The doors of perception

I had this dream. Or maybe it was real. I was walking in a forgotten valley in Gozo thirsty and tired when I came across a large prickly pear plant. I took a large bite off one of its leaves and was immediately transported on a psychedelic trip to a parallel crazy universe. I had to write it all down in case I forgot it all when I came to my senses.

In my dream, the Prime Minister was happily chatting away with members of the judiciary lamenting the use of their punitive powers. This brazen commingling of two supposedly separated powers was made all the more surreal with the Prime Minister speaking publicly of his chinwag without any hint of contrition. Rather, he seemed all the more convinced that it was his job, nay his duty, to prescribe the proper behaviour of the judicial branch.

I hazily recollect picking up a paper and reading that Malta’s position on the Corruption Perception Index kept plummeting. The land of “let the institutions work” (with the added caveat of Prime Ministerial interference when necessary) had rated 51 out of 100 points – hovering dangerously close to the failure mark.

In this surreal world, the government that claims to be making headway on rule of law recommendations had just passed an “Anti-Deadlock” Bill that basically gives it near-dictatorial powers in the appointment of institutional elements intended for scrutiny, checks and balances.

The mescaline in the cactus really began to hit when I started reading of a minister spending millions on tractors for a carnival parade ignoring the plight of a farming community that is constantly under siege. Dreamily I had visions of continuous ODZ encroachment and precious farming land turning arid before being reconverted into concrete wasteland.

Other ministers invested in educational campaigns promoting hunting. Yes, the surreal world had a Magical Mystery Tour of sorts where, presumably the scientists and physicists of the hunting community visited the young of the nation with a sort of careers fair with a difference. The hunter-scientists were also heavily involved in a pioneering project involving bird trapping. Always backed by the enthusiastic government they enjoyed the conditions of a derogation dreamt up by a Minister (probably also on some cactus fuelled trip) and trapped songbirds rigorously for the greater benefit of humankind.

In this parallel Lilliput, the ministers of a progressive, open and transparent government committed to reforming the Freedom of Information Act that is so crucial to the fourth pillar for its checks and balances. They commissioned a report that would prepare the groundwork for such a reform. When the press of this crazy land thought of asking for a copy of this report they were met with a resounding no. There seems to be no sense of irony in the drug-induced dystopia of a land.

The drug was beginning to shake off and as I heard distant echoes of a football crowd cheering its King, the earth shook with tiny tremors that only rendered the visions more surreal.

I slowly started to come back to my senses. I woke up thirsty and shaken. As I trudged to the fridge for a glass of water, one word kept echoing in my head. Constantly, incessantly, repeatedly: “Impunity”.


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1 month ago

I have a different word adding up to the one in the last line of this article. It’s the word ‘indifference’. Like an echo in the mind, it always comes along the way whenever one reads about the way the PL reacts and acts as the govt of Malta.

It starts with cronyism, goes on with the murder of Daphne, on to collapsing walls on houses close to a building site, then femicide, neglect on quality checks on road works and draining system connections as one can see every time heavy rain hits Malta and the roads are flooded.

Then the way journalists are treated, either with contempt and ignorance when they are not in line with the PL, or being served better when they are.

I think that the terms ‘impunity’ and ‘indifferrence’ match perfectly well, because without indifference there would hardly be so much impunity. The indifference is what numbs the perception between right and wrong and gives way to impunity because it doesn’t matter whether one is right or wrong, as long as one sings to the tune of the PL propaganda machine.

I really wonder how the govt has managed to get Malta out of the grey-list in the light of the recent reports on corruption on an international comparative level as mentioned in this article. The answer to that isn’t hard to find, deflect, distract and remain uncooperative with the media, impose SLAPP trials on them in order to silence them.

I have come to learn that with the PL, there is nothing genuine, nothing honest, nothing of substance but all about favouritism. It has always been that way and I doubt that it will ever change because in all the mess they have created, they feel comfortable and their voters and supporters with them.

1 month ago
Reply to  Thomas

Another word I suggest is ‘shamelessness’.

1 month ago
Reply to  Joseph

There are even more adjectives that can be added and would fit rather well. There is, for example, a variety to choose from when looking at the way the Caruana Galizia Family is still occupied with around 40 lawsuits they inherited from Daphne. It goes on to this day and in my opinion, as I take as being a fact, it is only due because Joseph Muscat has not withdrawn the law suits against her. The PL is using such judicial means in order to put and keep political pressure on this family as well as it with The Shift News and 40 SLAPP cases imposed on them for doing its job which is to request information on matters of public interest.

Who is going to alter the law that enables people to insist on keeping lawsuits active after the person concerned is deceased or as in Daphne’s case killed? It is by normal judicial standards and rational thinking impossible to prosecute a dead person and impose that on the remaining relatives as being a part of what they inherit from the deceased. The remaining relatives have no responsibility for what the deceased wrote, said or published, unless some of them has done likewise in his or her own name.

