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MALTATODAY 12 September 2021

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maltatoday | SUNDAY • 12 SEPTEMBER 2021 COMMENT What are we skinning? The National Book Council replacing outgoing Executive Chairman, Mark Camilleri, with the new Executive Chairman, Mark Camilleri. Why are we skinning it? I mean come on... how can we not? So wait, you're saying that the outgoing chairman's contract was simply renewed after all? No, no. He IS being replaced. By himself? You're still not getting it?! This really shouldn't be all that confusing. But it is. Clearly. So what's happening? Okay so... *deep breath* occasionally bearded and often controversial historian (and bearer of a 'brown Marxist ass') Mark Camilleri's replacement at the highest National Book Council post will be decidedly less controversial crime novelist and (as of recently, due to the development under question) educator Mark Camilleri. Did they really have to go with someone who's got the same name? It certainly saves on clerical work. That's what everyone's saying online. Yes, it's one of the strands that's being picked on right now. But joking aside, what are Mark Camilleri 2.0's qualifications for such a highly vaunted public role? Those seem to be rather thin on the ground, truth be told. So why was he appointed? That's something you'll have to ask the people in question, whoever they may be. At this stage, it kinda looks like trolling. Yes, that's another strand of the subsequent online reaction. But wait a minute, wasn't Mark Camilleri 1.0's appointment more or less greeted with the same kind of backlash? You're correct in saying that. Here was a young, vocal upstart who got into trouble with the former (PN) government for publishing an explicit short story in a student magazine he edited, only to then be awarded a plum job as the head of the National Book Council when the political tide changed. It did come off as a blatant 'screw you' to the outgoing government back in 2013... But the results speak for themselves. How so? Camilleri did seem to run a tight ship at the Book Council, spearheading a number of key initiatives and funds that helped boost the profile of local literary products and all literature-adjacent educational efforts in the public sphere. Also, the Book Festival – or Book Fair, as it was formerly known – was a glorified book bazaar at the best of times prior to Camilleri's time. This year, its guest of honour is one Irvine Welsh. But who's to say Mark Camilleri 2.0 will enact his duties in a similarly inspirational fashion? Nobody can predict what will happen. But either way, Camilleri 1.0 has laid down quite the solid groundwork, and Camilleri 2.0 already makes for a far better look than most public appointees within Maltese cultural bodies. How do you mean? For starters, he certainly has a genuine interest in books – he is possibly the closest thing we have to a consistently popular genre fiction author, and very much a part of the community of stakeholders he will be militating for... which is far more than can be said about, for example, certain individuals heading highly prestigious institutions centered within and around our capital city... You mean the guy who put kids' mini-golf planters in front of Renzo Piano's parliament building? Yes. Now there's some bona fide trolling for you, right there. Do say: "We're all allowed to have a chuckle at 'Mark Camilleri being replaced by Mark Camilleri', but as was the case the first time around, let's give the new guy his due. He certainly loves books." Don't say: "To be honest, 'Close your eyes and pretend nothing's changed' has been my coping mechanism when it comes to all national developments in recent years, and I have no intention of stopping now." The value of land MARIO CARDONA & MALCOLM BORG 8-9 The Skinny Malta, shrunk down JOSANNE CASSAR Is showing weakness a sign of failure? PAGE 6 MICHAEL FALZON The whistleblowing farce PAGE 7 No 104 – Invasion of the Body Snatchers at the Book Council SAVIOUR BALZAN Oh look... a request to ban the publication of a book PAGE 5 EDITORIAL Twenty years after 9-11: a world turned upside down PAGE 2 The benchmark to be used, in evaluating agricultural land, cannot be speculation. It has to be based on the agricultural worth of the land... not just the commercial value of the products themselves, but also its contribution to our cultural heritage

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