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Konrad Mizzi: Sheer indifference or stunned silence?

This issue isn’t about aspirations and achievements, but about being politically honest and respecting the intelligence of those who gave you their vote.

josanne_cassar
Josanne Cassar
29 February 2016, 7:52am
Can it be possible that hardworking, tax paying voters of an erstwhile “workers’ party” really see nothing wrong with this?
Can it be possible that hardworking, tax paying voters of an erstwhile “workers’ party” really see nothing wrong with this?
Is anyone you know actually discussing the story regarding Konrad Mizzi’s secret Panama-based company? Apart from comments posted by those interested in politics on Facebook I mean, are you hearing anyone talking about it face-to-face in actual real life?

Because, throughout this weekend, that was what I found to be the most curious aspect of this whole thing; that there seems to be a rather flat line of sheer indifference towards the news swirling around on news portals and social media. Apart from cracking the odd joke about Panama, there has hardly been a blip that it has registered in the public’s consciousness. It’s either that, or else what has permeated the country is a rather stunned silence, as people are slowly trying to absorb and understand the implications of what it means for a Minister to have all these very complicated secret arrangements regarding the investment of what he himself has described as his “wealth”.

I wonder if it is because we have become immune to politicians not being fully honest with us and to how, the minute they are in power, they become susceptible to the possibility of corruption. You know, like when you watch too many violent movies and you become so de-sensitised towards blood and gore, that you don’t bat an eyelid even when someone’s head is chopped off in full graphic detail.

But if that is the case, it is truly a sad (not to mention democratically dangerous) state of affairs because after people become immune, there comes acceptance and a tacit condoning of whatever shady dealings politicians may be (allegedly) involved in.

Of course, it is very easy to slip into this kind of self-induced coma, cocooning ourselves away from the headlines, because sometimes it is really too much to have to think about. We feel helpless in the face of it all, and the enormity of it overwhelms us, so we turn back to the minutiae of our own lives instead: should we paint the house this year, and will the kids pass their exams, and will we have enough money to pay the bills at the end of the month? Yesterday my newsfeed was full of delighted people who had crossed the finish line at the Marathon after many months of training while others were telling us where they went for Sunday lunch. In other words, they were wrapped up in that thing we call ‘life’.

Meanwhile flying overhead were numerous missiles of allegations and speculations and threats of lawsuits and 24-hour ultimatums being hurled across the political spectrum. Ordinary Malta, however, remained (at least at the time of writing) oblivious. It may be hard for some of us news junkies to believe, but there are people out there who are not glued to news portals, they do not watch the evening news, they do not buy newspapers, and their FB is purely used for their social life, so they are pretty much switched off.

Another possible explanation for the (relative) silence is that maybe many people don’t really care that much if a Cabinet Minister is squirreling away his money in a tax haven which guarantees him complete secrecy and non-disclosure.

However, after mulling this over, I find this much harder to believe – can it be possible that hardworking, tax paying voters of an erstwhile “workers’ party” really see nothing wrong with this? And yet, I have read comments in which people have readily sprung to his defence, saying, “it’s his money, he can do what he likes with it.”

Now, I know diehard supporters will defend their party to the death and justify just about anything, but surely there must be a limit to what one will accept as “OK”?

In fact, non-Maltese residents are often flabbergasted at just how fiercely loyal party supporters can be in this country, even in the face of what is blatantly, patently wrong and unacceptable. But what they fail to figure in is the existence of those meandering island networks within networks once a party is voted into power, which means everyone and his brother have a lot to lose if the whole edifice topples down. Anyone who is remotely dependent on the government of the day for their job, or a promotion or a tender or contract here and there, will continue sticking up for “their” government even when all hell is breaking lose. They will try to deflect attention by pointing to what “the others” did. Alternatively, they will keep their heads low and their mouths shut, because too much of their own personal future is at stake. Tragic, but true.

"They look at this Labour party, and what they see is a parody of their left-wing values which once upon a time were based on the concept of social justice."
And yet, to be fair I have also seen comments by truly despondent Labour voters who are physically sickened by this story, which represents another brick in the PL wall.

They look at this Labour party, and what they see is a parody of their left-wing values which once upon a time were based on the concept of social justice.

It is to these people most of all (apart from the rest of the nation) that the Labour Prime Minister owes it to do the right thing… the people who waited almost 25 years to finally see their party in government, only to now feel incredibly let down, and vowing to never vote again.

Because, obviously, those who are talking about the Konrad Mizzi case cannot help but wonder if there is anyone else in the seat of government who has secret companies tucked away from prying eyes, where money can be deposited and never accounted for. The suspicions that this has aroused need hardly be spelt out.

Yesterday Joseph Muscat said that “today we have a coalition propelled by aspiration, that helps people quench that thirst to achieve, whoever they are, whichever class they hail from, whatever work they are doing. This is who the Labour movement represents.”

Yes, that is all well and good, but really that is so not the point, now is it? This isn’t about aspirations and achievements, but about being politically honest and respecting the intelligence of those who gave you their vote.  

 

 

josanne_cassar
Josanne Cassar's field is communications – and over the last 30 years she has worked in ...
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