Is si­lence the only choice?

Malta cel­e­brated the 52nd an­niver­sary of In­de­pen­dence this week. The turnout was much big­ger than ex­pected – a very clear and clam­orous sign by the peo­ple to the gov­ern­ment that they are un­happy: tbezbiza serja – a se­ri­ous warn­ing!

Malta Independent - - DEBATE & ANALYSIS - Ivan Grech Mintoff

Dis­ap­point­ingly, how­ever, we saw the PN leader lit­er­ally and sim­ply side-track­ing the real mean­ing of Malta’s in­de­pen­dence, per se, and in­stead tak­ing full ad­van­tage of the lat­est of the po­lit­i­cal scan­dals to paint the gov­ern­ment as to­tally ‘corrupt’ and ‘not fit for pur­pose’. Dr Busut­til is very com­fort­able with Malta’s to­tal de­pen­dence on the whims of an un­demo­cratic, greater supra-na­tional power now run­ning Malta pri­mar­ily on its own be­half rather than ours. Once proud and in­de­pen­dent Malta, yet again, finds it­self to­tally sub­servient to our new colo­nial masters and en­tirely obe­di­ent to all their legal, po­lit­i­cal, mil­i­tary and fi­nan­cial im­po­si­tions.

Dr Busu­till is not as vo­cif­er­ous as he should be – he’s to­tally silent, even – when it comes to the same ‘corrupt Mal­tese gov­ern­ment’ break­ing con­sti­tu­tional law daily – and for years – in or­der to serve the EU (and not Malta) against our wishes and in a way for which none of us ever voted. Ul­ti­mately, even this state of af­fairs is to­tally ac­cept­able to the Leader of the Op­po­si­tion cel­e­brat­ing our ‘in­de­pen­dence’, it seems.

Last Wed­nes­day, there­fore, was not a chance to unite peo­ple from all po­lit­i­cal back­grounds and cel­e­brate the real mean­ing of the day in na­tional unity, but another chance to try to win po­lit­i­cal points and gain some much-needed cred­i­bil­ity on the part of the Op­po­si­tion: not even some form of na­tional protest but clearly another PN mass meet­ing.

Yet another great op­por­tu­nity wasted and one di­vid­ing a na­tion rather than unit­ing it. It’s a great pity that, in the present po­lit­i­cal tur­moil, all Dr Busu­till of­fered our na­tion was just another cruel joke by Malta’s po­lit­i­cal class: “I have noth­ing to of­fer you but hon­esty.”

Well, in all hon­esty, at a time when se­ri­ous lead­er­ship and so­lu­tions are re­quired, Malta does not need rhetor­i­cal punch­lines from the same politi­cians who, three years ago, where bull­dozed out of power by the hon­est voter, fed up with so much dis­hon­esty and ar­ro­gance on the (PN) gov­ern­ment’s part. A party does not go through a much-needed and com­plete change in just three years by sim­ply ig­nor­ing the real rea­sons for its de­feat and by keep­ing the same poli­cies/peo­ple as be­fore. That is cos­metic and not real change. So far, the PN re­mains ‘not fit for pur­pose’ and still not seen as a ‘vi­able al­ter­na­tive’ to the present lot and in no way in a po­si­tion to of­fer se­ri­ous gover­nance on its own.

I there­fore find my­self ask­ing what is re­ally be­ing of­fered to the voter by the tra­di­tional par­ties when so many are un­happy with them both. Is si­lence the only choice for left-wingers who see Movi­ment PL as a sham? And is si­lence the only choice too for the Con­ser­va­tives who no longer see them­selves rep­re­sented by the neo-lib­eral PN? Should both these camps re­main loyal to the party and just keep silent, even in their un­hap­pi­ness and anger to­wards the lead­ers who are both seen as not fit for pur­pose?

If they talk to you hon­estly, many peo­ple who be­longed or still be­long to these two camps all ac­tu­ally have one com­mon and shock­ing mes­sage: apart from their bla­tant re­jec­tion of the new PN and PL party lead­ers and di­rec­tion, they are both nev­er­the­less also ter­rorised (that is the cor­rect word!) of be­ing pun­ished by their party or by their own gov­ern­ment, should they openly re­ject the “party line”!

