Sunday, 22 April 2001


The Malta Independent on Sunday


This was the feeling over Easter.` Instead of feeling a seasonal sense of re-birth and courage to face the future, this country has been gripped by a sense of decadence.

A sense where the citizen feels helpless against a state which feasts on` self-indulgence, feeding itself on its own lies, ever detached from the citizens and making us the laughing stock of the international community.

Take the Mnajdra Temples debacle. This is an offence against humanity.` Would any good-housekeeper leave its assets so much at risk and unattended Even if you have a residence which has absorbed a good portion of your life-time savings, after ensuring that all doors and windows are securely closed,` it is quite common to protect it with a burglar alarm which telephones you a quick warning on your mobile in case of any offensive incursion.

Yet our national housekeeper after running up one billion ( that is one followed with nine zeros equivalent to about 14 sales of Mid-Med Banks) in national debt and about half as much hidden debt in the Treasury Clearance Fund and government owned organisations that borrow directly from financial institutions,` could not find` the initiative, the time, and the money to protect these national heritage treasures.

Are our national housekeepers so incompetent and decadent that it had to take a violation similar to that suffered by Mnajdra to admit they were just oblivious to the need to protect these treasures` Was not the vandalism of Hagar Qim, daubed with paint a few years back,` enough warning to protect these heritage treasures much more effectively`

And what about the remaining heritage sites` What about Borg in-Nadur, Roman Baths, Ta` Skorba, San Pawl Milqi and Tarxien temples` Who is protecting these and many others spread around the island.` The only one which has been properly addressed was the Hypogeum and this thanks to a foundation financed by Bank of Valletta who deserve our gratitude for such initiative.

The usual apologists can put up the hackneyed` defence . They may well argue that we have too many heritage sites to afford to protect them all. This is sheer non-sense. These sites if properly managed would` not be a financial burden.` On the contrary these could be revenue generating assets.` These can be turned into tourist attractions which could become the reason why tourists choose Malta and not simply a place to visit whilst in Malta. Just the same way the Roman Baths attract tourists to Bath, and why Florence art treasures make it a tourist destination in its own right and not just a second fiddle to Rome.

But this takes initiative and creativity and both these seem to be in short supply.` Our administration`s sheer incompetence can be judged by considering that every public convenience in Malta is serviced by at least 3 attendants on a rotation basis, public sector employment continues to increase in spite of declarations to the contrary and Gozo Channel customer care officers keep` busily chatting their day away unclear about` what sort of job they were really employed to perform.

A further sense of decadence results from the protection which the citizen can expect to receive from our forces of law and order. Forget that Tarcisio Mifsud happens to be my brother.` But as a peace loving law abiding citizen how do you feel that a fellow citizen who was assaulted during the night in the privacy of his house for no clear reason apart from satisfaction of political hysteria, gets the protection of a conditional discharge and a Lm25 fine for two of the three offenders` Don`t you feel like choking in your breadth particularly if you have probably had to pay a similar fine for a minor driving offence`

And if you treasure the right to criticise and disagree without fear or favour how would you feel if rather than rebutting your arguments the incumbents of power challenge your credentials to criticise,` and pretend to hold an undisputed prerogative on the truth` How do you feel if what they preach is labelled information and whatever the critics put forward rather than being debated on its own merits is simply labelled misinformation by someone who has no credentials to criticise.` Is this not typical of defence lawyers courtroom practice that when not in position to rebut accusing testimony they turn to discredit the witness`

Is this some Machiavellian plan to render the state of decadence so deep that EU membership will be made to look as the sugar coated choice of the lesser evil`

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