The determination of a grieving mother

The single-handed campaign of one grieving mother has stalled Robert Abela’s ascendancy 

Isabelle Bonnici
Isabelle Bonnici

It must have been the summer heat that made Robert Abela believe this would go away and forgotten, sooner rather than later.   

But somehow the determination of a grieving mother; her persistence and refusal to give up, struck a chord with the public.  Alienated by politics, Jean Paul Sofia’s mother finally overturned the stupor that dominated the sanitised Maltese and Gozitan public. 

The single-handed campaign of one grieving mother has stalled Robert Abela’s ascendancy 

Was she asking for too much?  She was calling for a public inquiry. She wanted closure and more than that, she wanted the death of her child to have served at least a purpose. 

That message went unread in the Prime Minister’s office. 

Instead, the response was that a magisterial inquiry would cover the issues that could address the mother’s concerns. 

There were various arguments to be had; that the magistrate was taking up too much time; that a public inquiry was a duplication of a magisterial inquiry, and that the opening of a public inquiry would set a precedent. 

No one realised that the Jean Paul Sofia tragedy would drag on for so long or that it would have such an impact.   

But then people started to warm up to the idea of a public inquiry and the expectation grew in everyone. It was not limited to supporters of one political party. 

The Prime Minister must have been aware of this but I guess he really realised how far it had gone on the evening of the vote in parliament, when the family members of Jean Paul Sofia stood up and screamed down at him and his parliamentary group.   

No one dared stop them, and the Labour parliamentarians just buried their heads and looked the other way. 

From that moment onwards, panic struck. The Prime Minister’s entourage did not know what to do. Across the board in the parliamentary group and in the party, no one was convinced that the PM’s argumentation was right. Those with more political acumen asked themselves why was the prime minister so obstinate. Those with political experience admitted that this was a clear example of disconnection from the electorate. 

More importantly they said this was a cardinal sin of this administration. 

Those in the Joseph Muscat camp looked on, the smugness all too apparent. Abela underestimates how many silent enemies he has within his party. 

Yet there was a more salient underlying message: Could this be the fruit of government inertia and lethary?   

For it was clear that a public inquiry would definitely confirm that the reforms and measures needed to address the savage anarchy in the construction industry have been stalled because of the refusal to take the proverbial bull by its horns. 

It also is a reflection on the lack of decisiveness in the Abela administration. This is a trait that lends itself to the strange and curious observation and comment that the Abela administration is simply the Gonzi administration all over again. 

The cherry on the cake I guess, is the insensitivity to the Jean Paul Sofia case.  The PM’s presence at a concert at his summer residence in Girgenti just after the vote was taken and the subsequent trip to Sicily on his motorboat, took matters to a new dimension in  light of what is expected of a prime minister. 

It would be a problem if this were an observation raised only by Bernard Grech, but it becomes more of a headache if the comment is raised from within the Labour party. 

Nothing goes unnoticed when you are in politics. 

So what can Abela do? 

To start with, he needs to weather the storm and secondly, he simply needs to be more decisive and more conscious of his role as Prime Minister.  He also needs to connect with people. But the damage as I see it has been considerable and will take time for these wounds to heal. 

I am trying to understand how anyone in their right senses kicks off a campaign to promote cigarettes which are legal against those that are illegal (contraband). 

The campaign warns us to know what we are smoking.   

In the sense not that we should not smoke but that we should be well aware that if we smoke, they should be ‘good’ legal cigarettes against illegal ‘bad’ cigarettes.   

I really have to scream at the top of my voice at this point. 

The Maltese Customs department says that it is our duty to collect taxes for the good of our country.  

The first rule, apart from the fact that the health department and/or all its regulatory bodies should have said something about all this, is that it should have been stated in very unclear terms that cigarettes are bad irrespective whether they are illegal or not.   

And that at the very end of the day there is no such thing as a good or a bad cigarette.  It is all bad.   

And if we were to be very objective the bad illegal cigarettes most often originate from the same cigarette manufacturers. 

But that is not the point. 

The simple point is that Malta Customs should take their campaign and bury it six feet under ground and stop wasting public money to promote one group of lung cancer tobacco from another. 

It is simply not on.