Eight months ago the country was shocked by the sudden murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia. As the weeks and months dragged on, the shock and anger at the barbarous assassination have been replaced by stupor at the incompetence shown by the police in their investigations into the murder.
This was probably best expressed by MEPs investigating the rule of law in Malta who following their latest visit said “the investigation on the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia is stalling. People we spoke to suspect that the plan may be ensure the blame rests with the three suspected bombers and to eventually let them go free, after 20 months of detention”.
Now some mercenaries disguised as independent thinkers were quick to dismiss these conclusions because they view MEPs with suspicion, or worse, they think MEPs have some hidden agenda to tarnish Malta’s reputation.
These sudden bursts of nativism are reminiscent of the paranoia which gripped Dom Mintoff and his rent-seeking crowd in the 1980s.
MEPs such as Ana Gomes and Sven Geigold, they tell us, are only pursuing re-election in next year’s European Parliament election but unless Portuguese and German voters move en masse to Malta their efforts to investigate institutional failings in Malta will have little effect on their chances of retaining their seat.
Sadly, very little has changed since Caruana Galizia’s murder. The incestuous relationship between parties, independent institutions and big business remains unchanged.
Understandably, her unorthodox methods were not universally condoned but this is exactly what Caruana Galizia battled against. Unfortunately only after her death has the dire state of Maltese democracy been exposed to a wider audience.
Post-Daphne Malta is characterised by the rekindling of non-partisan activism and an ever growing partisan divide.
Unfortunately the bitter tribalism has engulfed the genuinely non-partisan efforts by a small group of people and without wanting to sound defeatist, civil society is selflessly fighting windmills as it is up against a system which expunges all forms of dissent.
The online vitriol aimed at whoever does not toe the Labour and PN line is but one of the symptoms of a system designed to keep the two mainstream parties in power for the benefit of their very generous benefactors.
Whoever dares oppose the status quo is first offered a reward in exchange for silence and if these attempts fail they are then pigeonholed on one side of the political divide, accused of inconsistency and as a last resort ridiculed, abused and dehumanised.
The democratic deficit is also seen in the Labour government’s willingness to allow big and bad businesses to ride roughshod over democracy. Companies, such as Pilatus Bank and Henley and Partners, have the Prime Minister’s blessing to silence journalists and dictate the country’s agenda to further their own interests without any hindrance or resistance.
In the absence of a mass of people large enough to shake up the system, the only shield of protection against these cowardly acts of suppression is found in European institutions and increased scrutiny by national and foreign media.
Otherwise who is going to expose the police and the AG who continue doing the bidding of their political masters. Who else is going to shame independent institutions such as the Malta Financial Services Authority who are captured by the very companies they are supposed to watch over.
This is the Malta which Daphne Caruana Galizia did not like and it would be a travesty to believe that democracy can be reclaimed by simply replacing the party in power with the one sitting on the opposition benches. The country can only be reclaimed if the system is overthrown and replaced with a system designed to serve the interests of the many and not the few.
And this can only happen if people oppose and dissent. Otherwise the only winners are those who do not want us to know who killed Daphne Caruana Galizia and those who rake in the dividends from the status quo.