So many have just found out I plan on leaving Malta for good next year (and more will know when they read this.) Many have asked why, and asked me to reconsider, rather than having these conversations with everyone let me tell you all why at the same time. (Feel free to ask questions in comments on here or on Facebook, I will answer them.)
About me (to put some things in context for the rest of the post)
I am a dual national of both Australia and Europe, I am 44 years old, transgender (male to female), single, and have been living in Malta for almost 4 years now. My job is programming, managing and maintaining the Spam and Open Relay Blocking System (SORBS) for Proofpoint Inc. It is a specialist position that no Maltese (or anywhere else in the world) person can have or probably do. The job was created here for me by an American company who wanted to make me happy and has not taken anything from Maltese persons, in fact it gives Malta more than €50,000 in taxes every year that it would not have had if I had not chosen to stay in Malta.
So why am I leaving?
Well basically there are many reasons, some trivial, some not, but here they are in no particular order (and perhaps someone/everyone should post this to Prime Minister Joseph Muscat as many of these relate to Malta… oh and the Police Commissioner Mr Peter Paul Zammit as some of these concern him…)
My truck and bike: I have been living in Malta for nearly 4 years now (I landed here October 20, 2009) and around 6 month later my personal effects turned up in two containers, one which was the household stuff, the other which was my Truck, my Bike and a few other personal effects in the truck. I spent weeks going to and from Transport Malta and Customs Malta trying to get the last of the paperwork signed so these could be released to me. Customs at this point were helpful and Transport Malta (then the ADT) were not, they were blocking the process by not signing off on one piece of the paperwork. Their excuse I needed to get the truck inspected and valued and pay the tax on it (some €8000+ on the truck and another €2500 on the bike) before they would sign, I even got a personal import exemption for the €8000 in tax, and presented this letter to the Manager at the ADT Hall involved, and he said it was only a temporary exemption and therefore would not sign. The permanent exemption/exemption process was not possible to complete until after the police inspection. Customs on the other hand would not unseal the container or allow the inspection until after the release form was signed… Stalemate. over 40 hours of waiting in lines at the ADT hall to get told the same thing over and over again – even with signed and stamped letters from Customs saying they need the signature for the release before the truck and bike could be inspected.
I got a lawyer involved and started proceedings with the European Court, only to be told that the case had to be resolved (for better or worse) in Malta first… another dead end…
I employed a local agent who was familiar with these things… 12 month later he was no further forward.
I was on the point of giving up when a friend told me he was the customer services manager for Transport Malta and I told him of my woes, he offered to take a look and help, 6 month later I finally got all the paperwork back from the agent and presented it to my friend, who went about looking into it, he said we should (will need to) wait until after the general election as most of the computer systems were frozen pending the un-certified/approved budget from the old government. We waited, he then got to work on it in his spare time, he could find no reason why the paper was not signed and suggested we get all the paperwork together and he would ensure it would be signed. All I would need is to get the letter from the tax department for the exemption renewed, so I started getting that together, but before I completed it I was driving back from Naxxar, when low and behold my truck drove past me. I pursued it until the driver finally pulled over to ask me what was the problem, I told him the truck was supposed to be in a bind yard in Hal-Far, he told me it was bought at a customs auction some 18 month prior by one ‘Xelinu’ for just €6500 the pair (they had the bike as well)…!
I went into action and called everyone I knew, lawyer, friend at Transport Malta, friends in the Malta Police and a couple of friends of the new ‘owner’ to confirm what had happened. I (on instruction) went to see each individually, and found out a number of things…
- The truck and bike were indeed sold at auction in June/July 2011 for around €6500.
- The truck had been registered as a 2.2 Diesel Toyota Hi-Lux from Europe (no tax paid, even though customs know it was a nitrous oxide powered 3500cc petrol v8 custom from Australia.)
- There is no paperwork regarding the notification of auction (or intent to confiscate) at customs (they have since asked my lawyer for the dates I was not in the country, rather than just providing the receipt, no doubt so they can cover the sale and make it ‘legal’ by producing fake letters (as in not sent at the time) and date stamps for the period I was away.)
- The vehicle inspection by the Pulizija failed to see the big V8 or hear the roar of the race engine with 3 inch custom build racing exhaust, instead marking it off as a noisy old (1987) 2.2 Diesel Toyota Hi-Lux.
- I have no chance of getting any of them back, my only option being to sue the government of Malta for their value (and to replace them, that will be around some €100,000.)
- Customs are stone-walling my Lawyer requiring her to provide the dates I was out of Malta around the time they say they sent the confiscation notification.
Everyone who has looked at it suspects there is corruption involved, whether it be a complete ‘inside job’ or whether it was just paying off people to sign the right forms and ignore what is right in front of their eyes I doubt no-one will know.
