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The Malta Observer

A foreigner's view on the daily life in Malta

Last Build Date: Tue, 06 Mar 2018 08:28:49 +0000


Are some members of the clergy horny and/or greedy?

Sat, 14 Apr 2012 08:01:00 +0000

The Observer is well aware of that this article might upset religious people especially members of the clergy, but it is an interesting subject that is well worth discussing. Many of The Observer’s Maltese friends say the same thing: Many Catholic priests in Malta have “girlfriends” and many priests ask for kickbacks from the undertakers.

The Maltese people the Observer has spoken to say that it is a well-known secret that many Catholic priests have girlfriends. It is also said that this is very natural since priests have the same sexual desire as every other men. Since the Catholic Church does not allow priests to marry, the priests have no other option (at least not such pleasant ones) but to have girlfriends in secret. Some of the people The Observer have spoken to also claim that it is not unusual that the priests meet women during confession and then learn about the women’s moral character and then can make their move. True or not true? We know that Catholic priest in many cases have taken advantage of young boys so why should this not be even more possible?

Many of The Observer’s Maltese friends also claim that priests advise funeral directors about recently deceased and then ask for kickbacks for the tip. The reason why this is possible for priests is that priests are often called to death-beds to give last rites and often know very soon that someone has passed away. It is also said that priests in such situation take advantage of the situation when a person is very vulnerable and asks for a donation to the Catholic Church. AlphaIf this is true, it is extremely offensive and immoral, especially the custom of taking kickbacks.

It would be interesting to hear what the readers of this blog think in this subject.

Arriva bus drivers, madmen?

Mon, 26 Mar 2012 14:44:00 +0000

Notice the text on the bus to MarsaxlokkProspective Formel-1 championYesterday The Observer went by bus to Marsaxlokk from Valletta, leaving the capital at about 10.40 am. The bus, which was an articulated bus, i e extra-long, had a sign saying it was a special tour and The Observer agrees, the tour was indeed a special one. The bus was completely full with passengers, both sitting and standing. The bus went sometimes in a speed that must have been more than 80 kilometers per hour. Several passengers were terrified, staring at each other in horror. It felt like the back of the bus would skid across the roadway in the curves. It was indeed a special and terrifying tour! Unfortunately, this type of experience is not unusual when going with Arriva buses although there are, of course, also careful drivers.Menade du: Blivande Formel-1 världsmästareSkriv text, ange adressen till en webbplats eller översätt ett dokument.AvbrytAlpha[...]

The Maltese people, warm and kind

Wed, 21 Mar 2012 10:05:00 +0000

The entrance San Anton GardenYesterday, The Observer with family went to Balzan. After some shopping we wanted to sit down and eat the lunch we had brought with us, preferable in a park. We asked a Maltese lady standing outside Smart, the big department store, if she could recommend a place where we could have our lunch. She told us that there is a lovely garden in Balzan, San Anton, but that it would be too complicated to explain the way to this garden. Instead she told us that she would gladly drive us there and so she did! This is not the first time we have been so well taken care of by Maltese people. The kindness of the Maltese people is one of the things that makes life so much easier on this little tiny island. San Anton in Balzan is really worth a visit with wonderful flowers and many other plants as well as birds![...]

What should we protect, living people or dead?

Wed, 21 Mar 2012 09:39:00 +0000

Once more, one can read the most fantastic true stories in The Times. AlphaIn today's edition of The Times one is told that a group of M`garr residents are complaining about a proposed extension to a fireworks factory because of the damage an explosion would do. Fair enough, of course one should worry about what damage an explosion would do. But what is it the group worries about? The living people in the neighborhood? No, this is Christian Malta; the worries are not concerning the living people but the dead. This despite the fact that several people are statistically expected to die this year because of fireworks explosions. The Observer is well aware of the fact that many Maltese regard the eternal life as the real life, but is this group not going too far? A named couple says that an explosion could disturb the graves of loved ones. The Observer is well aware that continuing this article would probably be considered blasphemy. Presumably this is a criminal offense in Maltese law so The Observer rests his case.

