The Malta Independent 20 June 2021, Sunday

The fall of progress

Rachel Borg Saturday, 8 May 2021, 07:23 Last update: about 2 months ago

There is a very strong mentality in Malta that we must always be making progress.  Children must be educated to pass their exams.  Our consumerism must grow and be seen to have improved significantly.  Families should become smaller or even single parent.  Time spent drinking coffee or lying on a sunbed is a sign of very good progress for many.  We now have leisure time and do not have to wake up at dawn and sleep at dusk. 

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If you can take a cabin cruiser out to Delimara for the day or cover the sea surface of the Blue Lagoon with boats tied side-by-side and music blaring, that is approved by the majority.  Taking over Balluta bay for commercial use is part of progress if we are to make some more money and be ahead of the Sicilians. 

Traffic needs to flow.  We complained heavily about the delay in traffic and now we turn an eye for the sake of progress and building more roads, flyovers and tunnels, safe in the thought that we can add more cars to our roads.

Malta must show off the progress it has made since joining the European Union.  We have to be the best in Europe.  Everybody wants to come to Malta.  Workers and business tycoons alike.  Let us build the flats they want, from tiny one bedroomed units to the luxury apartments with a magazine open on the coffee table and a view of your neighbour’s living room.

Let us make investments in holiday rental apartments so we have a good little income to have travel money. 

We are progressive people, with the best civil rights laws and the best climate in the Mediterranean. 

This week we were told, although many of us have known this for a long time, by Prof. Simone Borg, the chair of the Institute of Climate Change, that natural phenomena was pointing in the direction of the country becoming a desert.  I suppose it fits with the Dubai in the Mediterranean concept.

The yields of crops depending on rain were very low and there were instances, especially with wheat, where there were no yields at all, Malcolm Borg, spokesperson of Għaqda Bdiewa Attivi said.  Since wheat was used as fodder, farmers this year would have to turn to imports to supplement low supply, which meant an increase in price, he pointed out, probably to be absorbed by them. We never hear anything coming out of government on the need to address the water shortage problem and the best they can do to avoid the impression of a dry wall is to have those fake creepers requiring loads of water.

Weather forecasters tell us it is going to be a very hot summer.  As in all our short-termism, we relish the idea of longer days on the beach, summer clothes, ice-cold spritzers and pool parties. 

In the long-run, though, this heat is going to turn tourists away towards more comfortable climates.  In addition the noise and air pollution, the over commercialisation of the country, the loss of authenticity and the continuous assault on nature and cutting of trees is going to lead to such a discrepancy between expectations and reality that so many of those holiday flats will remain empty and no one will want to stay there.

The incident at Top of the World in Gharghur with Ronnie Gauci and his rock garden embellishment was a symptom of this pseudo progress that Malta and Gozo find themselves boasting about.  Communication or lack of it is another symptom of the ignorance surrounding us.  Adult conversations instil fear and take time and effort to process.  There would be need to try and understand something from someone else’s point of view too and learn the value of appreciating something which cannot compare to money. The only vocabulary people grasp these days is “kitchen garden”.

Having a male dominated society where all they think of is power and politics, sex, football and hunting is rather the opposite of progress where society is concerned too.  Progress made on gender equality is still poor and more typical of a southern Mediterranean island than an EU state. 

Progress in the Health sector in Malta enjoys a good opinion and in many ways it is justified.  Until we hear about the €274 million deal for db and James Caterers at St. Vincent de Paule and the paltry €1 million on refurbishment of Mount Carmel hospital.  

The state of our prisons is also indicative of a backward country.  Unfortunately there are many who are suffering the real consequences of it. 

Our Police force is like a yo-yo diet.  Now it puts on weight, now it loses it.  No proper training to go with it.

Progress is the development towards an improved or more advanced condition.  What that means to the general public is very self-centred and is seen in how much they get of what they want and that want is generally money and freedom to do as they please. 

The thought of national, regional or global interest is a non-issue to a large sector of the population.  Unless it is the national interest that is based on superiority and tribal politics. 

The European Parliament has overwhelmingly – 635 for, 46 against and 12 abstentions – approved a resolution insisting that rule of law and justice should truly prevail in Malta.  In a perverse way we seem to take pride in a kind of David and Goliath story, as Malta stands alone at the end of the EU’s disapproval, consoling ourselves that we are ahead of them in vaccinations and have more immigrants per capita.  We also sell our passport to rich foreigners so things can’t be that bad here.

The law on hunting is another sore point with the EU and the cases opened against Malta. The only principle that the Maltese and Gozitans seem to understand is that no one ever should interfere in Malta’s business, whether local or foreign.  But when it comes to spending EU euros we are quite happy to feel it is our right and we earned it thanks to our progress.  Bullies can do what they want.

The partner of the so-called progress is corruption.  And for corruption to continue to flourish you need loyalty and a mafia.

Who or what is willing to take on this mafia?  Who will dismantle it and what will replace it?  The irony is that in truth, the Maltese are afraid of standing on their own feet and need to be led and kept in a state of fear that they will lose their financial security.  Malta of 1964 was not an easy place either, but at least the balance of where our integrity lay was a bit more mature.

Evaluating the destination of progress is necessary to avoid further loss and damage to our nation, our habitat and our social structure and good name.  Otherwise the next films to be made in Malta will be those science fiction ones about lost cities and life on Mars. 

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