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MALTATODAY 17 July 2022

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maltatoday | SUNDAY • 17 JULY 2022 COMMENT What are we skinning? The silly season reminding us that Malta is a hedonistic utopia for all and sundry. Only you won't be sun-dry but sun-WET, as re- cord-breaking heat guarantees you'll be sweating for three to four months straight. Why are we skinning it? Be- cause Malta has transformed from being a tourist-friendly display of quaint religious feasts into a tourist-friendly display of quaint religious feasts AND a cheap version of Ibiza, with a bit of 'culture' sprinkled on top in an attempt to clutch at some straws of dignity and legitimacy. Where's all this 'culture' you speak of? Well, just last night I eavesdropped on the Malta Jazz Festival from the Lower Barrakka walls in Valletta… where we were plastered with blinding blue light as punishment for not being ticket-paying punters. That sounds fair enough. Someone's gotta pay to make culture happen. But it's a bit jarring, given how we're all meant to understand that 'culture' will come to our doorstep in summer, no matter what. How do you mean? Well, there's the noisy fireworks, for one... Shh! Invoking the festa's name in vain is a taboo worse than incest (or murder). Yes, I understand that the Maltese population loves to hold on to its symbols of timeless tradition. Just a shame this conviction doesn't extend to other facets of what makes Malta unique. Such as? Oh I don't know… its natural environment? The aesthetic integrity of its village cores? Its potential to be a silent haven in the Mediterranean, which it ruins by allowing construction and 'entertainment'-based noise to run rampant? So you're saying Malta should be a 'presepju'? See, that's not the ultimate takedown everyone thinks it is. How so? Well first of all, Christmas cribs are pretty… usually. Some of them are even animated! Secondly – and further to my earlier point – they are a cornerstone of the Christian pageantry which, again, speaks to ancient traditions that the Maltese, at least on paper, would be keen to safeguard and show off to others… tour- ists included. You're telling me that Maltese culture is rife with contradiction. Shocking, I know. Would you really want to LIVE inside a crib, though? Living inside it permanently implies I would actually have purchased it. Which is more than most people can say in the current Maltese property market. So the short, albeit cautious, answer to this would be… yes. See you next Christmas, then. Yes, let's fast-forward from the silly to the jolly season as soon as we're able, please. Do say: "Living on a 'vibrant' island that others are keen to visit may have its perks on paper, but jamming Malta up during its hottest months as the climate crisis continues apace is getting less and less fun with each passing year." Don't say: "I laughed when that festa procession was blocked by outdoor restaurant tables. Sue me, because we all get what we deserve in the end." Interview RONALD G. SULTANA Educational 'apartheid' 8-9 The Skinny Malta, shrunk down MICHAEL FALZON 520,000 and counting PAGE 7 No 148 – Summer fun in Malta & Gozo JOSANNE CASSAR Let's stop giving 'bad boys' a free pass PAGE 6 EDITORIAL Expediting justice requires investment PAGE 2 SAVIOUR BALZAN The curious story of Manwel Cuschieri PAGE 5 "We, the middle class, are likely to send our kids to schools that have a good reputation; which we feel reflect our way of life; which bring motivated learners together; and where teachers are accountable"

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