Pembroke sacrificed to the rule of degenerates

The Planning Authority’s decision to allow Silvio Debono’s DB Group to build its obscene monstrosity of a project at Pembroke in St George’s Bay must be challenged, in all and any ways possible.

Hell-bent on imposing his hideous “City Centre” on the horrified residents of the area, Debono has allowed his naked, viscously dripping greed to compromise himself, the government and the Planning Authority once too many times.

This loathsome hotelier, fast becoming one of Malta’s most despised characters, is known to make regular, significant donations to both the Labour Party and the Nationalist Party. The laws of cause and effect come into sharp focus when you consider how many scandalous, suspect deals he’s been involved with, including the shameful, illegal €274 million St Vincent de Paul contract.

But Pembroke is up there with the worst of them; perhaps the worst of all, because besides stealing the nation’s money, he’s also robbing 50,000 residents of their very environment, their very lives. The hideousness of the giant squatting erection he’s planning to build will overshadow every aspect of their days, looming over them like an evil tyrant dictating how much light they get, how much air, how much liberty.

He’s also stripping them, and everyone else of an entire peninsula, stealing the land itself from the people via the inexplicable deal disgraced former minister Konrad Mizzi arranged to grant him the land at a peppercorn price – €15 million – in the first place, and turfing the ideally-located Institute of Tourism Studies out of the elegant former barracks it occupied to send it into limbo.

Heavily criticised on practically every level in a scathing March 2020 report by the National Audit Office that took three years to complete, the highly irregular deal will see this crucial training centre eventually move to Smart City at a cost to the nation of around €80 million. In the interim, however, it’s been shunted into the shabby, landlocked former offices of Air Malta – at a further cost to the taxpayer of €2 million – far from any tourist resort, exiled from its natural home in the heart of Malta’s most popular visitor destinations.

The Planning Authority has, over the past eight years, completely lost any credibility it may have had before 2013. It’s now almost entirely staffed by degenerates, philistines and incompetents. The relentless arrogance with which it ignores environmental, aesthetic and social imperatives in order to grant permits to any Tom, Dick and Harry who wants to tear down his grandmother’s house to build cheap, tawdry concrete apartments instead, has ravaged every single town, village and hamlet in Malta and Gozo.

But the brazen manner in which it favours big developers and contractors, approving projects to be built on property belonging to the nation, granted to them under suspicious and fiercely disputed conditions, is truly beyond the pale.

So determined was the Planning Authority that Debono would get his controversial permit that in its first vote in September 2018, it allowed a vote to PL-appointed board member Matthew Pace (the same one now facing money laundering charges in the Keith Schembri / Allied Newspapers case) – a franchise owner of the Remax Alliance Group that was already selling the project’s apartments in 2016, despite there being no planning permit and no title to the land. The Authority also spent €9,000 on flying a further board member, Jacqueline Gili, from a family holiday in Sicily to Malta and back immediately after the meeting.

This permit was revoked after The Shift exposed Pace’s obvious conflict of interest, and NGOs, residents and local councils took up the cause, but of course, the saga didn’t end there. Debono was even more determined to get his pounds of flesh, no matter what it took.

In July last year, The Shift reported that real estate industry operators, lawyers, environmentalists and other professionals were flabbergasted at the details of the 2017 concession contract between the government and DB Group, which they described as putting the PL administration into “legal servitude” to DB.

The machinations and mendaciousness behind this foul-smelling deal are almost beyond the realm of comprehension. After the initial outcry forced some reaction from the rapacious developers, DB Group announced in February this year that they’d “listened” to the concerns of the public and redesigned the project to halve the project and make it more acceptable to residents.

This was a blatant lie. The Shift analysed the newly submitted plans to discover that rather than shrinking the project, the devious, dishonest developer had actually increased the number of apartments to be built – from 162 to 179 – and slashed the number of parking spaces by 500.

But while corrupt government MPs and officials may collude with big business to whom they are beholden for donations and other gifts, there is supposed to be a whole system of checks and balances, of public authorities whose raison d’etre is purely to protect the public from exploitation and preserve the integrity of the nation’s finances, assets, environment and wellbeing.

The Planning Authority is one such body, yet under its current constitution, it’s done the opposite, time and time again. With this project, however, it’s surpassed even itself. The reality is that on Thursday, four people – just four people – were given the power to vote to destroy an entire community, to desecrate thousands of homes and to turn 50,000 lives into a sunless, airless hell.

Four people, all Labour yes-men: Sean Mangion, ex-chief of staff to Anthony Aguis Decelis who awarded the scandalous €274 million euro direct order to DB group and James Caterers; Martin Camilleri,a former MEPA case officer and mate of Minister Roderick Galdes; Duncan Mifsud, an architect for crying out loud, but critically, also a former Labour Party candidate; Saviour Debono Grech, son of former Labour MP Joe Debono Grech.

These four people, four people who somehow in this dystopian nightmare of a PL-administered country, are given the power to make a decision that will scar the island forever, ravage one of the prettiest and most popular tourist areas we have and blight the lives of tens of thousands of residents in the three towns most deeply affected.

Four people who voted to ignore the pleas of thousands of objections from the public, for the third time, and the ever-more urgent protestations from three local councils: Pembroke, Swieqi and St Julians.

