Some Christmas this has been...

Our political class just does not understand how standards in public life work... just because they happen to win some popularity contest once every five years, they think they have also won a ticket to claim exceptions to the rules, unlike common mortals

It’s been quite the Christmas season, hasn’t it?

As we look back and analyse the 12 months, just like some biological cycle of ours to be in synch with the seasons, it is amazing to see how the Yuletide holidays have had no impact on the great news stories we saw in the last weeks.

We had the endless court proceedings on alleged mastermind Yorgen Fenech and the many judicial offshoots from the Daphne murder; the endless debate on the extent of corruption in Malta and its governmental and social structures; the FATF greylisting saga; the apparent supremacy of the Abela administration and the mediocre Opposition as it attempts its own comeback... so much seems to happen in the course of just one week.

Take this last one, for example. We started off with the resignation of Labour MP Silvio Grixti, a family doctor with no political baggage who made it in the last election and yet, nobody has ever heard him utter one sentence on politics. I never met the man; never heard him talk; it seems he was elected on the Labour ticket simply because he was a popular family doctor. Such is politics.

So indeed his resignation was met with the unkind realisation that nobody had ever heard of him. “Didn’t even know he was elected to parliament, let alone the Labour Party.” That is Grixti’s mark on Maltese political history.

But then there was education minister Justyne Caruana’s resignation, which came a week after a Standards Commissioner’s investigation sparked by a complaint based on a MaltaToday report showing she gave her partner Daniel Bogdanovic a €15,000 contract.

Those who know Caruana might probably be surprised at this kind of faux pas. It is not ‘corruption’ that seems to have routed out this minister, but rather the foolishness of the heart. But then again, why mix politics with such foibles in the first place? Looks like this footballer set her off the rails. Indeed, those who know her work ethic are bewildered by her bizarre decision to sacrifice everything for one man – especially after her first resignation when ex-husband Silvio Valletta, the assistant police commissioner, was outed as having been close to Yorgen Fenech.

Still, is this not a sign that our political class, or at least members of it, just does not understand how standards in public life work? That just because they happen to win some popularity contest once every five years, they think they have also won a ticket to claim exceptions to the rules, unlike common mortals?


As everyone was getting ready for the announcement that the Omicron virus had arrived in Malta, with new public health restrictions announced, the press reported the United States travel ban for former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri and former minister Konrad Mizzi.

Politically, for what have been extremely cordial relations between the two countries, this travel ban is quite an unprecedented move – almost surprising in the case of Schembri, considering how close he had been to top US diplomats right before his fallout. Naturally, men and women in top posts befriend each other, you cannot pick and choose your counterparts. Still, the long and short of this is that US intelligence and their methods of espionage are so superior that one cannot exaggerate the Americans’ ability to monitor what’s happening on the ground.

You could even say this kind of move has long been coming, and that Schembri and his dark secrets were well in the cross-hairs of the Americans long before. So be it. Still: do not view this move as Big Brother watching out for tiny Malta. Far from some benevolent superpower committed against “corrupt acts” (the Americans do pick and choose upon which nations and political forces they bestow their grace), this ‘little’ action could set in a domino effect.


Perhaps the two topics that really have some Christmas flavour is the eruption of COVID cases and the stranded migrants out at sea.

Starting with the latter, I find it incredibly surprising that Maltese politicians, blue and red, who are avowed Christians, can be so insensitive to the despair of African migrants stranded out at sea.

Archbishop Charles Scicluna’s humane offer to welcome migrants is a feather in his cap. Hats off to him (I rarely have words of praise for him...) – yet it is at times like these that we need to go against the grain. Even a calculating mind would know that taking in a 100, 200, or 300 asylum seekers, or irregular migrants – despite the logistical ‘cost’ of rescue and reception (taxpayers’ money has been spent on far worse extravagances) are welcome additions to the labour force. Nobody can attempt that silly claim that asylum seekers are a burden on society.

The real problem is xenophobia and racism; the people who close their eyes to ‘regular’ economic migrants who clean our streets, drive our buses, or man our supermarket counters, yet go haywire when they see black people being rescued at sea by the Maltese armed forces.

And yet at Christmas, this time of giving, all we think about is stuffing ourselves with rich meats and fine wines, while exhorting others to be worthy Christians.

Our failure to rescue lives at sea is our failure as human beings, as Maltese, as Europeans... we are led by bureaucrats and overpaid functionaries more concerned about micro-rules and political popularity, than the values that make us civilised beings.

As is the case with COVID, where every country has its own approach to the pandemic. The Omicron variant has allowed the coronavirus to explode all over the place, and the forecast looks fairly worse for the coming days. The reality is that governments will be unable to support local businesses forever, and vaccines alone will not kill the spread of the virus. Finding a way to live with the virus is necessary. Failing to do so will mean our economy will be run to the ground and with it, our way of life.

Yet for this to happen there has to be a common approach in Europe and the rest of the world. We can never disregard science and health considerations. But we need leadership from the European Commission and the Council of Ministers on a future transformation of our economy, one that can be both carbon-neutral and that deals with the COVID virus.

A Merry Christmas to all readers!