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Environmental NGOs, the Ramblers Association of Malta, Flimkien Ghal Ambject Ahjar, Friends of the Earth Malta, Malta Organic Agriculture Movement and Moviment Graffitti, said in a statement this afternoon that they are “dismayed to learn that architect Joe Falzon’s tenure as MEPA Auditor has been terminated at very short notice.”
“Mr Falzon is a person of unparalleled honesty and objectivity who has given the Maltese people eight years of unparalleled service at great personal sacrifice. He was the only person the public could turn to, to expose the repeated irregularities of the MEPA machine.
“He was someone who knew the MEPA laws and regulations like few others and a paragon of integrity that no one could think of corrupting, and yet he was treated shabbily, ignored, criticised unjustly and even vilified by those who should have appreciated these virtues and acted on his recommendations,” the NGOs said.
“Many of his reports will stand as a record of what was allowed to pass as the planning process by those whose duty it was to uphold the laws of this country of ours. Unfortunately these reports and recommendations were simply ignored, or worse still, belittled, in defence of shameful irregularities.”
“To the environmental NGOs he was a pillar of steadfastness and courage as we could trust and rely on his independent and objective judgement in the various issues we submitted for his scrutiny, some of which raised a national outcry.” The NGOs added, “which is not to say that he was biased in favour of the ENGOs as there were times that he dismissed our objections or informed us that though they were correct, MEPA regulations failed to uphold them.”
“For eight years he had to work hard and suffer in silence for striving to curb abuse and see that MEPA upheld its own laws and regulations of MEPA. So it is not just the ENGOs but the public in general who should remember his courage in standing up for them,” the NGOs said.
“It is also strange that the Auditor should be dismissed at such a delicate time of change before the elections, when Perit Falzon would have provided the desired stability and continuity.” The NGOs went on to say, “his hasty dismissal prevents him from concluding cases in hand, which raises questions in the public perception and detracts further from MEPA’s poor credibility”.
The ENGOs maintain that “just as they would not expect a person involved in the environmental field to replace Perit Falzon, equally his replacement should not be a stakeholder in the sectors investigated by the Auditor’s office. An architect who has spent all his career consolidating connections with the development industry would not enjoy the same trust as Perit Falzon who was predominantly a University lecturer.”
The NGOs concluded that they “hope that Perit Falzon will be succeeded by a person worthy of the trust that he has won for the post. Malta needs someone of his knowledge of the inner workings of MEPA, and of his integrity, to stave off political manipulations and his courage to call a spade a spade, in order to uncover a fraction of what goes on when certain building permits are granted.”