The end of this month brought with it the first anniversaries from the advent of COVID-19 into our lives. The 2020 Carnival break was a huge trigger in the spread of the virus, and by the end of February, we had our first experiences of lockdown. A year on, and we are far from seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Virus variants combined with an uncoordinated global reaction extend the time of our isolated plight.
The huge paradigm shift that has been the pandemic is beginning to take its toll in all areas of our daily life. Limited personal contact, work from home, brief trips to restock the pantry and take away food have become standard, much to the chagrin of most of us. What began as a small sacrifice to pay in the name of safety now risks becoming a nerve-wracking prison as the uncertainty of when “all this will end” increases.
One element that does not seem to consider the pandemic as an obstacle is the tarmac and concrete driven thirst for development and destruction that continues to rage in Malta. The news is literally sickening. Every day brings with it a new gem in the story of the ‘asphalticification’ (I invented that word) of the island. With every news item comes a further confirmation that notwithstanding the pockets of resistance, the people in Malta seem to have either thrown the towel or come to accept the situation.
I would go so far as to say that in 2021 this is what Malta and being Maltese is all about. Development, destruction, annihilation, and a materialistic race to waste are what characterise the nation. It should come as no surprise that over the past few years, the only projects pushed forward by a Labour government steeped in corruption have been Ian Borg’s roads to nowhere. Roads that feed on EU funding while gradually neutralising the little green that is left.
Prosit Ministru. The Maltese sentiment seems to be one of overwhelming gratitude. We can no longer protest that this general push to overdevelop is denying us of our heritage because, to put it simply, this IS our heritage. This week somebody described as heroic (Zebbug Councillor) Steve Zammit Lupi’s defiant action against Infrastructure Malta’s widening works. That is wrong, I pointed out. In today’s world, the hero of the people is Ian Borg and his army of earth-destroying juggernauts.
Borg is making every car-owning Maltese citizen’s dream a reality. Pesky gardens in Zebbug have to make way for the widening of a road for the four-wheeled supporters to zip through while honking their ever-unwavering fealty to the uncouth Minister. That is the standard. The Zammit Lupis of this world are anti-heroes, if anything. They are the misunderstood and underrepresented who would have hoped for a better Malta but who are each day being alienated from their own land.
Do not look for your anti-heroes elsewhere. Their efforts are constantly being undermined by the politician heroes who have a simple script to play from. In the week we remember the tragic death of Miriam Pace, the politicians and developers are conniving to place the Malta Developers Association on the board of the Building Construction Authority. Both the Party in government and the Opposition seem to agree on this charade.
The PN spokesperson for construction, while backing this ridiculous proposal, said the following in parliament: “It is not fair that incidents like last year’s (the death of Miriam Pace) see the whole industry being blamed”. There you have it—the most basic explanation of why this country is rotting and will not stop doing so.
I mentioned last week how our legal system is based on partial law, one drawn up by the Parties to reflect their needs and machinations. This kind of move – one that confuses fairness with justice and accountability – can only come from the PLPN playbook. It accommodates the developers who have run riot across the board by placing them on the Authority that is supposed to regulate them. And why? Għax mhux fair hi.
We have known for a long time that our Parties cannot be trusted with regulation. Meritocracy and accountability have long lost their shine in this part of the world. Politics and business are two sides of the same coin and an inherent part of our Maltese heritage and culture. The struggle for the anti-hero is only just beginning.