Chaos in the political scenario
The current political scenario in Malta is one almighty mess the likes of which have not been seen for decades, if ever at all. It’s in chaos and out of control. Business is politics, politics is business, trust is corruption, government is a power base t
Rachel Borg is an independent columnist based in the tourism industry
The more confusing it becomes the more it suits Muscat and his cronies. Anyone trying to make sense of it will have a very hard time indeed and would need to abandon logic in order to unravel some of it.
The original camouflage is the famous PPPs or Public Private Partnerships. A very convenient sub-government that can provide the cover for any number of projects created to divert profit to a non-government entity under the disguise of national interest.
Ordinarily the political order consisted of a democratically elected government operating through the Civil Service for its management system and through its ministerial offices to deliver policy. The government and its ministers serve the people in Parliament, where an Opposition represents the minority. This is where it starts to get its pants in a knot. Policy is no longer. The civil service is no longer and the people are just a figure of speech. Parliament is that funny building next to the Monti.
Times have changed and so have the public’s expectations of delivery, service and enterprise. Until the change of government in 2013, the country created a number of institutes or public corporations to handle, channel, promote and seek investments for the island. Social partners were brought on board to share their views and expectations and also bring issues of concern to the table for discussion along with ideas for the creation of work and security. It was a centrist approach that promoted growth and economic progress whilst balancing it with social justice.
As the social and economic fabric of the country began to grow more complicated, with EU standards and laws, foreign workers and businesses opening in Malta and with civil rights being used as an opportunity to re-arrange the traditional system of affairs in our local life, the remaining political establishment was inverted and subverted to turn into a private mechanism rather than a public entity.
No longer subject to scrutiny or accountability, it was as though, on the pretext of obtaining civil rights, it was to be expected that traditional standards will no longer apply and if the people wanted their elected leaders to carry out this controversial agenda, then it means that they are giving them power above everything else – including Parliament, including the Church and its teachings, including the system of governance of the country.
Not wanting to be oldfashioned and risk the disapproval of the modern liberalists coming down on them, the majority of the people quietly stepped aside for the Kascos, the Henleys and Partners, the Nexia BTs and co. to take charge of operation Malta.
What we have today is a carte blanche for non-governmental officials and private companies, to take over the power of government, the banking sector and all projects and deals that can generate a tidy little profit for the players in this house of cards. Some may call it a capitalist system but a capitalist system seeks to exist outside of government and not within it. Consequently, capitalism in Malta is not free as it used to be.
National interest is now subject to private interest. If it is primarily in the private interest and can also somehow be made to appear to be or actually serve, the national interest then that is the policy and that is the choice.
Thus we have an LNG tanker nudging its way – reluctantly it seems – into Marsaxlokk, like a hangover from a boozy party, a property bonanza that is wrecking lives and livelihood for many, a health sector that is in the hands of unknown entities spiralling into a three headed monster, a visa system that has opened the doors to even more potentially dangerous citizens and the type of investments that prefer non-European investors with Panama accounts to a secure European company that is subject to the rules and regulations of the EU that we are members of.
The sub-context of this anarchical approach is the opportunity it creates for persons or businesses aligned with the projects and deals.
We the people cannot ever really know if the whole deal or investment is actually in our best interest or not. And being that it has at its source a private and personal interest, then it is to be assumed that in fact, our national interest is incidental to the whole deal.
Any other matters of state management, like the out of control traffic congestion, the economic and social needs of the population, our foreign policy and reputation, ethics, morals and obligations on which our constitution and independence was staked, security and the environment have all become red flags for this government and that is simply because these issues – at least until some angle presents itself – present no financial interest in solving or because they in fact require a financial commitment.
All of this has thrown the traditional political order into chaos. Maybe the country needed to review its approach and how to deal with a more globalised world and economic problems facing many economies. Possibly the slow and secure method of the previous administrations was no longer up to the task of bringing out the best of what the country had to offer. So now we have this brilliant and enterprising individual, an example to commerce, we are told, to whom we almost owe a debt for coming on board the government galleon laden with gold and who is not accountable in any way to the public, whether he has or has not any accounts in dubious banks and in Panama and other off-shore places, because, in truth, he is simply on loan to the government and not accountable to the people. A proper Bucaneer.
Compare this, then, to the motley of individuals contesting on the PN ticket and who themselves are rather unfamiliar to the public, after the decades of the stalwarts of George Borg Olivier, Eddie Fenech Adami, Dr Lawrence Gonzi, Guido Demarco, Censu Tabone, Louis Galea, Francis Zammit Dimech, Austin Gatt, Richard Cachia Carauna and others and confusion is the order of the day.
When asking the PN to change tack and sail a new course, the whole crew changed. People are unfamiliar with the new political approach, one which is more vetted, more accountable, more close to the ordinary person, with the ability to work together with the social partners, society and international conventions, experienced in some areas and novice in others, allowing for a renovation of talent and commitment in a way that we have not seen before.
Having experienced the arrogant, risky, corruptible approach of this current administration, the public is weary and doubtful. More and more they will trust their intuition and that intuition is telling them that honest mistakes and integrity will be far better than deceit and corruption and foul deals, no matter how much success it can boast of.
There is a future for the coming generations to secure. And not just in their education and development but in their character, social justice and good judgement. All areas where this government of Joseph Muscat has left the stage.
It may be that people are cautious about putting their confidence in a new team, themselves invigorated by a sense of honesty and will to commit to working for the common good. But they should get on board with the new crew and lend a hand on deck if they want to sail away from these slime infested waters.