Is Malta becoming a haven for criminals?
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?