There was a time when I would have a good chuckle over our foibles depicted on the ‘Only in Malta’ video clips. Not anymore. Though still funny, I am no longer in the mood. And I suspect I am not the only one since the content of this website is dated.
There is also the overarching factor that irony has never been our strong point, and the more time passes, the more it is wasted on most of us.
The link between our blindness to irony and to sheer hypocrisy is fast becoming a national trait. Admittedly, we do not have a monopoly on this sad situation. For history has countless examples.
Take how women were utterly stifled during the patriarchal Victorian Age while an epoch-defining queen sat on the British throne for 64 years. I wonder whether any woman at the time ever pointed this out to a man.
Take Adolf Hitler’s nefarious obsession with realising a pure Aryan race when he himself had black hair and black eyes. I am sure that quite a few people noted such irony and hypocrisy but were too intimidated to speak out. The rest of unthinking minds, however, were easy fodder for a slick propaganda machine, more so when the going was good.
How does Malta fit into all this? Again, there is a long list of local examples, yet I would like to dwell on two very recent headlines. The first is the Malta Development Association’s ‘call’ last Tuesday for more green spaces within our congested urban sprawl.
To be precise, last week’s call began with their effusive support for the government’s plans to establish public parks in Ta’ Qali and Birżebbuġa. Then came the plea for the government, local councils, environmental NGOs and MDA developers to band together to make a greener Malta a reality!
There isn’t a word to describe the gall of Sandro Chetcuti’s unabashed hypocrisy
The MDA even called for more forward planning as well as suggested adequate compensation for land that may be needed to be taken up!! And they spoke of a committee that would save the little that is left of Malta’s beauty!!!
Why all these exclamation marks? Because the MDA’s latest comments were made by the very brotherhood that has been and continues to deface Malta with unstoppable arrogance born out of entrenched power. I would love to tell the MDA: “Who are you trying to kid?” But as I try not to wretch, I believe many will be fooled, despite a rumble of discontent.
The timing of their ‘call’ for green, open spaces (as is the government’s announcement of two sizeable afforestation projects) is perfect since we are in the countdown to the local and MEP elections taking place during incessant construction. The MDA is therefore more than fortifying its barricades since it is also reminding us (as if we need any reminder) who rules the roost on this rock.
Incidentally, their suggestions follow close on the heels of the MDA chief voicing his concern about the loss of our village cores just a few weeks ago. There isn’t a word to describe the gall of Sandro Chetcuti’s unabashed hypocrisy. He even beats a snake.
If he and the MDA as well as the parliamentarians and the Planning Authority had an iota of decency left in their bones, Manoel Island would be saved from annihilation. The same goes for the scheduled Wied Għomor and a never-ending list of development projects wiping out our traditional urban and rural landscape.
The second example is the first-rate ‘pass the buck’ behaviour that immediately followed the collapse of a three-storey block in Guardamangia on April 24. Anyone who followed the story knows that the police filed the residents’ report about cracks in their walls most efficiently. How comforting!
The Minister of the Interior, in fact, went out of his way to tell us about their competent processing of red tape in the face of dire incompetence while pointing out that policemen are neither architects nor engineers. Ergo they cannot be blamed. We were even informed that there was no flaw in the paperwork submitted by the architect accountable for the culprit construction next door.
Meanwhile, our construction laws and regulations continue to make a mockery of responsibility. The promises made to get to the bottom of who should shoulder responsibility proved yet another damage-containment exercise.
So just like any other furore, the clamour died down within a couple of days. Who is still talking about the bereft and traumatised families who miraculously survived?
True, such callousness is endemic globally. Yet there is something deeply insidious in Malta for our language has no equivalent to ‘make love’. The unprintable alternative offers no synonym. Yet it perfectly underlines our goings-on. Perhaps this is the ultimate reason why most of us cannot fathom the irony of sheer hypocrisy.
This is a Times of Malta print opinion piece
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