The Malta Independent 20 June 2019, Thursday

Fair is foul and foul is fair

Mark Josef Rapa Saturday, 23 March 2019, 09:19 Last update: about 4 months ago

Last Saturday marked 17 months since the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has promised that “no stone would be left unturned.” Three men have been arrested. The mastermind is still at large. Several have come together to protest the lack of integrity in the investigation of this heinous crime. Their protest and cry for justice, guaranteed under freedom of expression, has been tarnished and interpreted as a vile attack on the current government. Flowers and candles have been binned, posters taken down and writings commemorating the journalist’s death marked over.

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Were one to break down what has taken place over the last 16 months and objectively look at every single episode, one would quickly come to the conclusion that something has gone terribly wrong in this country, which always thought of itself as being the centre of the world: “the best in Europe.” Putting all episodes back together, one prays that it’s only a nightmare which we can wake up soon from. We keep pinching ourselves to wake up but the nightmare is still there.

What has for long been objectively deemed morally wrong (corruption, threats to democracy and individual freedom and laissez faire) has become morally acceptable if not encouraged: If X can get away with it, then so can I. And it is here that society starts breaking down. Laws have for long been enacted to keep social order. With every person who breaks the law and is not brought to justice, the protective wall which social order brings with it starts crumbling. It crumbles even faster when the person who has committed the crime occupies a respectable position, be it a CEO of a corporation or a Member of Parliament. I argue that in the case of the latter, the offence is graver. An unpunished MP represents the statelessness the country is in.

Getting away with murder provides citizens with the right alibi for them to get away with anything which is illegal. To add insult to injury, members of the same government are either covering up each other’s dirty laundry or acting indifferently to what is going on, shying away from cameras or interviews which might find them standing on one leg. If any of these politicians had an ounce of integrity, they would disassociate themselves not merely by saying that Konrad Mizzi, for example, should have resigned, but by actively finding measures to force him out. Failure to act is often more reprehensible than the act itself.

Faced with this scenario and living in such a reality, one would think that a well-meaning group of people fighting to restore democracy and have politicians independently investigated would attract the attention and interest of the entire nation. Not in Malta, however. Holding a politician, or any person for that matter, accountable for their actions – for failing to observe the law and the rule of law they should be promoting – is perceived as evil; the machinations of those who desire to see their country suffer ill repute.

Getting your head around this very warped state of affairs can be overwhelming. It makes one question how this country has managed to stoop so low in terms of social order in such a short time. A twoparty political system where politicians are revered as gods and godfathers, providers of all our needs, does not help. Rather than balancing out beneficence and maleficence, politicians are content to maintain power by manipulating the electorate, sending them hampers, promising jobs, or even delivering home appliances. Where does it all end, I hear you ask? Corrupt practices at a national level tire those fighting for the restoration of equality and justice.

But the fight is still on. The brave faces of the people fighting for our future are still covering the front pages of local and international media. With every clearing of the makeshift memorial by what is now more of a dictatorship than a democracy, the noose tightens around the necks of government officials. The gaffes they keep making at both local and international level make one wonder how the Maltese can still put up with such incompetence and blatant lying. Minister Owen Bonnici’s performance before the EP committee looked like an audition gone terribly wrong, where one is asked to do and say things which are beyond their wit. Watching President Coleiro Preca’s Q&A at Oxford Union was cringeworthy to say the least – possibly worse than sitting through a two-hour meal with in-laws who think their offspring could have done better.

The hurly-burly is not over; many are the moral trajectories which shall trouble those who, through their silence, are supporting the corrupt practices of government officials, who refuse to join those revolting against this unprecedented level of criminal activity and irresponsibility. And neither is the battle lost or won. Sides can and will shift. What is truly fair will be fair and that which is foul will once again be considered foul.

 

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