Ev­ery­thing falls nicely into place

It must be au­tumn: there was Xara­bank on TV on Fri­day and there will be Par­lia­ment to­mor­row. The talk among the Mal­tese is about how ter­ri­ble traf­fic has be­come.

Malta Independent - - DEBATE & ANALYSIS -

ngrima@in­de­pen­dent.com.mt

There is the Eng­land v Malta game on TV as I write and Face­book has been re­gal­ing us with videos of the mot­ley Mal­tese sup­port­ers group chant­ing away with beer in their hands be­fore the game and out­side the sta­dium.

With an over­cast sky in Lon­don they were singing Xemx wisq sa­bieha and other sta­dium chants that are sim­ply un­trans­lat­able: Tell us who your fam­ily is?

That is Malta that one can write on the back of an en­ve­lope – a small coun­try of mon­grel ori­gins which is sim­ply in­de­ci­pher­able to out­siders but which fits the na­tive Mal­tese like a glove. It is a unique mix, a rare DNA which to oth­ers looks like an im­pos­si­ble mix but which some­how works.

They said they tried to abort Xara­bank this year but it came back like a piece of in­de­struc­tible Malta it has be­come an in­te­gral part of.

Pol­i­tics then is an in­te­gral part of the Mal­tese DNA. Al­ways has, al­ways will be. For a Mal­tese, pol­i­tics means just two par­ties, two colours. It’s a dev­il­ish see-saw with one up and the other down, and they change round ev­ery so of­ten.

Three-and-a-half years ago, the see-saw came down with an almighty thump for it had long, too long, been down at the other end, so in 2013 it over­com­pen­sated and the re­sult was the thump.

Now, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est MT sur­vey, things are back on an even keel, more or less and so the spin ma­chines are work­ing fren­ziedly. The lat­est fetish in many peo­ple’s minds is this gas tanker that is due to come in to­day, ac­cord­ing to some, or to­mor­row, ac­cord­ing to Elec­troGas.

I was in Marsas­cala for a sym­po­sium yes­ter­day and I could see many tankers out at sea and not one per­son on a cliff watch­ing out for the gas tanker. It’s not like the Kon­voj ta’ Santa Mar­ija.

For one half of Malta it’s like Dooms­day. For the rest it is just au­tumn, an over­heated sea­son that’s wait­ing for some rain and cold. And there are still so many events tak­ing place all over the is­land.

For this one half of Malta, Si­mon Busut­til is a naysayer that even in a con­fer­ence with for­eign busi­ness­men speaks about the preva­lence of cor­rup­tion in Malta. Ex­cept for the small fact it is the busi­ness­men them­selves who con­cluded that their con­fi­dence in Malta’s sta­bil­ity and trans­parency slid by 15 per cent in just one year.

Is this all a play of mir­rors, a game of shad­ows or is there any­thing real in all this? The par­lia­men­tary dia­lec­tics may be shrill and very rhetor­i­cal at times but then there is Xara­bank which can also be shrill and rhetor­i­cal but which can switch over to com­edy and farce at the snap of a fin­ger.

Malta is a very the­atri­cal coun­try, which is why Baroque fits it so per­fectly. But, I re­peat, is it all just a show, a game for the au­di­ence? Is noth­ing for real in this coun­try?

I ar­gue that on the con­trary the real is­sues are sel­dom talked about in a proper way. Many times they end up on the par­ti­san slag heap which many times dis­torts the real is­sues. Other is­sues are sim­ply glossed over.

For in­stance, we have had this E&Y sur­vey of for­eign busi­ness­men but no real analysis of the find­ings. A few days ago we had the re­sults of the Com­pet­i­tive­ness In­dex, but all that the Mal­tese were in­formed about was that Malta had made some small progress but noth­ing about the vast ar­eas where Malta is sim­ply non-com­pet­i­tive. Of course, Xara­bank would never at­tempt to dis­cuss such is­sues, as it would ei­ther end up an­other slag-fest or else face its own abor­tion.

To see the group of Mal­tese fans drink­ing out­side Wem­b­ley from the point of view of an im­prob­a­ble English­man pass­ing by on one of the Lon­don buses is to see Malta and the Mal­tese not as we see them but as oth­ers see them. The Mal­tese in Bri­tain are mostly gen­er­ally ac­cepted and as­sim­i­lated, which does not hap­pen so eas­ily for other eth­nic groups. But that could also be be­cause Mal­tese hap­pen in small doses. Get­ting them, like yes­ter­day, in mul­ti­ple doses gives a dif­fer­ent vibe.

And yet there is an is­sue which is not spin, no pa­pier­mâché mock-up like the saints on a feast day and this is cor­rup­tion, gen­er­al­ized, mul­ti­fac­eted cor­rup­tion, present ev­ery­where in small and in big doses. If we know what’s right and what’s not, it is our na­tional duty to fight it wher­ever may be. And our na­tional pol­icy is only one: to raise our­selves out of the cor­rup­tion mo­rass.

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