Can we have our country back, please?

There is nothing ‘patriotic’ about an obsessive teenage crush on a party which doesn’t actually represent anything but its own interests

Simon Busuttil says the next President should hail from the Nationalist camp
Simon Busuttil says the next President should hail from the Nationalist camp

They say that if you pay peanuts, you'll get monkeys. So what do you get if you don't pay anything at all?

NET TV journalists, it would seem.

OK, I am unaware if the situation at Medialink has changed in any significant way since it was discovered that the Nationalist Party didn't actually have the funds to actually pay its employees for work already done in the months before the 2013 election. The situation as it stood then was that NET TV journalists were told they had to forego two months' salary, until the party was in a position to honour its debts. The upshot was that all the real journalists working for that institution - i.e., the ones who have a vocational attraction to the career for its own sake - promptly abandoned ship. The only ones who remained were those who were willing to sacrifice their own paycheques for the good of the party... leaving us in absolutely no doubt whatsoever where their real allegiance lies.

Clearly it does not lie with any attempt to uncover the truth, or to bring to public attention facts which may be of national concern. On the contrary, it lies with distorting and possibly manufacturing 'the truth' to the benefit of the PN; and the only reward they expect is a nice little pat on the back by their political masters.

Naturally one can hardly fail to spot the overwhelming irony in this situation, given the flavour of the ongoing debate. The current PN crusade against the sale of citizenship has consistently harped on the notion that the IIP scheme is damaging to the reputation of the country. Their arguments have been cloaked in a tie-dye veneer of artificial patriotism... presumably on the false premise that anything done by a rival political party in government automatically runs counter to the 'national interest'.

Yet the journalists who now scurry to do their masters' bidding are glibly betraying the intensely anti-patriotic nature of the same campaign. Their latest stunt was to harry and intimidate a Chinese man at the airport... raising questions not only about what they were even trying to prove with such childish behaviour (seriously: are they going to ambush every single foreigner visiting Malta? Or did they pick and choose their victims on the basis of nationality?)... but also about how they identified this man as a possible candidate for the IIP scheme in the first place.

I'll leave you to work out the mechanics of how a private visit by a private individual came to the attention of the NET TV newsroom. The bottom line is that the disease of 'party before country' clearly infects more than just the 'voluntary employees' of the PN's bankrupt media houses. It also infects people ensconced within the public (and even private, in the case of MIA) administration; and who are bound by confidentiality agreements that they never hesitate to defecate upon, so long as 'their party' may benefit as a result.

In so doing these people have reduced the instruments of the state to little more than political weapons, to be unscrupulously used in a war which not only fails to benefit the country in any meaningful way...  but in this case has also served to undermine the national interest, as we all saw in the European parliament debate last Wednesday.

So if the great race to score cheap political points translates into the wholesale invasion of privacy of a Chinese tourist who - to the best of my knowledge, and presumably theirs - was doing nothing remotely illegal or suspicious... well, who cares? It's for the good of the party. That alone should suffice. As for the 'good of the country': since when has that ever been an issue? The country is not being run by the Nationalists. So as far as the PN agents are concerned, it is no longer 'their country' at all, and will only become 'their country' once more when 'their party' is back in power.

This is the opposite of patriotism. There is nothing 'patriotic' about an obsessive teenage crush on a political party which (let's face it) doesn't actually represent anything but its own interests.

Once again, the EP debate threw this absurd situation into sharp focus. Being in Opposition, the Nationalist MEPs behaved at every turn as if their primary role was to discredit the country and tarnish its reputation - in this case, over an issue which could just as easily have been directed at nine other EU member states. But no: on their insistence, the resolution was only about Malta, and the European Commission now seems hell bent on using this artificially engineered vote of censure as a pretext to take legal action only against Malta, over something that other EU member states have done for years without facing even a word of criticism, still less infringement procedures.

I expect the same MEPs (and also the same NET TV journalists, and PN agents within all levels of public administration) will continue to perceive their role as 'master saboteurs' as for as long as the country is administered by someone else. And yet, had the shoe been on the other foot (as it was for almost 25 years) the same people would be the first to howl in protestation if such underhand tactics were used against 'their' government.

