michaelfalzon
Michael Falzon

What law enforcement?

Joseph Muscat's speech marking the first 100 days included some new ideas, including: law enforcement

michaelfalzon
Michael Falzon
19 September 2017, 7:30am
The Maltese have a weird way of how to look at law enforcement: It is shameful when others ignore the law but justified when we do the same
The Maltese have a weird way of how to look at law enforcement: It is shameful when others ignore the law but justified when we do the same
Law enforcement does not fit in nicely with the culture of many a Mediterranean country. Malta is no exception – although the situation is not as bad as it is in North African countries or in Sicily – thanks to the influence of the British period.

As a result the Maltese have a weird way of how to look at law enforcement: It is shameful when others ignore the law but justified when we do the same. This innate contradiction in the Maltese character has been the bane of politicians and governments of all hues in their quest for a better Malta.

Joseph Muscat’s speech last Sunday marking the first one hundred days of his second administration included some new ideas showing the direction that the current government intends to embark upon. They also included that perennial old chestnut: law enforcement.

The examples he gave of areas where law enforcement is lacking are the result of what people say and think – both in the social media and in the polls that the Labour Party regularly holds. It is no promise of an across-the-board law enforcement policy. Muscat just cherry picked those areas where the big majority of people feel that law enforcement is urgently needed: drink driving, abuse of encroachment permits, lack of police surveillance in particularly notorious areas.

There are, of course, other areas were law enforcement is sorely lacking – but Muscat ignored them, probably because these do not show up in the top of the list of people’s concerns as resulting from his surveys. I know I am being cynical, but it does seem to me that the success of the Muscat administration owes a lot to Labour’s monitoring of people’s concerns and taking relevant decisions – apart from the current unprecedented economic well-being.

The problem that Muscat has to face is that pushing for law enforcement is a contradiction of how his first administration dealt with – or rather ignored – the issue.

Before his 2013 electoral victory Muscat’s movement promised all sorts of things to all people. Some had justified complaints that the PN administration had ignored or not considered as much as it should have. Others had wild requests that any sane administrator should have immediately shot down upon hearing about them. Muscat put everybody in the same bag, promising a government that would be in touch with the people.

"The fire-fighting exercises the Prime Minister has promised will lead to some temporary relief, but the real problem is one of changing the Maltese culture about observing the rules"
In government, the first Muscat administration found itself in a quandary on innumerable occasions: how to keep its promises and satisfy requests that – once accepted – would open the proverbial Pandora’s Box.

Unfortunately, there were many such requests that were accepted because they were electoral promises that should have never been made. The encroachment of public pavements by catering outlets is one of them. The administration’s acquiescence to all those who were refused a permit during the PN administration – even those refusals that were backed by an acceptable logic-based reason – has led to the current free for all. People are naturally indignant when they are refused a permit in the same circumstances in which others have been given the green light.

Policies regarding how and when such permits should be given were drawn up, but the problem persists, with many quoting permits that should never have been issued in the first place. 

Since it is top of the list in the public’s concerns, Muscat has realised that he has to do something about it.

Drink driving and lack of police surveillance in tourist areas such as Paceville and in areas with a large community of African immigrants – Marsa and Birzebbugia – are also on top of Muscat’s list, reflecting – as they do – people’s concerns.

I think that the fire-fighting exercises that the Prime Minister has promised will lead to some temporary relief, but the real problem is one of changing the Maltese culture about observing the rules. Even more important is the promises spree that politicians of all sides embark on before every general election – promising jobs and permits that put the personal interest of the few above the common good. 

With his unprecedented majority at the polls, the Muscat administration is in a good position to refuse unjustified requests and to refuse to make promises that should never be made. The number of personal handouts on the eve of the election last June does not help to persuade me that Muscat is going to make a crusade of law enforcement across the board – even if at the moment the PN has managed to make itself temporarily irrelevant. 

Unless we start to educate children at school to respect law enforcement, this will always be a controversial subject. But then parents who openly disregard the law can quickly undo whatever their children learn at school.

And the vicious circle continues on and on...

Hurricane warning

The interference of blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia in the election of the next PN leader continues unabated.

Many cannot understand how the PN administrative council – that supposedly resigned three months ago – still holds the blogger in awe when she has turned her abhorrent and savage methods on to anyone whom she perceives to be supporting the candidate that she does not favour.

People who were once ‘nice’ have become ‘cheats and hypocrites’. People who were considered by her as good journalists have become ‘non-journalists’ as they work for a political party. Much like Hurricane Irma she spews destruction all over who she passes, making the task of re-uniting the party even more difficult for the new PN leader – whoever he may be.

Lately she has even assumed the mantle of a Freudian observer – dishing out ‘psychological explanations’ that claim to expose why people are fighting against her abhorrent methods. Since she thinks that she is always right and that there is nothing wrong with her, those who disagree with her must be despicable.

She has arrived at the stage where she must contradict herself in order to pursue her objectives in the savage way she pursues them.

Eventually, she will become incoherent. 

It might take some more time.

But this is what usually happens to sad pathetic people who think that they are always right and that everybody who disagrees with them must be wrong and hateful. 

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