In recent weeks, the world has turned its eyes on Malta and this has made many uncomfortable. Unfortunately, the discomfort does not originate solely from concerns about the state of our democracy.
The unshakeable narrative regurgitated by Labour apologists and stalwarts demonstrates that many are still blinded by insular nationalism. Others simply put the party they belong to above anything else. Others simply have too much to lose.
Former Labour leader and now MEP Alfred Sant dismissed claims that the rule of law in Malta is under threat as “misinformation”. This tallied with the narrative that negative reports in the international press and critical assessments by EU actors are nothing but an orchestrated campaign by the Opposition to tarnish Malta’s reputation.
The message from Castille is clear: Malta’s institutions are trusted by the majority of people, Labour has won two consecutive elections and whoever dares to criticise its actions (or inaction) is not respecting the people’s sovereignty and is a threat to national unity.
They want us to believe that all is well. We are told that calls for the resignation of the Police Commissioner and the Attorney General are misguided and treacherous. It will not change anything. The country should unite behind the government and have blind faith in the Executive that has promised us more wealth and better (selective) rights.
This implies that whoever is flagging the deteriorating state of affairs in Malta, including the majority of MEPs belonging to all parties, are at best incompetent and gullible, and at worst Enemies of the State.
But let us go back to the argument that there is absolutely no reason for Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar and Attorney General Peter Grech to resign. Whoever claims that their removal will not bring any tangible change must either be happy with the status quo, or has entirely given up on this country.
They should not be removed because they enjoy the trust of the ‘partitocracy.’ They should be removed because they have failed us. They have failed to investigate the offshore interests of Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri. They have failed to guarantee the basic maxim of equality before the law.
True, they cannot be blamed for the deterioration of the rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights, including freedom of the media and the independence of the police and the judiciary. But they are unable to address these problems because they are kept on a leash. That is why we so critically need new mechanisms to guarantee the separation of powers.
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat told Labour supporters that he “aspires that the next generation will be the wealthiest, with more rights, and the generation which is proudest of its country.” More wealth and economic growth do not translate into a better quality of life for the majority of people.
There is much more to life than money and luxury. Serenity, democracy and justice cannot be sacrificed at the altar of greed. Muscat should ensure the basic human rights of all people living in the country are upheld, before making grand promises to increase them.
Before embarking on new crusades to distract us from the deep cracks in the edifice, Muscat should work on the basics. For a start I am not proud of how we treat the most vulnerable. I am not proud of the growing social and economic inequalities. I am not proud of the tribalism which seeps into every aspect of our lives. I am not proud of a State hijacked by the partitocracy.
Murders commissioned by organised crime remain unresolved. The police do not have adequate resources to protect citizens. Police Commissioners, judges, magistrates, FIAU investigators, attorney generals, and all other State institutions meant to ensure the rule of law is applied, are pawns in the hands of the Establishment.
The bottom line is that Malta’s bill of health is far from clean, and we cannot trust the two major political parties to do anything about it. Despite the genuine attempts of a few brave women and men to change the parties from within, the leadership of both big parties is compromised. Crooks have no will to change the status quo. Crooks look after each other.
This leaves us citizens with no option but to organise ourselves, demand change and make it happen. Ultimately, the power of crooks can only be usurped by the people. The journey is long, and the partitocracy will not give up easily.
We should not wait for things to get worse before they get better. The cracks in the edifice are too deep to be plastered over. We need to build a new dwelling which we can all happily call home.