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;

Malta Independent - - DEBATE & ANALYSIS -


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.

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