A close encounter between a wig and a qoffa

Published: March 5, 2008 at 10:39am

Let us all pause for a while and remember the historic day in 1996 when Alfred Sant took a break between corruption tours and mud-slinging and went to a supermarket before the election. He made his xirja, came back, and told us in a shocked press conference how much it cost. I watched him on television unpacking his qoffa and discussing the prices of items, and all I could think of was Gloria Mizzi on TVM in my childhood, doing pretty much the same thing but so much more attractively.

And of course, he drove to the supermarket in his getaway Mazda, paid for by the tax-payer as is the Leader of the Opposition’s privilege.

That xirja stunt helped him become prime minister. And when he became prime minister, the cost of his xirja rocketed within just a few months – thanks to his introduction of 33 new taxes, water and electricity bills that were higher than they are now, surcharge and all, at a time when oil cost just $12 a barrel (it now costs $103) and his punitive and tortuous replacement of VAT with CET.

Watch this clip for some amusing memories of Sant and his qoffa. Remember, this was the man who captured the imagination of enough people to make him prime minister then. There’s really no accounting for taste. It’s hard to believe that he’s still around, and still trying to pull the same kind of stunts.

24 Comments Comment

  1. Adrian Borg says:

    What is even harder to believe is that there are many people who are not bothered that by their inaction and petty disgruntlements they will allow him to become PM once again! These bother me much more than those who actually want him to be PM. i.e. the diehard labourites.

  2. Holland says:


    Why is the Lion King suing you?

  3. Daphne Caruana Galizia says:

    Holland: because it was Jason ‘Robin’ who said ‘Kemm hu pufta Lou’ to the Lion of Change, and not the other way round – which makes it even more interesting, of course.

  4. Dorrie Galea says:

    Lion King??!! Nah…. Mighty Mouse rather.

  5. Mark Camilleri says:


    Did the Malta Independent do any Election related polls this time round? Because I haven’t seen any. And neither did the Times show any.

    Any word on what the Xarabank surveys were saying?



    P.S. Keep up the good work. I really love your articles and seeing the wannabe politicians from MLP furious by what you write is even more great. :)

  6. Lorna says:

    Adrian, I really understand what you mean! Those are the ones who really worry me personally rather than the diehards. Both parties have diehards and those presumably balance each other out. However, to hear Nationalists speaking about not wanting Sant but still not voting because “they do not care” is incredible. When then pressed with: what is it exactly that you do not care about? Your futures, your pensions, your children? The blank answer is: well, I want to spite them (inpattihielhom) for not having ….. and a puerile attempt at explaining away the spite follows.

    I really don’t know. I know Labour will win the day – I’ve heard of too many people complaining for there being too many holes in Swiss cheese (if you know what I mean) so I presume, we just have to hope that Labour doesn’t destroy Malta’s credibility and credentials.

    Not to mention the real threat to democracy.

  7. Paul Buhagiar says:

    Dear Daphne,
    I was there during the university debate. The super one are doing everything in their power to BRAINWASH the so called partit tal haddiema. One of the stupidest things they said was that they had to change sant’s microphone because he wasn’t being heard with all the students shouting. come onnnnnn… dont be stupid. they changed their microphone because it was giving a feedback and had and NEEDED to be changed. And i think that booing is one of the oldest democratic signs that a person can make when disagreeing with someone, so come on alfred sant. GROW UP

    [Moderator – Paul, you know as well as I do that University students are reptilian humanoids who inhabit a hollow Earth. The ‘feedback theory’ is a lie.]

  8. Holland says:

    On the very same day of the (in)famous Tal-Qroqq University debate, BBC world showed footage of a debate between Hillary and Obama at a University campus in the US. It was full of hissing and booing and both speakers actually are from the same party(!). Are those hamalli as well?

    When will AS grow up? On the same note: I doubt very much that JPO is without any guilt in the whole story, but the issue is that a future prime minister should have the balls to stand up to someone like that when cameras are rolling; not run out in a huff.

  9. Victor Laiviera says:

    Lorna, the ‘threat’ to democracy is all in your head, I’m afraid.

    You will be pleasantly (very pleasantly) surprised.

  10. Charles Spiteri says:

    Labour will NOT win this weekend’s general elections – sadly for all of us, the Nationalists will lose, and they’ll only have they’re own to blame. And I’m not referring to Ministers here. I’m referring to those from districts like Sliema and Swieqi, who will be the main protagonists that will bring about Il-Bidla, Alfred Sant as PM and an extra year for our very, very young. In time, these same people from Sliema and Swieqi, and from elsewhere perhaps too, will spend the next five or ten years shouting “x’ghamilt b’idejja” and working they’re balls off to vote Labour OUT!!!! I’ve always said, we desperately need a Labour Government so that we can all learn to really appreciate just how good it was under Gonzi. By then it will be Troppo Tardi!!!!

  11. David Buttigieg says:

    Victor Laviera,

    Will we be as ‘pleasantly’ surprised as in 1996?
    I hope not.

    That was a complete disaster in case you don’t remember.

    The idea of that ‘man’ being prime minister does not bear contemplating.

  12. BD says:

    What is so much of a surprise to me is that when MLP proposals were found to be already actioned by the current goverment, we heard different versions within the MLP and finally the leader remarked that they had 2 misprints.

    2 Misprints for a party who claims to have been geared for an election for the past 2 years is quite worrying.
    However it is even more worrying if once MLP is elected, he can use the so called “misprints” excuse to give us a surprise like he did to students in 1996.

    Will he call these surprises a misprint. He said it before the election from the opposition, let alone if in goverment.

  13. Matthew Borg says:

    Victor, can you please illustrate how we will be pleasently surprised? This is of course coming from a ‘brainwashed’ University student..

