I once read a short article in a local business magazine which pinpointed some salient problems in Malta: roads are bad, bureaucracy is frightening, cleanliness is somewhat lacking. These are the usual gripes we, the people, seem to come up with regularly. I nearly yawned myself to another article till I saw that the piece was an extract of an article that had appeared 40 years previously.
Instead of yawning I got terribly scared. So all we gripe about remains there in all its damning glory for years, decades and centuries? We gripe, we rant but nought changes?
Cleanliness is still sadly lacking—we have garbage strewn all over our lovely isle even on a Sunday. And the culprits are hardly the cleaners and the councils even if these both do an unbelievably shoddy job. The culprits are me and you—or, as we love to do when anything is wrong, we blame our neighbours or the immigrants because we, thank God, are spotless and never to blame.
Mind you I don’t really know how we can solve the problem of when the domestic garbage can be, or should be, taken out. Say I work during the day and the garbage man (why are garbage collectors always men?) comes at 12.30—what am I supposed to do: take a few hours off every day and come back to park my refuse at the right time? So we workers of the world have to suffer and assist in getting our island to look shabby, and give the dogs and cats who go round scavenging, a free lunch on our remains of the day.
From failed cleanliness to politics is one short step. Politics some say is dirty. So I have often been told to keep away from it for fear of getting soiled. Keep neutral is another adage so that no one can say you’re unbalanced.
Let me keep the so called balance in politics by slamming both parties. No, not the festive parties that give you fun and food and everlasting fat, but the ones who run or pretend to run the country while managing to ruin everything—from our peace to our landscape.
The party in power is guilty of not reducing bureaucracy at all. The country might be an oasis of all things bright and nice compared to 25 years ago but it still needs a Kafka-esque imagination to understand how we manage to survive and thrive when faced with strange and silly bureaucracy. I could bore you to beyond a few afterlives if I give you shining examples. So I’ll leave it to you to fill in the blanks of how bureaucracy works in Malta. I’m afraid of forgetting to fill in some form in quintuplet if I try giving said examples.
The PL is Malta’s everlasting opposition and government in waiting. After all these years you’d imagine they could come out with enough solutions to all our gripes and worries—even the 40 or 400 year old ones should be easy fodder for them after all these years of observing and dying to serve the country and its folk. In their wonderfully executed 51 proposals document they say that the country has to reduce bureaucracy—hurray to that. And their solution? We have to lie and lie in wait to see and learn how they will do this greatest and latest of wand workings.
It’s great saying that all these great things have to happen but saying is not a solution, just a plain silly platitude. It’s like me saying I wish I have brains, hair, looks and writing capabilities. Saying it won’t get me anywhere. Wishing it will not wash away my defects and if I need to take any action to get hairy and brainy I’d better get myself an action plan to transplant a few brain cells and hair capsules.
So like the author of that article 40 years ago I have ranted and riled, most probably in vain, as we will be saying the same things in a hundred years’ time—if writing and reading will still happen. Unless we will be buried under a pile of garbage or useless forms.