The Kingdom of Denmark
‘Something is rotten in the Kingdom of Denmark.’ Those familiar with Shakespeare’s play Hamlet will surely recognise the unmistakeable quote from the scene when the king and his men are drinking, laughing and dancing in the castle while Hamlet follows the ghost of his father and learns of the complex political intrigue and the corrupt ruling class of the country. The use of the word kingdom or state in this case reflects that things were not well from the top of the political hierarchy – in simpler words, the fish was rotting from the head down.
I was reminded of this quote a few days back after hearing Prime Minister Joseph Muscat on radio seductively arguing that Malta has undergone a dramatic transformation in the past three years under his stewardship. To an extent I have to agree with our Premier in that we have witnessed accelerated changes in some sectors in Malta. Muscat however failed to elaborate on the ferociously increasing number of corrupt practices coming to light, the impact of these accelerated changes to our lifestyle and well-being, and also failed to explain why the government was so intent on ruthlessly supporting certain sectors while others were being left to go to the dogs.
One cannot but not recall that in the majority of cases where serious allegations of corruption have been made in the last three years, the Prime Minister and/or his office have been directly or indirectly involved. Joe Public has not been offered any form of comfort in the shape of outcomes of serious enquiries to console him on any wrongdoing on the part of the stewardship of our country. Instead, the never-ending party at the castle has gone on and on and the mantra has been that as long as the economy is doing well, then the King and his men can party away heavily and heaven forbid they are even interrupted by a killjoy demanding accountability and good governance.
And why on earth should we expect resignations? It’s not as if deadlines for the building of a power station have not been met or that the only Maltese minister involved in the Panama Papers scandal is still a Cabinet minister or that alleged corrupt practices have been the trademark of the sale of medical visas and the transactions of public land and public property.
Rajt Malta Tinbidel is the title of a book penned by Maltese politician and historian Herbert Ganado. These three words are taking up a whole new meaning in the light of the Prime Minister’s claims. Yes Prime Minister, we are witnessing an incredible change in Malta, but this is not the change we desired or the change that Malta deserves.
We have gone from a tiny nation, proud of its achievements, a gem in the Mediterranean to a money-guzzling state ready to sell everything we have for a fast buck. The sad truth of it all is that we are not even reaping the benefits of this golden goose, as our quality of life is slowly but steadily deteriorating. Malta has become overpopulated, overcrowded with major problems in traffic and waste management. The state of our roads is in rapid deterioration and local councils are struggling to make ends meet. Our national coffers are on the point of explosion as a result of putting people on the public payroll in an attempt to reduce unemployment figures.
Prime Minister, you have lured many into believing that they have never had it so good and that is a credit to you as a politician. But as a Maltese citizen and with your hand on heart, do you honestly believe that what you are doing is sustainable? Do you truly endorse the ‘cementification’ of Malta and can you seriously not be concerned about the erosion of Malta’s shrinking virgin land?
Following the Prime Minister’s ‘reassuring’ words on September 5, the Nationalist Party issued a statement confirming the many ‘changes’ that have occurred throughout the last three and a half years of Labour administration. The list makes breathtaking reading.
We were reminded of the €4.2 million priministerial intervention to bail out the failed Cafe Premier owners. This was followed by the ‘gift’ worth €10 million that was Australia Hall to the Labour Party coffers. Then we had the Gaffarena scandal, another €3.5 million down the drain. And then a whole series of scandals involving Algerian visas, Libyan medical visas and dubious granting of Maltese citizenships.
In the meantime relatives of super ministers were awarded generously, going as far as dishing out €13,000 per month to the wife of one particular minister. This same minister is now synonymous with what could possibly be the worst case of shady dealing in Maltese politics in ages. We must remember that the Panama scandal never went away. It has been simply buried under lots of smoke and mirrors and phantom audits that have not seen the light of day.
In the meantime as fuel prices plummet all around the world, Malta boasts the second highest average price for diesel and petrol in Europe. At the same time independant statistics estimate that around 100,000 Maltese individuals are on the brink of crossing the threshold of poverty. But that should not worry someone who will have collected €70,000 from renting his own car to the State.
So, indeed yes this country has changed. But has the change been for the better?
Caroline Galea is a PN candidate for the general election on the fourth district.