The Malta Independent 12 July 2024, Friday
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TMID Editorial: Daphne’s murder - PM plies passports as the world watches Malta

Thursday, 26 October 2017, 13:58 Last update: about 8 years ago

While the world’s eye is closely fixed on Malta in the wake of the slaying of Daphne Caruana Galizia, a journalist who has been celebrated across the globe since her death, the Prime Minister saw it fit to skip off to Dubai to ply more Maltese passports.

The government, after all, is undoubtedly fixated on earning itself another feather in its cap next year by rounding off the next budget with yet another surplus.

As the Prime Minister remarked yesterday, the country cannot grind to a halt because of the tragic circumstances of Caruana Galizia’s murder, but the timing of Muscat’s latest sales pitch is most unfortunate.

It is not because much of the country still finds itself in a state of shocked mourning. It is not because Caruana Galizia had been so steadfastly resolute in her opposition to the passport-selling scheme.  It is because, put simply, this is really not the time to go about bragging about one of the country’s most suspicious activities, suspicious irrespective of endorsements by the European Commission or not. 

This is something the government does not understand: to most nations the notion of citizenship is sacred, it is to be earned legitimately and it is not to be sold at a flat rate at any price.  Making matters worse still is the fact that a Maltese passport equals a European Union passport, a fact that not too long ago, and which is still, a disturbing concept to many of our fellow Europeans.

And it is our fellow EU citizens that have seen the most coverage of the killing of Caruana Galizia, and many of those same fellow EU citizens had taken such exception to Malta selling off EU citizenships to fill the Maltese state coffers.

The government may not give two hoots about what people think about the Individual Investor Programme but the truth is that the Dubai passport convention - which, it is understood, the Prime Minister is contractually obliged to attend under the rules of the government’s agreement with the concessionaires, was a bad idea not only from a national interest standpoint, but also from a pure marketing standpoint.

As far as the national interest is concerned, what people see is a country that is being linked to money laundering, illegal fuel running, the Panama papers, the mafia business and the unprecedented assassination of a journalist that was in the habit of poking her nose into such areas.  Now, an unattached observer may very well reflect, it is even selling passports.  And from a marketing viewpoint, is now, in the wake of Daphne’s murder and multiple accusations of the rule of law having broken down in this country, really the best time to be flogging citizenship?

And what of the Prime Minister’s responsibility at this point in time? 

As opposed to scooting off to Dubai, the Prime Minister yesterday evening should have been in Parliament acceding to the Opposition Leader’s demand for an urgent discussion in the House on the demands put forward by the Civil Society Network to President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca after Sunday’s demonstration in Valletta. Those demands, amongst others, called for the removal of the police commissioner and the attorney general, and for the government to replace them with two other nominees approved by two-thirds of Parliament.

While these are notions the government is clearly unwilling to entertain, the debate needed to be held as urgently as possible given the extent of the public’s concern over the state of affairs and over their perception of the rule of law in the country.

The Prime Minister should have been standing up before the nation to allay those concerns and fears in the wake of one of the most shocking crimes this country has seen, and one which has affected such a wide swath of society.  But instead he is in Dubai selling passports like so much snake oil.

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