A disgruntled nation and a smug administration

Whatever the reason, the more people get all worked up, the more out of touch the Prime Minister, his Cabinet and basically anyone with political ties to Labour seem to be

In trying to come up with a way to describe the current public mood, I started off with ‘angry’. Yes, many people are very angry at the state of the nation and it is palpable. 

But when it comes to others, they are more irritated, exasperated and simply fed up to the gills at the way things don’t function as they should and the fact that our lives are a daily struggle to navigate between point A and point B. 

So, I settled on ‘disgruntled’; that feeling, just below the surface, of being permanently annoyed and in a bad mood. 

In contrast, we have an administration which seems to be deliberately oblivious to this sentiment. Either that, or it has taken a conscious decision to let people vent their anger until they are spent, in the hope that they can be distracted by the many events which take place during summer. 

Or maybe the government is banking on the effect of the heat which leaves you in such a lethargic stupor that it wears you down so you have no energy left to put up a fight. 

Whatever the reason, the more people get all worked up, the more out of touch the Prime Minister, his Cabinet and basically anyone with political ties to Labour seem to be. 

Ħondoq ir-Rummien was saved purely through the tireless work of Qala Mayor Paul Buttigieg and environmental NGOs who have been fighting the developers (who wanted to build a mega hotel and villa complex) for the last 20 years. The application was rejected again and again and this week the Appeals Court ruled against the developer’s appeal from a tribunal decision, bringing the saga to an end. 

However, Robert Abela turned around and tried to take credit by saying that he was always on the side of the NGOs and that PA laws would be amended to ensure no other application can be submitted for this site. Maybe he has forgotten, but a public domain act was passed through parliament in 2016 which included Ħondoq as one of the locations proposed for protection. In 2019, it was reported that the law had remained on paper and there was no willingness to implement it. So, for him to now say that laws will be amended is a bit rich when a law which protects this very area is already in place and is gathering dust. 

It’s another instance of the PM acting as if what is happening to destroy the environment has nothing to do with him and that his hands are tied when it comes to development. 

If this administration really wanted to, it could pass a law tomorrow to immediately reject all new applications to develop what should be protected ODZ land. It could even pass a law to put a moratorium on all further construction, period, and only allow development applications which have already been given a permit to proceed. That is what I would expect of a government which claims to have the interest of the people at heart. 

The clueless nature of what political appointees say versus the zeitgeist was also demonstrated by an ill-advised Facebook post by Jason Micallef (chairman of the Valletta Cultural Agency). He described the Mosta Rotunda project this way: “a gift to Mosta residents… a new beautiful Pjazza Rotunda, which is unrecognisable from the way it was before. This the biggest project we have ever seen in Mosta which is only thanks to the determination and hard work of the Mayor Chris Grech, and the Labour majority on the Mosta Local Council . A great big thanks also go to the Central Government and Infrastructure Malta for financing and sustaining the Pjazza Rotunda project.” 

If he feels the need to profusely thank the government for doing its job from our taxes and for giving Mosta a ‘gift’, he is one of the few Mosta residents who share in this fawning admiration. We have been subjected to several years of chaos and upheaval, businesses have gone under and residents have had to breathe in heavy dust while being careful not to break their legs or necks from the lack of safety because of the trenches and blocked pavements which force you to walk in the street. 

And it’s not just the square itself which has the appearance of a bomb site. In April of this year, the owners of seven businesses based in Mosta’s main street, which leads to the square, filed a law suit over roadworks which have been ongoing since 2020. 

According to the plaintiffs, “they accused the authorities of deciding to start infrastructure works without any logical or serious plan, describing the works as being carried out carelessly and shoddily and complaining that they had suffered a substantial loss of earnings and damages as a result. As a result of the total lack of planning of the infrastructural works, the road had to be dug up twice.” 

I can understand that major roadworks and new infrastructure need to be carried out, but what no one can understand is why it should take so long to finish a relatively small area, and why we should be grateful. The days of grovelling at the feet of politicians in pathetic gratitude for doing their job are over. 

Meanwhile, an artistic impression showing how the project will eventually look is currently on display, but according to the Mayor it won’t be ready before Christmas. Maybe that is what Mr Micallef meant when he described it as a ‘gift’. 

The disgruntlement at the general shabbiness, disorganisation, lack of discipline and enforcement we see all around us is echoed in every aspect of our lives, although you will still find the politically blinkered who are quick to chastise you for “always complaining”.  Even the tragic story of Jean Paul Sofia, whose mother battled so courageously for justice, was flipped into an unbelievable accusation that ‘she is only doing it to make the government look bad.”  Who are these small-minded (not to mention heartless) people who hold the Labour Party (or any party) on such a high pedestal that it is “the party and only the party, uber alles”? 

This reverential worship is not only seriously warped when we are talking about a mother who has lost her son, but it is worrying on a national level, because it is precisely these types who encourage the current administration to remain smugly confident that it will remain in power. 

For, let’s face it, while it has been a disastrous few months for the Labour government when it comes to public opinion - what keeps striking me and everyone else as odd is that even as the Labour Party keeps shedding votes in the polls, this is not being translated into votes for the PN.  Why is that? 

I think one of the reasons is that when Labour politicians make gaffes, people find it easy to come up with funny quips and create memes, but this does not necessarily mean that they will be voting PN next time. The Facebook jokes are just a way to join in the banter and the sport of government-bashing, but so far not enough disgruntled voters seem to be inspired by the Opposition on how they would do things any differently. 

The tangible problems of a country which has been over-run by rubbish, construction, bumper to bumper traffic and an out-of-control model of importing economic migrants are the major concerns of the average voter. Who will step up and provide us with real, feasible solutions to these pressing issues?