Oh, so you punched someone? It’s ok, everyone makes mistakes…

Apart from the audacity of those who are in the wrong, who ingeniously manage to portray themselves like they are being persecuted, what also flabbergasts me is the way people reason on the commentary boards

Herman Bonaci (Photo: Facebook)
Herman Bonaci (Photo: Facebook)

This country is becoming more topsy turvy every day. It feels like being in a chapter straight out of Alice in Wonderland where nothing is what it seems and what you normally take for granted, just isn’t so.

For instance, normally, if someone punches another person, the general consensus would be, “it’s wrong”… end of story. But nowadays such incidents are invariably prefaced by excuses and replete with attempts to justify what happened. When it’s someone in the public eye who is the aggressor, somehow that immediately (and perplexingly) seems to whitewash any wrongdoing.

When a diner at a restaurant posted a Facebook message complaining about the service and the food, it would have been just another normal day on social media. Except this time, things turned ugly because the restaurant’s owner actually tracked down the unhappy customer at his place of work and according to court reports, “spat at him, then punched him on the face, while hurling verbal abuse.” The victim filed charges and the case became public, identifying the restaurant owner as Herman Bonaci (a well-known TV presenter/producer) who in Court “expressed remorse for his behaviour, claiming he had been going through a difficult patch at the time on account of a family illness.”

Due to the fact that the injuries were slight and he has a clean police record, Bonaci was conditionally discharged for eight months.

If the story had ended there, perhaps it would have been forgotten by the next news cycle. But no, Mr Bonaci went on FB, writing that “it is very easy to criticise and humiliate cooks. But no one knows the sacrifice this profession entails…”

This was the cue for a deluge of supportive comments by his friends and fans and, once he got that kind of validation, the whole incident seemed to turn on its head, with him posting another photo of himself, with a beaming smile and arms thrown open wide in gratitude, “Grazzi ħbieb ta’ veru” (Thank you my true friends).

I’m sorry, but how did he suddenly become the victim there? Let us not forget that he actually SOUGHT OUT the customer who had criticised his restaurant.

So, does that mean that anyone who criticises a restaurant is now in danger of being stalked and beaten up? And while having a family member who is ill is always devastating, let us not forget that there are hundreds of people in that same exact situation who do not resort to violence because they are going through a bad time.

Apart from the audacity of those who are in the wrong, who ingeniously manage to portray themselves like they are being persecuted, what also flabbergasts me is the way people reason on the commentary boards. “Anyone can flip and lose their temper sometimes”, “they only got him in the news because he was well-known” and the current favourite, “everyone makes mistakes”.  The list of apologetic messages was never-ending and mind-boggling - are we seriously going to excuse any behaviour now, no matter how unacceptable it is?

This was a premeditated assault as a result of a FB comment about a relatively trivial issue, which is why the reaction of a sector of the public is very disturbing. Of course, it is never pleasant when someone we know ends up in the news for the wrong reasons, in which case the best thing is to say nothing. These public affirmations of support are creating a very uncomfortable, if not surreal, climate where the wrong becomes justified, where the perpetrator becomes the victim and where those who have been found guilty in court are almost lionised for being heroes, which only perpetuates the warped belief that they did nothing really wrong.

Meanwhile, the actual victim has almost been forgotten because the new TV schedule is starting and you know, life goes on…


Air Malta: different company, same owners, same problems?

As everyone knows by now, Air Malta, as we know it, will cease to exist in March of next year, to be replaced by a new company.

To help the transition to the new company, which will officially be called KM Malta Airlines, the government will reportedly invest €350m, with €300m covering the purchase of three aircraft that are currently leased, the purchase of airport slots, hangars and other property from Air Malta plc. The current workforce will be retained (although they have to re-apply) under new working conditions.

The actual name of the new airline has still not been determined because the brand name ‘Air Malta’ belongs to the government holding company, so for all we know it could still win the tender and remain known as Air Malta.

This would make sense because the cost of changing all the livery, uniforms and everywhere the current logo appears, doesn’t tally with the need for the company to become profitable.

We have also learned that the new company will still belong to the government and even when another party is eventually brought in as a strategic partner after three years (as stipulated by the agreement with the European Commission) the Maltese government will still have the majority shareholding.

So, this is what someone needs to explain to me: the Maltese government (and successive administrations) have run our national airline into the ground by bloating it with an unnecessary workforce who are now being given very generous golden handshakes (paid from our taxes).

CEOs, Chairmen and consultants have come and gone, with eye-watering pay packets, again paid by us taxpayers, to try and save Air Malta, while the airline continued to constantly haemorrhage even more money. Suffice to say that Minister Clyde Caruana said it was losing €4,000 every time a flight took off.

In the light of this chronic mismanagement, it will take more than a new company name and cosmetic changes for the government to convince us that this time, they will get it right.

If it is going to be a different company but with the same owners, they have to tell us how exactly they are going to avoid falling into the quagmire of the same problems. Apart from the usual buzzwords, nothing I have read has exactly spelled this out.

I agree that the airline should not be privatised, and that having a national airline is vital for an island nation like ours, but it will take a while for public confidence to be restored. For, at the moment, all one reads online are terrible experiences by those who fly Air Malta (even though all airlines at one time or another get bad reviews for cancelled flights and delays).

Now, whether it is justified or simply a bandwagon attempt at bashing another entity in which this government is involved in, the airline’s PR image has been badly dented.

The only saving grace is one woman by the name of Alison Casha who seems to work 24/7 to resolve the thorniest of problems, even while the complaining customer is stranded somewhere and no one is helping them.

Maybe she should run the company… she is certainly the only one who consistently does her job, over and beyond the call of duty, and has helped many a hapless passenger when no one else has.