A murder that unravelled the ugliness of our political system

If allowed, Yorgen Fenech could drag the entire house of cards down with him

Yorgen Fenech
Yorgen Fenech

If there is one facet of 2020 which will not go unnoticed it was the weekly, sometimes daily revelations made public from the Yorgen Fenech compilation of evidence, the Caruana Galizia public inquiry and the constant leakages to the press. All par for the course, of course. That is the business of being in the press. 

But beyond solid confirmation of the incestuous state of affairs that has always characterised Malta, the power and greed of a group of men has unravelled the way the whole political system has operated. 

We cannot be surprised at learning of the mechanics of these set-ups. That is the way it always worked. For the last decades we had sufficient proof to confirm the intricate bond that existed between politics and business. MaltaToday chronicled well enough that history. But now it has come all crashing down with the murder of a journalist and the arrest of the alleged mastermind and the implication of so many inside the former Labour administration. 

If allowed, Yorgen Fenech could drag the entire house of cards down with him. Until now the police have refused to entertain his request to spill all the beans, acting instead on evidence from either third parties or other hard facts. 

My belief is that the murder was not a singular action commissioned by one person, but a combined effort of numerous interests. But it does not seem something that either the police or the Caruana Galizia are interested in, because they would have to first consider listening to what Fenech has to say. It will be very difficult to erase any form of culpability for Fenech or to give him something akin to a pardon for all he knows; but this is not about what I or they think, but about justice being served. 

What we thought would be a solved case by 2020 has turned out to be a nightmare that unravels the ugliness of the system. Our worst fears have come true, and our levels of trust have dissipated into thin air. We are lost more than ever. 

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Beyond the politics and the survival of the media, there was another reality which made this year ‘special’. Nothing can mitigate the suffering of so many families who lost their loved ones in this pandemic. Even worse was the loneliness of those who died without the empathy and comfort of their families and loved ones. As COVID-19 measures kicked in, ill patients and terminal patients were deprived of physical contact. Many died alone, in their last moments abandoned. 

Elderly homes were hit by COVID infections as a result of poor procedures put into place by the health authorities. Then the real long-term threat of this pandemic was the economic hardship, especially on those who could not survive in a world that suddenly changed overnight. 

It is so easy to pontificate on the need to change and to adapt, as if the structures put into place over the years can be dismantled and altered at the touch of a button. 

Many small businesses have literally stop functioning and many dreams were shattered. There has been plenty of money injected by government that keeps the public sector employees going, and others in the private sector to a lesser extent. But those who were in a difficult economic situation are now entering a terminal state. 

2021 will require the State to intervene to help new ventures with their ideas, and support the business ‘establishment’ that was in its twilight and could now be heading to a natural death, if not towards extinction. 

The government must be on the lookout for those on the fringe who are finding it difficult to survive. Which obviously brings me to the situation where one asks why the government does not shift some of the weight on the wealthy and the well-to-do. There are some very rich people in Malta, as well as an undertaxed upper middle-class. They might think they are beyond reproach and that they should not be taxed any higher. But if the State cannot dig anymore into its pockets it should turn to those who are privileged, as well as tax heavily those who used offshore to siphon away their profits. 

Perhaps there is little appetite in the country for doing the right thing, and all this is gibberish. It should not be too difficult in reality, to do the right thing: the numbers and monthly polling reconfirms that in spite of everything, Labour will still win the next election, unless something stunning takes place that pushes Bernard Grech to the top. Prime Minister Robert Abela should have the courage to implement decisions that truly uphold Labour’s values, and not extend the neoliberal traits of the Muscat administration. 

Season’s greetings and a Happy New Year to all readers! 

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