Iklin and upper valley we have almost a perfect stage view of the Iklin Fireworks display which happens every 5th August. In the past, during the summers of yesteryear and of my childhood, the fireworks display of Iklin – the fireworks factory is actually called St Michael’s Fireworks Factory, a better name couldn’t have been thought of – was always one of the peak events that I would look forward to throughout the year. The build up to the show would start a week before with what I call the day-time fireworks starting off every morning at around 8.30am. That never bothered me, rather it was something I enjoyed… waking up to the sound of fireworks meant that 5th August is very close.

The day itself would be dominated by the smell of the Tomato Dish Mum would be preparing for the evening party. Tomato dish was the staple menu for that evening and one of the many reasons I used to love and look forward to it.

Tomato Dish… agh.. one can wax lyrical about this dish but still never really do it justice. it is quite a basic dish, tomatoes sliced in half and layered in a deep pan with loads of garlic, basil and/or mint (depending on your personal taste), salt and pepper, olive oi and vinegar. It is then stewed for about an hour over a low fire and can be served hot or cold. But, and this is an important part of the whole experience that toato dish is, manners must be left at home and one must be ready to consume loads of fresh maltese bread – preferrably in thick slices that would absorb the jiuces.

These parties are no longer organised yet every year we all look forward to the Lija Fireworks display with childhood glee. And today is that day and the anticipation is yet again building up – with daytime fireworks this morning heralding the start of our day. And I still play the game we used to play when I was a young 7yr old looking up at the sky with wide and eager eyes. That is the game of trying to see a shape and its permutations in the smike cloud left after the firework bursts. You know, them smoke clouds can be quite tricky especially on a windy day… evolving, metamorphising from one shape – a horse rearing – to another – a man’s face frozen into a scream – in a matter of seconds until the next firework blasts the sky with light.

There is a sad side to the beauty of fireworks and that is the accidents that happen from time to time which can result in fatilities. The fireworks are made by enthusiasts who gather together in little stone rooms and mix the various compounds to produce the desired effects. However, these compounds can be highly unstable and in the heat and a slight mistake can easily cause an explosion and a tragic accident.