Petra Caruana Dingli at The Shift News
in

The tip of the iceberg

Emotions are running very high. The gravity of the unfolding situation is overwhelming. The entire country has been described in the press as engulfed by feelings of ‘fear and foreboding’.

The anger of the huge wave of protestors converging daily in the streets of Valletta is described as ‘verging on rage’, as crowds of people express their ‘disgust and outrage’.

Government supporters are said to be in a state of ‘shock and confusion’. Or perceived as ‘heartbroken’, ‘sad’ or ‘hurt’. Some Cabinet ministers reportedly felt physically sick as they were being briefed on developments last week, and at least one shed tears during their late-night meeting.

The Richmond Foundation for mental health problems has warned that people are ‘experiencing deep distress’ and that the current political crisis ‘could have a long-term impact on the nation’s mental health’.

People are crying and arguing. They are shouting and screaming in the streets, every day. Ministers have been pelted with eggs, and their cars were blockaded. The government has stacked up metal barricades in Castille Square and Freedom Square in Valletta to keep people away.

Protests are normally followed by a discussion on how many people attended. That conversation is shelved. Now it is just ‘thousands’. The streets of Valletta are filled with so many people each day that there is no longer any point in counting. The ripples have grown into huge waves, and there is no stopping them now. The crowds are made up of individuals and groups from across the political spectrum.

Some people are shaken with worry that they will be seen as ‘naïve’ or gullible for not having read the signs earlier. They must come to terms with the reality that they did not, in fact, possess the insight and perception into people and politics which they thought they did. In some cases it is sound principles which are lacking.

But many others could sense the smell of crooks all along, and were not duped. They picked up the scent from the start and followed it, persistently, despite being bullied, harassed, ignored and threatened. They have been proven right and justice must be done.

In an alternate reality, Joseph Muscat hopes to govern ‘serenely’ as Prime Minister for another six weeks, until he makes his exit. Some of his diehard fans will surely cheer and clap until his final day. Former minister Konrad Mizzi even took to social media from his parallel universe to express his love for Muscat, and to assure him that their ‘project’ is still alive.

Muscat may still be hoping to control the disaster from his position, but the lid has come off the bottle. The genie is out and will not go back in.

Yesterday Muscat reportedly admitted to the MEP delegation visiting Malta that he felt ‘betrayed’ by Keith Schembri. Let’s get this straight. It is the entire nation that has been betrayed, not Muscat. And Schembri appears to be just the tip of the iceberg, the summit of a hidden mountain of corruption and filth which is finally in meltdown.

Not long ago, MEPs David Casa and Roberta Metsola were called traitors by government sympathisers because they were calling attention to dark clouds of murder and corruption hovering over Malta. But it was not them who betrayed our country, after all, was it? The image of Metsola sternly refusing to shake Muscat’s hand yesterday has gone viral already.

Everyone knows about the problems created by overly close links between politicians and certain types of businessmen. But we are contemplating a worse danger – close links between politicians and big crime.

Muscat is still there. And Schembri is still in the background trying to wield influence. He reportedly phoned PL executive secretary Lydia Abela to warn her off after her husband, PL MP Robert Abela, railed against Muscat at the Thursday meeting at Castille. If so, Schembri is still attempting to pull strings and exert control. He is not gone.

Muscat’s colleagues and supporters have a crucial role to play. This is not a time for weeping, but the time for action. Plenty of muck needs to be raked out. Do it. Clean it up now. Demonstrate that you have backbone, principles and ideals. Show that you are not part of this dirt. Try to salvage the country’s reputation. Mourning your lost dreams can come later. There is a time for everything.

This also applies to the media outlets who did not recognise that they were part of the problem. They helped to forge and then perpetuate this political disaster. They must now push to set things straight.

Joseph Muscat must step down immediately. If he stays on, the situation will get more tense with each passing hour and day, and there is no telling how it will end.

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