Nobody in the PL is willing to do that because after more than five years since she was killed and after three years since Joseph Muscat resigned from office, the present PM would have had more than enough time to do something about it. I think that really nobody outside Malta, and I suppose that those within Malta who are not in line with the PL, could ever understand such a regulation that doesn’t make sense in any rational way. It only explains the political and thus partisan drive behind it, nothing more.

The PL really does everything by their own conduct as Malta’s govt to let Malta ‘shine’ in a bad light on the international level. Every time there is pressure on them from international institutions, not just the EU, they start to act and see to it that the damage caused on Malta’s reputation is ‘fixed’ in a way to just give it a bit ‘cosmetic’ and behind the scenes, as I imagine, brush the dirt under the carpet and be done with it. But that doesn’t make the dirt piling up underneath the carpet go away, it is merely mounting up persistently. It is no wonder that sometimes openly and sometimes concealed, people outside Malta have no understanding for the way this country is transformed by the will of the PL and the moral decline that goes along with it. But as we all know, the PL doesn’t care much about it, or not at all, until there is international pressure. That’s not what I understand under a good government that works in the interest of all its citizens and not just their own party members etc.

1 month ago

Jaques ~ Cyrus Engerer is going to be very envious of your avant-garde article. Let’s face it, the narrative is way ahead of him when it comes to hallucinogens. But no amount of hallucinogens can cure us from the sad distortions around us. We wait, we wait, we wait …for one day it will wear out … the craziness will wear out. Just as all psychedelic trips eventually expire. .

1 month ago
Reply to  Chris

As you put it ‘we wait, we wait, we wait …’. So, what when the psychodelic trip eventually has expired?

Where is the drive from within the civil society movement that managed to force Joseph Muscat to resign from office by persistently demonstrations from November 2019 to January 2020? Where are all those people who went with the masses and put Malta once again in the international news to show the world that there is another Malta that exists, a part of the population that said NO to Muscat and his PL the way they rule the country?

Last year, due to various reasons and the fact that the opposition was still occupied with infights that worked more for the benefit of the PL and PM Abela, the chance to stop the craziness in various sections of the Maltese society was given away. Dr Grech as leader as the PN had to deal with the PL as the natural opponent in politics and with those who undermined his leadership within the PN itself. That is a situation from where he couldn’t win, although he managed to win at least some votes for the PN. The other aspect is the increase in non-voters which also helped the PL for its landslide.

There is still time to prepare for bringing about a change, but that demands cooperation across the civil society, to unite all those who are fed up with the present situation and the prospect of having the PL in power not just until 2027 but if the opposition remains as weak as it appears, give it another five years. In order to achieve this aim, to have a change in government, people need to be able to make compromises, to accept an elected leader of the opposition party and back him up. Support has to come from all directions under the leadership of, because I am convinced that he is the right and capable person, Dr Grech. I am myself not with the PN, but for the sake of Malta, I would accept him as leader of a cross-societal opposition that has the aim to restore Malta’s good name on the international level. This is up to every Maltese citizen in Malta to just think this through and overcome the lethargy that only works for the benefit of the PL.

Next year, with the EP elections coming up, there is another chance to at least restore a part of Malta’s good reputation in voting for the candidate of the opposition party in order to strengthen it in the EP and with luck, because Ms Metsola has shown what she is made of and earned respect in due course since she became President of the EP, she might become elected to the office of the President of the European Commission. That office has more power to wield than the one she has today. With her as President of the EC, the PL govt would be forced to play by the book for she wouldn’t let them get away with everything that contravenes EU rules which Malta has also to go conform with, as a member state of the EU.

Sometimes chances don’t come along from nothing, in politics you have to prepare and get fit for doing the work that convince voters and also those who have given up on voting because to them every party is just one and the same. Make a difference, and drop the chackles from the past that paralyses the opposition. A good leader is a person that can convince people, that is accessible, that shows its ability to reach out to those who are not with his / her party, that has an open mind, can listen and discuss without the usual partisan blinkers. Dr Grech has shown that he has these credentials, a politician for the future. If the MLP had dropped Dom Mintoff in his early years for losing out in GEs, the history of Malta had taken a different course. But no, the MLPers backed him up and went on with him until he became PM for a second time. Endurance and support for a leader are as much important for success in the long run as the credentials of a person that make a leader, but not a dictator. There is a difference between the terms and I have pointed out where these differences are.

More important in the light of the GE of last year, never promis everything under the sun, just tell the feasible and how to achieve it and remain a reliable person that sticks to its aims. Maybe this way trust can be won and voters convinced. Otherwise you would sit on here in five years still complaining about how things have went worse and continue to get worse.

