Masks, lies and gifts

Prime Minister Robert Abela chose to wear a mask when meeting his EU peers in Brussels. Normally, that fact should not make the news but this is Abela – the man who, like a modern-day Xerxes, dared the waves to stay in the sea.

His defiance of mask-wearing guidelines in Malta in most of his public appearances now sticks out as being even more hypocritical.

The mask is not the biggest issue though. Speaking on the Labour Party’s One radio (where else) Abela described the mechanisms for the allocation of much needed funding to combat the effects of the pandemic.

He explained how “much of the discussion revolved around good governance and rule of law” and how … wait for it… Malta now had the moral authority to talk about these issues at the negotiating table.

There you are, ladies and gentlemen, the blip in the rule of law and governance is over. Abela says it is, so it must be. Only, it isn’t.

For while everybody and his brother has been thrilled by the PN leadership woes that have served as one big distraction, there are no indications on the ground that our problems concerning the rule of law and good governance are anywhere near being solved.

Normality may be Abela’s broken record but no amount of flogging the ocean will get him to stem the tidal wave of facts that prove the contrary.

You see, we may have a vague admission that things were not done correctly in the past. We may have some kind of ‘angry’ reaction whenever the disgusting image of corrupt practices by the disgraced Labour government is brought up. Yet we are far from taking concrete action to bring about real change.

Take his predecessor. Thanks to some digging by this news portal, the disgraced former Prime Minister has been caught in a huge lie.

The not too national Commissioner for Standards let off the disgraced Corrupt Politician of the Year with a rap on the knuckles. His report would suffice for Abela to travel around Europe showing how ‘accountable’ politicians are in our corner of the world.

Are they, Robert? A Prime Minister blatantly living beyond his means and going on sponsored trips to Dubai (of all places) for a whirlwind visit is supposed to be subject to much more scrutiny and discipline than the rap on the knuckles.

Even outside the suspicious context in which Muscat’s trips to Dubai (and London) can be placed, under normal circumstances, the gift receiver should have lost his Party and his place in parliament while extra scrutiny of his activities would be in order.

This is Robert’s normal world though. The institutions are seen to be working so they must be working.

We ignore the fact that they fester in the world of PLPN hegemony, as they have for decades, and that therefore a few cosmetic applications will not really pull us through. Cosmetic like the changes to the residency system intended undoubtedly to appease whoever is preparing our Moneyval report.

Often, whoever is monitoring our nation’s progress in different sectors must make do with whatever proof is offered by the government itself. I have likened this to the police relying on a thief to prove his guilt. Muscat’s government mastered this to gain time when scrutinised by the European Parliament, for example.

Remember that hook concerning “the number of inquiries that are open” or “let justice take its course” or “there’s a libel case open so we cannot talk about this”?

The institutional capture is such that our authorities and judicial system have become the mask behind which to hide the inefficiencies, inadequacies and corruption in our nation. As we segue into the fake normality, we are thrown distracting biscuits that keep us entertained and make us look away from the continued institutional pillage.

Which brings me to the PN leadership race. Another week, another survey. From where I sit, we are in for another cosmetic change.

With or without Adrian Delia the PN’s biggest challenge is to change itself from the roots. If, as I am increasingly suspecting, the new challengers are simply a change in personnel that keeps the same outer shell then we are in for more of the same.

What they have not understood yet is that the nation does not need a new PN. What the nation needs is a movement of reform that can eradicate the mask-carrying pseudo-politicians that have infested every corner of our civic life.

“Politica e mafia sono due poteri che vivono sul controllo dello stesso territorio: o si fanno guerra o si mettono d’accordo.” – Paolo Borsellino 

Follow Jacques Rene Zammit on his blog J’Accuse.


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