Therese Comodini Cachia to quit politics / Malta News Briefing – Friday 4 June 2021

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Afternoon Portal Review

The Times of Malta reports that Nationalist MP Therese Comodini Cachia revealed on Friday she will not be contesting the upcoming general election, less than a year after her instrumental role helped bring about a change in party leadership.  She was instrumental in the removal of former leader Adrian Delia. “Partisan polarised parliamentary politics is not the best outfit for me to wear to be able to continue striving for a better place with a fairer community,” Comodini Cachia told The Times.

The Independent reports that Valletta Cultural Agency chairman Jason Micallef has branded environmental activist Claire Bonello as a “traitor and enemy of Malta” for featuring in a documentary which exposed Malta’s concrete-ridden landscape.

Newsbook quotes Archbishop Charles J Scicluna who said that Malta should not fear multiculturalism. Citing the land versus sea argument, Archbishop Scicluna said Malta’s attitude towards the sea must change. In clear reference to the distinction the country makes in greeting foreign guests, with the rich given the red carpet treatment and granted citizenship and asylum seekers left to their own devices at sea, he said Malta should not fear diversity and multiculturalism.

Maltatoday quotes independent MP Marlene Farrugia who pledged to pursue the issue of abortion beyond simple decriminalisation. She said that she reached her position after discussing with her kids.

TVM gives an in-depth look at today’s briefing by the Health Superintendent, Prof Charmaine Gauci. She is quoted as saying that there are presently no Covid-19 patients recovering in the ITU, and for yet another week, there had not been any positive cases in residential homes for the elderly. The average age of active cases is 32 years.

Updated 1231

Covid-19 Update

Two new cases were reported on Friday afternoon from 2,545 swab tests. With four persons recovering, active cases have gone down to 74. No deaths were recorded in the past 24 hours.

Majority of Maltese happy with their lives, but future uncertain: A survey commissioned by the Office of the President, known as the State of the Nation, found that more than 60% of respondents said they were happy with their lives (60.7%). About 40 percent (39.2%) said their lives could be better. Only 0.1% of respondents said they were unhappy with their lives. Nearly 40 percent (38.4%) said they could be more successful in their lives.

The survey also found that the majority of people said they do not know if they will be living a better life within a year (62.5%). About 30% of respondents said they thought they would live a better life within a year (30.4%). Only 7.1% of people said they would not be living a better life within a year.

Two large files with Yorgen Fenech’s messages presented to public inquiry: Two large files and a USB drive containing messages extracted from Yorgen Fenech’s phone have been presented as evidence in a public inquiry into the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. Caruana Galizia family lawyer Therese Comodini Cachia said that “this is just a very tiny minuscule selection… just 0.001% of what we have to go through”.

Throughout the inquiry’s sessions, a number of witnesses were asked questions related to messages extracted from Fenech’s phone. These included from former PN leader Adrian Delia to former MFSA chief Joseph Cuschieri and Inland Revenue Commissioner Marvin Gaerty.

Updated 0850 – Newspaper Review

The Independent reports that Transport Malta filed a planning application to build office space and a restaurant in Gżira as part of a wider yacht marina project. The one-story building eats 500 square metres into the Council of Europe’s public garden.

In-Nazzjon quotes Opposition Leader Bernard Grech who criticised the government track record in the environment sector and said that the PN has presented various proposals on the subject. Parliament was discussing amendments to the Environment Protection Act.

L-Orizzont speaks with the tourism authority chairman Gavin Gulia who said that the refund scheme launched by Malta ahead of the reopening of borders registered great interest in international markets.

The Times leads with the decision by the British government not to add any new countries to the travel green list. Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo said that the government had done all it could to persuade UK authorities that Malta was a safe destination.

The Independent reports on the compilation of evidence against Keith Schembri on Thursday. His lawyer complained that the former chief of staff was denied bail for three weeks while Adrian Hillman was granted bail immediately.

In-Nazzjon reports that the Courts decided that there is enough evidence against Adrian Hillman to face charges. The former general manager of Allied Group over €1 million in kickbacks from a series of offshore companies owned by Keith Schembri.

The Times follows the testimony in court by state witness Melvin Theuma who said that he hoped that the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia would be blamed on former economy minister Chris Cardona.

L-Orizzont quotes self-confessed witness Melvin Theuma who said that an individual had pressured him to eliminate all recordings related to the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia. The person’s identity cannot be revealed by court order.

In-Nazzjon follows a visit by PN Leader Bernard Grech to the open market in Żurrieq on Thursday. Grech said that the party will uphold its promise to refund households for extra water and electricity consumption charges.

Morning Briefing

Disappointment at UK decision to keep Malta out of green list

The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association expressed disappointment at the British Government’s decision to keep Malta out of its green travel list, suggesting that such decisions were being taken on a political rather than a scientific basis. The MHRA said that the UK was undermining the concept of free movement of trade and services and called for EU support on the matter. It noted how the decision would pose a significant blow to the hospitality industry, with the British market representing a third of all tourist arrivals in 2019.

The PN also shared its disappointment over the UK decision and offered to help the government in diplomatic efforts to resolve the issue.

It said the decision was a blow to the tourism industry, and it therefore urged the government to continue to support the sector. Minister Clayton Bartolo had earlier described the decision as disappointing in view that Malta had reached herd immunity.

New policy on remote working to be announced

While commending the way public officers have kept the country going during the pandemic through flexibility, will, and a sense of duty, Principal Permanent Secretary Mario Cutajar stressed the need to create new balances between what the Public Service needs and what its employees need. This will be achieved through remote working, which will bring about a radical change in how the system works, with entire departments being able to leave their offices and work elsewhere.

This change, which will require a greater investment in technology and further training, will feature in a new policy in the coming weeks, it was announced.

Maltese largely satisfied with EU response to pandemic

A large majority of the Maltese population said they were satisfied with the EU’s response to the pandemic and want the Union to have a greater role in combating similar crises in the future. In a Eurobarometer survey published today, 73% of Maltese said they were satisfied with the EU’s response, while 25% said they were not. 63% of Maltese were satisfied with the solidarity between countries.

Read more here.

Covid-19 Update

Four new cases of coronavirus were reported on Thursday, while four persons recovered. Active cases now stand at 76.