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.
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.