At least somebody is prepared to stand up to the government
It’s good to see that there are at least two organisations on this island which are not doing one of the two traditional things when Labour is in government: 1. lay down, roll over, and play dead to make sure they don’t maul you;
Or 2. keep your mouth shut anyway, but in the hope that they’ll haul you up onto the gravy-train with them (in the third-class carriage while they ride in first), or throw grace and favour your way.
The Medical Association of Malta is, so far, the only professional or trade association to take a stand against the government’s depredations, which impinge directly on its members and the field in which they operate: public health. All others have stood by and watched as the country is sucked rapidly into a vortex of corruption and greed which is already causing untold damage. The Institute of Financial Services Practitioners has remained silent throughout the endless scandals which have caused so much damage to Malta’s reputation as a financial services centre. They didn’t even open their mouths when the cabinet minister signing off on all major government contracts, together with no less than the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, were discovered to have plotted secretly to incorporate companies in Panama just a few days after being elected to power. They didn’t open their mouths, either, when the news broke that the very same cabinet minister and PM’s chief of staff trawled at least nine banks in the world’s shiftier jurisdictions, looking for one that would take their business. They stayed silent, too, when the Prime Minister made it completely obvious that he is in on the same game, with his inability and reluctance to dismiss either of them. They kept quiet when the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit chief resigned, when the Commissioner of Police stepped down citing “health reasons” rather than investigate corruption at the highest levels of government, when the issues with US correspondent banks became pressing (and are now desperate), and when the government began granting thousands of residence permits and Schengen Area visas to people from Algeria, Libya and Russia, who are washing their money through Malta with all the consequences attendant on that.
Why are they silent? Because the vindictive Labour Party is in government, and they fear retribution in the form of being hassled or denied contracts. They have also worked out that sucking up to Labour pays, because Labour doesn’t reward merit, but cronies. The Opposition is quick to point out that this government creates an atmosphere of fear. They shouldn’t do so. It merely encourages a nation of people who are already incredibly spineless to find justification for their paltry choices and reassurance that they are right to cower beneath the parapet, hoping that the government will be so busy eating others alive that it won’t notice them.
The Chamber of Advocates is not much better. This government has appointed 14 judges or magistrates, or promoted them from the magistrates’ court, and of those 14, 10 are linked to the Labour Party or were its officials or employees for years. Does the Chamber of Advocates open its mouth? Of course, it does not: in a nation of lily-livered cowards, it is one of the worst. The only way you’re going to find a backbone in that outfit is if somebody takes in a couple of fish skeletons and lays them out on the table.
Ask individual lawyers why they don’t get together through the Chamber and protest against the government’s dreadful and abusive appointments to the bench and to the magistrates’ court, and the standard response, couched in a variety of forms, can be paraphrased as, “Ma tarax – criticise the appointment of Wenzu Mintoff/Toni Abela/Joe Mifsud/Joanne Vella Cuschieri, when we have to appear before them?”
It’s pointless remarking that fear of retribution from unfitfor-purpose judges and magistrates is exactly why they should protest against their appointment. A judge or magistrate who cannot be trusted not to be spiteful or vindictive towards lawyers – and their clients – who have criticised his or her appointment shouldn’t be appointed in the first place. It’s a system that is self-perpetuating in its kowtowing and keep-your-head-below-theparapet attitude.
Under its previous president, Reuben Balzan, the Chamber of Advocates issued a statement when Wenzu Mintoff was made a judge, saying that it had expected the government to take on board the proposals made by Giovanni Bonello for the appointment of judges and magistrates. Instead, the government just went ahead and appointed Mintoff, it said. But under the current president, George Hyzler, the Chamber has been silent on Toni Abela’s appointment as a judge. Worse still, the Chamber president was on the “commission” that is supposed to have scrutinised Abela and given the go-ahead to have him made a judge. How each member of that commission voted is, apparently, secret. But if the Chamber of Advocates’ president voted for Toni Abela to become a judge, then we should be told. And if he voted against him, then the Chamber should have been first out with a statement listing its objections. In the absence of such a statement, we are to conclude that the Chamber of Advocates is content to have its members appear in the superior court before somebody who is known to most of them to be a disorganised, timewasting, erratic, long-winded, vulgar and occasionally malevolent buffoon.
So it is reassuring to have the Medical Association of Malta (and the hospital workers’ union, UĦM) announce that it will not cooperate with the government in the privatisation of public hospitals before the government’s contracts with Vitals ‘Global Healthcare’ are scrutinised by the Public Accounts Committee. In its statement, it specified its misgivings about the fact that the contracts were signed by “persons” who were discovered to have secret companies in Panama for which they tried to open accounts at nine banks outside Malta.
Good for them. We need more people like that on this benighted island, where there are a thousand dogs for every bone and people have been trained from birth to be cowardly and character-free so as to survive and make money. Because, of course, money is such great consolation as you watch your country become uglier, your colleagues greedier and more vile, the environment more degraded, and your government more and more corrupt. And they’re still trying to sell Malta as a wonderful place to live. They must be nuts.