#saveourcountryside

 

Start this little campaign and go for it.

It is bad enough that we live in a microscopic country, on an Island where everyone knows each other and privacy is impossible. And what’s worse is that most of our children dream of leaving this island, for good. Ask them why and surely it is not for a monetary reason. They are disturbed with the ugliness, the stuffiness and the pettiness all around us.

I love my country, and I love being Maltese but I am saddened by the political class that has repeatedly shafted this country because of its ill-thought policies.

What is happening today is no different from what happened under other prime ministers, who all shared the same deficient EQ on how their country looked.

OK, the effort in making Malta a beautiful showcase for suburbia and sprucing up Malta’s look is noticeable and welcome. But beyond our cities we need to preserve our open natural spaces.

The loopholes purposely created in our planning laws, to allow for easier development and higher development, are only serving to change the texture of Malta and Gozo. And let us face it, the situation is indeed desperate here. It is not because we do not know what the problem is: it is simply because the politicians (or shall we say the Prime Minister?) are unwilling to take action on this front.

I have no political agenda here, and the last thing on my mind is to ruffle the feathers of the political dominance of the Labour administration. Not that supremacy is healthy, but I still think that this country deserves Muscat. More so than an ex-football president who has not yet paid his €80,000 tax bill and who is surely no Joan of Arc. At this point in time I’d much rather do what politicians hate most: not voting at all.

I know for sure that the only language they understand is the vote. The problem here is that Muscat may well have reneged on this, considering that he has already declared he will leave before this second term is up.

This is a country that has seen outrageous planning permits being dished out, over the ages. The latest excuse by Joseph Muscat is that this relaxation in planning has allowed for an economic boom. At what cost?

The truth is that the likes of Sandro Chetcuti have more influence on what Muscat decides for the nation than the normal people who have no voice, no party and are lumped with high-rise around them whether they live in Zebbug, Gzira, Naxxar or Qala.

The likes of Sandro Chetcuti with their egoism, their mission in painting the construction lobby as angels, their demands for quick profits by selling boxes of concrete and screwing our townscapes mean more to Muscat, who regards anyone who opposes this philosophy as some “extremist”.

The truth is that very ordinary people who have nothing but common sense about them, who are not on social media penning repetitive missals against capitalism, think that we have now gone far too far.

They are against a petrol station on the Mgarr road and think that it is a bloody mess, that the flats that are sprouting on the Mellieha bypass or on the road from Mosta to Mġarr are simply unacceptable. That the attitude of planners and decision-makers is simply insensitive to what happens next. And that this economic policy promulgated just right now, which holds that if it makes money then it is OK, is not to be simply accepted as is.

We have an economic vision which has no brakes in the system, no one to tell it that there are limits to the attitude by politicians who think that anyone who opposes this strategy is a reactionary, a jerk, a loser or a gloom and doom dork.

It is high time to say that to #saveourcountryside is necessary and cool. That driving a flashy 60K car and getting stuck in a traffic jam is not the greatest thing on earth and that towering flats with bespoke interiors, glass partitions lined with bright silver aluminium and rectangular designs overlooking regiments of homes and concrete blocks are not the most exhilarating of life experiences. That making money is not the only thing in life.

Today, the Prime Minister will address a posse of Labour followers and the theme of his speech will be ‘the next generation’. If he is talking of the next generation of Maltese and Gozitans whom he expects to live in this country I have to tell him fairly and squarely that at this rate, the next generation of Maltese will be living in a repugnantly overly-built country.

This country is too small to experience the construction spree that he, as prime minister, longs for. Malta can never be a Singapore, unless we turn our people into a servile population in an autocratic state ranked at lowly 175 when it comes to freedoms.

Life is about feeling good.

Which is why I concur completely that the events in Valletta and the transformations there are worthy of everyone’s praise. I disagree with the doomsday talk of some in the artistic and political world. Needless to say, the same applies to those who opted to boycott the event, not that it will make a difference. I am referring here to the decision of Claudio Grech, whom I have great respect for.

We need more investment in the way things look, because it makes people feel that their environs belong to them. But it should not stop with our historical centres, it should spread out into our green belts, our shorelines, our valleys, bays and the sea.

We have to come together and shout out loud.

Shout out loud that we cannot tolerate more billboards on country roads.

Shout out loud that the height policy must change.

Shout out loud that there must be an end to petrol stations and that ODZ is ODZ.

Shout out loud that we are not tree-huggers but normal people who simply love our country so much so that we intend to live and die here in this little Malta.

We are here to stay, not run away, and we want Muscat to hear our words and this time round we want him to take us seriously, because this is not about being Labourite or being Nationalist or something else, but about being livid and angry with regard to this political irreverence and insensitivity.

Make #saveourcountryside your campaign. Not mine, not theirs, but yours.

Start this little campaign and go for it.

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