All this points towards a situation I have long identified and written about, though it has arguably never been quite as visible as today. Our country has been hijacked. At no point throughout this debate has anyone even momentarily paused to consider that their own views on the IIP scheme are by definition secondary, when placed in the context of the extraordinary damage done to Malta's name by its internal and external detractors. And there is a reason for this: the country's reputation doesn't matter, in the eyes of people who only serve a political party's interests. It's a little like a mutiny scenario: only with the mutineers being quite willing to scuttle the entire vessel and send all its passengers (themselves included) to a watery grave, rather than allow the ship to be steered by another captain.

And just in case it wasn't already abundantly clear that the two parties (for yes, both are guilty... though I have yet to see a better illustration of this sorry mess than last week's fracas in Brussels) have simply apportioned the entire country and its assets among themselves, to the exclusion of all other concerns... out trots Simon Busuttil with his latest insistence that the next President has to be someone from his own party.

Sorry to blurt out the obvious rejoinder, but... what about everybody else? Is Simon Busuttil insinuating that a Nationalist President - solely by virtue of being Nationalist - would be representative of the entire Republic of Malta? Because last I looked there were other political and non-political groupings in this country, and some of these would in no way feel represented by someone whose only credentials are a membership card in a self-serving and unspeakably selfish little political organisation.

Wait, it gets much worse. For what Busuttil is actually suggesting is not just that 'the next President' gets chosen from his party, and there an end. Oh, no: he is projecting an indefinite scenario in which Presidents are ALWAYS chosen from one or the other of the two parties, depending on which one is in government. So when (or, more likely if) he himself gets to call the shots as Prime Minister... he will very generously appoint a Labour President to keep this absurd balancing act afloat for as long as possible.

And there you have it: a blatant declaration that, as far as the leader of the Nationalist Party is concerned, the office of the Presidency 'belongs' by rights to a consortium made up of the PN and the PL, and to no one else.

Sorry, but this is too much. You have damaged this country enough with your execrable insistence on placing your own political interests ahead of everybody else's. Malta does not belong to the PN or the PL. It was stolen from its rightful owners - the entire population, which includes more interests and concerns than could ever be dreamed of in Simon Busuttil's increasingly narrow sphere of vision - and I for one would like to have my country back.

