Auld Lang Syne

There seemed to be an air of impatience as the year 2022 drew to a close. It couldn’t end soon enough. It had been a complicated year of “back to work” but not really, as the last vestiges of the COVID pandemic lingered on (and threatened a comeback in the land where it all began).

It had been a year lived in the shadow of Vladimir Putin and his threat to normality. It was the year we had our eyes opened to our energy dependence. It was a year worthy of the “interesting times” moniker to be found in the ancient Chinese Curse.

The year did not so much as go out with a bang as with a damp fizzle. Much like the fireworks in Valletta on New Year’s Eve, the occasion for celebrating the good times never really turned up. Global attention had oscillated between the pandemic and war-driven economic downturns and the bookend of a contradictory spectacle that was the World Cup in Qatar.

We basically trudged along as we had been doing since the outbreak of Covid – adapting to the post-pandemic realities that were twisting our conception of the global village.

The obituary pages make for an Olympus of greats that departed to Valhalla. An era-marking Queen, an (ex-) Pope and Football’s Greatest of All Time were among the giants who we can no longer count among us.

The feeling is that of the end of an era. War rages on the European border, our lifestyles are impacted by economic and environmental imperatives, and we are constantly aware of the effect on our day-to-day affairs.

Closer to home, we enter the final year of a decade of Labour in power. It has been a decade marked by rule of law backsliding and the entrenchment of corruption in the mechanisms of the state. Disgraced former prime minister Muscat’s “new middle-class” revolution has been exposed as the political equivalent of a pyramid scheme of the worst kind. Robert Abela has proven to be a master of cosmetic changes but the underlying momentum of a government that lets criminals operate with impunity remains the only constant.

The Sisyphean task to which chroniclers of our times are beholden can be exhausting, to say the least. Journalists and columnists alike are condemned to repeatedly challenge the closed doors and intrigues that keep the system going.

Ours is a task to serve the truth, to constantly point out the nudity of the emperor and the dangers of following him blindly. The year that closed was particularly frustrating in that aspect as the efforts of the few seem to inevitably fall on deaf ears.

The dangers of corruption, of failed institutions, of weakened laws – all those dangers – do not seem to shake the majority into action. The truth is that notwithstanding the many eye-openers, we are still victims of the panem et circenses show that is so deftly played by the spinners of propaganda. So, whenever we have the chance to look away from the challenges ahead we gladly lift the cup and do our best to blot out the bad for the sake of old times. For Auld Lang Syne. The rest, as they say, is history.


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23 days ago

There is something missing in this article and I mean the more or less positives from the past year. There are those NGOs in Malta, Repubblika, Moviment Graffitti, Occupy Justice, the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation and some other smaller groups who have their ideas of a better Malta. Each one of them, as it appears by going with the media articles throughout the past year, are not cooperating with each one another.

I remember, as if it was just yesterday, the ‘momentum’ of the what I called ‘a small revolution’ in Malta that started in November 2019 and lasted until the start of the Covid-19 pendemic in March 2020. The people who took to the streets back then, were seen and reported by the Maltese media as being part of the civil society movement in Malta. A blend of people from different walks of life, with different political leanings but with one aim which was to force the then PM Joseph Muscat to resign from office and they achieved that. The Covid-19 pandemic brought this movement which was until the date of Joseph Muscat’s resignation in ‘full swing’ was brought to a halt.

Repubblika, which is the most active part from all those who formed this civil society movement, declared right from the start that it will never transform itself into a political party that contests elections and thus would, given the support by those who are fed up with the PL regime, pre- and post-Muscat, get some influence through Parliament by being voted in. Instead, the cooperation, whether admitted or not but plain to see between Republikka and the PN (the so called ‘Blue Heros’) was not leading to a change in government. On the contrary, the PL once again won the 2022 GE by a landslide. That was certainly due to the worries of those who voted PL and their preference to keep their material wellbeing safe under a continuing PL govt.

The split within the PN and the withdrawal of the other NGOs from public activities, just with some actions now and then, secured the PL a way to have it rather easy to keep their voters and maybe, even win some over because of the lack of an opposition that is beyond the PL/PN divide. There was a slight increase of non-voters, fed up with both parties, there was a slight shift towards the smaller parties like the ADPD in votes. But not enough to change anything. Instead, some of those PN MPs who openly and actively supported and worked with Repubblika, got the boot by the voters and lost their seat in Parliament. Mr Jason Azzopardi is the most popular among them, others lost their seats because of the way Dr Bernard Grech led the PN. But he also had to tackle the resistence from within his own party to his leadership, the old traditionalists, but also couldn’t make it to get a grip on that party and lead on.

