The Marsaxlokk protest which turned into a punch-up when five men who are living in the illegal camping site beat up one of the protesters is symptomatic of everything which has gone wrong in Malta.
The laughable slap on the wrist which they got (a €60 fine) has outraged the public and rightly so. The above photo taken by Chris Sant Fournier has infuriated us even more. The laughing faces say it all – “we will get away with it, because we know we can”. And they did.
Even the fact that they got away with dressing inappropriately to go to court speaks volumes – would you and I be allowed to get away with that?
Basically if you are law-abiding, quiet and not prone to violent behaviour you are screwed in this country. The law of the jungle prevails – be it in the form of an arrogant Arriva bus driver who refuses to budge even though he is in the wrong, to people who push and shove their way savagely through a queue in the firm belief that they do not have to line up like everyone else.
If, on the other hand, you swear with every breath you take, raise your voice and your fists even when someone looks at you twice, you’ve got it made. No one will touch you, not even, it seems the long arm of the law. The fine for the Marsaxlokk incident should have been higher if only to set an example to others. The black humour going around on FB is that it’s worth a €60 fine for the satisfaction of beating someone you don’t like black and blue.
The joke, in the circumstances, is quite apt. The problem, of course, is that jokes like this only serve to emphasis a very uncomfortable truth. It’s not worth acting in a civilised way in Malta, because you will be mocked and laughed at for being a fool, just like the thugs in the above photo seem to be laughing at us for thinking that anything will be really done to stop them.
To be fair, according to the Times, MEPA has ordered the removal of the illegal camping site. Reacting to this latest development, the organiser of the protest Leslie Pavia said, “It’s about time. Perhaps they hadn’t realised the tents were there. I’ve been speaking about the issue for more than two months now.”
Maybe it took a brawl captured on video and the furious reaction of the general public for MEPA to notice what was happening. It will be interesting to see whether the tents and caravans will in fact be removed – frankly, decent people are fed up with this cowboy behaviour and what happened at Marsaxlokk represents the proverbial last straw.