For the past decade, more or less, we have been fed the mantra by our political leaders that Malta is the best in Europe and the envy of the world. Such bombastic declarations are then systemati­cally greeted with a considerable number of ‘Prosit ministru’, ‘King’ and other comments of this kind, organised regimentally by the party trolls.

Anybody who tends not to agree with such declarations is then branded a traitor to his country by the trolls.

I do not subscribe to such empty governmental self-aggrandisement. In the first place because I believe that great men and women do not auto-proclaim themselves as such. It is others, and history, who pass such positive judgements on great personalities, events, architecture or what not.

But a second reason why I do not accept such empty rhetoric is because, in my opinion, the Maltese reality is not as rosy as they would like us to believe.

Joseph Portelli might think that his 33-storey Mercury Tower, soon to be followed by a second 22-storey one right next to it, might be God’s gift to humanity. In reality, a good number of us believe that – within its spatial context – it is just a hideous monstrosity, with all due respect to Zaha Hadid.

Ian Borg might be in a state of ecstasy over all the mature trees that he has felled in order to make way for his megalomaniac projects and highways. He might be spending hundreds of thousands of euros from taxpayers’ money on drones to film professional videos of his works, but for the tens of thousands of Maltese stuck over the Marsa, Mrieħel or Kappara bridges at 7.30-8am every day, this ‘L-Aqwa fl-Ewropa’ business is just becoming a sick joke.

Chris Fearne might be right in pointing out that Malta is the best in the world with regard to vaccination rates, however, a glimpse of his colleagues all huddled around him during the Budget debate, all not wearing a mask, just goes to disprove the theory that their behaviour is ‘l-Aqwa fl-Ewropa’. At best, they can boast that they are the best in Europe... with regard to political arrogance.

Even a micro detail, like Ian Borg’s expansion joints or the manhole with a three-inch gaping space lying in the middle of Psaila Street for the past three days at the time of writing, disproves the idea that Malta is the best in Europe.

And, unfortunately, I am not the only one to think we are not the best in Europe or the world. A recent EY survey highlighted that, despite the millions of euros in visual and paper propaganda being dished out by Maltese ministries, almost 60 per cent of young people in Malta would rather live in another European country.

The Maltese reality is not as rosy as they would like us to believe- Arnold Cassola

This is absolutely tragic. Our young people, the most educated, the most qualified, are seriously thinking of leaving the country because they cannot accept that the country, in certain issues, is becoming a veritable rag.

Times of Malta reported “when asked which part of the world they would like to live and work in, 60 per cent of Gen-Z and 59 per cent of Millennials stated another European country”. Gen-Z and Millennials are people born since the 1980s. 

And even more preoccupying, this constitutes a 12 per cent increase on last year’s results in millennials who dream of moving abroad.

Unfortunately, it is not only Maltese youths who consider the way our country is being shorn off its natural beauty and natural courteous manners as a veritable disaster. Our politicians brag that Malta ranks first worldwide as a gay-friendly country. Ask British X-factor personality, Lucy Spraggan, about that. She had to leave our country after three days because of the abuse she was subjected to. So much for progressive thinking and behaviour.

Unfortunately, again, the EY survey points out that Malta’s attractiveness to foreign investors has reached an all-time low, with more investors finding the country unattractive than attractive for the first time in 17 years. And companies are finding it hard to recruit employees with the required skills, despite our self-proclamation that we are l-Aqwa fl-Ewropa.

How have we reached this state? There are a variety of reasons, ranging from presumption and ignorance leading to arrogance and impunity, culminating in subjective high opinions of oneself.

But maybe the media has also had a serious say in all this, by uncritically reporting the bombastic self-procla­ma­tory declarations of grandeur of our politicians. 

Of course, no surprise here, when it concerns the servile PBS, NET and ONE channels, which are ‘forced’ to portray the false, distorted image of Malta given to them by the hand that feeds them. We cannot change that. 

But the independent media do have an important role in contrasting such officially fuelled misinformative nonsense.

It is great that the independent media write in their editorials that Malta needs more political parties and that our political debate is biased as a result of the big parties’ propaganda machines.

But then, the fact that small parties and independent candidates are left unsupported, with no financial means to cover their campaigns, should be further emphasised.

Now that elections are on our doorstep, could the independent media increase space and visibility for third party and independent candidates like me, so that the elector can be presented with alternative views and opinions that are consistently being barred from PBS State TV and the party TV channels?

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