The Malta Independent 5 December 2020, Saturday

A country in denial

Rachel Borg Saturday, 21 November 2020, 07:09 Last update: about 13 days ago

As we stand and recall the protests by civil society of this time last year, going in to December 2019, that eventually led to resignations from the Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, down and around the office of the government, it becomes clear that denial is the preferred state of the Maltese. 

Serious matters of state and corruption swing on the pendulum, left and right, until they settle on a reasonable spot that allows what goes for normal life in Malta to carry on without change, without interference and in blissful ignorance and forgetfulness.

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This week it was the turn of Konrad Mizzi’s VGH (Vitals Global Healthcare) contract that emerged as the shady deal that it was.  A deal concocted and realized by the Ministry he headed, whether that was Energy or Health or Tourism.  Where he went, it followed and Projects Malta confirm that they had no part in the negotiations or otherwise except for some administrative responsibilities. 

The ex-Minister Mizzi, the ex-Chief of Staff Keith Schembri, the pals at Nexia BT and all their associates who played a part in the set-up and formation of all the infrastructure that kept the projects running on empty, from VGH to Electrogas and to brutal attacks on journalists that had found out the truth about these stolen goods from Hospitals to 17 Black, unfulfilled contracts and then a purpose-built bank to manage the proceeds of corruption remain free and out of the glare of public opinion.

The information of the dealings and wheelings did not end with Konrad Mizzi.  Out came the scandal of the €40 million in tax that should properly have been paid by Electrogas but that was shifted on to Enemalta.

On the local level, the team at the Planning Authority saw the creation of a behemoth or multi-headed beast able to devour all that crossed its path.  Land grabs, demolitions of graded buildings or the absurd and horrible facadism that swallows them up and buries them in an 8- story block.  On to the destruction of trees and agricultural fields for the widening of roads by Transport Malta, making our island a concrete jungle and forcing us into a way of life that is long decried as unhealthy and nowadays replaced by much more environmentally positive planning and design.

But all of this worked its way into the elaborate set-up created to fill the accounts of the few and powerful.

Yet, knowing all of this, people still accept to fall into that space where they can continue to live their life as though it all forms part of the system that will never change. 

In the days of King and Country, the King would tax common people and bestow lands and titles onto their noble Lords and Knights.  Wars have been fought, people rose up, and with peace came democracy and justice.  But it seems, here in Malta we are still stuck in the servitude and worship of the monarch. 

We want to be ruled and we prefer an alpha male who makes mistakes and goes to war.  The idea is that we still get a share of the spoils.  As long as the coins jangle in our purse, we find a way to live with the provenance, no matter whose life it costs and who will have to pay for those wars further down the line.

To think that we have so many scandals, inquiries, accusations, police investigations and stories in the media that continue to reveal wrong-doings from past and present and yet we believe there is progress and prosperity around us enough to keep us peddling forward with full confidence, is awful and sad. 

What a low expectation we have of what a government should be doing for its people and country.  How much further can we fall in our reputation?  Can we continue to ignore the negative financial consequences of corruption and lies?  The complete loss of self-respect by persons who should have been protecting our interests but who instead stood by and allowed the outright pillaging to go, stands as the flag of convenience. 

What can our future be built on?  From where will the need for change arise?  That happy medium, the mediocrity that always took care of problems for those who were able to scratch a living out of foreigners, friends and family was the source of Joseph Muscat’s kingdom. 

Day after day, more of the same, compromising the truth. Twisting the facts and making pacts wherever they can ensure the continuation of the status quo.  Many can be bought who will cover for the other.  Silence follows noise.  Complications are made simple.  It’s you versus me.

Anyone with a brain can judge what is going on and feel desperate.  But anyone who now has a modern 3 bedroomed flat in a safe area will not waste energy and time on looking at the foundations.  That is a matter for the experts and the experts are often wrong, it is said. 

Police bail is enough these days to keep the silence and the calm.  The instructions are clear as they range from serenity to going out to enjoy ourselves in the sea, eating ice-cream and to following projections of how many deaths of our loved ones we can afford.  It is like a ready-made pack that is given out at every election.  A kind-of Do it Yourself kit to plug all the holes and change all the bulbs as they go out. 

As Maltese we do have a skill in constructing something out of nothing and competing with those who had a better advantage than us in becoming someone.  Joseph told us we are the Best in Europe.  We can set our own qualifications and go wherever we want.  Anyone in the European Parliament who says that there are certain rules and regulations to follow when you are part of a democratic order can be dismissed as a trouble-maker and a traitor, according to Joseph and Robert Abela.  The kind of achievement that gives honour to Malta without showering praise and fame onto the socialist regime is simply ignored, if not negatively criticized. 

The protests so, that initiated on the vigils that reminded us that justice had still to be done for Daphne Caruana Galizia and that then led to a civil society and some of the media to come together and stop the denial of justice and of truth, do still go on.  But the spaces they occupy are tight and narrow and it is important that the door does not shut on them as more and more often, whether it is Christmas or summer, bonuses or tax rebates, permits and power, bribes and jobs, the forgetfulness becomes the way of the past, present and future.

 

 

 

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