Sociologist, Local Councillor, Activist from Malta

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Where were the Front activists in the past? A reply

To those ultra-partisans who seem to adopt selective memory in asking Front Harsien ODZ core activists where we were years ago, I reply that many of us, such as James Debono, David Pisani and myself have been active in many environmental campaigns since the 1990s, some of which were successful.

Others are younger but have been active for some years and yet others recently took the brave step to be active to save what is left. Others are still in time to be active to protect the environment, a common good which has no party-political or financial affiliation.

Incidentally two of my 3 sociology theses- (State/Power: Hiltonopoly, BA Hons, 1998, and EU accession and civil society empowerment - the case of Maltese ENGOs, PhD, 2013) - as well as academic papers and dozens of newspaper articles which I have written deal with environmental politics, so I invite the skeptics to check them out and find ample documentation on this.

One can find related articles in my blog, and academic papers/theses through the following link:


Arnold Cassola said...

Michael, may I also remind readers that the generations older than yours, i.e.. mine and the AD founders generation (1989), in the eighties and nineties, were physically protesting in Delimara on the Power station building, on Suncrest illegal lido, on Jerma Palace illegal lido, on Ta'Cenc village project (twice), on Il-Fekruna /Mare D'oro, on Fontadir privatisation of coast project, in Comino Santa Marija Bay privatisation, PortoMaso project etc. etc. We were booked various times by the police and on the Ta' Cenc protest we were even sentenced to jail. Five of us (Mark Borg, Peppi Azzopardi, Mario Mallia, Saviour Balzan and myself) actually did their stint in jail. Issa, ejjew ghidulna "Fejn kontu qabel", ta! Signed: Arnold Cassola

Michael Briguglio said...

Thanks Arnold. Yes of course, but I was referring to core activists in Front Harsien ODZ, given that some skeptical ultra-partisans are asking us about our environmental credentials. And prior to AD's founding, during the 1980s, there were also activists such as the late Julian Manduca and Harry Vassallo in Moviment ghall-Ambjent and my Dad Lino Briguglio in Partit Demokratiku Malti.

Michael Briguglio said...

To elaborate on my reply above, may I add that Maltese environmentalist action within civil society goes back to the 1960s. Indeed conservationist and moderate ENGOs namely Din l-Art Helwa and the ENGOs which today are known as Nature Trust (ex-SSCN) and Birdlife Malta (ex-MOS) were established in that decade. From the 1980s onwards, more radical ENGOs were established, such as the ENGO today known as Friends of the Earth Malta (ex-Zghazaqh/Moviment ghall-Ambjent), and later on, leftist NGOs Moviment Graffitti and Zminijietna Voice of the Left were established, both being involved in various environmental campaigns. A new wave of conservationist ENGOs – Flimkien ghall-Ambjent Ahjar and Ramblers’ Association - was established following Malta’s EU accession. Various local ENGOs were also formed from the 1990s onwards, as well as coalitions/fronts including Front Kontra l-Hilton, Front Kontra l-Golf Kors, Front Insalvaw il-Wied tal-Kalkara, Moviment Harsien Hondoq etc..

Ken Mifsud Bonnici said...

Michael, Arnold - I think that you, but also all those asking where the environmental movement was before are missing a key, elusive, but actually somewhat obvious point.

As you well point out - environmentalists, of course, have always been there. But it's also true that, as others may equally well point out - their voice is somehow louder, they are somehow more present than ever before. The shift in gear seems remarkable, unprecedented, even strange. Many ask: where were you before? - but that's not just partisanship: something big enough has changed recently so much that it sticks out in the collective consciousness, and it's genuinely perplexing to many.

I believe both points of view are missing the elephant in the room: one massive thing actually *has* changed recently, to explain this, and we'd all be silly to underestimate it. We had a referendum on spring hunting with both parties on one side and the environmental movement on the other. While the environmental movement always made noises, for the very first time it had to come together, organise, and run a national political and mediatic campaign, with the support of prominent personalities and the media. The referendum was lost, but the unprecedented organisation, goodwill, awareness and support for the environmental movement were NOT. There has been a coming of age of Maltese civil society in environmental matters, which actually represents a permanent, structural change in the political landscape of Malta. The environmental movement IS different than it ever was before, and that change is with us to stay.

Ken Mifsud Bonnici said...

In brief, I think the environmental movement, still licking its wounds from the referendum loss, has still not come to terms with the fact that it took on both major political parties and nearly won a referendum against them. It still has to digest and wake up to the reality of the success and change that represents. As environmental activists, you talk now just like you did before, you think that nothing changed. But in the media you were previously heard as a whimper. Now you're heard as a roar. How can you actually be surprised that the reaction you get is: oh, dear - where where you before? They are right - you just weren't there in the same way.