The supposed Leader of the Free World tried his hand at suggesting possible rapid cures for coronavirus. The vast majority of the said free world listened aghast as he shifted from ideas involving the injection of disinfectant to large doses of UV exposure. It was a bit of a ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ approach, only this was not grandma ordering you to guzzle down her leek and potato soup.
Sure enough, within hours of being summarily ridiculed (again), El Supremo claimed that his earlier foray into applied science was only intended as some form of Trumpian sarcasm. Still, in a tweet on Sunday he vowed never again to address what he calls “Lamestream Media” and their hostile (sic) questions. The US has now leapt to the top of the dreaded table of deaths by COVID-19.
In a not too different corner of the earth, a different Supremo hit the headlines due to his absence. Rumour has it that North Korea’s leader has either kicked the bucket or is in very close proximity. News from the Northern half of the Korean peninsula gets to the rest of the world in a very haphazard fashion.
Not too unlike Trump’s confused PR campaigns, the North Koreans are wont to a touch of “huge”, a dash of “tremendous” and a little dose of ‘Make North Korea Great’ again no matter the topic.
As for COVID-19 and North Korea – no sign. A joke was doing the rounds that when the health minister for North Korea announced that they had no more cases of COVID-19 patients, a journalist (it’s a joke… so bear with me) asked about the cure. The reply received was, “cure? What cure?”
We will never know the truth because the North Koreans are as communicative as Trump after a press conference gone wrong.
How governments deal with communication is an important aspect of our modern world – now more than ever what with everyone absorbing all information from the confined comfort of their homes. Both Donald and Kim try their damnedest at controlling the message, although probably for different reasons.
I am told that Maltese households religiously wait for the daily updates on coronavirus developments. Professor Charmaine Gauci has turned out to be a great communicator, and this has had positive effects on the government’s image as far as management of the crisis is concerned. Minister Fearne too comes in for some deserved praise.
There is no doubt that, notwithstanding the crippling state of our health infrastructure inherited thanks to Mizzi-Schembri-Muscat dealings, Fearne managed to steer the ship into safe waters.
Speaking of safe waters, one Minister desperate to spin his message on recent events is Foreign Affairs Minister Evarist Bartolo. He has taken to daily epistles on Facebook that make for fascinating reading. His spin is dedicated mainly to “Little Malta” and the adversities it has to face when left alone by “cruel, heartless Europe” to deal with the side effects of a Libya in conflict.
What makes the outbursts of the man, formerly known as Maria l-Maws, fascinating is the sanctimonious faux-humility that peppers every word of his interventions. He has spent the past week reminding his followers (mostly semi-literate Prosit Ministru types) that Libya is a war-torn country abandoned by the EU. Part of his provocation includes the implication that conditions under Gaddafi’s regime were preferable to the situation now (an implication not lost upon his readers).
How can little Malta, in the grip of a pandemic, deal with potentially hundreds of thousands of refugees leaving the shores of Dido’s land? Those nasty EU lords are ignoring the plea of this country of workers who have formerly “died for the foreigner”, and we are left to make impossible decisions such as letting people die at sea.
Bartolo was interviewed on Deutsche Welle on his role in Muscat’s corrupt Cabinet, and he was asked why he failed to act. Then, like now, he seemed to inhabit another world claiming that by staying on (and voting in favour of Muscat repeatedly) he was somehow contributing to making the world a better place.
Now Bartolo weeps for Libya and its abandoned people. He wants us to think that the EU has turned its back on us, and that is why Malta has no blame for what is going on. Tiny Malta.
The long history of Malta and immigration and Libya has been well documented, but I will go back to it once again. The immigration problem did not start today. Neither did problems with our rowdy neighbour down south.
You have to either have no shame or you have to be injecting disinfectant directly into the brain if you are a Minister in his Labour government and unable to notice that a great deal of dabbling with Libya and its leaders was done by people close to the government’s chest. Neville Gafa’ comes to mind. Has Bartolo asked him any questions about Libya? Any at all?
Like Alex Agius Saliba at the European Parliament, Bartolo does not convince me with his proclaimed love for the nation and his patriotism. He does not convincingly sell the idea that he is genuinely concerned about the plight of Libya and its people.
It is far easier to believe that, just as he has done before, Bartolo is acting out his role as a valiant defender of the people while forming part of an incompetent Cabinet that has the sole motivation of perpetuating Joseph Muscat’s reign of corruption, disguising it as some normality we all need.