Private opulence amid public squalor

Publice egestas, privatim opulentia – public squalor, private opulence was how the famous historian Sallust described Rome’s decadent period. But Sallust could well be describing present day Malta.

Our country is a tale of unbridled gluttony with political elites and their proxies, who masquerade as business people, enjoying unprecedented levels of private opulence amid public squalor.

As the average worker struggles to acquire the smallest darkest basement flat in the ugliest development on the island, Labour’s cronies acquire luxury palaces complete with swimming pool, stores, cellar, archives and multi-car garage in the most upmarket areas – on the back of three over-remunerated government jobs and God knows what other hidden sources.

As those who cannot even afford a basement flat struggle to pay the rent on their cramped apartment, Silvio Debono gulps up a massive tract of prime public land for peanuts.

As the common citizen trudges through the increasingly chaotic ugliness of a hyper-developed concrete jungle in the dingy shadows of towering apartment blocks, replete with tangled electric cables hanging from facades, and choking fumes of exhaust and broken pavements, Robert Abela escapes on his yacht to enjoy the luxury of the exclusive Marina di Ragusa.

As the pensioner struggles to pay for medicines that the State fails to fund, suffering in silence waiting for essential surgery postponed for months, Deborah Schembri scrounges hundreds of thousands of taxpayer euros through multiple direct orders.

As the Maltese family searches for some weekend respite, MDA president Sandro Chetcuti seals off their access to Fomm ir-Riħ, aided and abetted by Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia.

As the single parent tightens the belt further to pay the ARMS utility bill, Rosianne Cutajar collects another bagful of cash from Joseph Muscat’s and Zammit Lewis’ chat partner.

As the elderly widow locks her door at night worrying about her safety, the Commissioner of Police and his Deputy leak inside information to those busy making handsome profits and living lavish lifestyles from blowing up our fellow citizens.

As those who dare utter a word of objection are pilloried on ONE TV’s ‘Pjazza’, Karl Stagno Navarra cashes his fat cheque from his bankrupt Airmalta fake job as Head of Communications. And Robert Abela unleashes his NGO Commissioner to persecute Repubblika.

As Kenneth Grech is castigated for voicing his honest expert opinion, Robert Abela peddles his myths of normality while reality steadily catches up.

How did we get this far so quickly? How could the nation that produced the beautiful Renaissance city of Valletta descend into such abject repulsiveness? How could the virtues of beauty, truth and wisdom be so unceremoniously interred?

The Renaissance was driven by intellectual leaders who were relentlessly practical. They wanted to run their society successfully for the benefit of their people. Cosimo and Lorenzo de Medici were filthy rich. They were extremely ambitious about making money – but even more ambitious about how they spent it.

They spent it on huge book collections and on researchers tasked to scour European courts, monasteries and libraries seeking knowledge. They funded philosophers to undertake pioneering research into the philosophy of Rome and Ancient Greece. They bankrolled Leonardo, Botticelli, Michelangelo and other towering geniuses.

The de Medicis had a mission for their art and architecture.  Art became a form of education promoting kindness, serenity, compassion and good leadership. Had they simply made piles of cash and corrupted their entire society, infiltrating the main political parties and striking shady deals in healthcare and energy, the renaissance would never have been remembered.

The real source of its glory was in the imagination and intelligence with which piles of cash were spent – urgently searching to change their world for the better. Cities were constructed with unparalleled attention to beauty. Urbanism for the renaissance was a philosophical mission – humans were shaped by the character of their buildings which conveyed dignity and calm and ensured the sanity, vigour and happiness of the whole population. For Renaissance thinkers, the public sphere had to be opulent – beautiful, refined and appealing.

Malta had its own renaissance, eloquently portrayed in the building of Valletta. While Laparelli, Perez d’Aleccio and Caravaggio were not Maltese, Ġlormu Cassar, Melchiorre and Lorenzo Gafa, Stefano Erardi were. In their works of art, our forefathers bestowed an aspirational value to beauty, truth and wisdom.

It is entirely embarrassing to contrast their efforts with our own sorry mess. We have luxury and avarice, public squalor and private opulence. The piles of cash are now used to capture the State – buying the power brokers with a trip to Vegas or a Champions League final, bottles of wine, a wristwatch, a luxury stay at Evian les Bains, and piles of cash through secret offshore companies.

The breathtakingly corrupt are defended by our prime ministers. Joseph Muscat relentlessly defended Keith Schembri, Konrad Mizzi, Brian Tonna, Adrian Hillman. Robert Abela relentlessly defends Joseph Cuschieri, Johann Buttigieg, Rosianne Cutajar. All efforts are expended to bury the truth – rejecting calls for inquiries, refusing to give evidence in front of those inquiries imposed by Europe, attempting to curtail them by bullying the board, refusing to answer parliamentary questions, intimidating civil society, hijacking the state broadcaster and blowing up journalists.

