The Malta Independent 1 March 2021, Monday

Transparency

Alfred Sant MEP Monday, 22 February 2021, 08:00 Last update: about 7 days ago

Perhaps the main rule to follow in the public management of a democratic state is that of transparency – the need for all citizens to get timely information about matters that are being decided. That information has got to be provided in meaningful format about how and why decisions are being taken.

If it is the main rule, it is also one of the most difficult for public managers to observe. For a democracy implies that there is an organised contestation of the current management, even with the aim of stopping decisions that are due to be taken. If correct information is available about what is going on, the contestation can be organised better, not necessarily with genuine intentions.

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So frequently... too frequently... decision makers seek to evade their responsibility to remain transparent. And then two kinds of contestation develop – one against the actual decision that is being taken; the other about the lack of transparency, indeed the obfuscation, that gathers about the decision.

It seems to me that the second line of attack gives rise to a much more insidious problem: it opens up a whole front of claims about corruption, occult friendships and dubious governance.

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RELATIONS WITH CHINA

A joint sitting at the European Parliament between the US and the China inter-praliamentary commissions, was addressed by ex-Australian PM Kevin Rudd, an expert on Chinese affairs. As was to be expected, he gave an excellent presentation about the present aims of China now that the country is reaching economic parity on a global scale with the US.

I was not too suprised by Rudd’s analysis. In the EP plenary I too referred not so long ago to the developing race between the US and China to establish which of the two will become the “greatest” World Superpower.

What surprised and rather worried me was how in the exchanges that followed Rudd’s intervention, it seemed like a view was strongly being held that within a few decades, on some pretext or other, this US-China race would lead to calculations of war between the US and its allies on the one hand, and China and its allies, on the other.

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FAMILY PHOTOS

One derives a special pleasure from turning over “old” family photos to peep at aunts and siblings and cousins years ago, when we all were young. Photos that were taken during family gatherings, First Communions or other religious occasions, weddings, picnics...  Photo records of people on the elderly side will have started in black and white, and then turned to colour...

For those who featured  in such photos, points of reflection would not only cover how time flies by too fast. They would revolve as well around how ways of doing things change with time, as well as do dress styles and behaviours. While the persons who appear in the photos will have remained recognizable and lovable, no matter how many years have passed by on them and on today’s observer as he/she considers how they look in these photos of olden times, it still seems like they were living on another planet. Which triggers again LP Hartley’s dictum: “The past is a foreign country...” 

 

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