The Malta Independent 30 May 2020, Saturday

Don’t worry it’s just a few millions

Victor Calleja Sunday, 17 May 2020, 08:35 Last update: about 12 days ago

Imagine a few men and women decide to tell everyone about their good, or seemingly good, actions. They advertise on social media to make sure all Malta and beyond knows about them. Then these good men and women find a way, by stealth and wile, to make use of someone else’s money to pay for their adverts.

In other words, they take money which is not theirs. This would be terrible and if it was my money they took I would definitely be angry and demand justice.


In my imagined scenario these scoundrels who made use of others’ cash were ordinary citizens. They were not ministers and didn’t rank high in the hierarchy of authorities. They were definitely not people who enjoyed the special title of “honourable”.

If my imagined citizens did anything dishonourable, like taking someone else’s money, by guile, to pay for their idiocy, they would suffer dire consequences.

When ministers - those most honourable of people – abuse of public monies to further their own profile, they are setting a terrible example. And repaying that money is not enough.

Lately Dr George Hyzler, the Standards Commissioner, had this to say about ministers and parliamentary secretaries:

"In this way they are using public resources to raise their own personal and political profiles. This represents misuse of public resources and a blurring of their roles as members of the executive and as politicians. This practice should be discontinued.”

Our life is riddled enough with sad stories of money pilfered, corruption, people who get away with all sorts of misdemeanours.

When money from the public coffers ends up being misused there should be more remedial action. Besides repayment, the miscreants should suffer consequences.

Squandering or abusing of a few or millions of euro makes no difference. The relevance is the act that makes you – especially if in a position of trust – guilty and wrong.

The fact that this is a time where the fine line between party and government is constantly broken makes this wrongdoing graver still. This line is broken so often that ministers, even the prime minister, end up delivering political harangues while on official duty. And hardly anyone cares because we have bigger problems to worry about.

The money which was used wrongly needs to be paid back but the buck does not stop there. Or should not at least. Because, by that reasoning, if a common citizen is caught stealing money all he needs to do is return it to the people he stole it from, mumble a few words of apology and repentance, and all is fine with the world. Or the common citizen can say, as the ministers seem to have done, that they did not know what the rules were about spending money on social media.

To be fair, government has now accepted strict guidelines which will, one likes to hope, be adhered to by all ministers and parliamentary secretaries. But nothing has been said or done about the money, or the wrong that was committed by the ministers and parliamentary secretaries. As usual these honourable people get away with everything.

This country is led by a band of the least trustworthy of people, yet Malta’s citizens applaud their leaders to high heaven.

Now his future is with the stars

Victor Calleja writes about Jonathan Chetcuti, a man who passed away but whose smile still inspires many.

What is a smile or a laugh? They are liberating feelings of happiness which engulf us. Smiles and laughter multiply into more smiles and more laughter and add something magical to love and life. When a man like Jonathan Chetcuti passes away, his smile, his eternally ebullient smile, lives on forever.

Even at the end Jon never gave up hope and never stopped smiling. He was full of life and will always be remembered for his boyish swagger, his jocular yet most caring self.

What’s the point of another tribute when all has been said and written about him? When the media has showered him with so many beautiful words, words which show he was a man much loved?

Just as laughs are always welcome, words about this man who enjoyed life to the full are never too many. If only we could all emulate him. Mourning him will not get him back but smiling will definitely reflect his sunny side back at us.

Jon was always the smiling giant, not only because of his height. He towered over others with his terribly contagious positiveness.

I got to know him through my daughter, Christa. Jon’s sister, Alison, has been Christa’s closest friend since they were four years old. From that age, when Jon was just under 10, he already had that glint in his eye which would never leave him.

He played pranks from that age onwards but lived his life caring most graciously for everyone around him. He turned little disasters and mishaps into fun happenings and made all around him realise that life is too beautiful to waste it in worrying unduly.

Even if a generation separated us, Jon taught me, or at least reinforced in me, that a smile, a laugh, a joke, conquers all.

The joker Jon, the physical one is now no more. Yet he smiles on in eternity.

I look up and picture him in the skies above, making light of our woes, our tears, our worldliness.

May we all, especially in these days of worldwide uncertainty, be like him in all he did, be it work, fun, family or sport: enjoyed everything to the full.

Smile down Jon, especially on your son, Gigi, your wife Elaine, your parents Monica and Hector, your sister Alison, her husband Hugh and their daughters Sophia and Anna, your mother-in-law and brother-in-law, your aunts, uncles, and cousins and all your family, friends and colleagues.  

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