It should also be noted that the truck had been mine since 1999, and I had hand built the engine myself I bought it and paid the Tax (VAT) on it in the UK, I then moved to Australia and the truck went with me, where I paid, GST on it (GST = VAT for Australians).. I still hold all the paperwork in relation to the tax paid, and no person in Malta has the authority or knowledge how to retrieve copies of that information, so as far as Malta knows (and can prove) the truck is an Australian 3500cc Custom V8 Toyota Hi-Lux, which would require some €18,000 in tax (still €8000+ when you know it came from the UK.)
Finally on this topic, a few days after making my inquries and posting the pictures of my Truck and it’s new number plates, I received a visit from the local police telling me to remove the photos and posts. I refused, but was told in no uncertain terms I may be taken to court over it as, and I quote, “You can’t post things like that on the Internet”… someone obviously is worried that a V8 Australian Truck being registered as a UK born 2.2 Diesel is going to cost them their job.
EDIT: Some have asked about the truck, here’s a couple of pictures of it here in Malta now with it’s new “Owner”..
Dating and Love life: It has become very apparent there is no chance of me finding happiness in Malta, being a Pre-Op Transgender person (Male to Female) I am a girl in real life, those that have lived and/or know me extremely well, have said I am predominantly Female in both looks and actions, but with a few Male traits (eg my voice, my competitive nature, and my control over my life – I know where I’m going, and how to get there and by golly I’m going to do it!) So to all intents and purposes I am a woman, even though I am ‘Pre-Op’ (ie I still have working ‘boy bits’).
Being female every day of my life and having female on my ID card and passport is my attained goal… so I am happy. However, that means as I date girls and only girls I am a lesbian (by definition) and here lies the problem. ‘Straight’ girls, whether they like me or not, see me as a woman and therefore will not risk the views of others by dating me. ‘Lesbian’ girls on the other hand see me as ‘male’ because I still have my ‘boy bits’ and therefore they will not date me based on the sole premise of what happens in the bedroom.
Then there is men, I’m not interested (sorry) but I really am not… and it’s especially insulting and degrading when those horrible little fat Mediterranean men that cannot admit they are gay want me to help them ‘experiment with their sexuality’ .. Seriously? You want me to jump in bed with you so you can date ‘a girl that is not’ so you can fulfil your sexual desires at my expense?!?!?!?
Since being in Malta I’ve dated three people, all of which are foreigners, and for less than 2 months in total (physical contact – 5-6 months if you include the 3 months with Jessica when she and I were dating over the phone as she’s in America) and all of which broke up because of the involvement of other people from Malta. The one person in Malta who I think would/wants to date me, has told me outright she dare not because she would lose her career, and as such she has had to be very careful even being seen with me (and they will remain nameless, even to friends to respect her safety!)
ARMS (Automated Revenue Management Services): Well the latest bill is some €38,799, apparently their lawyer wants to meet me and mine to try and come to a resolution, but I’m sure they will not change anything apart from raise the stakes. Personally I have had 2 additional meters added to my electrical system, the first of which is to check the accuracy of the ARMS’ meter and the second to tell me what is actually used by my business and office… and it’s around 80% of my bill… This means that if ARMS actually tries to charge me for the business and home separately (as I suspect might be their intent to try, and the reason they are refusing to change me to commercial rates) my bills will be reduced to 25% of their original.
I’m waiting for the lawyers to sort out a date and will update later.
MEPA (Malta Environment and Planning Authority): So I want to make some changes to my house, and despite houses getting torn down and ugly flats several times the height of my house being built in their place they have (to date) refused my plans on turning the top floor of my house into a rooftop garden and master bedroom (not increasing the height I might add.) However, apparently my plans are no in conformance with the local policy… seems I can’t have a roof top garden, but I could knock it all down and turn it into a 6 story monstrosity that blocks the views of all my neighbours.
Continual Discrimination and Racism: Now, I have some wonderful Maltese friends and I know none of them are guilty of the following, but I also know many of them also suffer because of the people I am going to refer to, and some of them are Maltese themselves. These are the people that refer to me as a ‘weirdo’, as someone ‘un-holy’, as a ‘non human’ and/or ‘a gay man’. These are the people that are of the opinion that they are Maltese and anyone with Tattoos, Piercings (other than ears only), that are gay (or lesbian), that listen to rock and heavy metal music, or just are not Maltese are all horrible foreigners that destroy society and should go home. These are the people not only that some will call ‘peasants’ but also those in government positions who keep holding on to policies like paying 30% more for electricity and water (even though some of us foster 3-6 Maltese children, or like me pay more in a month in income tax than most Maltese do in a year)… On the subject of my job it is not taken from a Maltese person, it was brought here, it is not from a Maltese company, it is from a US based company that created a company in Malta specifically to pay me and for me to live here to keep me happy rather than force me to move to the USA…. Yes guys, gals, all you readers, my job is paying tax (a considerable amount) into the Maltese community because I chose to be here in Malta rather than live in the ‘land of the free’.. at no point have I gone out of my way to avoid tax, nor do I do as most others and employ an accountant to strip every little cent back I can from my tax… I could, if I wanted to, recover some €40,000 a year in paid tax, however I believe that people should contribute to the community and not be selfish… I guess people are right, I am a weirdo… when have you heard of anyone happy to be paying more tax to the community than necessary.
