Thurs­day Notebook

You know the traf­fic sit­u­a­tion is com­pletely out of con­trol when on the same morn­ing (yes­ter­day, as it hap­pens), two Air Malta flights - one to Mu­nich and the other to Am­s­ter­dam - are de­layed be­cause the pi­lots are caught up in the grid­lock on the way fro

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The so­lu­tion to the pi­lots' prob­lem seems pretty ob­vi­ous and it's the same one used when pi­lots have to overnight in for­eign cities: have them sleep some­where in the air­port perime­ter.

There are no air­port ho­tels in Malta be­cause, as one wag said, the is­land is so small that all ho­tels are air­port ho­tels - ex­cept in re­al­ity, be­cause of the un­be­liev­able Bei­jing-level traf­fic, they're not.

So it would seem that the time has come for Air Malta to think se­ri­ously about air­port lodg­ings for pi­lots and air crew who are on duty first thing in the morn­ing. Ex­cept that Air Malta, of course, has far more se­ri­ous prob­lems right now.

The Prime Min­is­ter is see­ing his way clear to let­ting the public down gen­tly - so to speak - about the fail­ure of his hopes of get­ting Al­i­talia to come to the res­cue.

It's long been known that the Ital­ian na­tional car­rier needs res­cu­ing it­self, but a cou­ple of days ago its dire sit­u­a­tion was given fur­ther ex­po­sure when the na­tional news­pa­per Il Sole 24 Ore de­tailed how the air­line is go­ing to need an­other mas­sive cap­i­tal in­jec­tion be­fore the year is out.

At this rate, Al­i­talia is not even go­ing to take on Air Malta for the to­ken one euro to en­act the trans­ac­tion, be­cause it will only be adding to its al­ready co­pi­ous li­a­bil­i­ties.

So Mus­cat has been go­ing about town telling jour­nal­ists and oth­ers who will lis­ten that "he will not sign on the deal if it is not to Air Malta's ad­van­tage" (well, um, okay), and now even that he has a "fall-back plan should the deal with Al­i­talia not come through".

Re­ally - what might that fall­back plan be - sell­ing Air Malta to his chief of staff, Keith Schem­bri, via a com­pany reg­is­tered in Gi­bral­tar?

If Mus­cat did have a fall-back plan, then it would have been Plan A from the out­set, and not Plan B, be­cause this busi­ness with Al­i­talia was a write-off be­fore it be­gan.

I am to­tally against low­er­ing the age for vot­ing in gen­eral elec­tions to 16, and have writ­ten about it be­fore, when the Labour Party had be­gun to make noises about it some three years back.

But now that the Na­tion­al­ist Party has had the same bright idea too, I shall have to write about it again.

There are rea­sons why cer­tain things be­long to the realm of adults, and vot­ing in gen­eral elec­tions is one of them.

An­other, in­ci­den­tally, is con­tract­ing mar­riage - but un­der Mal­tese law you are, crazily, per­mit­ted to con­tract mar­riage at 16, two years be­fore you are al­lowed to drive, and two years be­fore you reach, iron­i­cally, the age of con­sent for sex, which re­mains 18.

Talk about topsy-turvy: it is the age of con­sent for sex which should be low­ered to 16 and the age at which mar­riage may be con­tracted raised to 18.

As for vot­ing in gen­eral elec­tions, giv­ing those aged 16 and 17 the vote de­feats the demo­cratic prin­ci­ple that no­body should be barred from stand­ing for an elec­tion in which he or she has the vote.

Peo­ple aged 16 and 17 should not have the vote in gen­eral elec­tions be­cause they are not per­mit­ted to stand in those elec­tions.

Nor can the rule on al­low­ing them to stand be changed, be­cause for a wide va­ri­ety of le­gal and com­mon-sense rea­sons that need not be gone into here, you have to be over 18 to be­come a mem­ber of par­lia­ment.

At 16 and 17, peo­ple have their mind else­where and not on pol­i­tics and cur­rent af­fairs, and they do not have the were­withal or the in­ter­est to make a sen­si­ble de­ci­sion about vot­ing - or about many other things, as prac­ti­cally ev­ery par­ent who has had to con­tend with one or sev­eral 16-yearolds will at­test.

Then, at 18, it is as though a switch goes on in their head and their per­son­al­ity, and there re­ally is a shift to ma­tu­rity that some­times seems to hap­pen overnight.

There is a rea­son why 18 is the age of ma­tu­rity. Yes, you can ar­gue that there are many, many peo­ple who are over 18 - some­times decades older - and who are un­able to make a proper as­sess­ment of politi­cians and poli­cies, as the last gen­eral elec­tion showed fright­en­ingly.

I agree, but the proper re­sponse to that is: that's an ar­gu­ment for not adding to the mess, not an ar­gu­ment for mak­ing it worse.

You can't take the vote away from those who are over 18 but can't think straight, for it would be a vi­o­la­tion of their hu­man rights.

But you cer­tainly should not give the vote to those who are not yet 18, be­cause it is a cyn­i­cal im­po­si­tion on them, forc­ing them in adult­hood two years ahead of time, and be­cause they have not yet reached le­gal ma­tu­rity.

Oh, and they're not per­mit­ted to stand in a gen­eral elec­tion, so it fol­lows that they can't be per­mit­ted to vote in it ei­ther.

This is a daft and un­pleas­ant idea and I can't stand the thought of the way both po­lit­i­cal par­ties are go­ing to be chas­ing the 16and 17-year-old vote. Teenagers are go­ing to be­come com­modi­ties.

The Malta Independent Thurs­day 6 Oc­to­ber 2016

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