What we have seen during the past couple of years, with Joseph Muscat as PM and afterwards with Robert Abela as his successor, is set to continue for the next couple of years to come until the next GE in 2027. Unless the opposition to the PL which I refer to as being exactly this civil society movement of November 2019 reforms and revives itself as a cross-community movement and finds a way to come together and close its ranks to cooperate beyond the Daphne Caruana Galizia case, the PL will always have it easy to just do as they please, no matter what the media publishes because when thinking of all the scandals, some times during the past year, one followed another revelation on a daily basis, the electorate in its majority remains inclined to still vote for the PL.

It is not so that there wouldn’t be an alternative to the present PL govt, on the contrary, there are people in Malta committed to bring about a change in various ways, by various ideas, spanning from suggestions of constitutional reforms (like the pamphlet ‘Reforrming Malta’s Parliament’, published by Repubblika almost two years ago), environmental improvements as shown by the actions of Moviment Graffitti.

Everything Repubblika has done, in the public perception was for a long time to serve the Daphne Caruana Galizia case and keeping up to remind the public of her. That’s too one-sided, later on in the past couple of months of 2022, they focused on the judicial system of Malta and got more active with lawsuits and constitutional complaints than in the years before. The achieved something, they failed sometimes, then other actions they took were first reported in the media, but shortly after, never mentioned again. One can assume that given the usual reports in the media concerning the way the Malta Police and the Courts of Malta work, the filed complaints by Repubblika were ‘probablys just shelved’.

If websites like The Shift News and all those who publish articles on here, continue to just report about what they have find out and reveal it, but never come up with any concrete suggestions for how to improve matters, it will be difficult to win over people who are already outside the usual circle of PN voters. Even some disappointed and by the present PL leadership disgusted former PL voters might make up their mind in search of an alternative to the PL which they consider to be no longer their party, and join those who have better ideas and be convincing.

I very often asked myself, what Daphne Caruana Galizia really had in mind in regards of reforming the political system of Malta which would in the long run also reform the society of Malta as a whole. The corruption matter was in my perception one among a variety of things she was writing about, complaining as well and always facing the lethargy of the people in Malta which finally let her to despair on that.

From what I have read about Malta, history and politics, I am convinced that the Maltese have the capability and the means to change things, but unless they are convinced that they have to change the way things are run in their country and win over others who think the same way, they will always run in circles and nothing will improve at all.

To start with and to end this comment on my part, I would really recommend to at least give this Repubblika pamphlet ‘Reforming Malta’s Parliament’ a reading. This publication has been ignored since it was brought to the readers of the Times of Malta in January 2021 and it contains so many aspects to be discussed that it could start a public debate which to have was the intention of those who worked on that and published it. It is not the perfect solution for all the problems Malta is facing, but it is certainly the key to open the door for a way that leads to the reformation of the political system of Malta. But it also damands to overcome the partisan trenches, the split within the civil society movement and working together to forge a basis on which people in Malta can find together from different walks of life, and not everybody has to be a PNer, a Conservative of any sort, but the least one can demand from being with them is to have a sense of decency and moral values that are non-negotiable. There are also centre-left leaning people, just like myself, who can win some valuable thoughts from reading your publications, such as I can also find them on the Times of Malta website and not joint those who call themselves ‘Conservatives’. But I don’t recognise the PL as being up to my own standards in many ways.

In my view, which is merely a personal and private one, the Republic of Malta stands above all political parties and movements, it is the institution which one can also call the home (or the ‘house’) for all the people who live there. In my view, the parties and that one who is in government has to serve the Republic, which means the whole of the population and not the other way round, that the party in government has ‘a given right’ to use the State for its partisan aims. It is a matter of the mindset not just by politicians, but by all the people. Therefore, a government has the duty and the obligation to serve the country and its people because that is what they have been voted in for. In Malta, going with the media articles, this principle of a parliamantary democracy of a republican nature, has been turned upside down. Only the Maltese electorate can rectify this and reverse the status quo but to achieve that, you have to win over more people and make a new ethic in politics prevail by convincing people with positives and a prospect for them based on suggestions and policies which would work, not just in theory, but in practice.

Your website is in my view an integral part of this civil society movement in Malta, but there is still a lack of leadership from the opposition, within and outside of Parliament, but in a democracy, you can only change things through Parliament and that means through a shift in election results. Ignorance and running in circles with that recurring tit-for-tat attitude on a daily basis are blocking any real progress towards a better Malta.

23 days ago

Malta has disqualified itself to play in the elite EU.
It is like a naughty little child, which is absolutely unreasonable and impudent.
This brat should be locked out and heavily sanctioned.

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