The Malta Independent 13 November 2019, Wednesday

Snakes and Ladders

Timothy Alden Sunday, 30 June 2019, 15:39 Last update: about 6 months ago

In Brussels, Europe’s leading officials – who very few people can actually name – are convening to decide who takes the top jobs in Europe. Joseph Muscat famously harbours ambitions for such a post. Unfortunately for him, Malta’s reputation is in tatters and, as captain of the ship, he finds himself responsible for it.

In the Venice Commission report, it was made clear that the Prime Minister has too much power in Malta. Not just Joseph Muscat, but any Prime Minister. The concentration of power in his hands is near absolute. Responsibility lies with him. However, he has proven unwilling to give up any power, and even the reforms that he has promised to enact have resulted in half-measures. The splitting of the Attorney General’s Office, for example, is undermined by the fact that the Prime Minister will still get to pick the people for both roles. Yet, according to the same report, he should be giving up the power to do so.

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By ignoring the reforms proposed by Malta’s most credible critics –  international watchdogs – Joseph Muscat further closed the doors on his own chances of a top job, despite his alliance with French President Macron.

All too often, Malta’s politicians are letting down our civil service. Our most diligent public servants, many having worked under previous administrations, are now being blamed for the failures of our government to enact proper diplomacy. Those trying to do a good job in the MFSA, FSA and other public bodies are now being made the scapegoats of poor political judgements. By trying to circumvent the laws of our land, our politicians have endangered the livelihoods and credibility of our national watchdogs and public institutions. We may have the best financial and business laws, but they are no use if they do not apply equally to everyone.

Blaming Opposition politicians for blowing the whistle on Malta’s problems is not going to convince anyone abroad that Malta is perfect and should not be criticised. We must accept criticism with a straight back and the humility to implement the necessary reforms in question, without trying to wriggle out of our responsibility. Do we really prefer to be know-it-alls and refuse all help in making Malta a stronger democracy?

Joseph Muscat’s handling of Malta’s reputation has been a clear failure, due to his inability to keep a clean ship. It is evident by his obstacles to getting a European top job. He is blaming the sailors for telling him the ship needs cleaning. Hopefully, the rest of the crew wakes up.

Muscat has tarnished the reputation of our public servants. Many are actually doing their best to develop the right policies while trying to keep us competitive and adherent to international standards and best practices. Yet they still get viewed with suspicion. Equally, Joseph Muscat has let down fellow politicians in the Labour Party who are just trying to do a good job, and who end up complicit with monkey business. Why was Neville Gafa in a delegation to Libya?

Malta deserves to enjoy the reforms that will improve our lives and well-being, not the ones designed to cover up poor decisions. After all, we are now watching a conflict between the Kamra Tal-Periti and the government as a result of rushed and insincere policies.

I want to see Malta succeed on the world stage. We need to keep a clean ship here at home in order to be upstanding examples to the rest of Europe. That way we can make use of our full diplomatic clout with dignity and respect and that respect can grow. As it does, Malta will be able to contest the leading posts in Europe, due to our good reputation. Who knows, it might be a path to the European Presidency someday. If Luxembourg can do it, so can we.

 

Timothy Alden is the Deputy leader of Partit Demokratiku

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