Not funny anymore
Malta’s climate offers up a small but essential feature of our daily life – running around in flip flops for around half of the year or more.
Rachel Borg is an independent columnist based in the tourism industry
This little luxury has the effect of taking our mind off more serious matters, of letting things slide and looking on the bright side. And so it should be really. If Spain and Belgium could function without a government for so many months, how bad can it be to go through life with flip flops?
Whenever British tourists come to Malta for a sunny holiday (or even if we are wearing coats and boots) the first thing they will do is change to flip flops and come what may. The important thing is that holidays require flip flops and shorts and no matter what the weather or temperature or how little space in their 10 kg carry on suitcase, that essential item is the mark of a holiday.
This state of mind, even for us Maltese is the preferred one and the default option. If we could, we would make watching football/going shopping and wearing flip flops the closest thing to having a perfect life.
But, as last week’s Grigalata pounding onto our shores showed us, it is not always so. Eventually, the beach packs up, the umbrellas are closed and the roads are once again clogged with fuming dads and mums taking their kids to school or sixth form and university. Before you know it, Christmas is around the corner and two months of hibernation until the prep work begins again before the actual plunge into Summer.
Knowing full well that this is our normal routine, opportunities for hiding information, scandals, unannounced land grabs or reclamations, shady approvals for high-rise towers, dodgy promotions and letting off criminals without arrest, whilst treating bomb explosions as a trip to the gym before going to work, are easy enough to create.
But to learn the method of the dodge you need to have another skill set and that is the art of lying and a course in the benefits of owning offshore accounts.
The awful truth is that the holiday is over and the months of lying on our back are becoming a luxury few can afford. Those who thought that the theatrics could carry on being recycled show after show, are finding that they are becoming less and less believable if not altogether easily dismissed or ridiculed. Some of the reworked versions on the budget itself and on the debates recently, in Parliament, are a measure of how much this government has come to believe its own style and rhetoric.
If that were not enough, we are given a proud statement from Electrogas – finally from Electrogas and not from the Prime Minister or Minister without portfolio, Konrad Mizzi – about how the LNG tanker survived the Gregale, like a child showing its mother a dry bed sheet the next morning. Transport Minister, Joe Mizzi also stomps and fumes at us for not playing on the buses with him and Health Minister Chris Fearne is himself out of the picture when the agreement with Vitals Health Group is finally presented with black outs all over it. How much we will be paying for electricity becomes a game of monopoly and depending on where the dice will fall, we will advance or get back to Go. The cost of living increase is a lesson on add and subtract, one in my mind and two on my fingers and we are to believe that Panama accounts are as normal as missing your homework and saying sorry to teacher, whilst having your dad sign a paper to give to the Head.
And just as the editorial in the Independent of 1st November – Our frail economy, highlighted so well, when you assess the real value of prosperity, it shows a rather different picture than the one trumpeted by government.
Ultimately, there are only so many times that you can wear the same dress to an occasion where everyone knows each other.
All of this, in combination with the steady exposure of secrets and funny investors, are leaving this government to look more and more like a one-term maladministration. They are as likely to persuade us of the usefulness of taking our money to fund private business as they are of making us wealthy due to their own policies.
Words fail when Minister Carmelo Abela praises government’s respect for court decisions, when practically the whole (and that’s huge) cabinet appeared in court recently for the appeal case of the two parliamentary seats being contested by the Opposition. And Deputy Prime Minister Louis Grech wants to restore public trust in EU institutions when our Ombudsman had to resort to court and wait through an appeal in order to be endorsed in performing his job.
Same with the the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit - a government agency established under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, when reporting on the issue of the Panama accounts of Mizzi and Schembri. Or what about the Police and the Army? Who will restore our trust in them now?
So, really, it is just not funny anymore. The sooner we can get these clogs off our feet and revert to flip flops with a clear conscience and get to breathe out again and relax properly, the sooner normal life will be restored, along with trust and peace of mind.
We still have to sit through some agonisingly embarrassing times with programmes on foreign TV covering stories of money laundering in Malta and various other creative enterprises like selling passports and smuggling diesel and drugs and whatever else is a commodity these days.
We will also want to stay out of sight when the carpets are rolled out in front of Castille and hands are shaken and car doors held open. Crystal encrusted bags will be presented and the curtain will be raised on another show about sailors and Strait Street, whilst the fireworks emblazon Fort St Angelo and sirens cut through the traffic jams over hastily laid tarmac.
In the meantime, its embarrassment-in-chief promises that talent is coming to Malta and we are the best in Europe. Believe it if you will. Winter may be approaching but Summer is not far off.
The Malta Independent Saturday 5 November 2016