It did not happen under the dark cloak of night, but it might as well have. The signing away of the stewardship of large tracts of land in l-Aħrax tal-Mellieħa and Miżieb took place surreptitiously 48 hours before it was originally scheduled to happen.
The official photo of the masked ministers of misgovernment gifting the land to that oxymoron of hunter-conservationists could not have been more apt.
The only photo of the signing was graciously provided by the Government Department of Propaganda. We had to make do with the DOI photo since the press was not invited in what is a continuation of the low standards to which this government has made us accustomed.
Signing the agreement on behalf of the Lands Authority was the quasi-impeached ex-justice Farrugia Sacco who only got to retire in grace thanks to the shenanigans of disgraced former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.
The picture of the signing should in fact be preserved as a symbolic moment in the history of Tagħna Lkoll. Every pixel in that picture is a monument to the shambolic state of governance in our nation.
When the early warning bells of the backsliding of the rule of law in Malta were rung it was not easy to explain what effects this would have nor how it would happen. It was easy to dismiss the warnings, especially in an atmosphere of perceived economic growth coupled with the illusion of progress in civil rights.
One of the foundational aspects of the rule of law is the system of checks and balances over those empowered with the management of a nation.
In fact, a system guaranteeing the proper functioning of the rule of law would be one that prevented those entrusted with the government of the nation from acting indiscriminately and unaccountably.
Muscat’s Labour weakened the rule of law in Malta to such an extent that we have reverted to a rediscovered form of feudalism.
Parliamentary democracy has been thrown out of the window and replaced by a Cabinet of lords and ladies dispensing with power according to their whims and fancies. ‘Cabinet’ is very often the smokescreen for decisions that seem to be imperial decrees more than anything else.
Throughout the Daphne Caruana Galizia inquiry, we have been seeing how the ministers of the land lost their collective memory and failed to take one single responsibility for the decisions supposedly taken at Cabinet level.
Blaming either a ‘Kitchen Cabinet’ or their faulty memory, the ministers did not seem to be so bullish in their attitude when they were called to some form of accountability.
Not so the Masked Ministers of Shame signing away the woodlands of Malta. Some clown probably drafted under the notorious meritocratic schemes of this government was asked to draft an agreement. The error in the name Malta (written Mala) would be farcical were it not a classic example of what goes by for legal drafting these days. It is after all what you get when dunces are fast-tracked to eminences in the legal field simply by word of mouth.
I have already mentioned how the Lands Authority, one of the supposed guardians of the people, was present in the form of a quasi-impeached ex-justice who owes much to the Labour government for having been saved from the formal disgrace of real impeachment in parliament. Then we have the FKNK. They are the next lobby in line to be granted favours and rights by what is marketed as a generous government.
We had this with the civil rights movement which the Labour government used as a progressive shield with which to hide its corrupt practices for a long time. The hunting lobby is much easier to bed for the politicians though, coming as it does with guaranteed votes.
Having already enjoyed the phantasmagorical interpretations of EU law whereby hunters became scientists involved in ‘sampling’ when bird trapping, the hunting community has now struck gold.
Once the feudal parcelling of lands took place, we had the Ministers in full defence mode. Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia first tried to shame critics on Facebook by publishing names of those who let their anger at his vile act get the better of them.
Having retracted this form of retribution, Farrugia moved on to replying to various comments that emphasised, among other things, the disappointment that he had caused after having seemed to be a promising breath of change.
Farrugia answered consistently in one of three ways: ‘I take note that you are against hunting’ or ‘I am sorry I disappointed you and will strive to regain your trust’ or ‘It was a Cabinet decision’.
The first answer is as nonsensical as it is out of point. The second is a whimper tantamount to a roly-poly from Silvio Parnis. The third is the classic deviation tactic that almost (almost) implies he does not agree with the decision but is forced to comply.
The latest spin is that this is not the first case of stewardship of land entrusted to NGOs. As luck would have it Birdlife (the arch-enemy of the FKNK) are thrown into the arena with the kind of non-sequitur false equivalences that only a Labour politician high on seven years of believing his own crap could come up with.
The signing event on Friday is par for the course in this backsliding of the rule of law. The lack of public scrutiny or consultation is only just part of the ugly picture that is painted whenever something like this happens. Huge tracts of land taken away from the public by politicians acting in their own interest.
Civil society has already started to react. The only mistake would be to focus on this as though it were an isolated incident. It is not. It is part of a series of other dominos that need to come crumbling down as the system begins to get changed.
Sign up at spazjimiftuha.org and oppose these new age feudal lords.