I am going to make a very definite statement, which people are at liberty to agree with or not. I believe that we should issue to every visitor, with a special emphasis on young people who come to our island, an attractive but informative leaflet asking them to respect our country during their stay.
Is this rude? Is it not politically correct?
I think that it is neither. The people who receive it should realise that we Maltese are proud of our country and wish to keep it to a certain decent standard.
We may not be the most tidy people ourselves outside our own private homes, but we certainly do not want our visitors to mess up our environment even more than it is already.
The leaflet should read:
“Please do not throw rubbish on the floor, use the litter bins. [Here we must make sure that we do have enough litter bins placed in localities and have them cleaned regularly].
“Please do not draw graffiti on our walls. If you do this in your country and cities that’s up to you, but please do not do it in ours. We like our walls just as they are.
“Please leave our road signposts upright. Please do not bend them, and pull them over. They look better standing straight and are more useful that way.
“Please cross our busy roads by using the zebra crossings. [Here we must make sure we have many more crossings, clearly signed and marked with permanent paint]. I know that the majority of you have traffic moving in a different direction at home, but please look in both directions before you decide to cross. This will reduce the risk of being hit by a car.
“Please do not wear black or dark clothes at night, it is very hard to see you clearly when you cross the road, and especially if you run across the road without looking as a lot of you do. And don’t wear earphones. These block traffic noise and car horns, which are very important for your safety.
You can’t have more and more visitors without more and more problems especially maintenance problems. But you have to start somewhere to solve the problem
“Please do not ride bicycles and electric scooters on the promenades. This is quite dangerous and there are signs asking you not to do this. [More and larger signs are needed.]
“Please do not drink too much alcohol and be sick on our pavements. Someone has to clean it up.
“Please do not jump on our parked cars and scratch them as you pass in the evening when you think no one can see you. CCTV cameras will identify the culprits.
“We ask you to behave as you would in your own country, so please respect ours.
“We have got thousands of foreigners living in our country because it is a nice place to live in. We would like it to remain that way.”
Now, I am not saying that all these offences are being carried out only by people visiting our country, but I am sure that a substantial proportion are.
I personally have seen and spoken to some foreign youths bending a no-parking sign. When I asked them why they were doing that, they didn’t have an answer. Either that or they couldn’t speak English!
It all boils down to supervision and monitoring an ever problematic situation, created by more and more young visitors to our islands.
I know that you can’t have more and more visitors without more and more problems especially maintenance problems. But you have to start somewhere to solve the problem. You just cannot look the other way and pretend the problem doesn’t exist.
So you start off by asking them politely before they arrive in Malta, to please respect our country. Hence the leaflet.
Language schools and other places of education for foreign students should inform their pupils that they must treat Malta well. Companies, that are setting up in Malta employing young foreign workers should inform their staff that Malta should be treated well and fairly.
Hotel rooms should have information displayed clearly stating that Malta expects holiday makers to behave well and respect our country.
There should be wardens, not only for traffic, but also to look for abuses, and if they catch anybody ruining something then they should be severely punished.
Let us use Singapore as an example. Try dropping rubbish on the ground there.
We are getting to a stage where we could be overcrowded. We cannot make this worse by letting people, locals and foreigners alike, do just what they want and get away with it. This will totally mess up the place, so that it eventually becomes less attractive to live in or visit.
This is a Times of Malta print opinion piece