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noel spiteri
A note to MaltaToday: it would be nice to get some info on how the other systems differ (or don't) from the ORIGINAL sources of the programs (government offices, ministries representatives, etc). The pages in Vassallo's articles are a bit dubious (even the sentence structure on these sites a bit sketchy, let alone the info contained therein), so I'd like to get them from the horse's mouth or a slightly more reliable source... I'd also like to know who Henley are and why we're giving them carte blanche - how were they chosen, where did they come from, why aren't we managing our finances ourselves, etc.
Pierre Sciberras
My feelings exactly,a well writen article that hits the nail on the head. Prosit.
ruth grech
Stop making a fool of yourself Mr Vassallo. At some point you or your editor-in-chief will have to acknowledge that there are no other EU member states with equivalent forms of citizenship-by-investment. The sheer level of shoddiness in your research has been breath-taking! You base your argument off a handful of dubious looking pages without a shred of authority. You don't even bother to get a statement from representatives of countries in question (who have denied your claims repeatedly in more reputable news sources). Geez, even 10 minutes of searching through the constitutions of the respective countries will reveal that you're completely wrong. At first I thought you were too lazy to do any actual research, but now I'm thinking you're just another cog in our duopoloy of dunces. Speaking your opinion is fine, but feeding misinformation to a gullible populace is not.
it is sad to see that most, if not all, "opinionists"/"columnists" in Malta side with one political party or another, and are incapable of taking an independent stance on one issue - agreeing with a party on some matters, and with another on others, or disagreeing with both. they are merely tools in a party's apparatus, tu put forward their agenda.
Raphael, when are you going to get real and act as an impartial journalist? "This is the opposite of patriotism. There is nothing 'patriotic' about an obsessive teenage crush on a political party which (let's face it) doesn't actually represent anything but its own interests." Opposite of patriotism is selling your citizenship and the EU passport for money. Defending wrong doings and betrayal of EU trust for cash does not constutute any patriotism. Patriotism is based on values and not a quick buck off the European Union and those who make the same Union we are part of. The PN, including Simon and his 2 MEPs who you and most avid labour supporters are attacking are indeed the patriotic ones. They are defending our country from traitors who betrayed their own voters and mentioned nothing about selling their citizenship and rediculing Malta with the world prior to election day. These are the real traitors and if you cannot understand that, then you definately are not impartial at all and might aswell join the highly paid super one journalists
Raymond Mintoff
IAs a laborite I will not praise your article because it would be obvious, I leave that to the unbiased readers to judge. What I want to say is that Mintoff once made a speech which was published in booklet form , it was titled "Min Huma in-Nazzjonalisti" and you'll find that they haven't changed one single bit since then. Even when Mintoff was negotiating a new deal with UK and NATO, PN sided with the foreigners and started their usual scare campaign saying that Malta will sink without the British, that we cannot make it on our own etc etc. I suggest you get a copy and read it.
Dear Raphael,ive been reading your posts for quite some time now and just couldnt resist not registering an account to be able to comment.Wow You talk so much SENSE.All you ever do is it the nail on the head and hopefully open some little narrow straight one sided minds to see it as it is.Keep them coming mate .Yes Malta IS my country too and I have had enough of this crap dear woodywood!!Are you seriouly accusing this journalist of being obsessed against the PN?That could be because its the way you see things as unfortunatly it is in this small country of ours-jekk mhux al widnejk mela kontrik. As a fervent ex nationalist who has voted Labour for the first time I keep seeing arrogance and nonsense from the PN. I agree that this panic against this citizenship scheme is nothing but worrying it is going to score so many points to Labour in the future but all I care is that it does good to Malta and the Maltese(not that they all deserve it-especially the bunch of paparazzi at MIA !)
Rachel Roberts
..... and they call themselves "JOURNALISTS"! Do they get paid in "pastizzi" ?
emanuel spiteri
@ Woodywood, perhaps you are clouded by your own obsession and fail to notice how PN still think they are running the show. Maybe that is why you made the effort to sign up after all. The two parties have acted like two teenagers, nay, 7 year olds for ages. However, I must admit that since they have lost power, PN have become an embarrasment.
artiklu ta' laburist gwapp. izjed jaghmel unur lil dak il-gurnal indipendenti ta' kuljum, l-orizzont.
Yanika Chetcuti
Rightly said Raphael (as most times). You have brought to the fore very serious matters that deserve attention from every unbiased, uncommitted voter. However you did manage to extract a smile from me, when you said "didn't actually have the funds to actually pay its employees for work"! Why considering the quote, it was ironic, but typical money no problem PN non entrepreneurial action, for that Aquilina fellow to decline the alleged offer for the sale of photos. In that same situation, Mintoff would have asked for quadruple the amount offered, and got the deal in the bag!
Anneke Grixti
The airport incident shows that, unfortunately, a new government just HAS TO transfer political opponents away from sensitive areas. Partisan politics in Malta is so deeply entrenched in many people's psyche that it has to be expected that some people in a sensitive position, and having a different view than the government's, would prove to be disloyal and try to aid the opposition pary. Maybe not all of them, but still. Transfers cannot be given at MIA, being as it is a private company, hence the result.
Raphael, I've been reading your articles for quite some time now and just couldn't resist not registering an account to be able to comment. Wow. You talk so much cr*p. All you ever do is write about the PN. You clearly have an unhealthy obsession with everything and anyone associated to the PN. One year has passed and you still write about them like they are in government. The truth is that they are now in the role of opposition and with a 9 seat majority, the government are in a very comfortable position yet you still choose to obsessively hack at them at every single opportunity. You try to act non-partisan yet it is all so clear what your intentions have been these past few years. I really feel sorry trying so hard to convince your readers and yourself that you are not associated to any party while doing a miserable job at it.
The problem with Malta is that we have a narrow-minded opposition leader who is prone to speaking out of his back-side.
So Simon Busuttil has no faith in anyone if not connected to a Political Party? That's the last stupid phrase from the leader of the opposition.Is it possible there is no Maltese citizen capable of filling the post of president? wow you really have no faith in anyone except political persons. As for having our country back, i believe it's back were it belongs, after nearly 25 years of PN govt i think they had more than enough pretending the country is their's by right.
Fantastic article Raphael.
A Abela
So according to Simon no Maltese citizen is competent enough to be appointed president unless he is either PL or PN. Besides, Lawrence Gonzi had admitted that he lacked good material for appointing suitable ministers. X`faqar.

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