The Malta Independent 18 June 2024, Tuesday
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Reversing a toxic trend

Sunday, 24 September 2023, 09:46 Last update: about 10 months ago

Alexander Mangion

Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi once said that under PN administrations, the Maltese are proud of being Maltese, while under Labour governments they are embarrassed. At the time, on the eve of a significant election, the soundbite wasn’t well received, not to say it was spun out of context.

Today, those words ring more prophetic than ever, as an aura of sheer disappointment seems to have descended on all good willing souls on the island.

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I don’t mean to sound melodramatic but our reputation as a country has taken more hits in the past 10 years, than the Grand Harbour area received bombs during all of the Second World War. It started immediately after the 2013 election as the plan to get rich quickly for the few started to unfold. A long list of scandals varying in significance and magnitude became the order of the day. From untoward communications revealing gross conflicts of interest, to offshore companies and brazen corruption.

And not one single, solitary, resignation or better yet, arraignment.

Revelations of a formal, well-organised scheme designed to take advantage of Malta’s generous social benefits system, in exchange for political milage, was perhaps the ultimate episode in this sordid novel, which disgusted everyone, but absolutely surprised no one.

Because the Labour government never made a secret of its fundamental value of nepotism and favouritism. They have always, since the golden years of the Maċina, till the current iterations, have made favouritism the backbone of power of the party. Dr Sant might have tried to lessen this element to an extent, but we all know what happened there.

It used to be colour TVs or a job mal-gvern. Today it’s a crisp €450 cheque that is sent to the special few at home, on the monthly – nice, clean and effective!

We’ve all seen the bags of oranges on social media, complete with the santa of the local candidate. Same for those famous wine bottles, labelled and ready to be distributed during the next coffee morning. Innocuous gestures of gratitude some might be quick to say, but when placed within the entire context, and considering such gestures are openly advertised on social media, it all starts to quickly make sense.

Surely no one will feel corrupted by a few oranges. But the same can be said for a few hundred euros, and as yet, here we are. It is all extremely relative, and sad.

Let’s not forget those “tax rebate cheques”, sent out with not even the slightest shadow of shame, in the peak of an electoral campaign! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that is how far our political leaders are willing to go. That is how highly they think of you, and how much your vote is worth.

The most infuriating part of all this, is that Joseph Muscat was elected on the principle promise of leading the most meritocratic government in history! “You can disagree with us, but you can surely work with us,” was the biggest joke of the decade!

To add insult to injury, no one is ever brought to justice, as the blindfolded goddess only has eyes for the tiny fish in the pond.

As a young politician I fear that we might have brought about a toxic cultural shift which will be very difficult to address and revert. We must once again start believing in the value of meritocracy, and the dream of succeeding without fear or favour. We need to start once again, teaching our young, that they can make it if they are capable enough, and if they work hard enough.

Sadly, those of such convictions, have long packed up their bags, and relocated in countries where their political inclinations don’t hinder their professional advancements.

We need to work hard to reverse this trend, if we want to ever aspire to a better Malta.

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