In his deposition before the Daphne Inquiry, former Economy Minister Edward Scicluna had suggested the existence of a ‘Kitchen Cabinet’ pulling the strings of power. The disgraced former prime minister denied its existence, yet the kitchen seems to be the new place to be for Labour politicians wanting to seem close to the people.
Owen Bonnici and Alex Agius Saliba have both posted photos of themselves in the kitchen in moments of almighty cringe worthiness that could only have been suggested by PR managers from hell. Bonnici smiles awkwardly while ladling stew in a pan with what seems to be a token female presence in the background. The fact that the burner which Bonnici’s pan sits on is conspicuously missing a flame contributes to the falsity of the general picture.
Agius Saliba goes one step further. His wife is not in the photo and he tells us that this is because he “delights in helping Sarah in the kitchen at the end of the week”. Agius Saliba’s expression in the photo is of someone smiling even though he has still not understood the joke. The joke is in fact on him. We are not privy to the contents of the pot that he is stirring but Alex has made sure that we see the brand of sweater that he dons when relieving his better half from her kitchen chores.
Plastic displays of homeliness by our politicians are nothing new. Even their heavy doses of indirect misogyny are forgiven by the adulating throngs of constituents whose only measure remains a resounding electoral success. That measure pervades the political scenario justifying the keeping up of appearances as it abounds in different forms.
Take Ian Borg’s Lapsi Park poster. Borg speaks of giving communities what they deserve in order to experience the best quality of life possible. The picture is of a concrete structure stocked with picnic benches and a sort of open space covered in gravel. The greenery in this public park is conspicuous through its absence.
With absolutely no sense of irony Borg tells us that he has planned, he has worked and that he has delivered. For this, he will be lifted on the shoulders of the adulating crowd as another achiever of this Labour Generation. They spit in our faces and we thank them for the bountiful rain.
Meanwhile, a scandal broke out on Sunday involving Junior Minister Rosianne Cutajar. We have long given up expecting prime ministers to act against members of their Cabinet who operate in blatant disregard of what should be the ethical limits of their obligations. The scandal took a further twist as whoever revealed it seems to have chosen to time it in such a way as to hopefully compromise a member of the Daphne Inquiry Board.
In this case, though, the ‘Caesar’s wife’ (or should I say husband?) standard is being applied with wanton abandon stretching its measure beyond any reasonable limits. It would seem, upon a basic appreciation of the facts at hand, that the role of Judge Abigail Lofaro’s husband in the matter is much more circumscribed and transparent than the mudslinging enthusiasts would have us believe.
Speaking of transparent, Miriam Dalli has defended the Electrogas project tooth and nail. On the appearances side, the new Energy Minister has stressed the usefulness of the project in getting people to pay lower tariffs and breathe cleaner air. Dalli has been chosen by the Business-as-Usual Prime Minister to be the face that whitewashes the pit of corruption of which Electrogas is just the beginning.
There can be only so many PR campaigns that can sanitise the intricate web of corruption behind major projects inherited from the disgraced prime minister’s government.
The American University of Malta is, for example, another monument redolent of abject failure in disgraced Muscat’s portfolio. It joins the farce that is the Vitals scandal as project after project begins to show its true face.
That the Labour government had bitten off far more than it could chew was clear. That it had opened the doors to a pandora’s box of corrupt and illicit business that ended up corroding our systems of government is still being proven notwithstanding temporary setbacks in the legal field.
The local season finale is giving us more of the same propagandistic attempt to keep up appearances. The applauding crowds seem to be oblivious to the fact that the seismic shock caused by the pandemic will only contribute to accelerating the moment of reckoning.
When these appearances can be kept no more is only a question of time.