Again, the Maltese judicial system is proven to have collapsed and now it also seems ridiculous

Wed, 21 Mar 2012 09:00:00 +0000

Today one can read in The Times of a man being sentenced to one month in prison and fined 233€ for illegal gambling. The fantastic and almost unbelievable fact is that the crime was committed in 2001 and the man pleaded guilty in 2002. The man had to wait ten years to be punished for a crime he had admitted almost immediately! To make this even more surprising (well, maybe not so surprising; this is probably typically for the judicial system in Malta) the judge found that the prosecution had failed to prove the allegations against the man, but, since he had admitted the crime the judge had to find him guilty. The Observer sincerely hopes that the latter is not true. In most other countries, with a more sophisticated and functioning judicial system than Malta, an admission is not enough to prove that a person has committed a crime.  When famous murders occur, quite many people come to the police and plead guilty. This is a well-known fact among Alphacriminologists. Probably and hopefully The Times has not published full details about why the judge had to find the man guilty.[...]

Teenage births once more

Tue, 20 Mar 2012 08:49:00 +0000

In todays The Times the problem with teenage pregnancies is addressed again. In the article it is said that Angela Abela, a clinical psychologist and the director of the University’s Centre for Family Studies, not only is asking questions but also has the key which is education and early intervention. With early intervention she does not mean intervention as early as before conception; no, she means by early intervention the time when the teenager still is pregnant. In a more modern society that would be the right approach, because then it might still be time for abortion. That is, of course, not what Ms Abela had in mind. No, she wants to involve the young father. One can wonder if she really believes that a teenage father can mature in such a short time and be a responsible father. Of course he cannot. Ms Abela seems to mean that one of the keys to solve the problem is to give instructions on how best to deal with a situation where a teenager is still pregnant or have given birth. It is of course commendable, but it does not solve the problem that Malta has the highest rate of teenage mothers in the EU related to the population. The solution must be to strive to prevent teen pregnancy. This can only happen through sex education ( in which one might even strongly discourage adolescents to have sex outside marriage, this is, after all, Malta), contraception counseling, access to contraceptives and, something that is not the case for Malta in perhaps 20-30 years, free abortions. The problem with teenage mothers will persist as long as you do not introduce sex education and teaching about contraception and its use. It is as simple as that. Malta is, however, in many ways far behind the more modern EU states and the Catholic Church is in many ways responsible for this. See also The Observers article in this subject of March 14

Malta is not the centre of the world

Sun, 18 Mar 2012 15:56:00 +0000

In today’s The Times one can read a veryAlpha interesting article under Social by Kristina Chetcuti. She has a view on Malta and Maltese 'view of themselves which is very readable. She confirms what The Observer wrote under the heading "Malta-a Lilliput state with potentates separated from and above the people?", that Maltese people are ignorant about the world around them and that is something intrinsically wrong with the Maltese perspective, adding that there is high time to address this. Well said! The Observer could not agree more!

High rate of teenage pregnancies in Malta

Wed, 14 Mar 2012 12:42:00 +0000

Malta has the highest number of teenage mothers in Europe relative to population. There is also a very high rate of sexually transmitted diseases in Malta among teenagers. One need not wonder why this is the case. Malta's schools provide no sex education at all. The church opposes any form of sex education and any form of use of contraceptives. Abortion does not exist as such except as a clause regulating the penalty for an abortion.  There is a tendencyAlpha that teenagers debut earlier with sex than before. One may ask whether Malta’s approach to sex education and contraceptives benefits to society. In today's Malta Times one can read that 32 children have been born in 2011 having mothers that are 16 years old or younger. Sure you can understand those who believe that sex is something for adults and preferably within marriage although it is a little bit old fashioned in today’s society. But that does not change the fact that unwanted children are born because of the attitude towards sex education, contraception and abortion and there is probably no method to prevent this from happen if you do not give teenagers sex education and thus tell them how to avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. See also Teenage births once more of March 20

Rule of law in Malta? Hardly.

