Hats off

It is the people who cannot make ends meet who change the people at the top, not the man with the Chopard watch

saviour_balzan
Saviour Balzan
26 June 2017, 7:43am
Godfrey Farrugia of the PN list with a PD badge said that a unifying gesture by Muscat could be brought about by amending the public administration act
Godfrey Farrugia of the PN list with a PD badge said that a unifying gesture by Muscat could be brought about by amending the public administration act
I have always wondered why ceremonial women’s hats are so incredibly important when it comes to official functions. I have a feeling that it is a very Anglo Saxon thing. Let us face it, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the world’s most influential woman politician, would never wear a hat. 

Nor I would imagine would the Bundestag go through the rigmarole of having to officiate in a Roman Catholic Cathedral. More so in the presence of an archbishop who appears to be more engrossed in passing cryptic political messages than doing Jesus talk.

Nothing has really changed and no one wants to change the protocol.

Neither do the people, so why should we try to change it.  

Probably the only person who would gladly question this would be someone like Salvu Mallia, the failed PN candidate who could never quite understand that politics is the art of compromise.

But let us put protocol and platitudes aside and go for some substance.

Godfrey Farrugia of the PN list with a PD badge said that a unifying gesture by Muscat could be brought about by amending the public administration act.  

It is of course not the case.  

The President reading a pre-prepared speech to parliament spoke of a second republic based on national unity.

Now I have to say the idea of a second republic excites me. More so when I see the way habits have not changed since Malta gained independence in 1964.

This country is no longer what it used to be.

A second republic needs to appreciate this, it needs to consider that this nation is no longer dominated by the traditional deep roots and that the amazing divide between the two parties has nothing to do with the supremacy of the Labour party. Rather, it has to do with the failure of the PN to attract voters.

Because in his muddled and impulsive way of saying things Salvu Mallia is right that the two parties are no different (he should have realized this before embracing the PN and calling Muscat a Mussolini).

The second Constitution is not about creating a great economy, it is more about realizing where a Nation is and what that country stands for.

Today Malta needs to be a true Republic and put the State first. It has to recognize the need to embody the aspirations of the citizen and protect the natural and cultural assets of this very small nation. We need to look up to the State and not treat it as some second thought.

More importantly we need to embrace diversity, in colour, creed and political beliefs.  And more significantly the only way we can break this great divide is to create a model that people who are competent get to places irrespective of their origins or beliefs.

The situation is not as bad as one may picture it, but it is not good. 

There is one aspect to the President’s speech which does not make sense, she said: “… people should not be divided if they are rich or poor.”

That kind of statement is as ingenuous as it sounds. If there is one aspect which boggles the mind when it comes to rich and poor, it is the vulgar disregard for taxing the rich. Or only taxing those who are that stupid to declare all.

Both the Labour and Nationalist party have been reluctant to take this step. And created more loopholes and friendly methods for those with tons of money to make more money.

It sounds fine as long as everything is booming and flying high, but what happens when the divide between rich and poor becomes so extreme that the despair turns into hate and disdain.

The other day, I was meeting someone when an elderly Maltese stopped me. He worked as the security guard with one of these private firms. 

“Hey, stop!” he told me.  

“You will listen to me,” he said very agitatedly.  

“They are all bastards. I have cancer and I have to work.”

He removed his shirt and traced his finger on a dry scar that must have been a surgeon’s cut in his left chest. His eyes were full of tears of anger, emotion and hurt.

“I make a miserly salary of €720 a month, because I and my wife cannot live with our pension.  “They are all bdabad,” he said. 

“They all talk of the people but they do not care about us at the bottom. We have no voice.”

Throughout the last four weeks, I met numerous people who desperately spoke of being forgotten, of no social housing and a pension that was far too little.

This administration and the one before it stopped providing social housing, not realizing that there is a new budding underclass that needs to be housed. More so because of soaring rentals. And of pensioners who cannot live a decent life.

Not all is rosy.

There is this great love affair with the business class in politics, which is essential, but it cannot be the only case – many politicians believe that the business class take you into government and bring you down.

Well, that is what we might think until we start looking from another angle. And the new angle is that when the going gets tough, it is the people who cannot make ends meet who change the people at the top, not the man with the Chopard watch.

There is another reality.  

Little do we know that the richer the rich become, the greater the great divide.  

Let us not forget the end game in this story.

***

One of the biggest flaws of the Muscat administration and those before him, was his reluctance to drag the building regulations under the legal competence of the Planning Authority. The latter having the best structured enforcement arms.

The people who oppose such a thing are the Sandro Chetcuti’s of this world, who have always advocated fewer regulations.

The truth is that the building regulations need to be revised and revisited and their enforcement given to the Planning Authority to ensure that they are not ignored.

If this does not happen, the whole archipelago will be sentenced to years of neglect.

There need to be restrictions on the timing and production of works related to high decibels, restrictions on damage to utility services, production of dust and the timing of when heavy vehicles transport materials.

In this regard, Muscat has been reluctant to act. Now he has two advantages, the first his power of incumbency and secondly his commitment that he will not stand again.  

He has to do something, and now!

We need to revisit again the regulations, think about people and their sentiments and stop believing that just because someone is making money he has the right to do as he pleases. This narrative cannot be one way. Construction okay, citizens’ rights f*** you.

Muscat must get out of this mindset.  He must realise that unless he does go down to this micro level, this is the legacy that will be attached to him. He will be remembered by all those who have had to bear the brunt of Malta’s irresponsible and careless building contractors who have no respect for the appearance, the environmental upkeep, health of the neighbours that live in their construction site.

Which by the way is the whole friggin Island.

saviour_balzan
Saviour Balzan is the founder and co-owner of MaltaToday. He has reported on Maltese poli...