Malta isn’t working

They called her the ‘hate blogger’. Others wanted her dead. Politicians, across the political divides, despised her

She was the subject of a #galiziabarra hashtag which did the rounds before the last general election, and after. She exposed Malta’s darkest secrets. She wrote extensively about shady dealings by politicians and their fellow travellers, including notorious underworld kingpins. 

Her Running Commentary precipitated an early general election. Her most controversial blog posts were viewed hundreds of thousands of times on a single day, putting to shame PBS, One and NET put together. Nearly a week after her death, I find myself refreshing her blog, so used I am, like thousands of others, including those who hated her and all that she stood for, to reading her posts. 

Daphne Caruana Galizia was Malta’s foremost investigative journalist. She got to the bottom of political scandals and shady dealings, leaving no stone unturned in exposing dark secrets. She ruffled feathers, was a thorn in the side of those who couldn’t afford to be under the media spotlight, and had the courage to take on some of Malta’s most notorious criminals.

Caruana Galizia’s murder was straight out of a Gomorrah handbook

No intimidation, aimed to shut her up, worked in her regard. Countless lawsuits were filed against her with the sole purpose of crippling her financially. A few years ago, they burned the front door of her Bidnija residence. She and her children were threatened, insulted, vilified and the target of a hate campaign on social media. Nothing would stop Daphne Caruana Galizia from doing what every journalist worth his salt should be doing – but few are, making known what corrupt politicians, crooks, and hardened criminals want to keep secret. 

The only way they could shut her up was to kill her. Last Monday, they blew her up in her car, a few metres away from her home, ripping her to shreds. Daphne was executed because she mattered. She had the gravitas to bring down crooked politicians and governments. Whoever did it chose to inflict maximum damage. He/they wanted her out. Toto Rina, and his acolytes’, are said to have celebrated Giovanni Falcone’s assassination with expensive French champagne. Caruana Galizia’s murder was straight out of a Gomorrah handbook, with the international press – the likes of the Financial Times and The Guardian, if you please, putting Malta at par with Mafia infested Naples, and the south of Italy. Tuesday’s Financial Times likened her murder – through a car bomb – to Soviet Russia. 


Not a tragedy

Tragic is how many described Daphne’s murder. But her murder is not a tragedy – a tragedy is when someone dies through an unfortunate accident, or is killed accidentally. The execution of Caruana Galizia was premeditated, and with the precise purpose of shutting her up for good. 

Rosa Brooks of Georgetown University Law Centre wrote in an essay, quoted in The Guardian two months ago, that states begin to fail when ‘the contract between citizens and public institutions breaks down’. 

For four years running, the state institutions in Malta have lost the authority, and the will, to do what is right. A culture of impunity, and violence as Matthew Caruana Galizia rightly pointed out, has set in. Crooks are allowed a free reign. Law abiding citizens are trampled upon by a handful of I-do-as-I-please character. Daphne’s assassination summed it all up. 

Daphne was executed because she mattered. She had the gravitas to bring down crooked politicians and governments

Daphne’s sons were right in refusing to endorse a reward for information offered by the government to catch their mother’s killers, stating that the government is interested in only one thing: its reputation and the need to hide the gaping hole where our institutions once were. 

Are we at a point of no return? I’d like to think we’re not.


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