Sun, 11 Mar 2012 11:43:00 +0000

You cannot call Malta a society where there is rule of law and where an individual's rights are protected. Malta must be one of Europe’s most unsafe countries if one is suspected of having committed a crime, especially if you are a foreigner (if you are black it is even worse). A Maltese is treated in a totally different way than a foreigner. For instance, it is very difficult to be granted bail for a foreigner even if you are an EU citizen. This is very strange since there is a treaty in EU which makes it easy to get an EU citizen extradited to another EU country. A member state can only deny another member state an extradition if  certain requirements are not fulfilled. Maybe Malta is afraid that it cannot fulfill such requirements and therefore prefers to keep a suspect in prison instead of granting him bail.  It is hard to even understand that Malta can be a member of EU. In Malta, you can be detained for an indefinite period. There is no limit whatsoever when the police must start a trial. Yes, in Malta it is the same person as investigates a case as brings it to court. Malta is like any dictatorship as far as protection of individual’s rights is concerned. Not even in the former Soviet Union you could be detained for indefinite time, if not a political crime. It was The Observer’s intention to vote today, but why should one vote in a country where there is no democracy but only hypocrisy. Malta is a sham democracy where individual rights seem to be less important than the rights of the state. You can read about this wonderful society in todays The Times.[...]

Disgusting picture in todays The Times

Sat, 10 Mar 2012 10:18:00 +0000

In todays The Times you can read about an unlicensed bouncer who has been acquitted of causing the death of an immigrant outside a Paceville club. Fair enough, although it very much looks like a racist crime. A court shall have very Översätt från: svenska
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high requirements of proof. But, it is disgusting when The Times publishes a picture of the bouncer, his girlfriend and his two lawyers in a manner that gives the impression of a hero. The Times should show respect for the victim and his family and not embrace the man who is a killer no matter he was acquitted, especially as everybody knows how the bouncers in Paceville treat people. Maybe this was not a racist crime, but the publishing of the picture is racism even if The Times tries to hide it, One can wonder if this picture would have been published if the victim had been a white Maltese male or female and not a black man from Africa. Shame on The Times!

Making buildings higher and thus destroy their appearance

Sun, 04 Mar 2012 20:15:00 +0000

Terrible building on Tower RoTerrible example on Tower RoadBeautiful building on Tower RoadVilla Aurora on Tower RoadAs a foreigner I sometimes wonder how it is possible that some buildings in, for instance, Sliema have had floors built-on in a completely different style than the existing house. On Tower Road there are several terrible examples. Before one start such development one must get permission from the authorities, I suppose that the authority in such case is MEPA. Either there are no rules in what way you can change a building’s appearance or, someone, apart from the owner and the developer, have had some odd interest in granting permission despite the rules. One can only hope that this destruction of buildings does not in the future affect Villa Aurora or the other lovely buildings on Tower Road that not yet have been in the hands of irresponsible developers and, if there are rules, civil servants with a private agenda. However, there are good examples of buildings where the developer has tried to build the extra floors in a style that are more consistent with the older part of the building[...]

Malta - a Lilliput state with potentates separated from and above the people?

