The Malta Independent 17 October 2019, Thursday

Paradise Lost

Rachel Borg Saturday, 14 September 2019, 09:56 Last update: about 2 months ago

Joseph Muscat is lucky that by now there are still enough Maltese people who admire our island and what it represents and hold memories in their mind of a place from where they were able to look ahead and hope for something better for themselves and the next generation.

Most of the time they are too distracted in their own world, oblivious to the corruption and the massacre of land and trees happening around us.  Their world revolves around business, the children and their weight-loss programme and the latest shopping spree, in Malta or abroad, preferring never to venture out of their comfort zone or be challenged in any way.

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Others are happy to be left in peace to do as they like as long as they have enough cash in their pocket and an imported companion for those lonely nights.

The trolley is full, Malta is full.  Everyone wants to come to Malta.  We have jobs, we have entertainment, we keep out the disrupters and we have good weather.  It's true that we may have to strain a bit more now to enjoy the view but there's more parking since the trees are gone and the bird droppings have been eliminated.

The image of beautiful Malta is still strong in the collective psyche.  One slide is placed over another and what is ugly is made beautiful again.  Why not, they might ask?  Why shouldn't they be happy and blissful and sing Malta's praises?  Why not keep the peace and avoid complaining?

We still have pastizzi, we still have a hobza and a pint of Cisk.  Much better to be in a penthouse than the old Maltese home and garden we had before.  Fruit trees are so over-rated when you are not seen drinking a glass of OJ after a zumba class.

Some see charm. Some see ugly.  Some say massacre.  Others say pruning.  It is all relative. 

Self-congratulations are plenty.  Contradictions are to be aggressively dismissed.

There is a story of a famous architect who received the greatest award for building an unusual and extraordinary house, whose celebrity neighbor built a grand house on the next plot only to have a problem with parking for his many guests.  So he found a way to make that architect's life miserable until forced to leave and he could then buy their house (through another person) and go on to destroy it, just so he can have parking.  And he will congratulate himself and receive all the praise from his guests while they sit in their loungers and drink cocktails.  In the meantime a work of art and science, a value to society and the world is lost forever. 

Fortunately, it is difficult to see the pollution in the air, although it can be measured.  But even if it was somehow evident by its colour or texture, still, many would simply ignore it or tolerate it. 

All is tolerated in Malta these days.  Cronyism, corruption, uglification of our streets and towns, pollution, crowding, public services that fall below European countries' level, crime in many forms, low salaries, hidden taxes, price increases, someone possessing your house because of a Mintoffian law from 1979, no law enforcement, reports from the Council of Europe or the EU condemning Malta's rule of law and money-laundering, the poorest opposition ever and the risk to our economy and our banking system.

Tourism is simply a commodity to exploit, as are the many foreign workers.  Many in Malta live with one law for themselves and another for the foreigner or the tourist.  Some tourists themselves do nothing to gain respect by walking around half naked and shouting in residential areas at any time of night.  But if they put money in our pocket then, again, all is tolerated. 

We are not the only country to have this mentality and this way of looking at our homeland.  Many other countries do too.  But the problem for us is that with the size of our population and of the land itself, the ratio of Nostalgiars to Maltese-EU citizens is stacked way up in the former and way down in the latter.  There has not been the evolution expected.  Things in Malta went from the empty halls at the University of Malta in the 1970s to the 21st century without a change in education or knowledge.

The idea of getting teachers from abroad has not been well received by the Union of Professional Educators.  Whether or not this move could have been avoided, the principle of employing foreign teachers should be encouraged.  With a population as small as ours, we can stand to benefit from a more diverse teaching body.  Foreigners are also employed teaching English as a foreign language in Malta.  There are many other subjects which can be taught by teachers from abroad. It is true that due to the low salaries, not many EU nationals will be attracted to come here unless they were offered the kind of salaries that the AUM lecturers were (only to be dismissed).  But that does not mean that there could not be some candidates of good standard who can contribute to some positive change in education in Malta.  As for speaking Maltese, I cringe listening to the DJs, guests or presenters on our radio and TV stations.  One word out of 6 may be in Maltese. The rest is in pigeon English and Italian with some weird Maltese ending to make it seem it is still Maltese.  Our students learning better English and Maltese would be the best way round.

There must come a time when Malta makes a leap of consciousness and maturity.  The childish and mediocre life should be transformed into a cohesive and coherent society which takes responsibility and fights for justice and the right to democracy.  It's not ok to be suspected of crimes of any nature and be a public servant.  Let alone a Leader or Representative of the people.  Neither are lies and corrupt deals a way to govern.  Fear belongs to medieval days and should never, ever be tolerated as a way to stay in power.

It is true that to open our eyes now, when all is being robbed from us and our beautiful island is stripped of trees and laden with concrete, would be a shock to the system.  But to remain in a false paradise can only lead to poverty and paradise lost.

 

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