The Malta Independent 22 September 2021, Wednesday

Setting the record straight

Alex Muscat Friday, 27 October 2017, 10:38 Last update: about 5 years ago

Daphne Caruana Galizia was one of the most controversial women in Maltese history. She was neither a saint nor a villain. In one article she could do investigative journalism like no other, in the next she could be proliferating gossip and fake news. Her political bias conditioned most of her work. There’s no doubt about it, you either loved her or loathed her.

When I learned of her murder my first reaction was shock, and then came anger. Now it’s the urge to uncover the truth and seek justice, not merely for her family, but for the country. I believe a lot of people feel the same. What happened was unacceptable. It was not only a barbaric attack on the person, but on a whole nation. Whoever is behind this terror attack wanted to send out a very powerful message: that some things are better left uncovered and that there are lines that should not be crossed. But that is exactly what should unite us all at this important juncture of our history.  We should send out a loud and clear message in a united voice that our values are stronger than the fear the perpetrators want to instil.  

ADVERTISEMENT

It should not be surprising that the story was widely covered in the international media. But the way it was covered represents a journalistic void.  Most of the reports failed to investigate and offer a holistic assessment of our country, the victim and the accident. The majority of the coverage was biased and did not dig deep to ascertain the veracity of the facts about our country. The reaction of the Opposition further fomented this approach. The lack of proper investigative journalism about the murder is a major failure on the part of international journalists.

It is puzzling how and why the media painted such a distorted portrait of Malta and got basic facts wrong. They wrote about an atmosphere of impunity and violence that has taken hold of Malta, and supposedly how rotten our state has become. This media coverage means that international audiences were misled and misinformed about our pro civil, peaceful and safe society.  What was their intention? Was this murder being used to promote someone's agenda to taint our reputation?

The reality is that the institutions and the rule of law are as strong here as in the rest of the EU. The authorities have worked hard over the years to ensure a solid reputation of safety and security. This administration worked resolutely to improve freedom of information, including changes in laws on criminal libel and vilification of religion. To label our country as a ‘mafia state’ is beyond ridiculous. The PN trying to politicise the matter does not help. I am confident their antics will backfire politically.

What motivated this murder is not yet clear. As custom in our country a lot of ‘experts’ are now formulating all sorts of theories behind this killing. I am sure nobody is buying the political murder story. It has been reported by segments of the local and foreign media that the blogger was recently investigating Maltese links to a Libya-Italy fuel smuggling racket. Allegedly, a number of other similar killings in recent years have been linked to this racket. I shall not be adding to the speculation as it would add no good to the cause.  The Prime Minister pledged to leave no stone unturned to get to the bottom of this, and bring the perpetrators to justice. Roping in foreign expertise such as the FBI, and offering an unprecedented €1 million reward for useful information, is testimony to this. He has also promised to review existing laws if need be.  It is an extraordinary situation and extraordinary remedies are being taken.

What happened last Monday was an exceptionally sad moment for Malta that will leave an indelebile mark in our history. This murder does not define our nation.  At times like this, people look to leaders for guidance. The only message should be that we are better than this, and that now is the time to stand united. We should rise to the occasion and not allow this event to be used for some political gain. We have endured enough political tribalism in the past.

 

Alex Muscat is a government MP and deputy chief of staff at the Office of the Prime Minister. 

  • don't miss