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Class. Not yet extinct

There’s a real divide between those who have an anglicised upbringing with, perhaps, a refined lifestyle, and the rest of us who have moved up the social ladde

saviour_balzan
Saviour Balzan
11 December 2017, 7:31am
This is a free world and as such there is nothing that can stop people from believing what they want to believe, at least in Malta.

Yet again, it is up to most of us to fight against our prejudices or allow them to take over, fester and control our minds. As I do not get younger I realise that every year becomes tougher than the previous one. This year to me was the one that exemplified ‘hate’.

It has been incredibly hard.

No matter what you write or say, some people refuse to get out of their rut and continue repeating the same chant. The problem is that once things settle down, you realise that the real problem is all about formation, prejudice and knowledge.

I used to think that formation and class were not that significant but I am now realising that they are important factors which influence how we react in certain situations.

Perhaps it is not overtly clear, but there is a real divide between those (however smaller in numbers) who have an anglicised upbringing with, perhaps, a refined lifestyle, and the rest of us who have moved up the social ladder.

In spite of everything, the former look down at other people because they do not consider themselves members of our group. There’s some history backing up this anecdotal observation.

Consider that before the 1970s, the middleclass and those vicariously serving the British colonial power dominated much of the Maltese political, economic and social landscape.

After the 1970s, reforms allowed for a new generation of property owners, emancipating an impoverished working-class and in turn, allowing families to move up the social ladder as it were.

Despite the changed social landscape in Malta, there are many who have strong political beliefs which blind them to their own hypocrisy and inconsistency.

To read for example that the police arrests of the Caruana Galizia murder suspects coincided with some fortuitous timing is once again either the fruit of conspiratorial thinking or downright stupidity. I sincerely believe that there were some individuals who were unhappy that the police succeeded in the first place.

As if the police would have had some interest in hiding the truth on such a coup. In fact, from the very first day following the assassination, it was clear that there were those who wanted to pin the murder on some Labour minister, even if this was simply not backed by anyone.

I was angry to read that those people who are justifiably hurt but should know better, continue fomenting the notion that Malta is a mafia state when said individuals (and here I am referring to particular individuals who push this narrative) were allowed to go scot free after being arrested for drug possession by the same Malta police years back. On this, I will consider my words carefully for the time being.

If there were problems with the Malta police, they are still here with us. A very serious problem is their measly take-home pay.

"There’s a real divide between those who have an anglicised upbringing with, perhaps, a refined lifestyle, and the rest of us who have moved up the social ladder"
Police inspectors net €1,500 a month and for this we are expecting them to fight the criminal underworld. We must be joking. I have no doubt that there are bad apples in the police force and there are those that work hand-in-hand with criminals, but bent cops are nothing new.

There are many others who dedicate their whole lives to this profession. The unabashed critics who accuse the police force of being politicised today are the same ones who enjoyed seeing the same force play to the tune of the government’s influence just five years ago.

The outstanding feature of the investigation in the Caruana Galizia case, is the public involvement of different foreign agencies such as the FBI and Europol and the media focus on this event, which leads one to realise why the claims of London law firm Doughty Chambers, egged on by the Caruana Galizia family, seems ill-timed.

The legal advice is the basis for a claim the family is pursuing in court. But the tone of the letter also explains the government’s equally hard riposte, which said: “The undertone of the so-called ‘Urgent Advice’ is that the State was itself involved in the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia and on this basis it is argued that practically no Maltese authority should be involved in the investigation. Such a serious allegation is not based on any proof but only on the open contempt which the clients hold towards the Maltese State.

They are very irresponsible allegations intended to undermine the credibility and authority of all Maltese institutions nationally and internationally, and cannot be made or taken lightly.”

Thanks to the UK firm’s statement, for an instant, we were taken back to the time when something had more weight if it was uttered by a foreigner. But most Maltese have shed this inferiority complex and started to think with their own minds.

Meanwhile, however, if there is one lesson to be learnt, it is the fact that the three accused have a long history of crime and have been arraigned by the police several times. And somehow along the line they have been defended by Malta’s most prominent lawyers, most of whom are unfailing in their political prejudice.

The accused repeatedly got off the hook and most of the time they were not proved guilty.

An analysis of how many arraignments ended in indecisive decisions would make interesting reading mainly because most of these cases go back in time, when Malta was allegedly run by perfect politicians, when there was no corruption and the idea that anyone in the police or judiciary was doing anything wrong was obviously based on supposition and lies.

This happened, of course, when the Chief Justice Silvio Camilleri believed that issues with the rule of law were not up for discussion because there were no issues, when money laundering never took place, when the MFSA was organised and functioning as it should be, and when former Police commissioner John Rizzo ran a police force that solved each and every case and stood for everything you wanted a police force to be.

Indeed, we were living in paradise and the critics of this abhorrent regime were absolutely right in not pointing out the deficiencies of the administration then. Indeed, Malta was a much better place, everyone was happier, and nothing went wrong.

Even when Mrs Kate Gonzi did voluntary work, it was from the heart, unlike what is happening today. In 2013, Bishop Charles Scicluna said, in the festschrift ‘Kate Gonzi: From the Heart’, Gonzi was a sincere and compassionate woman. “Notwithstanding her background role, she conveyed compassion and sincerity. My admiration for her extends to her role as a great companion to Lawrence Gonzi: A great man who will be remembered for having stood by his principles.”

Now just imagine saying the same words about Michelle Muscat. The sarcasm seems to escape some people. Because today, it is not what you do to certain people, but who does it.

That is why you should expect Michelle Muscat to be taken to the cleaners for having decided to spend quite a lot of her private time raising awareness and money for good causes – such as rare diseases, which never get a mention because the families who suffer the stigma of serious, rare and incurable diseases and hereditary conditions lack the social support network others have.

If you want absurdity, read The Malta Independent: they actually ran a front-page story suggesting that politically exposed people should not be eligible to be nominated for the national volunteers’ award.

Since when are PEPs (whose status is a more serious matter when it comes to financial affairs) a determining factor in who gets awards from national councils and quangos? It has become such a problem to be associated with one side, or to remotely suggest that one side is doing good, because you are immediately labelled and accused of being party to the mafia state, of being an asshole and an apologist.

At this juncture, I think I should just get on with it. No one will think otherwise if I try and suggest that I am being objective. Because the truth is that at this moment in time I am not objective, but resonantly subjective in believing that the people who continue to create divisions and paint a different Malta that is based on class prejudice, have little place in our society.

They will probably regard my comments as a threat when it is not so, which, to be completely honest, does not bother me in the least.

I do not really care, and I am sure that most people think the same.

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