Malta, a developing country riddled with corruption and dirt: Outpost magazine

Published: January 13, 2017 at 2:20pm

Read Ryan Murdock’s piece for Outpost, Canada’s leading travel magazine, here. As the Maltese-Canadian friend who sent it to me said: I wonder how many “go bek to your cuntry” he’s going to cop. Such a shame, at one point it felt like Malta was getting somewhere.

Murdock had been living in Malta for the last six years, and has now moved to Berlin. This piece was originally published in late 2015.

I recognised the street immediately because I’ve driven up or down it (depending on the whims of the traffic authorities) thousands of times over the last 25 years. It’s the one leading out of Mosta directly7 in front of the domed church, and when I drive down it, I feel exactly as this man does.

Everything is just so shabby. Of course there are whole areas worse than anything you will find anywhere in Malta in towns and cities elsewhere. But they’re the neighbourhoods you avoid if you can help it. They’re not the neighbourhoods which estate agents describe – and Maltese people think of – as prime locations. And Malta is so tiny that you can’t get away from the ugliness. There is literally nowhere to run.

As for the corruption, that’s another story. But when you are branded internationally as corrupt, when people take the corruptness of your country for granted, it’s time to do something about it – because regardless of what Sandro Chetcuti, Konrad Mizzi, the Gasans, the Fenechs, and the rest of the fixers and switchers think – this is no way to live, for anybody.

So we build a few skyscrapers, rush the money to Panama, sell citizenship and residence visas, use tax haven status as a magnet to draw buyers for the rest of it, and acquire a magnificent reputation as a dirty and corrupt place where you would only go for the sun (plenty of sun elsewhere and none at the moment) and the law taxes for foreigners. Great.

41 Comments Comment

  1. Il Baks says:

    Malta is coming closer to what happened and is happening to Italy. They sold all their “Made in Italy” to everyone and from being the 7th most industrialised country, it is now the country known for Mafia, corruption, instability and unemployment.

    We are now facing the same situation here. We sold our ‘assets’ to foreigners including pristine land and we are full of corruption, and an anything-goes attitude. All this thanks to the bunch of crooks sitting on the gover(n)ment side with their 100s of person of trust – or thrust.

  2. Peter Pan says:

    What’s wrong with that?

  3. Edward says:

    I wasn’t too convinced by everything the man wrote in that article. Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal are all countries where things take a long time to get done.

    Same for the US. When I was in New York, I found the whole process of reclaiming money which a ticket machine had swallowed so confusing that I just didn’t bother in the end.

    In the UK, there is equally complicated systems where things take a long time. And driving in London is a nightmare. I am not sure what this man wanted to say, exactly?

    However, he does bring up some very good points which highlight the difficulties Malta has to contend with.

  4. Did anybody mention politics?

  5. Jozef says:

    May one ask where you lived?

  6. Gulepp says:

    Well, corruption was only institutionalised under Muscat’s corrupt clique with a newly elected Minister opening a Panama company to siphon a million a year since 2013.

  7. il-Ginger says:

    You know, this is precisely what is wrong with this country. Bad attitude. When given critical feedback, instead of trying to fix the problem, someone makes a stupid misdirection, an argument ensures and nothing ever gets solved.

    I don’t have faith in Malta, but then again I don’t have faith in the West in general. All can see that politicians are in it to serve themselves, not the people, and dogs like you wait at their tables begging for scraps. Your purpose in life is to bark and beg – a useful idiot.

  8. Ghoxrin Punt says:

    That is THE most shallow article I have ever read. A whole lot of cliches bunged together into one article with little substance.

    I feel very sorry for the author if these mishaps, which I also experienced when living in a (by his standards) ultra developed country, where all that he took away from here.

  9. Evarist Saliba says:

    That Malta is not perfect is no secret. Few countries, if any, can claim that, but my remark was about publicity. Faults and defects may lie dormant but then unsavoury events tend to prompt reactions that lead to bad publicity.

  10. I’ll tell you what I say when I am anywhere near Ray’s Lido: that I need to book a smere holiday in Greece.

  11. Ryan Murdock did not compare Malta to Canada. He described Malta.

  12. I am Maltese, have lived in Malta for 52 years, and I agree COMPLETELY with Ryan Murdock. Malta is barely tolerable when, having lived here all your life, you are able to blank out the worst of it. It is completely intolerable when you see it with new eyes. It is, in fact, hideous. To get something aesthetic, you have to go out into the fields or onto windswept cliffs – and that’s pretty desperate.

    Today I saw a Notting Hill-style shop on a Valletta corner. I literally ground to a halt, screeching brakes and all. I wonder how long before it closes down. “Dan x’inhu? Da xi jbiegh ezatt?”

    And I hasten to add that the reason Malta is so ugly is because people are TOTALLY tasteless and have no sense of aesthetics whatsoever. On that, I think – from what I know of you – we are in agreement.

  13. I think you need to read the whole thing again. Malta is a seriously freakish place, and the reason more ‘bloody foreigners’ don’t point this out audibly and publicly is out of politeness and because they don’t write articles for a living.