Sat, 03 Mar 2012 17:29:00 +0000

Memorial plaqueMemorial plaqueMalta is the smallest country among EU member states. It has only about 400000 inhabitants and the area is only 312 square kilometers. The Maltese people are very proud of their country and are very right to be so. During WW II the Maltese people were very courageous and it was then the Maltese people was rewarded S: t George’s cross 1942 by the king of England, which cross since 1943 is a symbol on the Maltese flag. The president of the United States of America, Franklin D. Roosevelt, has expressed his gratitude to the Maltese people, which can be seen on a memorial plaque on the wall of the predidential palace in Valletta.  However, the majority of Maltese do not seem to travel a lot and therefore are rather ignorant about other countries. Malta is just a rock in the Mediterranean, but, of course, historically an important rock. Yet, you can hear Maltese people quite seriously say that Malta is the most beautiful country in the world. Of course, what is beautiful is a very subjective. Still, very few people, but the Maltese, would say that Malta is the most beautiful country in the world. I have also heard that the Maltese wines as well as its vegetables are the best in the world! There might be a few countries which would like to contest that. Maybe it is beacuse of this ignorance that the Maltese people accept the behaviour of their potentates.The government, backed by its loudspeaker, The Times, does everything to give the impression to the Maltese people that Malta has an important role to play in EU and in the rest of the world. If prime minister Gonzi for instance travels to some conference abroad, the articles in The Times have headlines giving the impression that the other prime ministers were there just to listen to Mr. Gonzi. Malta also has a Head of State, a President with his own flag and a car with a special license plate. His wife is called Malta's first lady! Even the The Commissioner of Police has his own flag as well as the Archbishop. The corruption is widely spread. But there is of course a reason for all these cars and flags and mumbo jumbo; the government wants to give the people the impression that Malta has a bigger role to play in EU and in the world than it really has and therefore one also must have men in formal high positions with attributes. One must remember that Malta, although a sovereign state, is not bigger than a middlesized european town and ought to be be governed more in accordance with that and not like United States of America..Archbishops BMW license plateGozo bishops Toyota license plateThe catholic faith is state religion in Malta. The archbishop as well as the bishop of Gozo has company cars, the latter a smaller one than the BMW that is archbishop Cremona's company car. Do not for a moment think that these cars have ordinary license plates. No way, they have plates of a silvery material in the shape of a bishop’s miter. If you do not believe me, look at the pictures. And, of course, the archbishop has a more expensive car than the Gozo bishop (The Observer wonders what Jesus would think of that!).To a foreigner from a more secular state this looks really ridiculous. Of course also the prime minister’s car have special plates. As far as the Head of the State, the President, is concerned, it is more understandable. He is, after all, a symbol. If the president and the prime minister want to attend a mass in Valletta they travel by these cars about 200 meters to the church. This is just window dressing. One could argue that they travel by car for security reasons; no way, anyone could go close to these potentates. All this is also a part of implementing the belief in people that Malta and its potentates are very important, separated f[...]

Malta's judicial system once more

Fri, 02 Mar 2012 08:55:00 +0000

In todays The Times the public is given a good explanation why the Maltese courts do not have time for unimportant cases like murders, trafficking, rapes, smuggling of narcotics etc. The courts have far more important cases to deal with, namely cases of insulting. A circus agent felt insulted after being called a clown. This terrible crime was rather soon brought to court for judgment. AlphaThe Observer is confident that the public feel great gratitude that the legal system makes such wise priorities.

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

Tue, 28 Feb 2012 08:46:00 +0000

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

Tue, 28 Feb 2012 08:19:00 +0000

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?

Sun, 26 Feb 2012 10:25:00 +0000

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

Sat, 25 Feb 2012 09:03:00 +0000

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

Fri, 24 Feb 2012 07:16:00 +0000

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

Tue, 21 Feb 2012 09:19:00 +0000

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

Mon, 20 Feb 2012 09:44:00 +0000

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

Fri, 17 Feb 2012 16:26:00 +0000

Pieta Creek i MarchOne 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 FebruaryThe 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 FebruaryThe 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

Wed, 15 Feb 2012 19:05:00 +0000

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

Wed, 15 Feb 2012 10:34:00 +0000

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

Wed, 15 Feb 2012 10:25:00 +0000

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

Tue, 14 Feb 2012 20:38:00 +0000

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!