Our most majestic monument from the renaissance period is St John’s Co-Cathedral. And its most beautiful jewel is its floor, the most beautiful floor in the world. It harbours a powerful and awe-inspiring message for all of us – memento mori, remember you will die. Existence is desperately fleeting, use your time wisely.

As his predecessor fades into obscurity from notoriety, Robert Abela must realise that the sand in his own hourglass is running out. He should draw inspiration from one of the impressive marble tombstones on the Cathedral floor celebrating the Maltese Guzeppi Chinzio: “He did not rise to haughtiness by the breeze of popular favour but was dear to noble men for the fairness and integrity of his character”.

                           
                               
guest
17 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Alexander
Alexander
1 month ago

Brilliant Kevin. Thanks.

Maureen micallef
Maureen micallef
1 month ago
Reply to  Alexander

Yes absolutely brilliant. We need an avalanche of pieces like this. Thank you dr Cassar for writing this on behalf of so many of us who are being trampled on and who are suffering as a result of this government’s policy to ignore the common good

Winston Smith
Winston Smith
1 month ago

Excellent article. Unfortunately the roots of greed run deeper than those of any virtue. Never in a million years would I have believed that Malta would reach such a sorry state. Since the nineties we had access to free tertiary education, unprecedented freedom of speech and many travelled abroad and bringing back new and different ways of thinking. How could anyone have envisaged us regressing to the moral dark ages? My fear is that it is going to take a very long time to get out of this rut. The majority have been brainwashed that immediate profits should take priority over what is right. To make matters even worse the ability to commit crime and get away with it, has become a badge of honour. Finally, our political leaders know that to obtain or retain power they must bow down to allowing corruption.

Vicki Ann Cremona
Vicki Ann Cremona
1 month ago

Excellently put! The greed and avarice of our leaders shows total lack of a proper education, that steadily went down the drain since Mintoff tampered with it, and all the education ministers who came after him made a mess of, and the misplaced unscrupulous ambition of the uncouth.

Evelyn Farrugia
Evelyn Farrugia
1 month ago

A brilliant article drom a brilliant mind. Thank you for saying it exactly as it is.

Peter Vella
Peter Vella
1 month ago

Without knowing, one ends up reading this article a second (or a third?) time.

Edgar Gatt
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter Vella

I just read it the second time. Brilliant

Henry s Pace
Henry s Pace
1 month ago

The professor made a good account however it is very hard for the Maltese Gahan to understand what has been said while he still goes yelling in the streets ‘ viva l-labour,

Philip Grima
1 month ago

A must read. Like many others, I look forward to your weekly articles in the Shift and the Times. Thank you.

Marija
Marija
1 month ago

I also look forward to your articles. Brilliant as usual.
My husband and I are hardworking, coming from an average family with two grown up children, in their twenties, who have graduated from University and have a decent job, but as you said, it is very difficult for them to find a suitable, habitable and affordable accommodation amongst all this ugliness that keeps sprouting up. We always wonder were all this greed is taking us and what a bleek future awaits us. Point of No Return!!! Someone must do something real quick

Alexander
Alexander
1 month ago
Reply to  Marija

I have two children aged 17 and 13. I preach to them every day to study, graduate in whatever they feel good at, and leave this shit of a country once and for all.

NO, ‘with a heavy heart I say this, I do not want them to contribute to making this country better because this country does not deserve any better. I’m sorry! 

Dante Bondin
Dante Bondin
1 month ago

Top notch.

Leonard Schembri
Leonard Schembri
1 month ago

“Beauty, truth and wisdom.” What very beautiful words. We hardly ever witness these values in our society anymore. One is worse than the other is what we witness. There are many good people in Malta who practise these values but they are definitely not parliamentarians. But what I like best about our parliamentarians is that they think that they are a very special group of people as they are in the highest institution that runs our country. To serve. The people for the people supposedly but all in vice versa, upside-down fashion to confuse us, believing that no one knows what they’re doing or what is happening. A contrived scheme of things that spells disaster for the common people. Let them drown in their own disgrace because that’s what they ultimately have to face once they’re not there any longer.

Josette Buttigieg
1 month ago

Brilliant, yes as many commented. Unfortunately however, Robert Abela and his cronies will only read it with a scornful stuck up nose, secure in their accumulated stolen wealth.

Joseph Gauci
Joseph Gauci
1 month ago

excellent article but unfortunately the masses will need an interpreter to understand what you said & unless one convinces the masses, one has nothing ….especially in a democracy …. it is pointless writing for the select minority only ….

Joseph Michael Vassallo
Joseph Michael Vassallo
1 month ago

Brilliant article. Unfortunately it brings tears to my eyes from abroad. Miskina Malta.

Anthony
Anthony
1 month ago

Mr. K. Cassar you should be again as a candidate for the next election. Prosit.

Related Stories

Internal probe never investigated the millions involved in property deals negotiated by Hillman
The internal probe by Allied Newspapers into money laundering
Keep your enemies close
With a government in office threatening to outdo the