The Malta Independent 21 September 2021, Tuesday

TMID Editorial: Politics – The government we deserve

Friday, 23 July 2021, 11:41 Last update: about 3 months ago

Opposition Leader Bernard Grech said he does not like it when people say that the Maltese people get the government they deserve.

When he closed the Nationalist Party’s general council meeting on Saturday, Grech said that if one were to endorse such an idea, it would mean that the Maltese are as corrupt as their government.

Instead, he believes that the Maltese do expect better from their government and they deserve better too. Of course, Grech is saying this from the Opposition benches, which is tantamount to him saying that the PN would be a better choice.

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The next day, on Sunday, Grech said that Abela needs to denounce the legacy of Joseph Muscat to restore Malta’s honour and dignity. Abela must disassociate himself from Muscat, Grech charged, saying Mata cannot remain in Muscat’s shadow.

Over the past eight years the Labour government has done many a good thing. Economic prosperity, a strengthened health system and more civil rights are just three topics on which the PL has been successful. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, the government was in a position to sustain the private sector for a long period of time, while the health services, although under great stress, were able to withstand the onslaught.

But Labour has failed in other areas, most notably in what is known as good governance and the rule of law. Under Joseph Muscat as Prime Minister, a culture of impunity which was compounded by institutions that did not function properly or did not function at all was allowed to fester.

As a result, Malta ended up on the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force. Ironically, it happened with another Prime Minister at the helm. Abela now has to face the consequences of Muscat’s inaction.

Just as much as Muscat was lucky to have not been PM when the world economic crisis hit in 2008-2009 and when the Libyans revolted against Gaddafi two years later, and then resigned in time to avoid the Covid-19 pandemic, he is also lucky not to have to take the country off the grey list. Someone else is bearing the brunt of the problems he swept under the carpet in spite of admonitions from the Opposition, various stakeholders and the independent media.

Matters have improved under Abela. For one thing, the police force is doing its duty and is not shying away from investigating people who need to be investigated, and bringing them to book if there is enough evidence with which to work with in the courts of law. Other decisions such as the way judges and magistrates are appointed are also moves down the right path.

But so much more needs to be done, and Abela has to show more determination. One step in the right direction, for the neutrals, would be for him to denounce Muscat. He has already distanced himself from his predecessor in many ways, but there has never been an outright condemnation of what Muscat did.

It’s probable that this full denouncement will never arrive, given that Muscat is still idolised by the Labour core. Which means that Muscat will remain an albatross around Abela’s neck.

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