    Can you:

    – Tell us what the ‘Pjan Ghal Bidu Gdid’ is… as a lot of us have been left in the wilderness about it…
    – Tell us why we need an economic reform when the deficit is at an all-time low and employment at an all time high…
    – Tell us why Dr. Sant is still livid about the University debate, and why George Vella was an insult to all students…
    – Tell us about this surcharge reduction by half: who does it apply to? How is it going to be implemented? What if the price of oil keeps on rising up?
    – Tell us why Dr. Sant won’t face anyone in public, especially JPO? If he has concrete facts, then why doesn’t he face him publicly? I really believe that this could be a move, if he did it, that would actually help restore a fraction of his credibility…

    I really am awaiting answers. If you can give them.

    P.S. This is not a personal attack on you, Mr. Laiviera… I have nothing against you, honestly.

  14. Charles Camenzuli says:

    Following last night’s Youtube insert, it seems that quite a few ONLY 5720 have watched what’s going on within our fellow colleagues at Super 1.
    For those still curious on the matter just log on :

  15. Adrian Borg says:

    Unfortuntaley I think you may be right Charles. Expekt.com (betting site) are giving odds that favour an MLP win (1.8). Odds for PN win are higher at 1.9

  16. STILL AWAITING says:

    Dear everyone,

    A person writing as a non-de-plum in the maltatoday blog is implying that the Freeport scandal a Minister is involved.

    I hope that the claim is sent by the moderator of such blog to investigate, since this implies that the police are accusing an innocent person.

  17. John Schembri says:

    I received this email

    Why a vote for AD is a vote for Alfred Sant

    1. If there are 3 parties in Parliament and no one has 50%+ of the No 1 votes, there is no corrective mechanism and the seat result counts.

    BUT following changes in the district boundaries, this time round Labour has the districts in its favour. As a result it will certainly elect additional seats (to the 30 it elected last time) in the:

    · 1st district which now has Marsa and a Labourite part of St Venera,

    · 2nd district which now has Zabbar rather than Fgura (Zabbar is more Labour than Fgura which means 4 seats again for Labour in the 2nd division),

    · 7th district which now has Rabat instead of Attard (Rabat has a small Labour majority to Attard’s overwhelming PN majority now resulting in this district electing 3 Labour MPs), and

    · 10th district which now has Gzira (half half) instead of Swieqi (overwhelmingly PN) thus resulting in a 3-2 rather than 2003’s 4-1.

    2. So, come what may, Labour will get the outright majority of seats, ie. 34 out of 65.

    3. Here’s the quirk in the system. If PN gets more votes than the MLP, and there’s no one else in Parliament, the corrective mechanism works and the PN’s seats will be increased so that it has more than Labour BUT if there is another party in Parliament (e.g. AD), the corrective mechanism DOES NOT COME INTO EFFECT and Labour, having an absolute majority of seats, will govern alone, even if the PN has more votes!

    4. Typical scenario: PN 48% with 30 seats; MLP 47% with 34 seats; AD with 4% with 1 seat, AN 1% with no seat. The result? Alfred Sant safe in Castile and the PN and AD together in coalition IN OPPOSITION.

  18. Andrew Ellul says:

    I cannot but agree with Charles. However I still beleive that these people will realise that the future of their children is at stake next saturday.

  19. a zammit says:

    Could anyone please decipher for me (poor stupid mortal) the following assertion found at http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20080215/letters/charles-mangions-political-gaffes-2

    (comment by) Charles J Buttigieg
    DNA is not about racial distinctions.DNA contains the generic information that allows all modern living things to function,grow and reproduce.
    DNA profiling is therefore an extremely reliable technique for identifying a person’s inclinations which does not exclude religious, political leanings and other tendencies.

    All DNAs are different from one another and therefore the matter of us, them and the others does not enter into play.

  20. Lorna says:

    Dear Mr. Laiviera,

    I wish I’m wrong. I really do. I remember the days when we could not say anything because of the MLP in government and the days when not even the Constitutional Court was constituted and when no private citizen/organisation could have a broadcasting station.

    When a Prime Minister objects to the presence of a person during a press conference, for me that means that the person does not have the democratic credentials to govern a democratic society. After all this is the same man who said that the partnership has won the referendum.

    If that’s democratic, I’m Jackie Onassis.

    However, Mr. Laiviera, I hope I’ll be proved wrong.

  21. Moggy says:

    You’re right, of course, Charles Spiteri. The Nationalists will lose because of the frivolous whim of a few thousand voters who cannot put the National interest before their own! Pity!

  22. Lorna says:

    Dear Mr. Laiviera,

    I really wish the threat to democracy were only in my head. However, Dr. Sant has already shown that he is not democratic. Had he been democratic:

    1. He would face Dr. Pullicino Orlando and not exert pressure on the BA to ask him to leave on false pretences;

    2. He would answer journalists’ questions even the uncomfortable ones;

    3. He would not have said that the partnership won. That was highly undemocratic (if not downright irresponsible).

    4. The MLP is not even democratic in itself. Any dissidents are ostracised and ousted from the Party without much ado.

    These are facts.

    Usually, history repeats itself. Let’s just hope that this time it doesn’t.

  23. Hi Daph, this article took me back. I remember Etienne in his wheelchair, always smiling down at Ghar id-dud and the pitch. Bact to today… didn’t you realise that the lion song was just a filler? along with ooo aa ooo aaa and viva l-lejber, they make their blurbs longer.

  24. Simon says:

    Very good analysis of districts, John Schembri.

    By the way can someone please explain why the new district boundaries were accepted by the PN or were they imposed by the Electoral Commission?

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