Alla illiberani

Robert Abela will decide whether he is any different a leader to Eddie Fenech Adami, Lawrence Gonzi, or Joseph Muscat, the people who played the pipers’ tune

In the midst of last November’s political crisis, a brilliant rocking piece was produced by Brikkuni - Alla Illiberani, with singer Mario Vella mocking the neo-liberal politics of Joseph Muscat and his administration, released at the height of the 2019 street protests. You can find it on YouTube. 

You could say it was, rather unfortunately, ‘forgotten’ after December along with that political scandal, even though Brikkuni’s music echoes the sentiment of those tired of the reckless development and the corruption of the industries and politicians in thrall to the mantra of neverending economic growth.

That crisis seems so long ago, having been cut somewhat short by the resignation of Joseph Muscat, the surprise election of Robert Abela and the pandemic that took over our lives.

You will not hear Vella’s music on the national broadcaster or of course the political stations. Not because of its quality. 

The language does breach the genteel standards required of broadcast TV. 

But the reality is that the anarchic spirit of Brikkuni’s music is a direct punch in the gut of the Maltese establishment, and it is for that reason that this searing attack on the political class will never be aired to your living rooms. 

Instead, you will get a diet of awardfriendly, generic pop pap, rather than the trenchant words of Alla Illiberani, which will remind you of the inescapable problems that still lie beneath the surface with us, haunting us forever.

I do not want to sound petty, but the intention of Prime Minister Robert Abela to bend over backwards to the likes of hunting supremo Lino Farrugia to open the spring season for some 7,000 hunters while the rest of Malta is being asked to make a sacrifice and stay indoors, is an indication of how political wisdom is often overshadowed by electoral considerations.

Everyone knows that Maltese and Gozitan hunters cannot be trusted with a gun; every time they descend onto the Maltese and Gozitan garigue they decimate every living creature they see. 

They represent what is ugly about the Maltese: that devil-may-care and fatalist approach to all things in life, nature included, without any consideration for the wider community.

But the fact of the matter here is that even should hunters be granted the concession to derogate from the EU ban on spring hunting to shoot just one species, quail (summien), the EU rules are clear: for every 1,000 hunters registered for the season, there must be seven enforcement officers out there monitoring the hunt.

That means, 35 police officers or monitors.

Abela will decide in the next day or two. 

Rest assured that decision remains trapped in a mind-set that forms part of this particular Maltese DNA.

We remain subservient to the lobbies, the ‘traditions’, the construction industry, the hunters, a reluctance to tax, the two-party system, our Catholic and conservative roots, and our habit of returning to the conventions that govern our way of life. 

Even if they are not benefiting us.

COVID-19 is a rude awakening that things will have to change dramatically. 

The glorious years are over, the economy is broken, the days when Maltese refuse to work menial jobs are over, the handouts (will soon be) over, the days when companies and individuals can accept not to be probed or to avoid taxes are over.

The big profits, the financial rip-offs, the double economy, the buzzwords from the brave new digital world and the endless quest for luxury and bespoke rubbish, have had their day.

We will have to change and to return to ground zero. 

And indeed, everything must change.

When Abela sits back to decide if hunting for quail will be allowed or not, he will not just be deciding on the fate of a bird.

He will not just be permitting thousands of hunters to roam the countryside and play Rambo...he will decide whether he is any different a leader to Eddie Fenech Adami, Lawrence Gonzi, or Joseph Muscat, the people who played the pipers’ tune.

Abela’s small and seemingly irrelevant decision is an eye-opener of how willing or unwilling we are to stick to our ways, of how unwilling we are to challenge the status quo and get out and change the world.

The world is changing before us and we want to continue hanging on to the old world. 

Even Europe will change, and we must also come to terms that we cannot be overtaken by the shadows of yester year or be bullied by a European Union that has failed everyone. 

We must come to terms with the fact that if we want change then the change must start here at home. And Robert Abela must be that catalyst for change.