Tuesday, 09 June 2015 15:46 GFP Columnist - Joseph M. Cachia
"There is one safeguard known generally to the wise, which is an advantage and security to all, but especially to democracies as against despots. What is it? Distrust." - Demosthenes

Up till now, nearly all objections and protests about the building of an ‘American University of Malta’ have centred on the plunder of pristine land and encroaching on ODZ (Outside Development Zone) land.  It goes without saying that all these protestations are justified as probably are the accusations of the ‘university’ excuse for the usurpation of this land for commercial speculation.

The fact that both the NP (Nationalist Party) and the Church jumped on the bandwagon should not serve as a diversion from more thoughtful perspectives.

Why it it being (erroneously?) repeated that the land is BEING GIVEN BY THE PRIME MINISTER DR JOSEPH MUSCAT?  Presumably, it must have had the approval of the whole LP group, or at least a Cabinet decision, as eventually all will be carrying the shared responsibility!

It is undeniable that our Prime Minister is losing all credibility and quite reasonably the people are doubting all his words.  Doubtlessly, many are those openly manifesting their mistrust and the less gullible are not accepting any sugared information.  This is a healthy sign in our populace, as by doubting we are led to question and by questioning we arrive at the truth.  When will this spirit for honest openness penetrate into the hearts of our elected PL (Partit Laburista?) members of parliament, who may even be kept in the dark about important matters even within their own group?  Some self-respect and dignity are badly needed here!  If they don’t dare ask, then the public should!

Political immaturity and partisan behaviour frequently amounting to stupidity are reigning galore in most comments carried on the media, while few are placing the issue above partisan politics.  Some have accepted the setting of an American ‘university’, but without destroying our land and coastline in the process.  I accept none!  Neither the setting up of this bogus ‘university’, nor the destruction of our countryside.

Now let’s come down to hard facts! 

The campus will be built on 90,000 square metres of arable land and, as reported, the site was chosen by the Saleh investor himself and presumably offered gratuitous and gleefully by the Maltese government.  Why should a Jordanian investor be asked to build a ‘university’ in Malta, while there are so many more available open spaces in Arab countries?  Why are we giving free land (plus cash subsidies) to rich foreign investors?  Are we being colonised by speculating investors, both local and foreign, now?

The Sadeen Education Investment Ltd., a Maltese-registered company, was firstly incorporated in Malta in June 2014.  It is owned by Hani Hasan Salah, and if personally, then it’s definitely outside the Sadeen Group.

So, what did they have to bet on then, to initiate this Company?  Who then, knew of any agreements or promises?  Did the public have any notion of what was going on?  Evidently someone did, as Hasan Saleh had already registered the internet domain as ‘American University of Malta’!   

Pete the dog earns an MBA from the American University of London

The American University of London (AUOL) is a ‘for-profit’, unaccredited educational institution offering undergraduate and graduate degrees solely by distance learning.  News media have reported that the institution has awarded degrees without requiring any work from the student. The institution has no campus.  (Why should ours have?)            

Without sending in any proof of his work, BBC reporters were able to get Pete, the dog, a degree from the American University of London. All the distance learning school needed was a resume, an application and a hefty fee of  4,500 (pounds sterling) amounting to approx. US$ 7.000.  Isn’t this a rip-off of higher education?   Could this be the line to be followed by this Jordanian enterprise, while the harvest would end with the investors? 

This would hardly be of any surprise when one considers that forty thousand fair and legitimate Ph.D.’s are awarded annually in the United States, while fifty thousand fake are fraudulently acquired.  As one prominent American journalist put it:  ‘Sadly, the truth is that our education system is an abysmal failure’.

“We (?) are thrilled to collaborate with the new university to develop high-quality, American-style curricula in the heart of the Mediterranean," said our Prime Minister.  But after all, what use is the American curriculum when we in Europe have our education based on European trends and designs?  In this regard, was the advice of our cultured educators and the echelon of our own university sought, and if so, why was it not divulged to the public?

Do we really need another university in Malta, and this type of educational (?) enterprise?  What is so academically reputable here?  Isn’t our university reputable enough?

It is the responsibility of the Maltese Ministry of Education to take into account these relevant points and to strictly ensure that proper surveillance and supervision are constantly maintained, as otherwise Malta’s name would be tarnished and worse still even the accreditations of our own University of Malta would be rendered suspicious.

Only a few of the unknowing gentry would dare to compare this venture to our respectable University of Malta.  Perhaps here again, we would have been indebted and thankful to hear the views and advice of the hierarchy of educators, starting by the Rector and down to our graduates, of OUR University.

Isn’t it funny that a Moslem enterprise would ask of all things a Catholic university advice on its curriculum!  And why did De Paule have to specify that Malta is a predominantly Catholic country?   Are they trying to play on our poor religious mentality?  Or would this Moslem ‘university’ be upgrading Catholic standards in Malta?  Definitely, this would never serve as a platform for social and cultural dialogue!  Many would agree that multiculturalism does not share the postmodernist stance.  Its passions are political.

Would it be wise to allot an abeyant and doubtful considerable community of Moslems on the people in the south of Malta?  It makes no difference if they are from high society.  One never knows of hidden intentions.

Finally, this is what harshly struck a false note, as the Prime Minister continued:  "Their business model is based on the geopolitical realities of the region and they are assembling a strong team to meet the targets and figures they're proposing."  As a Maltese citizen, I don’t care much for THEIR consideration of the ‘geopolitical realities of the region’.  What about OUR own consideration of our ‘geopolitical realities of the region’, Mr. Prime Minister?  Did that ever cross your mind? 

Dr. Muscat, you are fully and totally responsible for the people of Malta and whatever befalls them rests squarely on your young shoulders!  A more serious and deeper analysis and scrutiny of the ensuing political situation seems to be totally missing.  We should be extremely careful that this fancy name ‘university’ will not cost us our lives!

Perhaps there isn’t much wrong with an American-named Arab ‘university’ in Malta, except the timing.  However, the present situation in Libya has pushed us into a new geopolitical turmoil which should be seen and tackled from a completely different angle.

We rest at the crossroad between Europe and Arab countries and all know well enough that there is no love lost between the two.  Moreover, it is no secret that there is great animosity between most movements in these Arab countries against the United States, Europe and everything that is American.  

ISIS wants to shoot missiles at Europe.  The first targets would be Italy, Spain and MALTA, shot respectively from Tunisia, Morocco and Libya,’ begins an article by the Italian news-site giornalesm.com news, and included a map with Malta appearing as a definite target.

To be correct, it must be said that we are stating what was reported in a foreign news source.  I personally would think that this is pure speculation and there is no cause for alarm.  However, why give them more reason against us while offering them a closer target of their hated American nominations and designations?  I don’t believe that Malta is in the sights of ISIS, but still I’m perturbed of even being caught in any crossfire.

Noting that 75% of the Maltese population fear attacks from terrorist groups, it is incumbent on our government to heed all possible inclinations towards creating cause for exposing us and our children to further risks of peril.

Our leaders are there for a short time but the decisions they take last much longer!

Image Courtesy of independent.com.mt - Prime Minister Joseph Muscat

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