    Think about it – what do I write about? I have built a career on writing about Malta’s freakishness. I’m Maltese, and still, look at the reactions I get. But it’s freakish, and I’m not blind to it.

  14. No, it is not opinion but fact. Next time you go out, look around. People in this benighted country can’t even get a simple café right. Ugly furnishings, outdated concept, terrible food.

  15. summer – typed that on my phone in a rush

  16. Yes, that’s the one. Shame.

    • H.P. Baxxter says:

      Thought you’d notice it. But then it’s run by a ‘foreigner’. Different civilisation, different aesthetic.

  17. I did not say that Greece is better than Malta. I said that Greek beaches are better than Malta’s. Which they are. For a start, they’ve got thousands of them, and most are pristinely beautiful.

    Malta’s beaches are only tolerable in winter, when you can’t swim (which is why they are empty), and only two of them are beautiful, Ghajn Tuffieha and Ramla l-Hamra. The rest are crap.

    I live here because I didn’t get an EU passport until I was 39. At that stage, it was impossible to leave because I wasn’t a lone agent. Had I a European Union passport at 20, I would have left. But back then, the only way to leave was to emigrate to the New World, and if you want to know what sort of fun that was, ask the people who did it.

  18. This is not the place for a treatise about aesthetics, but yes, of course ugly and beautiful are fact. Beauty is undeniable when you are confronted with it. So is ugliness.

    Grey areas are a different matter. But Malta’s towns and villages are ugly and some are actually hideous. We had some errands on the Mosta/Naxxar outskirts this afternoon and I sat in the passenger seat with my eyes closed.

  19. I didn’t have to tell them anything. These are not things which are explained. They are either understood innately or they are not. Fortunately, my sons understand them innately. Aesthetic sensibilities are hereditary – which is exactly why artistic skills are.

  20. I don’t really need you to tell me, Aidan. I’m not emigrating to Canada at this stage in my life. I wouldn’t even have done it at 20 (which is why I didn’t). I’m European through and through.

  21. Nelson says:

    I wish Maltese people would appreciate just how weird it is that it takes such a long time to cover incredibly short distances.

    Things like congestion charges and bicycle lanes are alien to us. I’m sure the many millions this government squandered away could have been used on a metro line, a bridge to Gozo or straight roads. Plenty of cities more densely populated than Malta, and without a metro, don’t have anywhere near the amount of traffic.

    Malta is a reflection of its people – all countries have hamalli, but Malta just has more than most.

    • Not only does it have more than most, but there is absolutely nowhere you can get away from them. London is jam-packed with the most incredible hamalli and bogans, but they stay in their own spaces and haunts, go to their own bars and restaurants, even to their own shops, and there are entire large neighbourhoods entirely free of bogans.

  22. Mandora says:

    Mr Murdock, good luck with your move to Berlin! I hope that you will be able to use the training you received in Malta to deal with unfortunately the same things here in Berlin – except for the corruption – and green spaces, Berlin is lovely and green for most of the year. However I sincerely hope you find it easier this time round.

    I agree with the general sentiment of what you wrote. I moved away from Malta myself, although mostly for different reasons. However I think that if you find those issues that you mention so exasperating to live with, the least you could do is find out if where you are moving to next suffers from the same problems.

    Here you will have plenty of hair-raising encounters with bad drivers (check area around Kotti for full effect); good luck with dealing with bureaucracy and getting things done, especially if you do not speak enough German.

    Berlin is not efficient Germany. Work culture? What do you mean? MOST businesses do not even allow you to pay by car, nor do they have a fully-functioning website to refer to.

    A walk on Sunday morning in Kreuzberg will provide anyone with enough exposure to human waste and general filth to last a lifetime. What else? Berliner Schnauze. There are those as well here, quite a shock until you see the cultural wealth hiding behind such a nasty thing.

    I left Malta because I could not stand the conservative, bigoted and uneducated way of most people there. In Berlin many people are well-read and can hold a sane conversation for more than two minutes, so I am happy. I hope you find what you are looking for. Once again, a sincere good luck!

  23. Good. And with luck, some more normal people will pop out of the woodwork. Because the first thing that non-Maltese notice after living here for a while is how strange people are. And rest assured that they don’t mean me, because I’m something reassuringly recognisable to them. I even speak their language – by which, incidentally, I don’t mean English.

  24. He’s dying. I believe the prognosis is seven months. He’s been away from the office for almost four months now.

  25. You’re out of date – seriously so.

  26. I feel the same way. It’s very demoralising. The drive back from the airport is the worst.

  27. Maltese people who emigrated to Australia are not qualified to speak realistically because all they feel about Malta is the yearning and nostalgia for something they think still exists but does not, and which was never that great anyway – which is exactly why they left and are now in Australia.

  28. Mandora says:

    “I think the best you can hope for is a place that resonates with you.” That is exactly what I think, and also why I moved here!

    Thank you!

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