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MALTATODAY 1 March 2020

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MIRACLES AREN'T AS RARE AS YOU THINK. Find our 19 shops across Malta & Gozo SUNDAY • 1 MARCH 2020 • ISSUE 1061 • PUBLISHED EVERY WEDNESDAY AND SUNDAY €1.95 maltatoday CELEBRATING 20 YEARS OF BOLD JOURNALISM WWW.MALTATODAY.COM.MT/20YEARS COMMENT & ARTS inside our MT2 and MT3 sections maltatoday | SUNDAY • 1 MARCH 2020 COMMENT What are we skinning? Bulk buying in the time of the coronavirus. Why are we skinning it? Because it puts forward a heady brew of misinformation-enabled mass hysteria and consumer panic, while also serving as a poignant reminder of the fragile state of island-nations in times of crisis. Wow. That's the most convincing answer to my standard second question so far. Thank you. You must have tons more. Fire away. So you're saying that anyone who takes consumer-based precautions in the wake of the coronavirus is stupid? No, but we should really look at why they're doing it. Who's driving them to assume that they will need to stock up sooner rather than later? Or that they need to stock up at all? Well, to be honest I do find them stupid, and also quite selfish. What happens when they have bought all the toilet paper that I need, 'for nothing'? Your comment speaks to a need for a calmer centralised information delivery system that's not fuelled by hysteria and a desperate need for clicks. Yes, yes. 'The media' does play its part in this whole mess. But what about social media? What about education? Valid points, but they speak to a long-term solution. The main issues here are knee-jerk ones. In which direction are these knees being jerked? In two. On the one hand, you have the (admittedly overblown) reaction of those who chose to panic-buy en masse, based on half-baked information and fears about the extent of the coronavirus and the quarantine measures it would necessitate. On the other hand, you had the equally immediate condemnation and ridicule dished out towards these people by a good chunk of social media users and other commentators. Wouldn't the best long- term solution simply be to just wait and see what happens, while remaining vigilant without going to extremes? Yes, but the human mind tends to go into strange places when faced with the prospect of a literal viral pandemic at its doorstep. Actually, spending some time in quarantine may just be the best way for us all to chill out enough to get rational about all this. I agree, but only if the quarantine also includes a mandatory moratorium on all internet usage. Do say: "Panic-buying during the relatively mild coronavirus outbreak should serve as a sobering litmus test for our society. We need to look at the factors that drive these people to take such measures." Don't say: "Why use coronavirus as an excuse to go on a wild shopping spree that could potentially deprive others of essential resources? Grab that trolley and go hoarding just for the naked sake of it, and never look back!" No 24. Bulk buying in the time of the coronavirus EDITORIAL Coronavirus: Keep calm, carry on, and wash your hands... PAGE 2 GODFREY BALDACCHINO interviewed PGS 8-9 The Skinny Malta, shrunk down CHARLES XUEREB Should former empires return removed relics (and do we get the sword back)? PGS 12-13 MICHAEL FALZON Vitals: grab the money and run PAGE 7 "Is there a 'dark streak' in Maltese culture? ...there seems to be a certain 'mock- heroism' associated with individuals who have beaten the system" Maghtab farmers see red as government wants lands for waste disposal facility 12 Raisa Galea Panic in the aisles 15 Coronavirus Josanne Cassar Raphael Vassallo EDITORIAL MT2 Farmers' plight Muscat courts 'Freeport King' on precious goods vault in Malta Email to Swiss art dealer Yves Bouvier pitches lucrative, but controversial, precious goods freeport investment in Malta MATTHEW VELLA FORMER prime minister Joseph Muscat has pitched the lucrative idea for a freeport for precious goods in Malta to none other than the 'freeport king', Swiss busi- nessman Yves Bouvier. Within weeks of his resigna- tion, prompted by his chief- of-staff's implication in the Caruana Galizia assassina- tion investigation, Mus- cat was firing off emails to people in power and busi- ness he met while serving as prime minister. Signing off the emails as 'former Prime Minister of Malta', MaltaToday is informed that Muscat personally contact- ed Bouvier, informing him of his new life outside the corridors of power. But he also suggested to Bou- vier the prospect of creating in Malta its first freeport for pre- cious goods: a lucrative project for a maximum-security vault for works of art, gold and currency, potentially located near Malta's airport. Bouvier owns Le Freeport in Luxembourg and Singapore, the latter dubbed Asia's 'Fort Knox' for being a multi-storey reposito- ry for fine art, precious gems and even JPMorgan Chase's stash of gold. According to the commu- nication to Bouvier, Muscat suggested to the Swiss art dealer the existence of in- vestors who would be ready to back the project. PAGE 3 Muscat: You've got mail Swiss art dealer Yves Bouvier maltatoday | SUNDAY • 1 MARCH 2020 Q and A Immanuel Mifsud This Week Dr Georgina Portelli Film Emma CLASSIFIEDS & COMMERCIALS ARTS • TV • WHAT'S ON THE Cabinet of ministers has voted not to extend a waiver for a €9 million bank guaran- tee that was granted to Stew- ard Healthcare, the company running a 30-year concession for three state hospitals. MaltaToday has learnt that the same decision taken in 2018 shortly after Steward acquired the concession from the mysterious Vitals inves- tors consortium, granting it a breather on providing the guarantee, has now been 're- versed'. The Maltese government was never provided with the €9 million 'performance guarantee' from Steward, af- ter tourism minister Konrad Mizzi accepted a declaration from Steward that its Amer- ican parent company – de- scribed as "a group whose annual revenue is approxi- mately $8 billion" – would be able to finance the obliga- tions of its con- cession. PAGE 11 Steward waiver reversed GODFREY BALDACCHINO Detecting the Trumpian 'dark streak' in Maltese society INTERVIEW• MT2

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