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MALTATODAY 9 February 2020

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SUNDAY • 9 FEBRUARY 2020 • ISSUE 1058 • PUBLISHED EVERY WEDNESDAY AND SUNDAY €1.95 maltatoday CELEBRATING 20 YEARS OF BOLD JOURNALISM WWW.MALTATODAY.COM.MT/20YEARS PGS 2-3 COMMENT & ARTS inside our MT2 and MT3 sections PN CRISIS Adrian Delia 'persona non grata' Mellieha club tells him not to give today's political speech PAGES 4-5 SAVIOUR BALZAN Delia cannot rebuild the PN MT2 JAMES DEBONO Lame duck or chaos? PGS 12-13 Vitals amassed €36 million in debts over two years Vitals accounts will show €36 million debts with no investment to speak of • Steward wants more money to run hospitals maltatoday | SUNDAY • 9 FEBRUARY 2020 COMMENT What are we skinning? The coronavirus and how it applies to Malta, if at all. Why are we skinning it? It's sort of the global pandemic du jour, and like climate change but far more immediate in its impact, it's difficult to ignore. But the authorities seem to be telling us there's nothing to worry about. The more sober angles of that amorphous lump you call 'the authorities', sure. But not everyone has been so level-headed about it, least of all certain elements of the international media. But that's always going to be the case with these kinds of things, isn't it? You mean the sudden appearance of a potentially deadly pandemic that could easily wipe out a large chunk of the global population? Well… there you go! Yes, no matter which way you spin it, it's a deeply troubling development that calls for immediate action and reassurance… and exploitation by the media and/or whatever global conspiracy you like to entertain. But we're talking about Malta here, remember? Where the sun is always shining and its people are protected by the grace of God. Cut the sarcasm, this is a serious subject! Malta being small and enclosed is all the more reason for us to worry about a pandemic breaking out and wiping all of us out in one fell swoop! Easy. While the picture you paint is certainly concerning, at the end of the day that's all it remains – a picture. I'm more interested in the oh-so-Maltese cultural undercurrents that have slowly revealed themselves – online and elsewhere – after the outbreak was announced. What kind of undercurrents? Well, the usual paranoia surrounding schoolkids and their parents, in a tight-knit community where gossip and hearsay is the order of the day. Allied to that is religious sentiment, with some devout members of our community opting to resort to prayer as a way of stemming the coronavirus' infectious tide. To each their own, I guess? I mean, we should be allowed to deal with these fears in whatever way we can muster. Sure, but calling emergency services to ask whether or not the coronavirus outbreak will affect your consumption of Chinese food? Ouch. That brings to mind unsavoury echoes of the 'Ebola fish' paranoia. Exactly. Which dovetails to our next concern rather neatly: racism! Yes, I can see how such a pandemic can lead to racist attitudes towards the Chinese to intensify even further. It certainly happened in our neighbouring Italy, a country that we're keen to emulate, but only when it comes to its more negative aspects, it seems. Let's face it though, a racism epidemic is far more plausible a concern for Malta than anything the coronavirus or its many cousins can muster. Indeed. Sad but true. Do say: "On a small island like Malta, we need to remain vigilant of both the health risks that the coronavirus entails, as well as how intensely social ostracism can be felt if we choose to isolate certain individuals as potential carriers on the mere basis of rumours and half-truths." Don't say: "Travel should be banned for the foreseeable future." No 21. Coronavirus JOSANNE CASSAR Malta, we have a problem with civic pride PAGE 6 EDITORIAL An empty putsch? PAGE 2 MARIA BROWN Cultural deficits that kill women PG12 The Skinny Malta, shrunk down Fadi Hanania Why Trump's plan for Middle East does not work PAGE 13 "Expecting people (male, female and beyond) to unlearn our galvanised gender stereotypes – just because relevant authorities argue that these are politically or morally incorrect – is unrealistic" maltatoday | SUNDAY • 9 FEBRUARY 2020 "Writing this particular play caused me so much frustration that at times I feared that I'll never be able to finish it to my satisfaction" Theatre Alfred Buttigieg's L-Interrogazzjoni Q&A Clara Farrugia Film Uncut Gems CLASSIFIEDS & COMMERCIALS ARTS • TV • WHAT'S ON MATTHEW VELLA THE company Vitals Global Healthcare amassed a total debt of €36 million, and with nothing to show for, its annual accounts – soon to be submitted to the company registry – are expect- ed to show. It will be the first of many shocks to expect on Malta's controversial privatisation of state hospitals, say high-level government sources familiar with attempts by VGH's succes- sor Steward to renegotiate the PPP. Senior ministers are now balk- ing at the prospect of endorsing a new contract which was rene- gotiated over the last 12 months by, amongst others, former prime minister Joseph Muscat and former minister Konrad Mizzi. GORG MALLIA A funny thing happened on the way to the carnival... INTERVIEW MT2 A HARROWING EXISTENCE Prisoner's wife lives in abject conditions waiting for his release PAGES 14-15

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