“You’ll never find anything if you never look.”
Translate this to Latin and it could be Malta’s motto.
Michael Zammit Tabona was the latest to trot out this absurdity on social media, posting: “If we double up positive cases… what’s the point? This virus is not killing us, testing is!”
I’m sorry to be the one to tell you, Michael, but just because you cover your eyes and chant “I can’t see you”, the boogeyman is still there.
Now, you could be forgiven for assuming I’m talking to a three-year-old.
But this generous donor to the Labour Party was recently Malta’s non-resident ambassador to Finland — at least until he took to Facebook on the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II to post: “75 years ago we stopped Hitler. Who will stop Angela Merkel? She has fulfilled Hitler’s dream to control Europe.”
It wasn’t the first time the errant ambassador had courted controversy by posting racist and xenophobic memes on social media. But Malta soaks up far too much money from the EU to risk pissing off one of its richest and most powerful Member States.
Not even “no accountability Malta” could justify keeping such a blunderer in his post — even if Jason and Owen thought he was just exercising his right to free speech.
What’s become of Malta’s foreign ministry? When they’re not calling the Germans Hitler, they’re prematurely ejaculating their diplomatic credentials in Rome before scuttling back to Athens in embarrassment.
Despite embracing a friends-of-friends approach that believes any crony can do any job — “It’s not like they’re actually working, ta!” — representing one’s country on the world stage really does require the skill of diplomacy.
Never one to place cold hard logic over personal convenience, Zammit Tabona followed up his gem of a virus post with this bit of fortune cookie wisdom: “The more we test the more we find”.
So…. don’t do any more testing and you won’t have high virus numbers!
You can see how well this “don’t test, don’t tell” approach has worked for Donald Trump, whose strategy the disgraced former ambassador may have been quoting.
I suppose he thinks everyone will magically get better, and budget tourists will flock to his Fortina Hotel, where they can contract the virus on a Captain Morgan sardine tin tour to the desperately overcrowded Blue Lagoon.
Of course, Zammit Tabona may have good reasons for embracing a blanket strategy of pretending. It’s worked very well for him and his family’s Fortina Group, at least when it comes to hoovering up benefits at the expense of the Maltese people.
From hosting birthday parties for the Kickback King and his fashionista consort to getting access to jetties, they’ve done pretty well.
Did going into business with Lands Authority CEO James Piscopo help get those huge tracts of prime public Tigné land re-zoned from tourism to mixed-use development? Or am I just ‘being negative’?
Their greatest swindle was surely propping up their Captain Morgan cruise line with taxpayer money by convincing the government to pay thousands per day to transform uncomfortable inner harbour boats to deep sea floating prisons for migrants.
If only Backdown Bobby had succeeded in getting the EU to pay for it, they could have laughed at the gullibility of foreigners as well as their own followers.
Unfortunately for ex-ambassador Mike, his strategy of keeping coronavirus numbers artificially low by not testing wouldn’t fool anyone. It would only solidify mistrust of Malta.
The virus will still be there even if you refuse to look for it. You just won’t know how bad it’s getting, how many people are infected, and how close the health care system is to total collapse.
Other countries will keep testing aggressively, even if Malta doesn’t. And when their citizens return from a holiday on Europe’s favourite Pirate Island and bring back the plague, they’ll put two and two together and come up with the obvious answer.
That thudding sound you keep hearing this week is other countries slamming their borders closed.
Holding mass events and parties. Bringing cruise ships — giant floating petri dishes — back to Valletta. ‘Don’t wur-ry! We have mechanisms!’
Greed won out over common sense once again.
Pretending is a strategy that only works domestically. It’s a lot like the corruption the Malta Police, the FIAU, and every other authority was busy not seeing while the rest of Europe looked on in shock.
Zammit Tabona and his friends might really think foreign authorities — MONEYVAL, the Council of Europe, and the Italian anti-Mafia police — are ‘picking on’ Malta because ‘traitors’ keep airing their dirty laundry in front of foreigners.
If only those irritating journalists would shut up about it, no one would smell the stench, and Malta could keep screwing its fellow Member States for personal gain.
But you’d have to be pretty naive to believe it.
“It’s the looking that’s killing us, not the finding.”
Malta’s on a collision course with reality. Between the coronavirus pandemic and MONEYVAL, you’re about to discover the very high price of looking away.