“We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office” – Plato
When Joseph Muscat was elected to power in 2013, with the cry for transparency, accountability and meritocracy, he repeatedly referred to a roadmap geared, oiled and ready to go as one of his primary pitches.
He was pretentious enough to say that under his remit Malta would become the best country in Europe. He then went further and declared that Malta was the envy of the world. No joke.
He failed miserably. Malta is not the best in Europe and definitely not envied by anyone. What we got instead is a reputation Malta for corruption – we even feature in Queen of the South series, among others on the subject of laundering dirty money.
Muscat set the construction industry and the sales of passports and citizenship as the major economy pillars sustaining an already strong and flourishing economy built diligently on the basis set by the previous administrations.
Let’s take the construction mess he created. Malta has become a building site with cranes, which I call ‘modern dinosaurs’, adorning the Maltese skyline. Every hole is being built, Outside Development Zones became a phrase to ignore, traditional Maltese houses made way to hundreds of cages, and the greenery of trees and shrubs made way for dull grey concrete.
We know that in Malta there are 600 deaths every year due to respiratory problems. Thousands of adults and children suffer from asthma. Citizens’ quality of life has been sacrificed for pollution, noise and traffic chaos – these are not perceptions.
Contractors can bully the people and hold the government ransom. This is impossible to ignore when Speaker of the House Anglu Farrugia said MDA President Sandro Chetcuti was seen on the infamous fourth floor of the Party – an assertion he repeated when testifying in the public inquiry investigating the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Beyond the lobbying, we know contractors paid protection money to none other than the police to turn a blind eye. Muscat’s blessing made all this ‘progressive’.
It is one huge land rush with developers making big money while they seek to exploit every inch of the islands. The result is clear for all those willing to see. Buildings with no architectural value and others that collapse leaving families homeless. The latest victim was Miriam Pace.
Last year, ‘Getting Things Done’ Ian Borg promised transparency and responsibility when he launched the reform drafted by architect/lawyer/consultant Robert Musumeci for safety in the construction industry. Now the Prime Minister has established a new committee to reform the reform.
Much of the remaining countryside has been taken over by hunters and trappers who occupy vast pieces of land. The silent majority cannot even go on a picnic without being chased away by falling lead pellets. And again, impunity. Joseph’s legacy.
That legacy also includes the Individual Investor Programme, as he branded his sale of European passports and citizenship and the damage of Ali Sadr Hashemi Nejad now facing charges in the US for breach of sanctions and money laundering. He is among another five Maltese citizens who bought a passport and facing high profile trials in foreign jurisdictions – after they passed due diligence processes here with flying colours.
Corruption has ruined Malta, with political crooks pocketing millions and treating the people like sheep. Impunity has infected every institution and all aspects of Maltese lifestyle. In the words of the foreign minister: “A republic built on greed”.
That is not a compliment. Joseph’s legacy is a high-risk country. Its brand is corruption and its reputation is one of a failed democracy.