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Will anything change for them?

I still believe that the biggest mistake in 2016, was the Prime Minister’s decision not to ask at once for Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri’s resignation

saviour_balzan
Saviour Balzan
2 January 2017, 9:31am
Marisa Tomei as a journalist speaks to the campaigner (Ryan Gosling) for the presidential candidate
Marisa Tomei as a journalist speaks to the campaigner (Ryan Gosling) for the presidential candidate
I guess the worst job for any journalist is to look to the future. To guess it. To sort of figure out what is going to happen next.  

It is so much easier to sit back, look back and analyse what happened and why it happened that way.

The other day I watched the film ‘The Ides of March’. It is a great film which serves as the prelude to the ‘House of Cards’ Netflix series. In fact it is part written by the same screenwriter for the House of Cards, Beau Willimon.

There is a scene between a journalist from the New York Times played by Marisa Tomei and the protagonist, the campaigner for the presidential candidate played by Ryan Gosling.  

The journalist asks him why he got himself in this job. He replies, because he believes his man will make a difference and make things happen and real changes will take place.  

And in the most colourful language she answers, that nothing will really f***ing change for the ordinary people, everything will remain f***ing the same for all of them.

I guess that is how I am feeling at this particular moment in time.

I tried to say the least of seeing history repeat itself and still sort of giving the benefit of the doubt to a lot of individuals in politics.  

Not everything is dark, not everything is white though.

Marisa Tomei, in an interview about her role in the film, said that as a journalist she was a friend to all these politicians, but there was a line she did not cross when it came to friendship.

And, yes I would like to say the same for myself. But in some very unique personalities, it has been more than friendship. 

There is one thing that has egged me on not to stop being a journalist; it is, I feel, to continue promoting the kind of journalism that makes me click. The kind that seeks the truth, relives the memories, uncovers the hypocrisy and calls a spade a spade.

2016 saw MaltaToday taking the Labour administration to task over a number of misconducts that would have automatically resulted in a number of heads rolling.  

I still believe that the biggest mistake this year, was the Prime Minister’s decision not to ask at once for Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri’s resignation. They should have resigned pending an independent investigation and if the PM then thought – as he thinks – they were so indispensable, so competent, he could have done a Tony Blair and called them back in from the cold after an inquiry that found no incriminating evidence.

The PN and Simon Busuttil argue that there is incriminating evidence because the forms that opened the accounts declare that a million euros could have been invested. Well, that is the amount they could have invested, it was not what was invested. If that kind of evidence is to be taken as a smoking gun I could have taken so many politicians to the cleaners.

Nonetheless, the whole affair was simply unacceptable – politicians and their proxies do not open Panama accounts.

Panama was not nice, it was an awful setback for Joseph Muscat that refused to go away.

I was NOT surprised with the other incidents: Joe Cassar and Gaffarena, Giovanna Debono’s husband and alleged works for votes, Michael Falzon and Gaffarena, Emanuel Mallia and Sheehan or Café Premier and the pay-out to Neville Curmi and Mario Camilleri, Beppe Fenech Adami and his role in fiduciary companies, Jason Azzopardi and Lowenbrau, and many others.

This is politics for you in Malta. How most people see them depends on their favourite colour, red or blue.

I was however surprised at the Evarist Bartolo scandal, and I think that his case is very serious. And the Ciliberti libel actions against this newspaper will thankfully shed more light on what really took place. Of course Ciliberti, better known as ‘Chilly’, believes that by filing for libel, he will bury this sorry matter for good.  

The Nationalists have lost no time in trying to recuperate their lost ground, but many people in my situation find it difficult to sit down and get lectured by the self-conceited likes of some of the politicians who run the PN. I was brought up as a teenager and young adult from 1971 until 1986 to never trust the divisive politics of Labour, but I also experienced the political apartheid of the PN and their similitudes with the PL.

Just because they have solid arguments in criticising many of the PL’s actions and policies, I do not believe the team they are presenting for public office is worthy of trust as yet.

My job is to know about things, and unlike others I do not splash the news whenever I get wind of something. But I have seen things that make me cringe. And I guess the worst example of this is when I see senior PN politicians working for big business on sizeable retainers and then having the gall to appear at a party press conference and hit out at the same business concern that financially supports them. As if that paints them whiter than white.

And I am talking of some very senior people.

But I am also incensed at the very short memories people have, the ones that seem to have the time to read through every blog and scan facebook and believe all that is written.

It is not only a Maltese affair, politics makes people tribal and inward looking. We are presented as a divided country, as if there were two different tribes concocted and created with different DNA.

***

My prognosis for 2017, beyond the decisions that will not be in our control, and that includes the folly of Donald Trump and the conflicts in the Middle East, is not a happy one, so I will stick to what I would like to see happen this year in Malta. 

1. I would like to see a growing newspaper industry that will win new and young readers.

2. I would wish for a cleaner Malta, with zero tolerance to dumping in the countryside, on the seashore and in our towns.

3. I would love to see more nature parks and green zones in Malta and Gozo.

4. I would love to see more engagement in politics by people with some ideological baggage.

5. I would like to see the Maltese electoral system change, where one votes for the party and not for the candidate, and the top candidates are selected by the party.

6. I would like to see a better read and educated citizenry who ask questions rather than believe all that is written.

7. I will hope for an election campaign that is not dependent on the bloggers and their hate bile, and which will present arguments rather than hyperbole.

8. I will pray for some debate on the dual economy that exists in Malta and measures that can be taken to uplift Maltese companies facing a brain drain to foreign-based companies as a result of uncompetitive salaries.

9. I will look out for more individuals who wish to take journalism as a profession because they believe in change through knowledge.

10. I will dream of integrating more migrants into our society as new Maltese citizens.  

11. I would hope more Maltese will learn about their country’s wealth, from the historical centres to the amazing culture and diverse biodiversity around us.

12. I would very much hope people have the same access to the best health and education services and opportunities to free time, information and improving one’s situation.

13. I would hope that MaltaToday will continue to be the top agenda setter in Malta and retain its enviable position as a truly independent media product.

Happy New Year to all!

saviour_balzan
Saviour Balzan is the founder and co-owner of MaltaToday. He has reported on Maltese poli...
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