Marsa, Azerbaijan and a leadership contest

What change will the Marsa residents' 'solidarity walk' bring about?

Placing a large number of migrants in one building, at the core of a small, centrally located town, does not help
Placing a large number of migrants in one building, at the core of a small, centrally located town, does not help

As I write, Marsa residents are preparing to reclaim their streets back. They intend to do so through a ‘solidarity march’ to ‘protest unlawful behaviour by many migrants within the locality’. 

I hope that the ‘solidarity march’ turns out to be just that, and does not end up being hijacked by the usual Fascist elements. It should be, yet another, manifestation of concern by well-meaning residents who feel that the presence of African migrants within their locality is threatening their way of life and peace of mind. 

I don’t blame them – even if the absolute majority of the Marsa African migrants are law-abiding, but as always happens, it’s the proverbial rotten apple which spoils the cart. Marsa Mayor Francis Tabone argues that his issue is not about migrants seeking refuge in Malta, although that is the crux of the matter, but rather its aftermath – ‘the lawlessness that has taken hold, the excessive drinking and rowdy behaviour in public, the harassment of members of the public because of excessive drinking and the generally lax attitude towards our laws’. 

So what change will the Marsa residents’ ‘solidarity walk’ bring about? Marsa residents know the answer to that question: nothing will change, at least not in the near future. The ball is in the government’s court. It is the government which must pull up its socks and address this situation which is, undeniably, worrying and dangerous. 

Placing a large number of migrants in one building, at the core of a small, central locality, does not help. And then, there is the integration of African migrants issue within Maltese society – in this respect, Malta failed miserably. So did the PR stunts by the Malta Police Force, as recent as this week, which saw a heavy presence of armed policemen, assault rifles in hand, conducting raids around Marsa a few hours before the ‘solidarity walk’. But then, that is a deeper problem, because PR stunts is the last thing the Malta Police Force needs – rather than conducting these futile exercises, which often backfire, what the Police Force needs is a major overhaul – in its case, top bottom.

Did you say corruption?

According to a database placed online by the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, just over half a million US dollars are thought to have been transferred through Malta as part of the Azerbaijani Laundromat scandal that has unfolded over the last week. According to the website, a total of 10 payments to suspect companies had been made through Malta, nine of which went to the UK and one of which was made to a Malta-based entity over the 30-month timeframe covered by the leak of confidential banking documents. 

What happens today week is not irrelevant. Adrian Delia and Chris Said represent two, very different directions, either of which the party will take

These revelations come on the back of an equally shocking revelation – Italian mafia clans setting up an extensive money laundering ring in Malta as reported by Europol’s Financial Intelligence Group. According to this report, Malta was at the heart of money laundering and illegal gambling operations. Euro 2 billion are believed to have been laundered through Malta.  These are shocking details which, in normal circumstances, are followed by immediate investigations and explanations by local authorities. But these are not normal circumstances. The Nationalist Party leadership election is far more enticing. 

On Thursday, Protecting Human Rights, Curbing the Rule of Power, an annual report collecting the views of 30 NGOs on the human rights developments and shortcomings in Malta in 2016, puts Panamagate under the spotlight. The NGOs involved in this report have been critical of the involvement of Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri in this intricate web of offshore companies and fund transfers, and expressed serious concerns at the manner in which the issue was dealt with by the competent authorities. 

But I know, writing about corruption is not enticing. According to last Sunday’s MaltaToday survey, corruption no longer tops peoples’ concern. Many have given up. A defeatist attitude has set in. People have given up on the ability of the country’s institutions to fight corruption. Corruption has become the new normal. What a mess, really.

Quo Vadis, PN?

Today week, the Nationalist Party will have a new leader. The battle is on, and the race wide open. Both Adrian Delia and Chris Said are aware of that. As expected, social media took a central role in the leadership campaign. Many lamented the nasty exchanges between different sides of the same coin on Facebook and Twitter, fearing a split within the party post September 17th. I believe that it’s too gloomy a prediction. This is a leadership, not a love contest. Whatever the outcome of this leadership election, the new leader of the Nationalist Party has to bring together the different factions which stood out during the campaign and address the mammoth tasks facing the Nationalist Party. Pertinent questions, hingeing on the existence and relevance of the Nationalist Party, need to be answered. What happens today week is not irrelevant. The two candidates represent two, very different directions, either of which the party will take. Getting it right is crucial. It’s a decision which once taken cannot be reversed. Emotional thinking should make way for clear and rational thinking. 


Frank Psaila presents Iswed Fuq Abjad on Net TV

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