The Malta Independent 30 May 2020, Saturday

There is one tree left and yet we chop it down

Victor Calleja Sunday, 5 April 2020, 09:22 Last update: about 3 months ago

Dear Mr Fearne

You don’t know me. And, in these horrendous circumstances, I doubt whether you care much about what I have to tell you.

The optimist in me, however, feels that a few words from an ordinary citizen might ring a little bell of alarm in these horribly alarming days.

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A few more trees have been felled. A few more square centimetres of land have been cleared and are slowly being transformed into more roads, more tarmac and subsequently more cars on our roads.

What, after all, is a tree in the big scheme of things? Why should it stand in the way of the relentless surge to modernise, add splendid thoroughfares, and turn the whole country into one huge metropolis?

If only that lone tree, or few trees felled, had the power to protest, to speak freely, to move and show their anger. Anger not at being decimated, but anger and sadness for our future.

Each tree felled, each piece of land taken by the rapacious developers will cost us dearly. And you, a doctor, a surgeon, a wise man, must know this. These developers and road-builders are part of the government of which you are deputy prime minister.

Through experience, you know what it is to be felled, to be betrayed, to be put aside.

You could have been Malta’s prime minister. You should have been the one to lead the country. But you were sidelined, like the tree that was felled, for a reason.

You were too close to the truth, and you were promising too many changes to this country. Changes that scared the Castille cabal led by Joseph Muscat. So they chose their own boy. They showed the way to the hordes of the Labour Party, and you were axed.

That is why I am addressing this to you, not to Robert Abela. He is in cahoots with the old regime; he is a diabolical connection of continuity to what Joseph Muscat and his gang represented.

You have excelled, as a minister of health. Of course you have your faults. People have rightly criticised some aspects of your decisions but, on the whole, your crusade to control the pandemic as best possible has been commendable.

Dr Charmaine Gauci has been a tremendous boon in the country’s plight. It was your decision to give her centre stage. This is when politicians shine. When they move out of the spotlight and let the true experts take over. When they listen to advice which makes sense even if it hurts.

This is where the country in most other aspects has failed. Failed miserably. In education, in finance, in justice. The people in power – your own team – have generally pushed aside the experts, those who know what’s best for the country, and taken the driving seat themselves.

This always shows terrible insecurity. Joseph Muscat at the height of our worst constitutional crisis took on the mantle of justice dispenser, police commissioner and defender of our finance structure. Even when he was totally inept in all, and above all in a blatant conflict of interest.

Others were exactly like him and are like him now.

Even in the case of the lockdown, the prime minister belittled you by contradicting you and, at least in one important aspect of this battle against a virus from hell, overturned your decision. Discord at this time is the last thing we should have; side-lining you in this blatant way was just wrong.

From his pedestal, kept strong by an avaricious few, Robert Abela could not accept that someone knew better than him. In health and in how the pandemic should be treated you surely know more than him and his cronies.

Since Robert Abela took over the reins of the country, life has just about gone on in the old way. There was a change in name but all else is pretty much business as usual.

Abela has now implemented one good thing in the justice sphere, something which will hopefully be the basis of a better future. Instead of bulldozing his way and appointing his own candidate as chief justice, Abela sought consensus. But is this mainly because of foreign scrutiny?

In the same week that he relented regarding the judiciary, he also went ahead with his own idea of the police commissioner’s appointment.

Mr Fearne, you had promised that, if you were prime minister, the police commissioner would need to be approved by two-thirds of MPs. This is what the country expected and what the country deserves.

You are, and have been, a part of this government. So I doubt if I, or anyone, can ever see you as new blood. But the Labour Party has a mandate to continue governing. It was important that no election should take place some months ago. And now that importance has grown even more.

Yet the rot must not, and cannot, go on unabated. That tree, lonely or in clusters, must remain living, giving us oxygen, giving us hope in a time of little hope.

I have very little hope that you will do anything to stop the rot. Not just of the trees but of this government.

In these tough times I would have imagined tarmac, cars, hunting, the horrors at the planning authority and the financial scandals being uncovered, would all have been controlled, curtailed and seen to. I also thought justice would really have been seen to be done and criminals who dabbled in dubious deals would have been apprehended. Or at least ejected from, not exalted by, the Labour Party.

If no one stops the rot now, saving the country from the coronavirus will only lead to a country riven by worse and more insidious viruses. Of corruption, of pollution, of developers with blood on their hands, of a further deterioration in our environment. What is the use of saving us from a virus if we live in a cage turning to rot?

I have hope in you notwithstanding your politics which should shame you for what was allowed to happen in these last years.

I put my trust in you because you seem, behind that political façade, to harbour a caring, loving soul. Most in the medical field must have this soul otherwise they would abandon their work and not risk their life as they are doing right now for the good of society.

I appeal to you to come to your senses and use the same logic and long-term reasoning you have used in the face of a horrendous pandemic. Confront the Prime Minister and tell him that the horror going on in Malta must stop.

If you do nothing and let the horrors happen you will be just another cog in the machine that will grind to a stop irrespective of what you do for its health. If you make a stand you will be a hero for all time.

Mr Fearne, this country needs you just as it needs that tree to stay with us, the living, the survivors of tomorrow.

 

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