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MALTATODAY 2 April 2023

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maltatoday | SUNDAY • 2 APRIL 2023 COMMENT Cocaine's popularity in Malta DANIEL XERRI PAGE 6 The Skinny Malta, shrunk down MICHAEL FALZON A dithering and undecisive PN PAGE 7 RAPHAEL VASSALO Damned if you're 'endangered'; damned if you're not... PAGES 10 & 11 EDITORIAL LGBTIQ rights cannot be taken for granted PAGE 2 JOSANNE CASSAR Who cares about the residents? Let's just close another road PAGE 5 The way cocaine is at times glamourised leads some users to believe that it is safe to use in moderation. However, the evidence shows otherwise; it confirms that the drug can severely impact a person's mental state and behaviour What are we skinning? Malta's an- nual celebration of 'Freedom Day', when the island ostensibly shook off all vestiges of external rule and was allowed to forge ahead towards its destiny as a proud, in- dependent island nation. Why are we skinning it? Because the current government set-up (a Labour Party more neoliberal than any we've had before) and recent scandals involving foreign bodies make it somewhat difficult to feel as if we are all that 'independent' in the first place. Didn't Prime Minister Robert Abela do the torch-lighting ceremony in Bormla thing, though? Ah yes, all's sorted then. Socialism has been validated on the island, and we can rest easy that all of our post-coloni- al fruits remain juicy and eminently edible. What's certainly juicy is the sar- casm that's dripping out of your mouth like fluorescent toxic ooze in an 80s monster movie... Forgive me, but there's a lot to be cynical about the Labour government commemorating Jum il-Ħelsien by rote, this year perhaps above (most) others. Why is that? Well, the Steward/ Vitals Hospitals saga could be seen in some ways as a neo-colonial act of exploitation, aided along by bad actors 'on the ground'. But that happened under Muscat. Sure, and it would have been nice for the current prime minister to not list their achievements in par- liament. This is an individual case though, and the timing is not Abela's fault. Ah, would that it were... How else is Malta not independ- ent? You could argue that the way certain lobbies like the construc- tion industry are in a position to virtually dictate the country's eco- nomic policy goes against any idea of fair, rational and democratic way in which to manage our independ- ent state. That could be overreach. Possibly, so let's focus on more direct and recent statements... like Abela's own Jum il-Ħelsien speech, in fact. What did he say? There were some nice proposals trotted out... like an increase in Children's Allowance and -- wait for it -- stipends. Would have been nicer to give young people the chance to buy their own property, though. That's okay. They'll probably blame it all on workers from third countries spoiling their chances. Do say: "Commemorating Malta's ostensible freedom from colonial rule shouldn't be about patting ourselves on the back... in fact, it's an excellent opportunity to take stock and re-examine just how 'in- dependent' we truly are." Don't say: "The fact that Ħelsien coincides with Duluri should be an irony lost on exactly nobody. Then again, irony is something the Brits may have taken back with them when they left us to our oh-so-Mediterranean devic- es." No. 185 - Freedom & Pain Prime Minister Robert Abela laying a wreath at foot of the Freedom Monument in Birgu

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