March 31, 2014

“Simshar” and the ongoing tragedy of the Mediterranean…

What better ways are there to highlight the ongoing tragedy of thousands of lives swallowed by the Mediterranean sea a couple of miles beyond our shores than a feature film? Well not many I can think of and Rebecca Cremona does wonderfully by linking and intertwining it with yet another tragedy; the loss of a Maltese fishing boat with all its crew save for one… I will stop here re the movie as I don’t want to give out more spoilers for those who are not familiar with the story. However I can tell you that it is well acted throughout and expect to be glued to the screen…

What I am writing about is the other thousands of “Simshars” lost at sea. In this case the lives of those who perish(ed) will not be documented in any movies and very few people on our side of the “fence” will mourn them or even give their plight and tragedy a second thought. It is shocking that we treat mass “drownings” as business as usual. The immigrants who risk life and limb to cross are not doing so as a sort of “lets see how this thing goes…” The vast majority are escaping persecution, famine, disease and (in the worst cases) annihilation from all three. There is no other way of dealing with the situation, once the boats have left the shores of Libya, other than going out at sea to offer help when and whenever necessary. Anything short of the latter would be cruel and inhumane.

But what about us Maltese; can the island take and absorb wave after wave of immigrants indefinitely? Are we getting enough help from our neighboring countries? The answer to the latter is in a constantly changing gray area. A leap forward would be more stability (or stability at all!) around the North African coast and in the countries further south but that is not going to happen anytime soon. In the meantime we have to retain and live up to our reputation of a good hearted and welcoming nation and give the best possible aid to those who need it most. Unfortunately our best is not always enough and leaps and bounds of improvements are still to be made in the conditions we keep these immigrants till they are integrated or repatriated. In this area our politicians must appeal, in the strongest way possible, for more physical and financial aid from our bigger and stronger neighbors. Malta can not face this problem alone and lets not forget that our population density is one of the highest anywhere.

Anger and frustration might lead to the temptation of displaying racist or xenophobic behavior, especially when confronted with the unknown. To those who may be inclined to entertain such thoughts I ask one question; what if it were you in that overcrowded boat clinging to its failing structure for dear life? Would you want help then? If it were your kin out there on the boats or floating aimlessly on the high seas, would you go help then?


  1. Not just a great voice…. brilliant & noted.

  2. Birgit

    You’re a great human person. You’re not only taken your gift seriously and gives the sacrifices it takes to be a super tenor, but you’re showing here a great compassionate view of all people. More of that kind, that view of all fellow human beings will make a better world. Thank you please continue the way.

  3. Manuel

    This is a great article, thank you for sharing.

    Warm greetings from Mexico.

  4. Joe Spiteri

    Well put. Let’s hope the powers that be will take note. Sometimes I wonder whether politics take priority over good humanitarian decisions or simply doing the right thing. Thanks for standing up for your believes. Regards.

  5. liv

    Joseph you are not only a great singer but also an altruistic humanitarian . I do believe though that the Maltese people suffer in silence the hardship immigration and the EU establishment has imposed on them and the rest of Europe.

  6. A very well written article on a subject of interest and importance to so many people. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  7. Paul Buhagiar

    Must say a proper gentile man, with two different brilliant voices

  8. Simone Camilleri

    Well written, Joseph, and how right you are. I think that EU countries have to realise that offering us more financial aid is just not enough. What we need is countries to help with taking a number of these unfortunate people to offer them a better future.

  9. David Agius

    What is needed in reality is that the former colonisers help and in some cases let them help themselves so that these countries reach a standard of living much better than the current one.

    That means, no messing about in the countries’ politics due to western business concerns or in order to facilitate trade in only one way. One also should remember that the continent still suffers from hundreds of years of people being taken into slavery to serve the interests of the colonisers in the new continents of America. Their hard work and the lives lost are still the basis for the new economies of Europe and North America post the middle ages!

  10. Julie

    A very interesting and thoughtful article. Thank you.

  11. Well done for speaking your mind. As for the negative comments in The Times……..hate seeing the ignorance and arrogance on this island of our armchair critics………they seem to know exactly how to put the world to right!

  12. Carmen Healey

    You are a very talented person but ost of all very human

  13. Daniel

    Dear Joseph,
    You are a very kind person, you are very thoughtful and that is why God have gifted you with such a voice and such a talent and I am happy for you and for your super fantastic career. God Bless you always and Bless your incredible talent.
    If my relatives had to come to the conclusion that to find a better live they must jump in a boat, throw away their passport (so when they reach shores nobody can identify them) and sail in open seas to illegally enter another country and live on the tax payer money……I will make sure I do my best to help them sort out their lives! I will make sure they start to re-built their lives in OUR COUNTRY and without putting themselves in any danger whilst they run away from their homes to go illegally into another country. I do feel sorry for any lost lives mind you, do not think I do not have a heart and wish any harm to these illegal immigrants. But I also strongly believe that if they have the courage to hop in a boat and sail with the wind gust then they are strong enough to work and build their lives surrounded by their families and relatives rather then come to my country and demand money/accommodation/social services and benefits after they never paid any taxes!! I am sorry, you are very kind, but you cannot be naïve and not know what these illegal immigrants are doing in countries such as ITALY / SWEDEN / BELGUIM / IRELAND / UK / GERMANY etc. etc. the list goes on and on. Please do accept my apology for not agreeing to your cause, though I admit it is a good one, I assure you it is a very bad one for the future of yours and my children.
    May God Bless you always. (wish you will publish my opinion. because believe me, more then 90% agree with me about this delicate subject). I thank you in advance for giving me the opportunity to write on your fantastic blog.

  14. Alison

    Exactly ! I do not check the comment section anymore. it is a place for ignorance and racism. I cannot stand it. Well said Joseph.

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Joseph's Blog

May 16th, 2016

Quo Vadis Eurovision and other stories

Malta did not win the Eurovision but lo and behold the sun still rose and the island (the center of the known universe) still spun…

My two cents is that Ira Losco gave a really good performance and that the whole presentation was excellent. She shouldn’t have performed cause she is pregnant? Come off it – I have performed repeatedly with pregnant opera singers well into their 7th and 8th month of pregnancy and trust me when I say that rehearsing and performing for a full opera production is much more physically demanding than a couple of days at the Eurovision. Of course there are those who know much better than the undersigned and who went on to say that the presentation was a tad “camp”…oh the irony when one considers that the Eurovision is the campest of them all.

Meanwhile, this wouldn’t be Malta and the Eurovision wouldn’t be the Eurovision unless its politicized to the exhaustible hilt. The inevitable “mud slinging competition,” which we will see a lot of in the coming 22 months, ensued and even yours truly (inexplicably) ended up in the midst of the fray, in yet another “supernova” in a tea cup. The Eurovision suddenly became an interchangeable bullet to be used ad nauseam by both sides much like bitter parents who use their innocent children during disputes.  I have always found sycophants interesting, even amusing but they will not be getting the much desired Streisand effect from me, thank you very much. It is part of human nature after all to conjure conspiracies and we are not going to let the simple truth get in the way of some exciting and convenient fiction.

Speaking of “conjuring” is it me or is a company advertising real estate using a chap “connected” with the tragic and unnecessary death of an underage girl? It must be a clone or a”doppleganger”, otherwise this would be the epitome of bad taste and a 100 shades of wrong. Don’t get me wrong I am all for “second chances” and all of that but shouldn’t there be due process first? After all Lisa Marie didn’t get a second chance did she?