No easy way out
What an ugly place has Malta become! Or rather, it was always like that but we (I) never realised!
An affidavit submitted in Court in a family separation case gets dragged up and leaked to the whole country just as happened all those years ago with another affidavit in another high-powered case.
And a professional man, otherwise well-respected, finds nothing better to do on Christmas Eve than to send a public message to a girl with whom he is not personally acquainted, faintly threatening her father with prison for corruption reasons.
Those who know the cases I am speaking about know what I am talking about. As for those who do not know, I cannot bring myself to fill in the blanks. I strongly condemn both cases.
Many of those who knew about the cases and commented publicly about them do not seem sensitised to the ethical issues involved. For them, their political bias is more important than ethical principles.
In the first case, those against Adrian Delia as head of the PN found – or think they found – another reason to get him out. The magistrate in the case has been reported to have thrown out a plea to impede Delia’s access to his children.
In the second case, there has been an almost universal condemnation of the fatal Christmas post – except by those held to be the moral leaders of Malta.
There is, in these and other comparable cases, a huge moral, not to say political, deficit.
Which brings me to the point I made last week following the report by the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission which highlighted structural deficiencies in Malta’s democratic structure.
Forget for a moment the details in that report about the power of the Prime Minister, of the Attorney General and of the courts in general.
Coming, as it did, in the days preceding Christmas, and the subject being such an abstruse and technical one, the general public was not properly informed what the Venice Commission is, what it said and whether they are right or wrong.
There have been some commentaries on the issue (among which I point out a negative reaction by former minister Joe Brincat) but otherwise it was as if a stone was thrown into a pond: it created some ripples which promptly subsided.
Basically, the issue resolves itself in a disquisition on whether the Constitution should be rewritten, in what way, by whom, and to what extent. There have been sporadic comments along these lines over the past months, and there is also a committee charged with doing some preliminary work.
But the whole is immersed in a murky air of proposals which run the whole gamut from the desirable to the dystopian and the parties themselves do not give the impression of taking the whole exercise seriously. Over the years, the Independence Constitution has been amended many times but it was always a case of sticking plaster on a sore point or two.
Some politicians, some parties, harbour an ambition to reform the Constitution but a huge wall of practicalities stands in their way: first, they have to get elected to government, then sort out what they want to reform, then to find out that some clauses can only be changed by a two-thirds majority and only then to find that the Opposition of the day will not play ball.
We have been around this block a number of times, with no sensible progress registered. Meanwhile, our Constitution and the legal system based upon it have been creaking for years and additional distortions have crept in, making our democracy and our democratic institutions weaker and weaker as a result, bringing us to the shame of being pointed out internationally for our democratic deficit.
And then corruption raises its head and the systems of justice falter and the powerful lord it over the weak. And people think that political activity is more important than being right. My party, right or wrong.
And children become victims, as in the two cases I mentioned at the beginning. Christmas degenerates from the feast of innocence to an orgy of bloodletting. The murder of the innocents. Until and unless we come to a common understanding of what is going wrong and how can we put it right; until and unless we put party loyalty aside in the search for national consent, we can never get there.