This ter­ror is truly wor­ry­ing. It is a clear sign that we have a deep cri­sis in our democ­racy. We are sim­ply not al­lowed to think for our­selves but must com­ply and be as­sim­i­lated. We can, of course, point fin­gers and con­ve­niently blame the un­touch­able ‘tghana lkoll’ few for this cri­sis of af­fairs. But blame surely also lies with the Op­po­si­tion as well. Some real Na­tion­al­ists have taken to the so­cial me­dia to speak their minds openly and I salute them from here for coura­geously do­ing so. But, like their Labour coun­ter­parts, there are still many more Na­tion­al­ists who are ter­ri­fied to stand up, be counted and ask for a re­turn to democ­racy and real prin­ci­ples. Many within the two tra­di­tional par­ties still see si­lence as the only op­tion!

To the PN and to ‘tghana lkoll’ lead­er­ship, as well as to each and ev­ery voter there­fore, I say one thing:

Democ­racy is not just the Bal­lot Box, come elec­tion time. Democ­racy is to be de­fended con­stantly and by all means pos­si­ble. Peo­ple no longer con­sider the PN or PL’s ‘vi­a­bil­ity to gov­ern’ on the scale of one of them just be­ing ‘the lesser of two evils’. The voter is now be­ing of­fered gen­uine al­ter­na­tives to this an­ti­quated and harm­ful ide­ol­ogy. Their full and real rep­re­sen­ta­tion in par­lia­ment is far more im­por­tant to enough of them than just to “the party”. Your obe­di­ence to their wishes once you are in gov­ern­ment is some­thing that unites them too, rather than forc­ing them to yet again ac­cept that once elected, you will for­get us and choose to do what­ever you like, even if it’s against our di­rect wishes. Just as you did in the re­cent past!

In the last three years, both the PN and the PL have ex­pe­ri­enced the di­rect re­jec­tion of the peo­ple in huge swings. De­spite at­tempts to keep the po­lit­i­cal ping-pong game go­ing, Mal­tese pol­i­tics has changed. The peo­ple are start­ing to see that much of their power comes from re­ject­ing si­lence. The par­ties should no longer con­sider it their ‘priv­i­leged right’ to gov­ern, once the pen­du­lum merely swings their way, by de­fault. This sec­u­lar, po­larised lead­er­ship and gov­ern­ment is not at all in touch with the Mal­tese peo­ple them­selves. It is no longer ac­cept­able.

After re­fus­ing to re­main silent on the Libyan visa scan­dal and many other is­sues, for in­stance, Al­leanza Bidla is ac­tu­ally now much stronger and more united. We have been in­vig­o­rated to work harder for our be­liefs and we feel freer than ever be­fore. To­gether, we have come out stronger and seem to be much more re­spected” per­haps we are now seen by many po­ten­tial vot­ers as be­ing more vi­able as part of a coali­tion gov­ern­ment and more ca­pa­ble of of­fer­ing a real-time safety valve to peo­ple who want bet­ter par­lia­men­tary rep­re­sen­ta­tion.

We have learnt much by re­fus­ing to see si­lence as the only op­tion. It is not per­sonal courage that drives us for­ward (when so many around us know­ingly re­main quiet) but a re­fusal to choose si­lence: a re­fusal to ac­cept men­tal slav­ery and choose free­dom – a fun­da­men­tal right.

To not choose to re­main silent is not about courage but about de­cid­ing what is right and what is wrong. It is about how you want to live. It is about want­ing to keep the in­her­i­tance handed down to us after much sac­ri­fice by our fore­fa­thers and not want­ing to see it thrown away by those who do not value it. It’s about want­ing a re­turn to a truly in­de­pen­dent and demo­cratic na­tion and peo­ple. It’s about wor­ry­ing about what in­her­i­tance we will leave be­hind to oth­ers after us if we choose si­lence.

Re­ject­ing si­lence is about re­ject­ing anything that smells of a supra-na­tional, corrupt and un­demo­cratic power over us all; it’s about re­turn­ing to be­ing truly in­de­pen­dent and sov­er­eign. After all is, this is all about all the rights still af­forded to us by the high­est law of the land.

Malta’s Con­sti­tu­tion

In view of all this, in view of hav­ing vi­able al­ter­na­tives and see­ing the pos­i­tive re­sults of stand­ing up for your prin­ci­ples and rights, is si­lence the only real choice for us all? Per­haps it is time to re­ject si­lence once and for all?

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