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Will voters trust Muscat again?

By Claudette Buttigieg

7 October 2015, 8:28am
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat
With Muscat clearly losing control of any form of good governance, citizens are finding the main, basic principles of what is normally defined as just in our society, being challenged.

Human dignity has taken a plunge, particularly where the elderly and vulnerable people are concerned. Access to information has become more and more absent with the excuse that it is not in the national (or commercial) interest. Equity has long been lost since Muscat discarded his electoral promise of meritocracy. Our government apparently promotes rights and liberties when in reality these are used in Muscat’s political kite flying as a distraction from the worrying issues at hand.

Of course participation has also fallen by the wayside. Muscat and his cabinet pretend to listen but then come up with ready-made ideas without having consulted the main stakeholders. Some of those ideas soon proved to be wrong. Laws riddled with mistakes made out of haste and arrogance.

There is a general feeling in the country that anything goes.

Setting standards 

In Europe there is a healthy role for government to play in the economy and social life. It must not get too stifling or centralising, however. Markets must be allowed to operate. But they must not be wild and savage. Minimum standards must be protected. There has to be a social dimension.

Therefore the general trend is for governments to act as regulators and setters of standards. Meanwhile, the private and non-profit sectors are permitted to operate as long as they meet those standards.

Joseph Muscat’s government has managed to turn things on their head. Standards are being loosened with each passing day, so that Labour’s cronies can do what they like. On the other hand, Labour is centralising power, so that anyone who wants to do anything needs to suck up to it.

That is what throwing out competent people and replacing with incompetent Taghna Lkollers is all about.

It’s the formula designed to give voters and consumers a raw deal. It’s designed to help the political elite and economic opportunists.

 It is also a formula that is undermining our institutions, especially those designed to act as impartial advisors to the political decision-makers.

Transparency

Last month the Prime Minister had a meeting at Castille, in his office, with the president of the oil company SOCAR, Rovnag Abdullayev, who also happens to be the president of the Azerbajan Football Association.

So the president of an oil company and a football association is greeted “casually” in the prime minister’s office. Once again, no government officials were present. It was just Muscat and his Chief of Staff. Nobody from Enemalta or from the Malta Football association were present either.

The Prime Minister finds it very normal to have this meeting and issue a press release through the Department of Information. He tries to make us believe that, since he uses methods that mimic transparency, he is therefore transparent, and we should all be happy and continue minding our own business.

Transparency and good governance do not come from issuing press photos and statements to the media. ITAR-TASS and AZERTAC also disseminate news on behalf of states, Russia and Azerbaijan, which lack transparency, where corruption is rife and where liberty of expression leaves much to be desired.

Before and after

Do you remember Muscat in Opposition? It is only two and a half years ago and I am sure that like me, you will remember he did or said very little which anybody can define as remotely positive or concrete. Yes, he was downright negative.

Today, the sales pitch is definitely Muscat’s forte. Everything and everyone has a price for Muscat, which means that everything and everyone can be bought or sold. And by anything, I do mean anything. Visas, passports, residence permits, ODZ, health, education… you name it, he sells it.

Thanks to his sales, we now have people living on this island who we know nothing about. And yet, they have a vote and with it they could make choices about our own future.

Worse still, we are being told that we shouldn’t even be asking about these people because these are people of talent who have invested in our country and by asking questions we would be putting them off.

We all know that the people wanted a change from the previous PN government. I wonder if Muscat’s is the Government they really wanted. I don’t blame the voters. This is not what Muscat promised. Voters got the wrong deal.

Unfortunately we cannot go to the consumer rights office and say that the misleading advertising dished out by Muscat’s propaganda machine made voters “buy” something they didn’t bargain for.

Of course the question is: will voters trust Muscat again next time round?

Claudette Buttigieg is shadow minister for health (PN)

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