Of pots and kettles

AD candidate Mario Mallia writes: The problem is that checks and balances are few and far between. It is the reason why they have not felt the need to change things

Joseph Muscat wants the magistrate to up the ante to stratospheric heights in time for an election called in a month
Joseph Muscat wants the magistrate to up the ante to stratospheric heights in time for an election called in a month

Last Friday’s Xarabank left us none the wiser. A slinging match from beginning to end; a tit for tat encounter in an effort to portray the other party as the murkier of the two. Alternattiva Demokratika had a lot to say if only it was invited. But of course, editorially the die had been cast. AD had to be side lined at all costs, compliments of the Broadcasting Authority. The PN and PL do not want to be in a debate with AD.  And of course, the Broadcasting Authority, which should serve as an institutional watchdog, is anything but. Appointed by the PL and PN equally, it serves to accommodate its political masters. To hell with anything associated with the right for the electorate to be fully informed. But of course, for the status quo, open debate, it seems, is too dangerous to contemplate.

There’s more. As if the above were not enough. The Broadcasting Authority apparently finds no problem for the national broadcaster to air snippets lifted from NET and ONE to be aired on PBS news. It is not enough for NET and ONE to ignore regulations and keep on blaring propaganda 24/7 to the exclusion of any other position.

NET and ONE have a legal obligation to represent what AD and others have to say in this election. As everybody can attest, AD on these stations is conspicuous by its absence. The law is broken and nothing happens. The BA is notoriously toothless when it comes to dealing with the big two but becomes very categoric when it deals with AD.

The BA have shown what undemocratic credentials are, when it barred AD from its debates. Apartheid at its very best. Of course, the PN, on its proverbial moral high horse as saviour of democracy, finds no problem to play ball. Change my foot! This is symptomatic of the institutional malaise that our country is afflicted by. It is this which is at the bottom of our country’s ills, not who governs.

Squeezing a magistrate

It’s the same all over again with respect to the inquiring magistrate, Aaron Bugeja. The prime minister is on record saying that should the PN win and the magistrate finds him clean in the Egrant saga, it is the magistrate who should bear responsibility. Now that is rich, coming from someone who called a snap election a year early.

Muscat wants the magistrate to up the ante to stratospheric heights in time for an election called in a month even if he knows fully well how difficult and intricate the magistrate’s work will be, dealing with secrecy and financial setups all in one basket. If that is not undue pressure I do not know what is.

This has been pointed out by the opposition leader as if he never brought to bear any pressure on the inquiring magistrate. The opposition leader too is on record time and again saying that the inquiring magistrate can only arrive at one conclusion, namely that the prime minister is Egrant incarnate. The implication is that if the magistrate finds otherwise, he is in for it. How about that? Another instance of the pot calling the kettle black.

There is no beating around the bush. The Muscat government has obstinately tied an albatross around its neck (and the country’s) with the likes of Schembri and Mizzi with wanton disregard. It has made it easy-peasy for the PN to capitalise on the issue. As it has done in other elections, the PN manages to sow a sense of panic through a holier-than-thou attitude and a feeling of ethical superiority of divine proportions.

One is tempted to forget that we are talking of the same PN which up to three months ago was wading up to its neck in the db quagmire of false invoices to finance the party, in breach of the Financing of Political Parties Act which the same PN had voted in favour of. It is also the same PN which sat pretty when it became known that one of its deputy leaders was the director of Capital One, a fiduciary company.  Fiduciaries do not deal with holy water. They deal with secrecy. Capital One was the nominee company of another company accused of dealing with drug money. And, to top it all, it could not be excluded that police investigations were halted when the Fenech Adami name cropped up. Dabbling with secrecy when active in politics is no go. It is a golden rule which the PN applies to others but not to itself.    

Need I add more? Allow me one last example. The Individual Investor Programme was bedevilled by the PN to high heavens (and rightly so). But then top officials found absolutely no problem in poking their finger in the pie to taste the goodies, compliments of mammon. They found nothing untoward in acting as sub agents for Henley and Partners, which the PN had time and again criticized and accused. Conflicts of interest galore and business as usual it is and remains. What’s new?

The problem is that checks and balances are few and far between. Institutions are paralysed unless the prime minister incumbent pulls the trigger. The Commissioner for Standards in Public Life, which AD has hankered on time and again, is still on hold after four years. This has served both parties well. It is the reason why they have not felt the need to change things. The winner takes all. That is how they prefer it.  The result is the bewilderment of an electorate caught between the anvil and the hammer. AD will keep working to see through constitutional changes that guarantee much needed scrutiny that does not serve political masters but serves the common good.

The pot calling the kettle black …

Vote Green, Vote Clean.

Mario Mallia is contesting the election for Alternattiva Demokratika on the second and eighth districts

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