EDIT: …and who can forget yet another example of discrimination, arrogance and racism us ‘Alien’s get.. the Joe Debono Grech incident at Malta International Airport!
The church and religion: A tough subject, one that commenting will probably upset some. My father was Catholic, my mother is Church of England, I was baptised in the Church of England. I am not religious, I am a firm believer that the church and religion (all of them) are man made devices to make other men richer in the guise of everlasting after life… to give people hope that there is something after dying, that they won’t just cease. Well newsflash, I don’t know whether there is something after we die, I don’t really care (I do hope there is) but I am also sure that none of the religions on this planet are right, and I am firmly in the belief that my rights as a person allow me to think and live that. I am also firmly in the belief that anyone else has the right to believe in religion of any different type they choose. I also believe no-one should be persecuted because their belief is different from yours. Deal with it! Live and let live appears in most scriptures of most religions… so why do you criticise others? Leave me to my beliefs and I will leave you to yours, providing you do not interfere with others’ choices.
For the record, I had a discussion with a policy maker of the Catholic Church (appointed by the Vatican) and he told me as someone Transgender God loves me and I would not be denied the Catholic faith, because I date Girls and not Guys and that I was born male, the church they do not consider me gay and in fact would allow me to get married to a woman – in Church! This leads to a lovely situation in Malta… Legally (according to the government) I cannot get married to a girl however, the catholic church in Malta will marry me! (The church’s position is on the provision that I do not have any body mutilating genital surgery, which policy would prevent me from entering the church after such.)
My Birthday and the Aftermath: Well Saturday was my birthday and as previous years I arranged a birthday party, and as usual I chose to organise it in Remedy (upstairs of Coconut Grove in Paceville) and like other years it was well attended, though unlike previous years it was not without it’s drama or problems. Some uninvited people turned up, and whilst I didn’t have a problem with that, one person chose to bring drama, and as such successfully upset me (they will remain nameless here, but they know who they are.) Others I was surprised about and whilst I had put a ban on the ex-boyfriend of because I knew they would be the root of some drama, I wasn’t sure if it would be drama free. I was very pleasantly surprised when Joan therefore enjoyed the party and at the end when I was so drunk I fell asleep in the street she was one of the people that asked if I needed help and offered to take me home and make sure I got there safe. Joan, my thanks, very unexpected and appreciated!
The other drama that happened was the police got a complaint about the noise, and they decided that rather talk to the organiser of the party they would just report the bar owner and manager to the justice system, and now it is expected that a fine of around €1200 will be levied, not to mention that both persons will be required to take a day off to attend court. So Commissioner of Police, my call for you is to have your people contact me (see http://www.mhix.org/ for my details) and cite me as the party organiser and squash/release the owner and manager of the bar as it was nothing to do with them, I was the organiser, and the person responsible as it was a private party, I had hired the room and my staff ignored the sound level provisions so it is my fault and my fault alone. Please allow me to take responsibility under the law and make things right by removing the charges against the innocent!
What I do for the community (and the resulting jealously): Many of you know me though my photographing of various events and bands. Some people have been going out of their way (recommending to boards and committees) that I am refused photographer passes to some events, some have been traced back to specific people who run their own photographic businesses and are therefore unable to charge for attendance because I offer my services for free, for the community. Others do it because they fit in the class of the racist and discriminatory people, some I suspect are both. Well to stop that, it requires those who would have me attend to stop those that would stop me, but they are often too afraid of saying or doing anything because they themselves may loose their passes or in some cases may be replaced with other acts. Personally I think those responsible are the lowest of the low and should be removed from their positions as should happen to people in jobs of power like the government offices that continue to discriminate.
So where does that leave me? Well I’ve decided Malta will not be right both politically and socially for many years yet. The discrimination and racism in Malta will continue unabated with people blaming everyone else rather than take responsibility for their actions. I will never be personally happy here in Malta, and as such I have spoken to my employer and told them I intent to leave Malta for good soon, and they have a choice of where I go. They can request a permanent residence VISA (green card) for the USA and I will move to the head office, or if they fail to obtain that, I will move back home to Australia. When will it happen? Well today (August 29, 2013) my boss should be getting a meeting together with the HR department and starting the process, it is likely to take at least 6-12 months, and is certain not to be before Christmas 2013. As soon as I have an answer on my USA VISA (approval or refusal) my house will be put up for sale and when the sale completes I will leave Malta for good… I will miss many people and some wonderful friends, but for once I need to be selfish and think of me instead of others. Thank you all the wonderful people that have made Malta my home over the last few years and I hope to see you all in the future some time.
I do not expect things to change, but in the highly unlikely event of major changes to the above (ie most of them getting resolved – not just empty promises of change) I will reconsider leaving.