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michaelfalzon
Michael Falzon

Why I am flummoxed

I have never felt so flummoxed, so sad and as sorry for my country as I have felt these last few days

michaelfalzon
Michael Falzon
24 October 2017, 8:38am
Ironically, the sudden brutal murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia has profoundly affected Maltese society more than her writings had ever done. But first I have to state the obvious: that her murder is an atrocious act that has shocked everyone and is unacceptable in a democratic society, irrespective of the capricious and reckless way she wrote about people whom she identified as her enemies – including yours truly. I have to state the obvious because I am sure that in the crazy state Maltese society has pushed itself into, there would be some who would condemn me and accuse me of whatever comes to their mind for my not having stated it. 

Except for some really notable pieces of investigative journalism, I still retain that most of her writings were divisive and hardly helped the country to acknowledge its foibles and defects and try to make up for them – simply because her provocative posts pungently attacking anyone whom she disliked or whom she considered as consorting with ‘the enemy’ whipped up a contrary reaction. In many people’s mind, her methods eventually undermined her real more important pieces of genuine journalism. 

Her premature death at the hands of a yet unknown assassin has shocked the nation in many ways. People who were insulted by her – like I was, although I did not take it lying down – were flummoxed. In spite of the way she described many, most of them are civilised human beings who do not even dream of settling scores with physical violence, let alone the type of horrible death that she went through. 

Indeed, it is only organised crime and terrorists that use the methods that were availed of to snuff out her life. If I got it right, there is no comparison between this ‘car bomb’ and other cases of car bombs that have been part of our history when criminals settle scores between themselves. Forensically, it seems this car bomb was very different. 

People may ask: so what? My answer is that indications are that the evil mind that ordered her assassination and the evil hand that actually did it were not the usual suspects – and this is a very serious matter in itself.

Meanwhile, the profound effect of this horrible assassination on Maltese society is – to say the least – disturbing. Something is seriously wrong when this horrible act divides us more than unites us.

"Giving the impression that all we need for this country to move out of its current ‘forma mentis’ is two or three resignations is just unworthy bluster"
Something is terribly wrong when this ghastly incident leads the Maltese to denigrate Malta. Something is wrong when leading members of the party in Opposition go on world famous television stations decrying that Malta is a country where the rule of law does not exist anymore. Something is terribly wrong when the only political reaction is to call for the resignation of the Prime Minister, the Police Commissioner and the Attorney General. At the back of our minds, we all know that changing the present incumbents will leave this country exactly where it is – if not worse. I am not stating that people in power and responsible positions should not take political responsibility for their decisions or lack of decisions; but giving the impression that all we need for this country to go forward and move out of its current ‘forma mentis’ is two or three resignations is just unworthy bluster. 

After over 50 years of independence, we have still not shaken off the colonial mentality that makes us think that Malta is inferior to others. That everything is perfect in other European states while in Malta criminality and corruption are the order of the day. Yes our democracy has some inherent defects that must be corrected. Yes we have our fair share of criminals in our society. But that does not mean that other countries are superior to us because their democratic systems are perfect. 

We have to be united in our resolve not to fall into the trap of politically opposing the party currently in power by ‘all means’ and to understand that no one political party can solve our serious political problems on its own.

Depicting Malta as some rogue state where the rule of law does not even exist – an unwarranted exaggeration – does untold harm. Not just to the Muscat administration but to Malta. This does not mean that our political, administrative and judicial systems do not have many shortcomings that we should strive to decrease. Some day the PN – or another political force for that matter – will inherit the country’s administration and it will have to deal with the problems that were partly created by itself in Opposition.

When the PN was elected to power in 1987, the first Fenech Adami administration struggled for months on end to change the perception prevalent abroad that Malta was just a Libyan puppet. This perception was even incorrect in the first place, as the story of Mintoff’s relations with Gaddafi was not as simplistic as perceived. 

My point is that, in these circumstances, denigrating Malta is not in anyone’s interests.

"If Daphne’s legacy were just the reinforcement of our prejudices and divisiveness, then she would have really died in vain "
We are all in this together, whether we like it or not. Just as we could not solve the 1981 Constitutional impasse without some form of compromise with the Mintoff regime, we cannot go out of this conundrum without a political compromise. Hard stances do not lead anywhere and no one will intervene to save our blushes.

This does not mean that Joseph Muscat bears no political responsibility for what has happened since he gained power in 2013 – just as much as the PN bears the political responsibility of what happened on its watch.

But surely, all out political war against Joseph Muscat will only lead the PN up a blind alley. An objective assessment of the speech of the Leader of the Opposition on Tuesday and the Prime Minister’s reply on Wednesday should serve as an eye-opener. The problem, of course, is with the word ‘objective’.

Just try to stomach all the comments on social media following Caruana Galizia’s assassination. It seems that almost everyone has gone berserk.

If Daphne’s legacy were just the reinforcement of our prejudices and divisiveness, then she would have really died in vain.

michaelfalzon
Michael Falzon is a former government minister who served under several Nationalist admini...
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