The Malta Independent 3 October 2023, Tuesday
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Abela’s destruction of language

Kevin Cassar Sunday, 21 May 2023, 07:51 Last update: about 6 months ago

“If there is a political force that can bring about change it is the Labour party in government,” Robert Abela declared. Abela was being ‘interviewed’ by ONE journalist Samuel Lucas. Of course he wasn’t really being interviewed at all.  He was just being read pre-agreed questions and allowed to blabber on. The result - a massive word salad.

Abela has a knack for mangling language, a gift for taking a hatchet to it.  Ominously reminiscent of other autocrats - Putin, Orban, Erdogan, Trump - Abela has a talent for eviscerating words of their meaning.  He uses a word only to flip its meaning on its head. Example: “We’ve seen how development can take place in an intelligent way meaning that development can proceed but at the same time respect the environmental criteria”.


Nobody’s seen that. All we’ve seen is unbridled development, flagrant breaches of planning policies, brazen illegalities and dangerous demolition practices that killed innocent citizens in their homes, destroyed historical structures, uprooted mature trees and massacred the environment. What we’ve seen is Abela hiding the report on Miriam Pace’s death for months - and then ignoring its recommendations.  All we’ve seen is Abela dining with Joseph Portelli and his friends on the eve of an election - and Abela protecting developers at all costs.

“The environmental objectives can only be reached with everybody’s participation including the construction sector,” Abela told the ONE journalist. As public fury over the degradation of the environment mounts, Abela keeps defending developers.  In classical Orwellian doublespeak, Abela’s “environment” means “development”.

ONE pompously announced that Abela was speaking at the end of a week where the Leader made various visits pushing the message of “the need for change”. But for Abela “change” means “more of the same” - more Labour corruption, more Labour cronyism, more of Labour’s conniving with its friends the mega-developers, more Labour looting.

“Our country should look to a future with two important changes - the digital and the environmental change,” Abela explained. He then drifted into more meaningless drivel. “With a digital transition, at the end of the day, we will be giving a service which citizens will benefit from”. What does that even mean?  There was more nonsense. “The prime minister affirmed the importance of an environmental change for our country.  Dr Abela stated that government is being a shoulder for the people to effect the change in a more efficient way”.

Abela is a virtuoso in making words mean nothing - “a shoulder for the people”, “state of the art”, “the best”, “paid the price”, “ambitious”. He is saying nothing and everything at the same time.  Just mere sound filling the air, without any substance.

Speaking of his newly discovered need for “environmental change”, he stated “This is an ambitious change which requires focused work”. And more. “To reach this ambitious target successfully we must be ambitious”.  Just fluff.

He is right about one thing. The Labour party in government is a political force that brings about change.  Sadly, a change for the worse. Abela is right - there is a desperate need for change, real change. A continuity of Labour isn’t change, as Abela wants us to believe. The change we need is a radical change in government - we need people in cabinet and on boards with a semblance of competence. We need responsible sustainable economic policies, a reversal in the massive acceleration in national debt, a halt to exorbitant direct orders, a complete stop to political appointments, protection of journalists, true accountability and transparency.

Instead, Robert Abela has just wiped out all the names of members of government boards and entities. The official website previously listed all the names of persons sitting on government boards.  In one fell swoop Abela expunged all those names. The general public and the media can no longer look up who is sitting on those boards. This is no mistake, no error. This is a planned strategy of secrecy.

The Shift revealed how the wife of Roderick Galdes, Chris Bonnett, and MEP Alex Agius Saliba and the partners of Owen Bonnici and Andy Ellul had been appointed to sit on government boards or given consultant positions despite their eminent lack of expertise in the respective fields. Labour can’t have the public finding out how taxes are being squandered on made-up consultancy posts and board directorships for their MPs’ partners and wives.

Abela’s ‘change’ kills two birds with one stone. It stops the media and the public finding out about their obscene appointments, and the inevitable criticism of Labour’s cronyism. But it also avoids the internal warfare triggered by disgruntled insiders who feel they have been short changed. How come Justyne Caruana gets both a job and a consultancy? Why was Deborah Schembri’s firm paid over 200,000 euro in just two years while others are just paid tens of thousands? Abela’s autocractic change will stop all that moaning from within his own party. Former ONE employees will stop tearing each other apart over who got the biggest iced bun. Dumped members of cabinets will stop bothering him for another consultancy.

These are the changes the political force, that is Labour, brings about. When chief government spokesperson and former ONE employee Edward Montebello was asked why the names of board members were scrubbed out of the government website, he didn’t even bother replying. That’s another change - a chief government spokesperson who doesn’t speak, at all. That’s another change - appointing a spokesperson whose job is to keep silent and cover up Labour’s despicable sprint towards autocracy. Montebello isn’t there to answer legitimate questions. He’s the stone waller in chief. The principal permanent secretary, Tony Sultana, is no better. He too failed to explain the rationale for Abela’s “change”.

Abela’s change ensures the public cannot see who is making decisions.  It ensures the public has no clue who Labour is rewarding for their loyalty, who Labour is buying. 

These are Abela’s changes - full-throttled secrecy and autocracy.  This is not what democracy looks like.



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