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Pimping out the country

Joseph Muscat
Malta Prime Minister Joseph Muscat. Photo: consilium.europa.eu

Prostitution is alive and well in Malta. I am not referring to the plethora of brothels that line our streets masquerading as “massage parlours,” although frequented exclusively by male customers and operating with complete impunity. Nor am I referring to a metaphorical form of prostitution that has resulted in Malta’s countryside, views, shoreline and public space being pimped out to developers and hotel owners.

I am referring to the shameless and indiscriminate prostitution of Maltese citizenship, not even to the highest bidder, but to just about anyone that can cough up around €1.2 million including fees, investments, bonds, and payments to the government.

Sanctioned by the hallowed halls of Castille, hawked by Ministers in Davos and Pimp-in-Chief Muscat himself around the world, the Malta cash-for-passports scheme provides Maltese and EU citizenship to Russians, Chinese, and entire families of Saudis, able to satisfy some due diligence and transfer a big chunk of cash into the government coffers.

Maltese law firms sell it as a ticket into Europe and the UK, and there are serious doubts on whether applicants actually set foot in the country. ‘Qualifying properties’ have been shown to be nothing more than deserted hovels.

But how exactly does the sale of citizenship align itself with the world’s oldest profession?

First of all, let us examine the way in which women, and citizenship are considered in Malta.

Under the watch of the country’s “most feminist government,” there is state-approved harassment of activists and journalists, a judicial system that consistently fails to adequately punish abusers, the attitude towards pregnant women, the unusually high prevalence of sexual harassment, and of course, the severity of domestic violence. It’s safe to say, Malta is not a great place for women.

The attitude to the sale of citizenship is similar. It is considered the property of the government; something that can be sold and passed around with no moral objections, because after all, it is just a commodity. There’s little or no strings attached – hand over the money, buy or rent a property, tick a few boxes, get the passport and disappear into Europe, probably to set up base in London.

Consider why men decide to procure the services of a prostitute. There are no strings attached, no commitment, no need to buy her flowers or put any effort into wooing her.

There’s no need for dates before you get your way – hand over the money and disappear into the day or night to enjoy the high.

The pimp does very little in the way of due diligence – there are no real background checks, STD checks, character references, hygiene assessments. No one cares as long as he’s flush with cash and is willing to hand it over.

The authorities insist the due diligence checks on applicants for Maltese passports are stringent. Yet, the European Commission just issued a stern warning to Malta, Cyprus and Bulgaria, stating that cash-for-passport programmes had opened Europe to money laundering, tax evasion and organised crime.

Henley & Partners Chairman Christian Kalin told Bloomberg: “If you have a yacht and two aeroplanes, the next thing to get is a Maltese passport, it’s the latest status symbol”.

Just like those hiring escorts, hostesses and prostitutes make men feel good about having a woman on their arm they could never get on their own steam.

Is this the level to which the country has been reduced? Not caring about the consequences for anyone involved, as long as the pockets of a couple of ministers and their enablers are well-lined?

Prostitution, like the sale of citizenship, leads to a moral quagmire in so-called democratic societies fuelled by greed, capitalism, and the pursuance of get-rich-quick schemes designed to benefit the few, at the expense of many.

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