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MALTATODAY 22 January 2023

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maltatoday | SUNDAY • 22 JANUARY 2023 COMMENT The big fish and the small fry JOSANNE CASSAR PAGE 6 The Skinny Malta, shrunk down MICHAEL FALZON Bedknobs and broomsticks PAGE 7 SAVIOUR BALZAN We can do something about our leniency on excess PAGE 5 EDITORIAL The wheels of justice turn too slowly PAGE 2 RAPHAEL VASSALLO It's not just the Gozo airport that's 'destined to fail'… PAGE 6 Each time we hear of another life being snatched away, more broken- hearted, inconsolable relatives, followed by another stream of RIPs. But then what? What are we skinning? The Hili Group insisting on going forward with its Comino hotel and bunga- lows proposal, despite vociferous objections by both a former La- bour grandee and current MEP, as well as thousands of objectors from among the public at large. Why are we skinning it? Because it's further proof of the impunity that reigns within the construction and development sector. It's not really impunity though, is it? They haven't committed any crimes... I would come close to calling this something resembling a pre-meditated clear intention to commit said crime, actually. But there was a hotel on Comino up until not too long ago... and Hili and co. have now promised they will take up even less land than what that structure took up. That all sounds fine and dandy on paper, but we know the footprint is the least of it. How do you mean? Will nothing at all satisfy you? My chronic dissatisfaction is a topic for my therapist, but I do appreciate your concern. As to your first question... like a perverse take on criminal law, crony-capitalist land use in Malta is all about setting a precedent. Ergo? The hotel's footprint may be ostensibly 'reduced', but once you allow that kind of development on Comino, it's gonna be very difficult to put the genie back in the bottle. But it's a Natura 2000 site. Surely that guarantees some small measure of safeguards? The islands' development regime is adept at finding loop- holes. And it'll be encouraged to do so all the more by a govern- ment that's biting its nails at the prospect of yet another looming economic crisis. Resistance has to count for something, though. Look at how Hili have already been cowed into reducing the foot- print... Unless that was the plan all along... Very cynical of you. Can you blame me for being cynical, though? This is what the regime has led to: an utter distrust in the system, and an inculcated belief that the construction lobby will always have the upper hand. Maybe when the Tourism Minis- ter said the deckchairs issue would be resolved by next sum- mer, this is what he meant. Fair assumption, though somehow I can't bring myself to credit Clay- ton Bartolo with the necessary dollop of Machiavellian brain power required to set such an ingenious plan in motion. Here's to building up our energies for the 'no apartments on Filfla' battle. That'll be a fun one. Or at least, an inevitable one, at this rate. Do say: "No amount of suppos- edly 'sustainable' development on sensitive natural sites can be taken in good faith, at this point. The construction and development industry has a lot of explaining to do, and it needs to start with reparations sooner rather than later." Don't say: "Why would any killjoys oppose such a project? I make minimum wage, but my hobby happens to be observing the Hili Group make money hand over fist, as I observe their transactions with a pair of rusted wartime binoculars I found in my grandparents' old town- house, that I had to sell to afford my one-bedroom apartment in Fgura." No. 175 - Coming for Comino

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