Plague Year Two ended in a haze of smoke after Equality Minister Owen Bonnici led the way in legalizing pot.
Given the decisions he’s made in the past, you could be forgiven for thinking self-interest was involved. No one who wasn’t under the influence of something could have filmed that simpering ‘Love Actually’ knockoff in the early days of Covid lockdowns.
Sending someone to prison for smoking a joint or growing a plant for personal use was draconian and unethical, and poor use of valuable cell space that could be accommodating Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri.
But as with anything this lot does, decriminalizing marijuana was a careful political calculation, right up there with Joseph Muscat’s cynical pinkwashing. It’s all part of a Baldrickian ‘cunning plan’ to numb even more minds into voting Labour in the coming election.
Those who could be bought with a stream of direct orders were secured long ago, and those who wanted a plush non-job without being required to turn up for ‘work’ were taken care of, too. Legalizing pot targets stoners who can’t even be bothered to get off the sofa to take their handout.
So what does 2022 have in store for the new green Malta?
The political faces you know and loathe will be back again for Season Nine of Con Men and Kleptocrats, and they’ll have to be at the top of their game given how little is left for them to steal.
I asked around to find out how Malta’s top political minds are planning to improve themselves in the New Year. Not everyone responded, of course, but we at The Shift are used to having our questions ignored. I filed a flurry of FOI requests, and with any luck, I’ll have those answers for you around this time next December.
Keith Schembri’s New Year’s Resolution was to finally visit Disney World in Florida. He really wanted to take a ride on Pirates of the Caribbean. Unfortunately, the US State Department said he’s not welcome. He’ll have to haul his treasure chest to Dubai instead.
Konrad Mizzi is planning to improve his memory next year. He can’t wait to impress his PAC colleagues by reciting an hours-long tirade of all the great things he’s done for Malta while stuffing his offshore accounts with your money. Perhaps if his memory gets really good he can tell you where he hid Sai.
As for Joseph Muscat, the disgraced former prime minister known for his humility, he hopes to become more assertive in 2022, while he’s busy asserting more ‘consulting fees’ into his bank account. You’re not fooling anyone, Joe.
The King of Kickbackistan’s chosen successor Robert Abela has vowed to “get really really swole” in 2022. I know, it’s the same resolution he makes every year. Perhaps when the Bodybuilder in Chief isn’t pumping iron and eating chicken breasts, he might grow a pair so he could fire corrupt ministers with the same confidence he has on stage in his thong. [Voice from another room: Those are posing trunks.]
Concrete Minister Ian Borg has resolved to build a really big open-air cistern for all that water that keeps flooding and breaking his precious pavement. He already started digging long ago, but I’m sure the permit will come through eventually. In a display of utter selflessness — the kind he’s always been known for — he’s even willing to locate it next to his house. That gaping hole in the Marsa flyover wasn’t a hole, and this isn’t a swimming pool, so stop being negative.
Finance Minister Clyde Caruana has vowed to end unemployment by hiring everyone on the public purse. He hasn’t said how he intends to pay all those salaries, but he did say Gozo would be very, very clean.
Edward Zammit Lewis promised to break up with Yorgen Fenech and find another rich arse to kiss. Unfortunately, the justice minister is still deluded about his desperate one-way infatuation with the businessman who seemed to have the chief of every regulatory body in his pocket. It’s over, Edward. He never missed you as much as you missed him.
Speaking of alleged criminals, recent ex-minister Justyne Caruana has resolved to defend her name with legal action after being caught arranging lucrative contracts for ‘a friend’ who was clearly more than a friend. I’d advise her to set a more realistic goal, like using her political connections to keep herself out of jail.
Carmelo Abela didn’t make any resolutions this year. The minister who took Konrad Mizzi’s old desk Within the Office of the Prime Minister is still hiding under his bed, haunted by the Ghost of Robberies Past.
I asked Evarist Bartolo for his New Year’s Resolution. He replied on Facebook with “When a wolf is chasing your sleigh, throw him a raisin cookie, but don’t stop to bake a cake.” Unfortunately for the oracular foreign minister, I have a keen eye for plagiarism. He was ‘sampling’ Banacek just as shamelessly as Edward Caruana was sampling building materials from Tomorrow’s Schools right under his nose.
Chris Fearne resolved to blame it all on Konrad Mizzi again next year.
Silvio Schembri plans to invest in a bigger carpet to hide his direct orders under.
And Labour MEP Alex Agius Saliba resolved to stop being mistaken for Alex Muscat, Parliamentary Secretary for Passport Peddling. Perhaps if one of you shaved the beard…?
In other semi-related news, Police Commissioner Angelo Gafa has resolved to finally get tough on corruption. He made a list over Christmas, and he checked it twice. Okay, distinguishing naughty from nice isn’t exactly his strong suit, but he’s determined to start at the bottom and eventually reach the middle before the end of his tenure.
And finally, Bank of Valletta has resolved to get its US Dollar correspondent banking privileges back. Unfortunately, their goal comes into conflict with FATF’s firm resolution to force Malta to do something about its money laundering problem. I’d advise BOV to change tack and choose something easier, like quitting smoking or losing weight.
As for The Shift, we’ve resolved to survive financially for another year so we can keep holding this lot of criminals to account. Want to help? Every donation makes a difference.
I hope you have a Happy New Year, and here’s to a better 2022. It’s difficult to imagine it getting much worse after the previous two.