A public Planning Authority meeting on a proposed hotel in Delimara descended into a raucous event after an activist was forcibly removed by the police.
The Chairman of the board at the meeting, architect Vincent Cassar, explained to Lovin Malta why the police were called in on the activist.
“There was a member of the public that was making his points, and then he called one member of the board by name – Professor Victor Axiak – and I objected and I said ‘members should be addressed properly’ and he called him by name again and I said ‘you should be calling him professor and use the proper names’,” Chairman Cassar told Lovin Malta.
“He called him by name again, and he also called another member of the board by name. At that point, there was a lot of noise in the room and I asked him to leave the room. And he refused,” he said.
This is when the police were called in.
“We had to wait for the police, for about 30, 40 or 60 minutes,” he said.
However, he said he has nothing against the activist in question.
“He was in a group of five or six people who were also making their points, and there’s no problem with that, they were making valid points. But this person, he was the fourth or fifth to speak from the group, and he was just a bit… high-spirited,” he said.
He also said this isn’t anything new for PA meetings.
“They were objecting to the development, and we get that at every meeting. Everybody has the right to speak and make their points, and we take note of their points. But you do have to behave and address members of the board in the proper manner,” he said.
“When you ask a person to behave properly and he doesn’t comply… there will always be people who will object, but then on the other side there were people there who were in favour of the project,” he said. “You have to keep a balance; everyone starts shouting, and the meeting gets rowdy and out of hand, so you have to do something about it,” he said.
“It could have been one of those people speaking in favour of the project and they would have received the same treatment,” he said.
This morning’s PA meeting has opened up a can of worms, with the line between free speech and respect to authority at the centre of the debate.
An anonymous source who was in the room told Lovin Malta that while he personally agreed with the activists arguments, and could see he was an educated environmentalist, he found his approach to speaking to the board “uncouth” and he would have also asked for his removal.