Thursday 18 October 2018

When paranoia sets in

The latest damage control exercise by the Muscat administration is to create an online form asking the public to come up with alternatives for the University site which was earmarked for Zonqor.

Oh, so NOW he wants our opinion? Why should we be asked to solve this problem which the government created all by itself? There are procedures in place when an investor wants to buy such a huge tract of land for this kind of major project, but they were not followed. Since when does a PM just hand public land over to a foreign millionaire just like that for a measly amount? I wasn’t aware that Malta belongs to Muscat to parcel off and dish out like pieces of pie to whoever comes over here with enough cash. If he so eager to be so magnanimous, I suggest he gives away his own home in Burmarrad for a measly price, because as far as I can tell that is the only property he has to right to sell off on the cheap.

And anyway, this to me seems like a knee-jerk reaction to shut people up, because my gut feeling says Muscat will just go ahead and do what he wants anyway (with a few concessions to make it look like he gave in) as many of his supporters keep cheering him on wildly with phrases like “don’t let anyway tell you what to do, just go for it Prim!”. One person actually wrote that Muscat had been given a mandate to govern so he should just do what he wants and ignore the objections.

I tell you, some people in this country would be perfectly happy under a dictatorship.

Meanwhile, if people like me object and protest, we are accused of all sorts of ulterior motives, when the simple truth is that we simply love our islands and want to protect them from further destruction. Clean up the Zonqor area if it has been turned into a dumping site and fine people who throw rubbish there, but don’t just give it away. Because that’s another thing…for some there seem to only be two options: either let it rot as a rubbish-filled site or else cover it with buildings.

And if one more person asks, “where were you before? why are people only speaking up about ODZ now…?” I will probably turn violent. First of all they are wrong, MANY voices have been raised against ODZ development throughout the years, if only people would bother to do a bit of research (they won’t, of course, because they have no interest in finding out the truth but only in repeating this phrase on a loop).

Oh, but silly me.  Back then the PN was in government so maybe that explains why those Labour supporters moaning now were not so upset (apparently, a new commandment came into force when I wasn’t looking: Thou shalt not criticize, except when there’s a PN government).

And another thing, as far as I know this government was supposed to do things differently, to be more environmentally aware, and all the other many electoral promises we saw on those shiny, happy billboards. Frankly, trying to justify what a Labour government is doing now because of what a Nationalist government did in the past is like playing a perverse game of “anything you can do I can do better”. How pathetic. People voted for change not more of the same. Because with this reasoning we might as well have re-elected another PN government, right?

And I really wish people would stop repeating that other stupid argument I keep seeing that those who are objecting to the Zonqor university have some spiteful grudge against the south and don’t want investment there. Why on earth should someone like me have a grudge against the south? Answer me that. For the nth time I will repeat: we are not against investment but against building on ODZ land. Why is it so difficult to understand that some of us simply want to preserve what is left of our countryside and NO amount of cash is worth destroying it?

Let me answer my own question: it’s because after two short years, paranoia and a siege mentality have already set in, and the party faithful are closing ranks (hmmm, where have I seen this happen before, let me think, let me think…)

The Labour government is already seeing enemies in every corner, who it claims are determined to “put up obstacles” by objecting to every single project (which is another fallacy because there have been many good initiatives which have been praised). Once you start becoming paranoid you are not thinking straight and every phrase and criticism is interpreted as a declaration of war. I suggest that the PR machine surrounding the Muscat administration goes to some faraway retreat, practices some yoga and takes some very deep breaths to calm down. They cannot seriously expect that every single thing this government does is going to be wildly applauded every time, so they need to learn how to separate the wheat from the chaff and basically weigh what is genuine constructive criticism and what is politically motivated.

And while they are at it, the message needs to filter down to their more fervent, vocal supporters that hostility and antagonism towards those who criticize is not helping their cause one little bit. We have been down this road before. If the Labour party wants to learn from the lessons of the past it really needs to understand that what chipped away at the foundations of what used to be the formidable Nationalist party was precisely this: that those who determine an election are not those who agree with you blindly no matter what, but those who are telling you the unfiltered truth, unpalatable as it may seem.

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