Is Malta be­com­ing a haven for crim­i­nals?

Malta Independent - - DEBATE & ANALYSIS -

Ato­tal of 102 peo­ple were charged with us­ing vi­o­lence on the el­derly – some­thing un­heard of a short while ago but now, one per­son ev­ery three days is charged with vi­o­lence against the el­derly. This is so ob­nox­ious to me, as I was brought up to show due re­spect for my el­ders, not to phys­i­cally at­tack them.

Be­tween Jan­uary and Au­gust this year, 765 peo­ple were ac­cused of break­ing the peace – that’s a rate of three charges a day.

In the same pe­riod, nine men – two Mal­tese and seven for­eign­ers – were charged with rape. All the cases are still pend­ing.

How many of the above, I ask, have or will ac­tu­ally re­sult in cus­to­dial sen­tences or fines, rather than mere sus­pended sen­tences? How many will get away with ex­cuses such as be­ing time barred or a tech­ni­cal is­sue or some such loop­hole?

All the above are the ones charged. A quick look at the me­dia and one reads about vi­o­lence and crime on a daily ba­sis that goes un­chal­lenged – not even re­ported. As one guest said on our TV pro­gramme Ex­o­dus (that will be aired tonight on F Liv­ing at 9:30 pm), many crimes go un­re­ported be­cause if you have no faith in our po­lice be­ing al­lowed to in­ves­ti­gate prop­erly, nor in get­ting a fair out­come even if they were but are afraid of some form of ret­ri­bu­tion if you dare to ask for your rights, then most peo­ple will sim­ply ac­cept crime as a part of nor­mal life. And the cir­cle will sim­ply grow.

If crime in so­ci­ety might alarm some, then in­sti­tu­tion­alised crime and abuse on the part of our lead­ers should be even more wor­ry­ing, par­tic­u­larly when there is a wor­ry­ing trend that this is now some­thing nor­mal in our so­ci­ety. That it has been like this ‘for­ever’. We can all think of a hand­ful of peo­ple who seem to be some­how ‘in­volved’ – from the very high­est ech­e­lons to the smallest cog in so­ci­ety. Some high up, out of sheer greed and self­ish­ness, oth­ers in the lower classes out of a real ne­ces­sity to sim­ply pro­vide for the family, to sur­vive.

Within the space of a few days, we have had yet an­other car bomb killing this year. And peo­ple are gen­uinely wor­ried that this type of very vi­o­lent crime is on the in­crease. The plane crash at our air­port a short time ago re­vealed that, be­hind our backs, the gov­ern­ment has yet again been in­volved in more al­leged crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity as well. It know­ingly al­lows our is­land to be used by for­eign mil­i­tary bod­ies for their own se­cret mis­sions – mis­sions that, in any case, put us in more dan­ger rather than mak­ing us safer. Th­ese are mis­sions that are sim­ply not al­lowed by our Con­sti­tu­tion – our laws – de­spite the awk­wardly staged official state­ments by our gov­ern­ment, state­ments that were then negated di­rectly and clearly by the French them­selves within min­utes! They seem to pre­fer com­ing clean rather than ly­ing in or­der to cover up their op­er­a­tions! Truly, I have never seen more in­com­pe­tent “script read­ing” than that of our Min­is­ter of In­ter­nal Af­fairs when asked very awk­ward yet very se­ri­ous ques­tions. Our PM’s face turns red when he is ‘lib­eral with the truth’. In this case, his face was blood red – crim­son – as he tried to ex­plain the il­le­gal­i­ties away in Par­lia­ment with what one might un­der­stand to be down­right lies. He tried quite des­per­ately to make th­ese il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties sound per­fectly nor­mal, le­gal and even ac­cept­able. He failed mis­er­ably with his given task. Nice words and a mere dis­hon­est sales pitch do not al­ways work with all of the peo­ple, all of the time.

Days af­ter, we then had Ge­orge Vella’s huge and lat­est mor­ti­fy­ing gaffe with re­gards to the Rus­sian fuel saga. When will this man’s ex­as­per­at­ing and painful harm to Malta’s in­ter­na­tional rep­u­ta­tion and re­la­tion­ships end?

Clearly, this gov­ern­ment seems al­most will­ing to break the law and fol­low Clin­tonesque in­struc­tions to the let­ter. It is no won­der, then, that some (thank­fully just a hand­ful!) on this is­land see them­selves as ar­ro­gant un­touch­ables and way above the law when the PM him­self and mem­bers within his of­fice break the law daily as if it is a per­fectly nor­mal thing to do. What a bad ex­am­ple is be­ing set for the rest of our so­ci­ety, when peo­ple at the very top break the law with to­tal im­punity. For now.

No won­der, then, that con­fi­dence in our se­cu­rity and our first line of de­fence on any is­sue – the po­lice and the army – is at such a record low! Th­ese are de­cent peo­ple try­ing their best to look af­ter us all and to an­swer to the law of the coun­try. They work in pre­car­i­ous con­di­tions, un­der huge stress and per­sonal sac­ri­fice too. They are se­ri­ously ap­pre­ci­ated by our gov­ern­ment, which I am sure also in­ter­feres di­rectly with their work. Al­leanza Bidla, on the other hand, salutes th­ese men and women and recog­nises that this coun­try is heav­ily in­debted to them all.

