The Malta Independent on Sunday

Two albatrosse­s around Leo’s neck


Some three weeks ago, Astrid Vella of Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar, during a protest rally against the proposed towers that are to shoot up some 40plus storeys into the Sliema sky, made a very serious allegation against the Prime Minister.

An allegation that seems to have been taken lightly if not totally ignored by the media, and more so by the Prime Minister himself.

She said that he told her, in front of witnesses, that he doesn’t give a fig/it’s no big deal for him when NGOs raise their hackles at high-rises for in time people will come round to the idea and get used to them.

A couple of issues ago, a Sunday weekly said it has in its possession minutes of a private meeting of the Planning Authority showing that the government “instructed the PA to designate Mriehel as a high-rise area after the close of public consultati­on”.

For those not up to speed with the Mriehel Towers controvers­y, this was a case of the government pulling a fast one on an unsuspecti­ng public ( uriena d-debba u qabbżilna lħmara).

The plans the public saw during the “consultati­on” process did not include those four tow- ers, rising to around 20 storeys. The public was played for a dummy, as is this government’s wont.

Since more than two weeks have gone by since the weekly broke the story and no denial from either the Prime Minister or the Planning Authority has been forthcomin­g, one is inclined to go along with what the paper said.

If anything, this will give crushing weight to Ms Vella’s allegation as to what the Prime Minister said to her with respect to his not giving a fig and how the average schmuck in the street will come round to accepting high-rises.

Enter former Environmen­t Minister Leo Brincat into the fray.

He’s due to appear before a European Parliament­ary Committee and make his case why he is Malta’s ideal candidate for the European Court of Auditors, despite the albatross he hung round his neck when he voted down the No-Confidence Parliament­ary Motion against Con Rat Isthi!

That aside, for a moment, he has a lot to answer for during his tenure as Environmen­t Minister.

As Malta’s front-line defender of what remains of her environmen­t, his support of the Ta’ Zonqor Middle Eastern Arab’s project was nothing short of a betrayal of his mission.

The weekend following the NGOs’ protest on the site of the proposed project, in tandem with the disgraced former Parliament Secretary for Planning, he sang the project’s praises even when the initial plans were though there were 91 thousand square metres of virgin land up for grabs.

Yes, that was nothing short of a downright betrayal of his mission.

As if that were not enough, we now have this scam about the Mriehel Towers, a scam perpetrate­d during his tenure. Another act of betrayal. So one question which should be put to Mr Brincat at his hearing for his candidatur­e for the ECA, is this: “The facts show that you betrayed your mission as your country’s front-line defender of the environmen­t. What guarantees can you give this committee that, should you accede to the ECA, there won’t be another betrayal?”

Things don’t look good at all for Leo.

Along with the two albatrosse­s around his neck, it seems the man is in for getting the bird and his wings clipped. Joe Genovese

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