The Malta Independent 22 October 2018, Monday

Stocktaking

Andrew Azzopardi Wednesday, 3 January 2018, 08:22 Last update: about 11 months ago

This is the time for stocktaking. 

I will be listing a mélange of events that happened in 2017.  I believe that in most, the impact (positive or negative), will spill over in 2018.

·         Trump’s official installation happened at the beginning of 2017, the 45th President of the US.  One year down the line and people are still shocked not only at the choice the American people made but more so by the fact that he has lived up to ‘expectations’ with his divisive language, his virile behaviour and bullish threats to anyone who gets in his way.  What irked me most is the way he has been threatening the media; an act of dimness and diffidence, and this coming from the Leader of the ‘free world’!  This will remain a black spot in American and World history. The unilateral decision of ‘giving’ Jerusalem to Israel was a case in point.  He thinks that politics is about Tweeting senseless statements in 140 characters.  The worrying part of it all is that irrational leaders like Kim Jong-un (North Korea) thrive with this type of ‘leadership’.  In fact, never it seems have we been so close to a major war. What Trump’s legacy will be at the end of his Presidency is for all to see; disunity, disruption and discord.

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·         The iconic Azure Window can now only be seen on postcards.  We lost it forever and I wonder if we could have done more to give this natural beauty a longer shelf-life.  It’s useless crying over spilt milk, we need to see if the promises made to keep this window ‘alive’ in some way or other will happen.

·         During the first half of the year an explosive device was detonated as (mostly) young people were leaving a concert by the American singer Ariana Grande.  The concert was taking place in Manchester Arena (UK).  More than 20 people were killed and hundreds injured.  Once again terrorism left a scar, not the only one during 2017. 

·         The EU Presidency was a great event that focused so much attention on Malta.  It is a pity that it was overshadowed by political nuances at the tail-end.

·         Dr Joseph Muscat’ won the snap election called in June. I have repeated ad nauseam that Joseph Muscat will keep winning as long as he is Leader of the PL.  The narrative of this election was based almost entirely on the Egrant allegations, surfaced by journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, that accused Mrs Muscat, the Prime Minister’s wife, of holding an illicit account.  The whole Country seemed to go into meltdown following these allegations.  The Prime Minister was quick to call anelection (one year before its time).  He won hands down even because the Nationalist Party, under Simon Busuttil’s leadership, did not manage to maximise on these allegations and didn’t seem to have a programme to offer to this Country.  The election in many ways consolidated Joseph Muscat and the PL.  The allegations are still being investigated by Magistrate Aaron Bugeja, an outcome that is expected in 2018.  The potential scenarios of what could happen are boundless.

·         A grim event in 2017 was Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination.  Malta seemed to freeze for those first weeks after her murder. The feeling of horror and distress swept the Maltese Islands. This is a dark spot in the journalistic history in Malta. The arrest of three people charged with this murder give hope that the motive for such a heinous act will bring some light into this obscure and dark story.

·         2017 also saw the setting up of the Civil Society Network.  Whilst I believe that CSN has been commandeered by a particular faction in the political landscape (mostly made up of people I believe are disillusioned by the Nationalist Party), I still think that having another voice in our community is not only legitimate but looked-for.  Democracy is also about these voices.

·         Legislation of same sex-marriage was another milestone for the LGBTQi+ community.  We now need to invest in helping people re-think their attitudes - good legislation on its own is not good enough.

·         After the resignation of Dr Simon Busuttil from Party Leader following the June election, Dr Adrian Delia, an unknown quantity in the political landscape, was elected as the new PN Leader.  Whilst his communicative abilities and the fact that he was never in politics are positives it is still to be seen if his wayward behaviour with the tax-man is anything to go by.  Delia has already given some pointers of how he wants to do politics.  For example, he has softened the pressure from the institutions, is talking ‘reconciliation’ and is trying to take the Nationalist Party back to its grassroots.

·         The Vote 16 White paper should be out by March of this year.  The consultation process was concluded at the end of 2017.  I hope that we manage to help more and more people understand that we stand to gain by the participation of 16 and 17 year olds in the voting experience.  I am optimistic that this will trigger more rights and responsibilities for young people, namely, to contest elections as well.

·         The Faculty for Social Wellbeing that offers courses in Psychology, Social Work and Social Policy, Gender Studies, Disability Studies, Counselling, Family Studies, Social Wellbeing Studies, Youth Studies, Gerontology Studies, Criminology and Community Studies has noted an increase of 24% in its Fresher’s.  This shows that the ‘socially oriented’ professions are still popular amongst young and mature students.  The work that this Faculty is doing in scholarship, mentoring and lecturing students and social engagement and activism is second to none.

·         At the end of November, the Minister for European Affairs and Equality, Dr Helena Dalli launched the much awaited Gender-Based Violence and Domestic Violence Strategy and Action Plan. Stories of violence especially on women have made the news (Nathalie Williams, a case in point).Many, way too many, other silent victims are too afraid to speak up.

·         The record sum collected during this year’s l-Istrina comes as no surprise.  The President has for these last months provided a conciliatory tone that People want so desperately to hear.  I believe that the work that the President’s Foundation, the Malta Community Chest Fund and the President herself provide confidence and keenness to participate. However, I presume all of us agree that the ‘star’ of this year’s Istrina is Katriel.  When the enthusiasm and excitement on this event would have placated we need to speak again on the role of children in public life.

·         The plane that ‘flew’ into Caqnu’s office must be one of the stories that ‘dropped the most jaws’ in this country during 2017.  I can only imagine what the person/s responsible to securing this plane on the airport apron is/are going through knowing they forgot to secure the plane that has now a crushed nose and an endless list of parts that need to be replaced. 

·         If I had to be a policy maker, my priority for this coming year would be to resolve the poverty issue.  When I hear Leonid McKay speak about a home for the dispossessed being at full capacity I worry, especially at a time of surplus and good economic governance.

·         Oh and until this piece was sent to the paper, the notorious escaped pig is still on the loose...if you have any information please do not forward to the abattoir! 

 

Happy New Year!

 

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