1 month ago
Reply to  Thomas

Thomas. Corruption is a global pandemic. No one individual or group can cure it. Far from being an independent stand-alone island in the middle of the Mediterranean, Malta’s finances are managed globally by magic mushroomed maniacs. Not just Malta. Everywhere, governments have been hijacked by invisible corporations. You’ll never get a sniff of fair governance until and unless the hidden global agenda folds over.

This is what we’re waiting for.

The challenge is global. And the fight must also be international.

1 month ago
Reply to  Chris

I know that corruption is a global issue and it is as old as human civilization. I also know that no one individual or group can cure it. So, what’s your point? Just waiting until the whole system collapses? I think that with such an attitude you are in for a long wait and nothing will change.

Change starts in small processes, widening and the more solidarity there is, the more chances for success can come along.

A short recap of the recent past. Those people in Malta who took to the streets starting in November 2019 and going on to January 2020 were not sitting and waiting until Joseph Muscat leaves Castille. They were demonstrating nearly every day and I don’t have to list all the actions they have taken in order to force Joseph Muscat to resign from office. In the end, they succeeded and that might also have been due to the international pressure that mounted up on him. If these people had said just what you said, waiting for the system to crumble by itself, Joseph Muscat would still be the PM of Malta and certainly had managed to get the same landslide victory for the PL.

What is the use of having monthly recurring vigils in commemoration of Daphne? What is the use of all the actions Repubblika is taking in public, filing complaints against the govt at court, holding demonstrations in front of the administrative buildings in Malta in protest against the way the present govt rules the country? What is the use of Moviment Graffitti when they get out to Commino Islands to protest and at least stop the occupation of that place by people who merely are after comercialising it? What is the use of all the other NGOs who show themselves in public and presenting their agenda in order to improve life in Malta for all who live there?

Is it enough to write on the website of a media outlet and just complain and write about a government you are not satisfied with, you are rather ashamed of because it is still damaging the international reputation of Malta?

What was it that Daphne Caruana Galizia had in mind, her own political views on Malta being a better place? I think that the corruption and the PL govt issue was just one part of various things, for as she always said these two were a tandem that stick together. I think that she was herself less a partisan person in regards of political parties, she took on everybody who she suspected to be involved in corruption. She was a political person that was thinking for herself, trying to show her fellow Maltese citizens a way out of the misery that at least around half of the people in Malta are fed up with.

I think that I know your name from the MT website, even when we didn’t converse with one another, I have read some of your comments there. My experiences on that website with the usually posting PLers there have brought me to the point where I finally concluded that the PL is by far not what I understand by a centre-left party. I have read enough to know about the roots and the history of that party. I also had to come the point to accept, whether I like it or not, when the PN was in govt, Malta had always a better stand in the world, less damage done to the environment, less uglification by a building craze never seen before.

In the end of the day one comes to the point where one has to choose what is more important, a political party or the Republic of Malta as the state that is there for all the people who live there and if not residing there, have at least the best for that country in mind. One has also to be pragmatic and support those one deems to be capable to work for a change and that means that such developments take time, that they need support, the people who are part of it need support, the NGOs, the media outlets as well. Without a civil society movement that attracts people from different political leanings but who can agree on one aim, which is to reform Malta to become a better place and leave the PL govt of the past and the present behind, you achieve nothing.

I have, tried to point out the Repubblika publication ‘Reforming Malta’s Parliament’ for countless times and always in vain, because the many people I encountered with that preferred to stay ignorant of that or merely reluctantly give it a short reading. The alternative is out there, the people who are committed to work for a change are also out there, they might be desperate for support, they might even rather resign from their activities because what they encounter is either ignorance, disinterest, in worst cases being ridiculed, but they stick to their beliefs nonetheless.

Having conversations or exchanges of silly comments on the MT website was just a waste of time and the ignorants roaming that place are proof for the daily tit-for-tat game they appear to can’t get enough of it. I have had enough of this nonsense, really. I rather read articles about NGOs who are committed to do their bit in order to move Malta forward, as hard as it is.

This website here is a far better place and you get information which are rarely published on the MT website, sometimes on the ToM website and partly other articles on The Malta Independent. All those journalists in Malta and so far as they receive support from abroad, are working tirelessly to improve life in Malta, to inform, make people aware of what is going on but even when it is not spelled out, they are doing it also in order to gain support from everybody who is not in line with the PL.

There is no way like some have expressed themselves waiting for the EU as they imagine that as something like a higher authority to come along the way and topple the PL govt. No way, if you want to change things, you have to start in your own country. The other govts in the international corruption comparison rankings are also doing what they can in order to curb corruption, international connected like the EU member states, being a member state in other international institutions and organisations, they do their work, some better others with improvements still to work on.

I agree with you regarding the international aspect as you mentioned, but I add to this that a dual cooperation on national and international level is necessary to get Malta out of this mess.

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