The Malta Independent 29 September 2022, Thursday
View E-Paper

Social inequalities

Alfred Sant MEP Monday, 8 August 2022, 08:00 Last update: about 3 months ago

A sense of frustration is growing among people at the way by which laws and regulations are being followed or circumvented. It seems as if there frequently exist two tracks along which to deal with citizens – one for ordinary folks, the other for the  higher ups. One realizes this in terms of how are applied the so-called planning procedures, traffic laws, allocations of contracts big and small, and worst of all – court proceedings.

It all goes well beyond the sempiternal friends of friends syndrome. Indeed there seems to have come into existence a social herarchy which resembles that of past centuries, with aristocrats at the top and plebians at the bottom of the scale. This has happened even as the neo-liberal style of running affairs continued to spread – yet, theoretically it should have led to the contrary outcome. Or perhaps not in a small island which is becoming increasingly more crowded. In addition to its own plebians, the island is importing numerous foreigners who really and truly have become part of what in the past, we used to call from a Marxist perspective, the lumpenproletariat.

When they accumulate simultaneously, economic and social inequalities can fast give rise to explosions.



It is a natural state of affairs: we all root for discipline in public affairs, so long as we are not ourselves being disciplined. The worst impact of such an attitude is that it triggers negligence in how things get done. When this spreads beyond control, huge tragedies ensue, such as the explosion that occurreed two years ago this month at Beirut, caused by the almost 3,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate which had been left for long years stocked in the port. More than 200 people died, some 7,000 were injured and about a third of a million people lost their home.

Which is why we need to worry when people get to know that discipline in the conduct of public affaris has been allowed to slacken. Or when conversely, it is applied disproportionately. People are encouraged to ignore discipline when it gets a bad name.

God forbid that we should slide to the levels of carelessness which apparently were prevalent at Beirut. The vital thing about discipline is that it is administered with full vigilance,  intelligently and not blindly.



It does not make sense to focus only on projects that are being done sloppily, even if the criticism might come in useful to help get matters back on track. Equally what’s being done well should be given recognition and  come in for praise.

Last week, I had to get a new passport – a task that over the years, always turned out to be a rather complex process. Not this time, even if there has been an increase in some formulaic tecnicalities that must be written into the passport, among which a dual fingerprinting.

One applies for and gets an appointment. At the Marsa site where the offices are located, one can even discover a place where to park – at least, that was my experience. One is met by efficient members of staff who keep fully to the appointed time. The registration of photos, of information, of payments are carried out speedily. And one gets another appointment for when to come back and pick up the new passport. Once again, this is done without any toing and froing, on time and with the greatest courtesy.

Surely this was going to be my last passport. And it was the passport that was delivered most easily.Well done to Identity Malta and its staff.


  • don't miss