In truth, this gen­eral ac­cep­tance of abuse, vi­o­lence and crime has reached un­ac­cept­able pro­por­tions. Too many peo­ple now sim­ply see it as Malta’s re­al­ity.

“In pol­i­tics there al­ways was, is and will be abuse and cor­rup­tion”, is a phrase I am so sick of hear­ing from in­tel­li­gent peo­ple who, nev­er­the­less, refuse to ac­cept the bla­tant cor­rup­tion and abuse within their own party. They find it so easy to point fin­gers at the other side on ev­ery oc­ca­sion pos­si­ble. They cry ‘foul’ at the other side yet know­ingly jus­tify their in­ter­nal abuse and cor­rup­tion by sim­ply call­ing it ‘the lesser of two evils’ and there­fore quite ac­cept­able!

Let’s be hon­est: there are vot­ers who even will­ingly feed the abuse and cor­rup­tion. If I vote for some­one be­cause he can have me boarded out on a good pen­sion, give my son a cushy job or pro­vide my daugh­ter with hous­ing, then all this is pure ac­cep­tance of an il-padrino style of gov­er­nance. Yes, we are sim­ply feed­ing the mon­ster when it suits us, we will­ingly ac­cept it but do not con­sider that it will all even­tu­ally come back to haunt us di­rectly.

Why, then, are we shocked when the other party comes to power and does not pro­mote your son as he de­serves but gives the job to a young up­start with zero ex­pe­ri­ence who now en­joys mak­ing your son’s life hell purely be­cause of allegiance to the party of his choice and for no other rea­son?

In a mat­ter of a few years, power will in­evitably change hands and there will be a new dose of abuse and cor­rup­tion on the part of those who, right now in Op­po­si­tion, have noth­ing but re­venge on their minds for be­ing left out and who now seek re­dress and to get even.

This cy­cle of abuse, cor­rup­tion and phys­i­cal/men­tal vi­o­lence con­tin­ues thanks to the two-party elec­toral sys­tem that gives ab­so­lute power to one party (one group of peo­ple) for five years to do what­ever they wish in an un­con­trolled (and abu­sive) man­ner.

Why then are we shocked that, once the boot is on the other foot, it is we who are kicked around when in re­al­ity we sup­ported such a sys­tem in the first place when it suited us?

I for one see the role of a PM as one of be­ing my gen­eral man­ager in the com­pany that we own as share­hold­ers. Our as­sets are at stake (not his) and he should only be rep­re­sent­ing our in­ter­ests and our wishes. In­stead, I see them all (and oth­ers be­fore) act­ing as noth­ing but despotic dic­ta­tors with ab­so­lute undis­puted rule. In my opin­ion, our PM does with Malta what he wishes as if he owned it, look­ing af­ter his own and shar­ing our as­sets with his band of new Bakunin.

Should we then just ac­cept the ‘nor­mal­ity’ of crime, abuse and vi­o­lence and just bow to the fear in our heads of the reper­cus­sions if we de­cide to stand up against it? Should we, through blind party loy­alty, be even al­low­ing our rep­re­sen­ta­tives to be­have in this way?

When po­lit­i­cal col­leagues of mine con­tact me from abroad to find out more about the lat­est Mal­tese po­lit­i­cal scan­dal, they are gen­uinely shocked. “If that hap­pened in Swe­den, the vil­lagers would burn down the house of the MP in ques­tion!” is a stan­dard re­ac­tion.

I ask again: based on past and re­cent his­tory, is this not bla­tant short-sight­ed­ness on our part that is bound to come back and haunt us once one side or an­other is elected into ab­so­lute power and for­gets us once more?

In other coun­tries, when they are caught abus­ing the sys­tem, MPs re­sign im­me­di­ately. One MP re­signed af­ter us­ing a gov­ern­ment credit card to buy food at an air­port be­cause of a flight de­lay – an emer­gency. When it was pointed out that this should never have hap­pened, the MP re­signed with­out any fuss. An MP is an ex­am­ple to us all. One does not harm the im­age of the gov­ern­ment in any way – ex­cept in Malta be­cause we ac­cept this state of af­fairs.

Let us be clear: of course cor­rup­tion ex­ists abroad as it does here. But else­where, once dis­cov­ered it is taken very, very se­ri­ously and ac­tion is taken im­me­di­ately to stop it and pre­vent it hap­pen­ing again. In­stead, in Malta it is de­fended be­yond rea­son and this makes it in­sti­tu­tion­alised abuse. Crime in Malta, as we all know, pays. It does go un­pun­ished.

Other coun­tries just do not tol­er­ate what we put up with here – not even for a week. Other coun­tries have cre­ated a real-time safety valve that works, a way to threaten the real chance to re­move an abu­sive and cor­rupt gov­ern­ment now, not in years to come: coali­tion gov­ern­ments. Gen­er­ally, coali­tion gov­ern­ments are strong, demo­cratic and sta­ble. They of­fer no quar­ter for abuse which, once un­earthed, is re­moved for good.

This is what Al­leanza Bidla wants to of­fer Malta in the next elec­tion: real change. Be­cause if other peo­ple have such pro­tec­tion in place, are sta­ble and live well with­out any fear, then why not us as well?

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