The Malta Independent 19 April 2021, Monday

Respect and happiness

Claudette Buttigieg Thursday, 8 April 2021, 07:43 Last update: about 11 days ago

To say that the past few weeks have brought turmoil to our country is an understatement.

Many people are demanding that Labour politicians show repentance. The demand is not just about the need to say sorry (and mean it). It’s also meant to underline that the crimes with which people who had been protected by Labour are of great severity.

And although, as the song goes, “It’s hard to say I’m sorry,” the question remains: “Is sorry enough?” The answer is unequivocal: No.

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Two weeks ago I wrote about what happened in court and how the events were far from over. So much information is coming out in the courtrooms that it is becoming difficult to keep up. The compilation of evidence in one case merges into the compilation in another case, making it very difficult to distinguish which is which. The main protagonists are the same. The saga continues while truths and lies continue to unfold.

Hearing all this filth is emotionally draining and leaves one sick in the stomach.

While all this is going on, the country (like the rest of the world) is struggling with a pandemic which seems to be turning into something more of an endemic situation with every day that goes by. Many obsessively look at the daily numbers and hope to take the vaccine sooner rather than later.

Meanwhile, other health issues continue to create challenges for the elderly and vulnerable. Heart disease, cancer, strokes, Alzheimer’s and diabetes remain the leading killers demanding attention and care.

Businesses are eager to get back to some sort of normality which will oil the wheels of our economy.

In the middle of all this, Prime Minister Robert Abela is panicking. The scandalous details emerging from the courts continue to depict a very dark picture of sleaze in a system that has failed the country.

Like his predecessor, and for the sake of “continuity”, Abela decides that pulling another rabbit out of the hat is a solution. This time it is a White Paper on Cannabis.

Abela failed to calculate the severity of the evil deeds and filth that need to be covered by this “rabbit.” I think it will take more than just a rabbit this time round. He probably needs all the animals in Noah’s Ark to come out of the hat, two by two, to create the distraction needed!

While the themes of good governance, corruption and all the underhanded dealings related to the Labour government remain a recurring theme which the PN must follow closely, the Opposition has another important role. It must also present itself as an alternative government.

PN has sometimes been accused of being out of touch with what the people want and need — of course our adversaries would say that. All the more reason, therefore, for the PN to leave no room for doubt that it understands our society as it is, and that our policies, needed to give the country a better future, begin from where the country’s at.

We are living in an ever-changing society. People are very concerned about their own well-being and that of their family. In purely simple terms people want to live a happy life in health and comfort.

What this means varies in multiple ways. While for some this may mean living a decent life with no risk of poverty or severe illness, for others it may imply the need to travel and explore. Others may feel the need to live in luxury.

“Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" are enshrined in the United States Declaration of Independence. The first article of our own Constitution also focuses on the need to guarantee the well-being of each individual. It states that “Malta is a democratic republic founded on work and on respect for the fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual.”

“Respect” is the key word. It asks us to be mature, to negotiate our opinion to find a compromise with those who disagree with us. It is not just about tolerance; it’s even more about acceptance.

Of course, when people look to the key figures in our country, particularly the politicians, they want to see this value, and others like it, exemplified. It is the responsibility of all politicians to show respect for their opponents.

We cannot have a Prime Minister who forgets that he once was consultant to the most corrupt Prime Minister of our country. He cannot just appear on his party’s TV station to announce important decisions related to the next steps on COVID or the renewed bilateral relations with Libya.  He cannot say that the Opposition is bothering him and then expect to be taken seriously.

Respect is for those who earn it and deserve it, not for those who expect it and demand it.

In their pursuit of well-being, all the citizens of our country expect us politicians to respect their intelligence, their sense of judgement, their wishes, and their needs. This does not mean that a political party is there to guarantee everything, of course, but politicians and decision makers need fresh ideas to propose to a very demanding electorate. Above all, politicians are to remember they are public servants, not overlords.

Our citizens need opportunities, not favours. They need us to give them space to fulfil themselves and achieve their dreams and goals. That is respect, and frees the path open for the pursuit of happiness.

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