The Malta Independent 25 February 2020, Tuesday

The significance of the past days’ events

Thursday, 16 January 2020, 11:18 Last update: about 2 months ago

Choosing a party leader and a prime minister used to be done in smoke-filled rooms between party bigwigs, at least in many countries of the world.

Not so in Malta where party leaders, at least after World War II, were always chosen by general conferences.

We have now moved a notch further and the party leaders are now chosen by the paid-up party members. This was done in the PN but there was too much controversy, so much that the issue is still not entirely accepted by the party's base.

Now the system has been tried in the Labour Party and it seems it has been a better success. The winner, Robert Abela, the new prime minister, is now accepted by all and the loser, Chris Fearne, has even accepted to form part of the new Cabinet, which must not have been that easy for him.

Over and above these issues, the country has now seen the last of Joseph Muscat with all the negative baggage that has lately been tagged to his name. It is very significant that the core group which surrounded Dr Muscat has now lost its standing at Castille and the Office of the Prime Minister, although we look forward to see this confirmed over the coming days.

So as of yesterday we now have a new Cabinet but this is almost like a new government, considering the wholesale change that has been made. It is true that the top, key, ministries have remained from the previous one but they were not so involved in what happened under Muscat which we now see involved a tiny group of that Cabinet which is not there any more.

The country, it seems, is now enjoying a new beginning and this should bring about a welcome change, a new impetus, a new environment in the country as a whole. If this indeed happens, the whole country will benefit and the economy, which suffered greatly over the past months, should revive.

For that to happen, however, the due processes of law must be allowed to proceed on their own steam with no interference at all. There are still many ongoing court processes and yet others that have not progressed beyond the initial stage. The country must ensure that whoever is found guilty pays the price for what was done and that there are no more sacred cows in our island.

As the new Cabinet gets going, the country must come to an agreement on what needs to be changed with regards to the Constitution. It has been said that the biggest problem in this regard is lack of enforcement and this is one area where the new Cabinet is called to act with fairness and the appropriate severity. No one is above the law and the culture of impunity must be removed once and for all.

There are then a number of important issues that have been left by the side, so to speak, in the unruly past months but which are all important and essential and which must be tackled.

Chief among these are the declining standards of living which those at the lower reaches of society have been experiencing these past months and years, not so much due to unemployment, which is minimal, but with regards to the unavailability of affordable housing.

The country is facing other challenges, first of all what is being claimed to be a surge in the number of people fleeing from war-torn Libya with as many as 20 boats out at sea and heading towards us.

The new Cabinet is enmeshed in justifiable euphoria at present, but much works awaits them.


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