A new hat needed

what we need is a very important game changer, a new player who can stand up and be taken seriously. And this has to come from elsewhere, not from the ranks of the Opposition or from the other parties

As was to be expected, the report from the European Parliamentary delegation that visited Malta was, to put it mildly, unfavourable.  It will make some waves and then the waves will obviously dissipate and the only people who will still be ‘talking’ about the subject will be the media and the bloggers.  The public at large will probably argue that the MEPs should have a look at what is happening in their own backyard.

However, it remains rather comical to conjure up the twitching figure of David Casa, a PN MEP, who has fronted this inquisition from the very start. I remember Casa in his younger days well before he wasted so much of his time at the office of Guido DeMarco. Before then he was not at all associated with the PN. And I also remember him afterwards in the Moviment IVA ghall-Ewropa, planning his future, as the rest of us thought we were fighting for a just cause.

Meanwhile, however, when all is said and done, the MEP report is not only a pronunciation on one political party but on the whole system. And this is the whole truth even if some politicians are so self-conceited that they think that all fingers are pointed uniquely at their adversaries.

On the other hand it was also interesting to note that many of the MEPs that were involved, hail from countries who have so many endemic problems related to the rule of law, that they surely must feel very uncomfortable to preach to others and ignore what is happening in their own nation.

But then hypocrisy has no geographical delineations and if one were to look at the points raised in the report regarding the issues that need to be resolved, it is clear that they aren’t the ones that have been kindled by one particular administration.

If we are to look at the police and the attorney general and the power of incumbency, these are all issues that, as individuals like Francis Zammit Dimech, Roberta Metsola and David Casa should know all too well, are deeply rooted in the manner we administer our style of government.

This is a small country where politicians like Zammit Dimech met constituents and saw to it that their constituents were not only made to smile because they were offered a free badly-baked pizza and a glass of cheap wine. Most of the time, the constituents asked for favours, and those favours included jobs, looking the other way, lobbying and what not.

Zammit Dimech knows all too well what I am referring to.  He went beyond what I knew because in his private and professional world he did (as was within his rights to do) represent big business, the same business his party hit out at and, more than that, he promoted the citizenship scheme – yet another mortal sin his same party objected to.  Even though most passport handlers are prominent PN adherents.

Zammit Dimech, of all people, should know what I am writing about.  He was a Cabinet minister who saw several mishaps and maladministration in his government. Luckily for the likes of him, at that time we only had bloggers who would hit out at the Opposition and not the government of the day.

You see, some people have very short memories.

Needless to say the police commissioners of yesteryear were no different to those of today.  I can easily pinpoint fine examples, and I could refer to ‘extensive’ email correspondence belonging to the late Daphne Caruana Galizia which clearly points to instances where the police failed to act even when there were charges against individuals who had committed a crime.  I am referring to drugs here.  And if the MEPs would like more information about this they are free to ask me.  But, of course, they will be pleased to hear what I have to say and show for it.

And it does not stop here. I could go on.

I could recount the shameless decisions by the former Attorney General Anthony Borg Barthet and his decisions to stop criminal procedures against one, two, three and four individuals who were facing charges of rape, murder and other very serious charges.  And this by using an old and outdated law known as ‘Nolle prosequi’.

Then and now I do not recall one whisper or even a croak about this instance.

I can talk of the Commission against Corruption, a bunch of old men who would meet and decide on an allegation, take it forward, throw it at the Prime Minister of the day and the end result would be the same old conclusion; looking the other way and defending the status quo.

I could also mention how certain people who were not fit for the job, who had shadows of allegations, were kicked upstairs and sent to Europe for a generous and cosy pension.

I could talk of the polite discussions that used to take place between the police and the political masters of the day, the allegations in the press that would be ignored and the Sunday sermons that would see the Prime Minister of the day publicly ask the Commissioner of Police to investigate an allegation and a certain individual.

I could talk about the Tax Compliance unit and how it was used to hit out at certain individuals and of the issues with the tendering process and the issue of giving out industrial space to budding new companies when Malta Enterprise was run like a fiefdom.  Or of the companies that would never have a chance of getting their project of the ground.

Such was the rule of law.

And I can remember the elections from the seventies until the eighties, through the nineties and after that when consecutive governments enlisted hundreds into the public sector, solved every problem under the sun and speed tracked permits for construction.

I remember the Lorry Sant days and the George Pullicino days, the planning policies that changed and continue to change. I remember all the party boys and girls that were appointed to boards, and all the ambassadors and consuls that were given the post not on the strength of their competence but on how much they had brown-nosed their party.

I recall the legal consultants to big corporations, who were appointed on the merit of their political allegiance. I remember the absolute power of the private secretaries to the Prime Minister such as the late Joe Camilleri and Richard Cachia Caruana, and all the allegations about them.

I remember so much more.

And hand on heart, I turn to the Maltese delegation in the MEP group and ask, “Do you really see the difference?  Or are you so blind and parochial as to think that there is only such a thing as a Labourite and a Nationalist? For heaven’s sake, this is Malta and these issues have to do with us all – the Maltese. If we elect Adrian Delia to be leader of the PN it is simply because we accept the system as it is. We elect someone who can fit the system.”

I agree and insist that none of this justifies what is wrong.  Nothing will take away Panama and the shadows over the way governance needs to be taken a step, two steps and even further.

Yet the main consideration is that we cannot accept these arguments from the same people who somehow lost their voice when the same old dirt abounded in the same country, in another time.

So what we need is a very important game changer, a new player who can stand up and be taken seriously. And this has to come from elsewhere, not from the ranks of the Opposition or from the other parties.

But the change needs to happen, sooner rather than later.