The Malta Independent 22 January 2020, Wednesday

The grandeur that was and is no more

Victor Calleja Sunday, 20 October 2019, 09:09 Last update: about 4 months ago

A usually forward-looking man recently said that he wishes to see the Royal Opera House rebuilt in its old style. This symbolises what I think is one of our major faults: we do not want to look ahead and move on.

Of course we should respect what was created in the past – whether good, bad or indifferent and learn from it, but we should build anew. This stands not just for physical, concrete structures but for abstract ones too.


The Maltese Justice System has been grossly misused and abused, and the more time passes, the more years are lost, the more the edifice will crumble because it stands on rotting foundations.

Life changed just over two years ago when Daphne Caruana Galizia was brutally assassinated.

Some people accuse me of being obsessed: of harping on too much about what happened to Daphne and what happened in the aftermath of her assassination. They say I am part of the Daphne faction. This gives me much pleasure.

I am proud to be included with those who care about what happened to Daphne and how this has impinged on Malta. In Malta we might be just a few. On Wednesday, the anniversary of her execution, hardly the whole nation turned out in Valletta to protest, stamp their feet in anger and show that they demand truth and justice.

We are definitely not like the people of Hong Kong or Barcelona, who know how to protest – even in the face of draconian measures, beatings and jail.

We, or the big majority of us, prefer the easy life, letting nothing like the brutal assassination of a journalist worry us, or the total war on her memory and memorial and the total obstruction of an inquiry to find out not just why the murder happened but who could have been behind it and what she was working on when she was murdered.

The edifice in which we lived is no more; it is rotten to the core. It keeps getting a shiny dollop of paint to ostensibly retain its original structure, but the edifice of truth, or real democracy, of unfettered liberty of expression, is gone. And it needs to be rebuilt. Not as it was, on shaky foundations, but in a modern idiom where people in Malta are truly free, where we really have a common heritage of what makes us worthy citizens of the world.

We live in horrendous times. We live in ironical times.

Before Daphne was executed she was a national hurricane: a woman of endless capabilities. Yet even if she was such a sensation here, people abroad in general had not heard of her.

Today, two years after her brutal end, hers is an instantly recognisable name the world over. She and her legacy, her family and her work are now discussed openly and with emotion on the foreign media.

Locally, Daphne continues to be vilified, unnamed by nearly all; completely undocumented as a woman who made a total difference in our lives by our national broadcaster, a media more akin to the North Korean mouthpieces of a tinpot dictator.

People on foreign media speak about her and her exploits but here most try to forget her name.

The throngs of people were not there on Wednesday – the remembrance of our day of shame two years ago. Where were the Prime Minister, the President, the Leader of the Opposition, the Speaker, the Police Commissioner, the ambassadors and sundry top people of a society who should mourn the destruction of an edifice and be ready to build a new one?

Of course they were not there, because they are the cause of the edifice becoming rotten to the core. They can never come to pay homage because they were the perpetrators. Perhaps not the ones who pushed the button, not the ones who paid for the explosives to be planted, but the ones who let it happen under their watch, the ones who vilified her and her search for truth and her unparalleled pursuit of everything that is wrong in our country.

They were not happy with her search so they let her go on alone, undefended and now un-mourned; or mourned by some for a photo opportunity and for political posturing.

It is not the Great Siege monument that needs a public cleansing. It is the institutions of Malta that continue to hide everything that is unsavoury, everything that is rotten.

If we build anew by using the same old names and faces, and do not enforce proper checks and balances, all we will do is pay homage to the old and rebuild the rot in a grand style.

The changes to our society must be not cosmetic but surgically drastic. If that does not come about, and quickly, Daphne and all she stood for will die another million tragic deaths.


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