Four people who voted in favour, while three voted against. Five were obliged to “recuse” themselves just before the vote: according to Moviment Graffitti, four of these recusals, including the NGO representative Annick Bonello, were forced to disqualify themselves because of a court ruling that those who voted on the 2018 decision should not vote again on the same permit.

In the Bible story, David beats the Philistine giant Goliath with the simplest of weapons, but an abundance of bravery. Most of us grew up understanding this to mean that courage is really all you need to stand up to your oppressors and defeat them.

This week, Malta learned yet again that it’s caught in the grip of people so corrupt and venal that they’ve turned that well-loved Bible story inside out. In PL-blighted Malta, Goliath triumphs every time. And not only does he triumph, but, together with his army of degenerate money-grubbers, he grinds down those who oppose him like so many insignificant ants beneath his shoe. We can’t let this keep happening.

                           
                               
guest
16 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
viv
viv
3 days ago

Turning the middle of the sea into a dust bowl.

Henry s Pace
Henry s Pace
3 days ago

This country has lost its soul with all these monguls around and dictating their agenda all for money.
The next step for all the residents around to say
‘ SEE YOU AT THE POLLS ‘

Joe mallia
Joe mallia
3 days ago
Reply to  Henry s Pace

If the PN really means what it says, they should make it a point to dismantle this DB project as soon as they take power.

Alexander
Alexander
3 days ago
Reply to  Henry s Pace

No, it is a matter of time when the population will get down on the streets and destroy everything they see.

Paul Bugeja
Paul Bugeja
3 days ago

Where were u when portomaso , Weston and Corinthia were given land and granted permit is even to destroy national heritage and create a private yacht marina??? Either criticise everything or nothing. What about the hideous apartments on Sliema front? There is a lot of dimentia on this island!

alfred zammit
alfred zammit
3 days ago
Reply to  Paul Bugeja

igifieri int qed tigustifica din il monstosita ? Min mindu telaw il pl ir road map kienet cara. jekk tal pn sbaljaw niprofetaw ruhna u niehdu mid darba a skaptu ta nies bdiek liskuza.Ragunament jew ta tfal jew tal korrotti
.

M.Galea
M.Galea
3 days ago
Reply to  Paul Bugeja

Ghalfejn bdilna l gvern tahseb int?? Forsi biex inpaxxu lilek??Hallina!! Paroli fil vojt!

Isle of corruption
Isle of corruption
2 days ago
Reply to  Paul Bugeja

The classic sheeps reply for justification and uses whataboutism, wrong is wrong past present or future. If you burn your hand by putting it in the fire do you do it again or do you learn from that mistake?

H Edwards
H Edwards
2 days ago
Reply to  Paul Bugeja

That’s a totally asinine argument. Oh well, Malta’s ruined already, might as well concrete over the rest of it!

Joseph Tabone Adami
Joseph Tabone Adami
3 days ago

A chilling read – and it’s not fiction but facts, rude, unforgiving and most probably irreversible as far as can be foreseen.

carlo
carlo
3 days ago

In communist china, someone had found to courage to stop tanks at the Tiananmen square when the people’s liberation army (sic) Tiananmen Square opened fire at people who wanted LIBERTY AND DEMOCRACY.

After thousands of people went down in the streets on February 2014, a December 2016 survey by Kyiv international institute of Sociology found that 34 % of respondents in the government-controlled Ukraine regarded the change in power as an illegal armed group while 56 percent regarded it as a popular revolution.

And in Malta, after so many scandals where ministers were involved in the biggest scandals, assassinations, and the looting of the country’s wealth, we just talk and complain and let the corrupt government acting without regard for the feelings or interests of the honest taxpayer.

Tess Mercieca
Tess Mercieca
3 days ago

Such a well written article Blanche. Well done. It sickens me to see how this country is simply going to the dogs, with construction happening everywhere. Do we really need all these apartments? I really don’t think so, when they could so easily just renovate the number of old, dilapidated buildings found across the island, instead of taking the little land we have left, or blocking any decent view or air we may have. Just so sad.

M.Galea
M.Galea
3 days ago
Reply to  Tess Mercieca

So sad! And we people are to blame! Who is taking loans to buy this garbage appartments as second homes??

saviour mamo
saviour mamo
3 days ago

Now we have two monstrosities representing the state sponsored scandals. The LNG tanker in Delimara and the project at Pembroke. But don’t hold your breadth. The third one can be anytime soon..

Graham Crompton
Graham Crompton
3 days ago

Why aren’t the 4 people mentioned in the article arrested for corruption? Their coerced decision has blighted the lives of hundreds.Why does this keep happening in Malta?

M.Galea
M.Galea
3 days ago

U hawn xi hadd jahseb li dal gvern ta l art ghal 15 lmiljun u huma ma hadu xejn?? Flimkien qeghdin business! Flimkien qeghdin business b bicca art taghna w l poplu jifrah u jcapcap!! Korruzzjoni fil wicc u pulizija rieqda!!

Related Stories

The Greatest of All Time
It is silly season in the football world so
The secrecy and the formula
Call it extra-sensory empathy or (if you really must)
Support investigative journalism that speaks truth to power.