The Malta Independent 17 August 2019, Saturday

Politics should not be a business

Timothy Alden Sunday, 21 April 2019, 09:57 Last update: about 5 months ago

It is unfortunate that the fact that some Nationalist MPs recently met with Yorgen Fenech of 17 Black comes as a surprise. The fact that politics has become enslaved by profit-seeking entities should be clear to everyone by now, so why do such things still surprise us? To those who have been fighting for the common good and third party politics for the past decades, and to all those secretly hoping to see an end to the two-party system, what transpired was no surprise at all.

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Let me be clear. I am not saying that either of the two Nationalist MPs are necessarily bad people or that they had bad intentions. Nobody ever really sees themselves as the villain in any case, and trying to paint things as purely black or white will always miss the big picture. Yet, the tendrils of crony business have long since strangled the life out of most honest and honourable politics.

It has become next to impossible for the two major political parties to seek the public interest without varying degrees of hypocrisy. Our ruling elite has lost sight of what it means to serve the public interest without terrible compromise.

The two usual parties attempt to portray themselves as champions of the common man and yet, whether Labour or Nationalist, they have merely become demagogues representing hidden hands and carrying out the marketing for dirty deals.

Thus, I do not think that the two Nationalist MPs whose errors of judgement have landed them in hot water should be seen as much worse than many of their colleagues, who not only condone other shady business relationships, as with the db Group, but who now also choose to remain silent. Where is the moral courage?

Having said that, I very much admire that handful of people in the Nationalist Party who have voiced their outrage this week. They are few, but I see in them the brave spirit that epitomised what was best about Forza Nazzjonali - at least as an outspoken pluralistic ideal with an agenda for good governance reform, unafraid to call out corruption. It is those speaking out now who can be taken most seriously. Even then, blind eyes continue to be closed to various other shenanigans, including the selling of passports by Nationalists.

So what is the way forward? As always, I will repeat my call to reform political party financing laws and point to Partit Demokratiku’s policy for a lobbyist register. It is no secret that public land, permits and favours are dished out as part of sponsorship agreements at election time. This needs to stop and, when still permitted through the abuse of loopholes, should at least be recorded in plain sight for all to see.

Politics is not a business – or at least it should not be. Political parties own companies in Malta, many of which have not even submitted their audited accounts to the MFSA for many years. Political parties should not own any businesses at all to begin with, nor should political parties exist as vassals and slaves to private corporate interests. Until our party financing laws are reformed, it will only continue to be more apparent that our main political parties are themselves corporations with slick marketing campaigns. Sometimes, as happened this week, the façade crumbles, and that truth lies exposed for all to see. 

The question is, what are you going to do about it?


Timothy Alden is the deputy leader of Partit Demokratiku and a candidate for Sliema local council.

He can be contacted at [email protected]

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