Letters: 26 July 2015

Earth 2.0 (right) scaled against our own earth
Earth 2.0 (right) scaled against our own earth

Tourism in Malta: Unsustainable?

The fact that tourism is a cornerstone of our economy can neither be denied nor questioned, but in keeping with the subject, could we also bring ourselves to ask: what is the real cost of tourism?

For one, the assumption that anything that brings in money is a good thing is a dangerous ideological precedent which we would do well to jettison altogether. 

Secondly, while tourism brings in the obvious economic advantages already mentioned, it can hardly be denied that it also places a great burden on our culture and lifestyle, one we perhaps ignore too easily, and at our own peril, since it’s been something of a fait accompli for a number of years. 

Take as an example the recent crisis of the Malta Public Transport changeover. Over and above the very public and dramatic case involving Hungarian student Daboma Jack, the summer months are crucial to tourism and therefore to public transport. The Tallinja card debacle, was incredibly baldy timed and only highlighted how misguided the decision to implement such moves during the summer months is. 

And what’s the end result? Congested buses and streets, and residents who simply want to get to work or school on time elbowed out in favour of the leisure time of paying foreigners. 

This is just the tip of the iceberg, of course: just one example of how unchecked tourism gluts the island and our daily life. 

The other problems are also plainly evident: Paceville and Valletta emphasising 24/7 entertainment above all, villages like Bugibba losing any shred of individuality for the benefit of tourists… the list goes on. 

The fact is that tourism is just another example of colonialism by a different name. 

Malta has been taken over by a number of civilisations over the centuries, and just because tourism is seemingly a ‘willing’ collaboration with other countries doesn’t make it any less of a colonial experience. 

We should look for ways to limit and weave tourism into the daily fabric of our lives without compromising our culture and the daily lives of our citizens. 

Otherwise, it becomes clearer than ever before that money comes first while people come second. 

Raymond Hardwicke, St Paul’s Bay

New planet, new opportunities

The discovery of a second possibly habitable planet somewhere in the universe suggests ample opportunities to some of Earth’s problems - most of them applicable directly to Malta. 

For instance, should space travel reach a point where traversing the 1,000-light year distance to the newly-discovered Kepler-452b (colloquially known as ‘Earth 2.0’), we could use it as a place in which to put socially undesirable individuals. These would be people who, while falling short of committing any outward felony (in which case they should be processed through the usual means), harbour questionable and potentially dangerous ideas and frustrations. 

Among them would be the likes of far-right extremists or so-called ‘patriots’, who oppose all forms of integration between people of different races and delight in fomenting racial hatred. On this new planet, they would find the kind of ‘pristine’ and ‘uncorrupted’ space that they would like to fantasise about, without the hassle of having to organise protests – both online and off – in an attempt to put their ideas forward. 

Secondly, the pro-construction lobby would find an eager and ample playground in which to live out their own fantasies of industrial expansion. It is perhaps unfair that, owing to their obvious addition to both concrete and cash, developers are constantly blind-sided by both bureaucratic exigences and the environmentalist lobby. It is clear that these people need to be cured in the same way you would cure an addict - by administering a slow and decreasing dose of their drug of choice before cutting it off altogether. But since Malta’s size does not permit for the kind of construction that would satisfy these afflicted men, the new planet would, on the other hand, offer ample room for their pain to play out. 

Tzvetan Borg, Birzebbugia

Working class must back Muscat

Amid some opposition, Joseph Muscat introduced measures to curb the power of the ruling class, such as the Whistleblower Act, and the end of prescription on corruption. But there is still a lot that has got to be done, and unless the working class backs him he can do very little to go against the vested interests of the ruling class.

Party members must stop backing one parliamentarian against another, quite often of the same party. They should do their utmost to change the governing system.

Ministers have to start looking after a particular sector if they are qualified in that sector and voted for by the whole legislature, and only ministers who look after the interest of the districts should be voted for by the voters of that district.

Josephine Gatt-Ciancio, Kalkara