Meta nisma’ r-rapporti dwar x’ġara fl-ewwel nofs tas-snin disgħin fil-bini tal-isptar illum Mater Dei, inħossni qisni lura f’nofs atmosfera tixbah lil dik li Marcel Proust iddeskriva fir-rumanz tiegħu twil twil “Lejn is-Sejba taż-Żmien Mitluf”.

Sħabi u jien konna domna nippritkaw li f’dak l-isptar kienu qed isiru pulċinellati mill-kbar. Ġibna l-provi. Niftakar waħda minnhom: Glenn Bedingfield u Feliċ Agius irnexxielhom jieħdu filmat ta’ bowser konkrit ħiereġ minn post, jagħmel dawra u jispiċċa f’nofs il-binja tal-isptar.

Dawk kollha li messew mal-proġett, barranin u Maltin, sabu fih laħma fejn setgħu jmeximxu. Il-bqija, mogħmija bil-“feel good” li l-amministrazzjoni ta’ Fenech Adami kienu speċjalisti fiha, ippreferew jagħlqu għajnejhom dwar x’kien għaddej.

Bejn l-1996 u l-1998, sibna li l-ftehimiet li kienu ġew iffirmati rabtu bl-azzar idejn il-gvern tal-ġurnata. Ippruvajna tal-anqas infasslu proġett ġdid ta’ sptar ġenerali ħalli mill-ħela ta’ fondi, toħroġ xi ħaġa.

Anki dwar hekk, tal-PN ma ħamlux. Wara l-1998, lura fil-gvern, l-amministrazzjoni Fenech Adami żarmat is-sistema ta’ monitoraġġ u sorveljanza li konna waqqafna u naqqsu b’xi mitt sodda l-medda tal-isptar f’Tal-Qroqq.

Illum issib uħud li jistagħġbu b’li ġara.

Tassew Mater Dei rakkont proustjan – tifkira ta’ ħwejjeġ tal-imgħoddi, nittama.

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Impriżi żgħar

Sa ftit taż-żmien ilu, in-negozjati għal ftehim dwar kummerċ u investimenti bejn l-Istati Uniti u l-Unjoni Ewropea kienu qed iqanqlu tħassib kbir fost ħafna Ewropej. Dan se jkun ftehim maħsub biex jissodisfa l-interessi tal-kumpaniji multinazzjonali l-kbar, intqal. Huma li se jgawdu b’dak li se jiġi miftiehem għax is-swieq Ewropej se jinġabu taħt it-takkuna tagħhom aktar milli diġà huma.

Xi ħadd bilfors fehem u ddeċieda kif l-aħjar tista’ tiġi milqugħa din il-linja ta’ ħsieb. Dan l-aħħar, kull darba li dawk li jinsabu mdaħħla fin-negozjati jitkellmu fil-publiku, isemmu għal darba tnejn kif meta l-ftehim jintlaħaq għandu jkun tal-aqwa għajnuna l-aktar għall-impriżi ż-żgħar.

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Lupin

Arsene Lupin magħruf illum bħala karattru simpatiku f’cartoons tat-televixin għat-tfal. Imma beda ħajtu bħala ħalliel “ġentlom” f’sensiela ta’ rumanzi rokamboleski popolari ħafna seklu ilu fi Franza. Inkitbu minn Maurice Leblanc.

Sibt li għadhom tajbin biex itaffu l-monotonija ta’ vjaġġi bl-ajruplan li dan l-aħħar qed ikolli nagħmel ħafna minnhom.

“813” hu wieħed minn dawn ir-rumanzi li spiċċajt. Tgħidlix fuq xiex kien eżatt għax jikkonsisti f’balbuljata tal-kolpi ta’ xena li Leblanc tant jiddeletta bihom. Ifajjarhom kull meta jfettillu. Iħabbel rasu wara kif se jispjega x’wassal għalihom. L-ispjegi tiegħu rari jkunu konvinċenti. Imma ma tiddejjaqx taqra meta l-għażla tkun bejn Lupin u l-monotonija.

 

English Version – REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST

Reports about what took place in the first half of the nineties when the hospital now called Mater Dei started being built, feel like a throwback similar to the situation described by Marcel Proust in his very long novel “Remembrance of Things Past”.
My colleagues and I spent a long time warning that huge improprieties were then being committed at the hospital construction site. We presented proofs. I remember one: Glenn Bedingfield and Felix Agius succeeded in filming a bowser full of concrete leaving a certain place, doing a small tour of the island and ending up at the site.
All those who had something to do with the hospital, both foreigners or Maltese, realized it provided them with very good pickings. The rest, distracted by the feel good that the Fenech Adami administrations specialised in, preferred to look elsewhere.
Between 1996 and 1998, we discovered that the agreements that had been signed tied the hands of the government of the day completely. We at least tried to draw up a new project for a general hospital so that some benefit would still be derived from the wasted funds.
About this too the PN were not happy to let well alone. Back in government after 1998, they dismantled the system we had set up to monitor and audit the construction work going on at Tal-Qroqq and they downscaled the hospital by about one hundred beds.
Yet today, some people still feel surprise at how things developed.
Mater Dei really and truly offers a Proustian narrative – now just a remembrance of things past, I hope.

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SMEs

Up to quite recently, many Europeans were feeling uncomfortable about the negotations that are taking place between the US and the EU to conclude a deal on free trade and on investments. The claim was that the agreement would largely service the interests of big multinational companies. These would benefit once European markets come under their control to a greater extent than they already do.
Someone must have understood what was going on and decided on the best response to counter this claim. At present, when people who are taking part in the negotiations speak out in public, they make it a point to underline once or twice that when the agreement is concluded, it will be of great help to SMEs.

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LUPIN

Arsene Lupin is better known today as a funny character in a children’s TV cartoon show. But he started life a a gentleman burglar in a series of rocambolesque novels penned by Maurice Leblanc. They were very popular in France a century ago.
I’ve discovered they are still effective to clear the monotony of airplane travel, which has become a frequent experience for me.
“813” is a Lupin novel I’ve just finished though I’m not quite sure what it was exactly about. It consisted mostly of a confused sequence of the dramatic climaxes that Lelblanc delights in. Whenever he feels like it, he produces a sensational twist in the plot, and then starts thinking about how he’s going to explain what led to it. His explanations are rarely convincing. But when the choice is between Lupin and monotony, you don’t mind reading on.