The Malta Independent 18 June 2024, Tuesday
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TMIS Editorial: The PM’s illusion of serenity

Sunday, 12 March 2023, 10:30 Last update: about 2 years ago

In his sermon last Sunday, Prime Minister Robert Abela pointed fingers at the Opposition, saying that he will do his utmost not to let the Nationalist Party hinder the country’s serenity.

Maybe Abela is living in a bubble, or his intentions are to, at best, give the impression that all is in good working order or, at worst, mislead his followers.

If he really believes that the country is “serene” then we have a Prime Minister who has deluded himself.

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Maybe Abela thinks that the absence of violence can be described as serenity. Yes, we are thankfully far off from the many violent moments we had in the first part of the 1980s, but this does not mean that there is serenity.

Has the Prime Minister not noticed that, almost every week, and on occasions more than once a week, people are protesting in the streets?

And it is not only the Nationalist Party that is doing so, as it did last Sunday when it organised what was arguably the biggest event that the PN had in the past decade.

Last Wednesday, for example, women’s groups protested against institutional failures that have placed women in danger or resulted in their death.

There have been protests about Comino, smells in Birzebbuga, animal cruelty and over-development. There have been protests against abortion, with the government forced to review its position and try to work its way around the wording of an amendment to a law which, as presented originally, would have led to the legalisation of abortion.

There have been protests when Bernice Cassar was murdered. There have been protests was Jean Paul Sofia was killed when a building under construction collapsed. There have been protests at the end of a trial by jury that acquitted two men accused of the murder of Sion Grech. There have been protests when migrants died in what has become a “sea cemetery”. There have been protests calling for the resignation of people in high places for not doing their duty. Now there are protests about the hospitals deal.

This is aside from the monthly vigils – which are also a form of protest – that have been held on the 16th day of every month in remembrance of murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Some would argue that protests are a healthy part of a democracy. But when they happen, and especially when they happen with so much frequency and on so many different subjects, then it cannot be said that there is serenity.

There is no serenity when a journalist is killed to shut her up. People have been jailed, another is awaiting trial, but justice will not be served until all those who were involved in the plot are brought to book.

There is no serenity when the government pays millions to private companies to run three public hospitals, and a judge does not mince his words in shooting down what he described as a “fraudulent” agreement.

There is no serenity when the country is humbled by being placed on the grey list by the Financial Action Task Force. The PM last Sunday said he was proud that Malta was taken off the grey list in record time. What the PM did not say is that it was through the Labour’ government’s shortcomings that Malta ended up on the grey list. What Abela did not say either is that Malta established a record by becoming the first, and so far, only European Union country to be greylisted by the anti-money laundering watchdog.

There is no serenity when institutions, such as the police and the Attorney General, fail to do their duties properly.

There is no serenity when the culture of impunity continues to reign.

There is no serenity when politicians are not accountable and do not feel they should carry political blame for what happens within their remit.

There is no serenity when the construction industry plays havoc with the environment, takes up what is left of green spaces in an urban setting and more, and rides roughshod over what comes in its way.

There is no serenity when a government changes the law to suit its purposes, as happened with the anti-deadlock mechanism to appoint the Standards Commissioner.

There is no serenity when the government, for unknown reasons, refuses to establish a public inquiry into the death of Jean Paul Sofia.

There is no serenity when an inquiry into the death of Bernice Cassar establishes that there were shortcomings in the “system”, giving the impression that someone is paying the price of this failure when, we all know, no one shoulders responsibility.

There is no serenity when the public is still paying for the perks of a former prime minister who resigned in disgrace, and those of his wife.

There is no serenity when the PM feels comfortable enough to admit he had a contact with a magistrate with whom he discussed sentencing policy.

There is no serenity when people do not feel safe taking a stroll in the capital city, as the PM himself admitted with regard to his daughter.

There is no serenity at all.

 

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