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The only value is money - Paul Cardona

All over Malta and Gozo, cranes, trucks emitting clouds of black smoke, and heavy construction vehicles leaking diesel pollute our air and destroy our roads, while hydraulic drilling machinery generates omnipresent dust and incessant noise.

Malta has one of the highest population densities in the world. Only considering the local population, our population density is in the region of 1,400 persons per square kilometre. There are no official statistics on how many foreigners live in Malta. Many arrive as tourists and just stay on, working below the radar.

If the authorities know, then this is not in the public domain. However, since even the pastizzi shops are now manned by foreigners and since the population of Sicily is transferring en masse to our tiny island, the foreign population on our island is estimated to be around 200,000 to 250,000, taking our population density to around 2,030 persons per square kilometre.

And more is to come, since our Prime Minister has proudly declared that in order to maintain the tempo of destruction we need to import about 60,000 additional foreign workers. People with moral fibre hope that he is not looking at the Dubai model where most of the so-called progress was achieved with the blood of imported cheap labour from the Indian sub-continent.

We are fast reaching the population densities of Hong Kong and Singapore, but if you feel stress in Singapore you can drive over to the lush nature of Malaysia. The only comparable area in Europe is Monte Carlo. Most people who work there live in France and Italy. They have an escape. People in Malta do not have an escape. 

This is reflected in the increasingly highly-strung disposition of people and more frequent incidents of road rage. Some psychologist should study the effects of overcrowding on the mental health of resi­dents, given the worrying results of studies of the effect of overcrowding on mice and rats. Yet we want to build more and more, and get more people over here. All in the name of progress which cannot be stopped!

Our politicians have reduced the pearl of the Mediterranean to the pit of the Mediterranean – and are proud of it

The whole issue is wealth. No building, no matter how historic, is safe nowadays. To be fair, this lot are not the first to do this. Years ago a local businessman bought Bir Bal in Balzan and demolished it to build a supermarket.

The PN minister at the time came out with the idiotic statement that this building had no historical value. Well, the minister and his businessman friend destroyed this village landmark to build a supermarket which closed down a few years later, leaving us with a nondescript, ugly building. The important thing is that somebody pocketed a packet. Things have not changed. The problem is that things have been put in overdrive by this lot.

Now a developer is trying to destroy a 400-year-old classic garden in Lija. In any other civilised country they would turn this house with its garden into a national treasure. To whoever is trying to do this I say: shame on you!

But then these people have no shame. As long as they make money it is all fair. This is then reflected in their fancy cars, yachts and, in many cases, their vulgar ways. Yet these are the heroes of Castille today.  

Alfred Sant used to refer to the big businessmen in the 1980s as Il-Barunijiet. I invite Dr Sant to share with us his opinion on the characters we have today. I am convinced of his honesty on this matter, as stated by Martin Scicluna in an article published last week in the Times of Malta. He refers to the new breed of developers as the unacceptable face of capitalism. Well done, Mr Scicluna, how true!

Nothing is sacred any more. The only value is money, and the money given to the political parties. This is nothing less than corruption by our political class. 

Pre-election promises are well-known. The sums given by businessmen are good investments, normally paid back in post-election favours. And these favours are not repaid from the private bank accounts of those in power. No, all land given for development, all permits given which should never have been given, all direct orders, all cheating to change the award of a public tender… all come from public funds.

It is no wonder, therefore, that all of this has had an effect on the moral standing of the nation, which has plummeted, as the example from above not only filters down but abuse is actually encouraged by our politicians issuing repeated amnes­ties on building abuse and suppressing corruption investigations.

This is not the Malta that we knew and it’s not what many of us want to be identified with. This overheating of our economy has come at such a price that as fast as the buildings go up, Malta’s standing heads down.

Our politicians have reduced the pearl of the Mediterranean to the pit of the Mediterranean – and are proud of it.

Paul Cardona is chairman, Flimkien għal Ambjent Aħjar.

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