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You know things are going to hell when even the ‘positive’ propaganda is messed up.

This is a screenshot from a Facebook advert that was sponsored by the Maltese government’s official Facebook page:

A screenshot of a government advert showcasing Project Green’s latest greenwashing push.

Translated, the message of this neat bit of sophistry becomes: “land that could have been built up will be converted into gardens”. It is directly referring to a government announcement made on Friday in which prime minister Robert Abela set up a press conference to inform us about the government’s incredible act of magnanimity – four vacant plots in Luqa, Kirkop, Lija, and St Julian’s will be transferred from the Lands Authority to Project Green, a state agency which falls under the remit of environment minister Miriam Dalli.

Abela, tone-deaf as ever, figured it would make sense to accompany the announcement with a threat: at the press conference, which was held near the vacant plot in St Julian’s, Abela reportedly stated that 30 apartment blocks could have been built on-site, with the land costing an estimated €20 million. The line is echoed by the propaganda video making the rounds on social media; in fact, the video even includes a crude, somewhat grotesque animation which shows you what the government ‘could have’ done and what it is doing.

Please try to refrain from stampeding all over each other as you make your way towards Castille to pat our prime minister on the back for doing such a great job.

In essence, what the Labour government is saying here is: ‘we clearly don’t give a shit about your endless protests against over-development and rampant construction illegalities across the whole island, but here, as a token of our consideration for your desire to live in a society that is not ruled by bulldozer oligarchs, have these four gardens which will probably take ages to open to the public instead. We could have turned them into more apartment blocks, but since we are so considerate, we’ll refrain from doing so. For now.’

I’m sorry, I beg your fucking pardon?

The Labour Party has indeed mastered the art of plunging a knife nine inches in between the country’s shoulder blades only to then act like God’s gift to mankind when they pull it back out an inch or two. There is never any acknowledgement of the gaping, festering wound that is left behind – on the contrary, you will be targeted and attacked should you dare to point out that the knife is still very much wedged in your back and would someone please take the time to remove it, if it’s not too much trouble.

How else would one describe the fact that for the past eleven years, developers, contractors, and all affiliated enablers have managed to get away with relentless encroachment on public spaces, the reckless, consistent flouting of planning laws and guidelines, and even literal homicide?

Of course, the Labour Party is aware that it has no further credit extensions when it comes to its track record on the environment. The party’s strategists are aware that they are no longer in a position to claim that they will prioritise the environment and that they genuinely care about preserving public spaces and enhancing the quality of the urban and natural environment.

At most, they can vaguely claim that they will now choose to listen to people’s demands and that Project Green is exactly what our doctor ordered, when in actual fact, the manic development malaise runs so deep we now have the dubious privilege of not one, but two members of Cabinet with their own fully fledged, legally dubious hotel businesses.

Project Green is a shambolic mess that has, to date, cost taxpayers more money in free advertising for Labour MEP candidate and former Project Green CEO Steve Ellul than it has in actual projects. As if it wasn’t already obvious that Project Green was just one, big electoral act of sleight of hand, Ellul was immediately replaced by former MFSA boss Joseph Cuschieri, the one and the same who spent more time gallivanting across Europe than he did actually leading the financial regulator he was supposed to lead at a time when the MFSA should have been in overdrive.

You know they are desperate when not only are they effectively congratulating themselves for doing the absolute bare minimum but also lacing that same self-congratulatory act with a poorly concealed threat. It is the equivalent of shooting someone in the leg and then claiming praise for badly stitching up the wound and giving the victim a nasty infection to boot.

The only cure for such a malignant dynamic is to rip it apart entirely.

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