This photograph of Wild Wadi, Dubai by https://www.flickr.com/photos/saudi/ is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
Lately I’ve been overwhelmed by the sheer number of worrying national news stories. Stories of ancient trees being chopped down, of a flock of 18 storks being reduced to 1 stork, of an illegal €274 million direct order, of a Maltese company playing a part in the money laundering of the family of the Venezuelan President, of the hate campaign against David Casa and against any number of people who are unhappy with the path Malta is on...
This means that I don’t properly have time to digest the implications of every story. All the time, there is such a jumble of half formed thoughts and ideas in my head. One story that has slowly filtered through to more fully formed thoughts is the story of the 120 or so black people living in a cow shed.
There was outrage expressed at this. There was (probably more) outrage expressed at the killing of a kitten in a cafe in front of customers. However, the shock expressed surprised me.
This didn’t happen in a vacuum. There weren’t cows living in a cow shed, one day and then the next, black migrants. What do we expect if there is a culture in Malta of wanting our cake and wanting to eat it too?
We want people to come and work in Malta because we look down our noses on some jobs but then we complain that there are too many black migrants.
We want the 120 or so black migrants to be removed from the cow shed because it is not dignified enough for them but we are ok with landlords breaking Maltese and EU law when they refuse to rent to them because of the colour of their skin.
We want the 120 or so black migrants to be removed from the cow shed because it is not dignified enough for them but we don’t provide them with a better alternative, so many are now sleeping in fields.
We want to decrease the number of foreigners and yet we’re ok with selling Maltese citizenship to the highest bidder.
We want EU migrants to come to Malta so that we can rent our properties and charge high rents but we then complain that there are far too many foreigners and the Maltese are being priced out of the housing market.
We want to be in the EU but only for what we can get out of it. So, we want to build social housing only for the Maltese, no matter that this is a breach in EU law.
We want to have a Dubai in Malta where the Maltese are at the top of the social hierarchy and everybody else is lower down the hierarchy. No matter that these non Maltese pay as much tax and NI as us. No matter that these non Maltese are less of a financial burden on our state than we are because they were non contributive children needing education and health elsewhere.
There are numerous news stories of an ugly segregation in the Gulf States between locals, white immigrants or 'expats' and immigrant workers. Here's one example: The Fall of Dubai
Is this what we are trying to emulate? Are these our values?
This is what pervades our administrative policy - this apartheid, this institutionalised racism. It's already there, this rationale. Why do you think all tenants struggle in our dysfunctional rental market? What nationality are most tenants?
People really believe they are in the right when they declare that social housing should only be for the Maltese. I can think of no developed country where housing policy would have built in discrimination on the basis of nationality from the get go. Not. A. Single. Developed. Country.
Which brings me to the final thought - have we ever sat down as a country and thought long and hard about what kind of country we wanted our Malta to be? What values did we want to see enshrined in our policy on environment, housing, education, institutions, health systems, foreign policy...?
Or did we just go with the flow when we became independent, paying lip service to a greatly derelicted and derelict Constitution, designed for us by the British? Isn’t it time for a Malta 2.0? Isn’t it time that we have a long conversation about what kind of Malta we want for ourselves and for our children? Which Malta would we CHOOSE to have?