On this day we celebrate one of the most important revolutions in Maltese history. After years of suffering, the Maltese citizens exploded and rioted against the government, who had kept their wages below what was required to handle the cost of living. The riots resulted in 4 dead men and another 50 injured people. However, it also gave the citizens what they wanted, i.e. political control of local affairs.
As always, there are many problems in Malta that require our attention. However, one which has persisted through the last decade (and even before) is the building in illegal ODZ (Outside Development Zone) land. The concept of ODZ land is one which makes sense, since in the Maltese islands space is extremely limited. It therefore seems absurd that people are even allowed to apply to build in these areas. Even more preposterous than that is the fact that the Planning Authority approves these applications.
These are stories we hear and read about year after year, and what we complain about on social media. The Maltese poet Victor Fenech was right to compare us to pigeons, who only grumble in their pigeonhouses. It’s rare that we have victories in our favour against these monstrosities and it is usually only possible thanks to organisations such as Din l-Art Ħelwa and Moviment Graffiti who have the energy and passion to fight against this.
The greatest fear I have is what I call ‘revolution fatigue’. At this point we’ve become so used to having our wishes ignored that we have become complacent. It’s a very natural reaction and unfortunately it is one that will be felt for generations as can be seen nowadays with student activism being at an all time low.
This article is a call to arms, albeit a very different one from that that occurred 202 years ago. It is not enough to ‘angry react’ on Facebook posts, but instead every citizen should try to find a means to contribute to counter-action. This can range from signing petitions, donating money to legal aid, to attending actual protests. It is wise to remember here one of Alan Moore’s most famous quotes, “People should not be afraid of governments. Governments should be afraid of people”. So make the government fear losing your vote. It’s the only way they will listen.