When one car isn't enough

I don't wish to sound like I'm on a personal crusade against Malta's judiciary/law-makers – though I'm very well aware that a good number of you will choose to think so anyway.

But really, the number of times I'm faced with a 'what on earth' moment from those quarters has long exceeded the single digits. The list of grievances is quite impressive. We have had to accept sentences that are disproportionate to the crime – rapists and paedophiles getting ridiculous jail sentences or not even that (granted, the fault for this does not always lie at the door of the judiciary); sentences that seemingly condone violence for the smallest provocation etc

We have also had to accept a number of bungled prosecutions. Recent fails included the invalidation of the writ of summons due to inaccurate information, and getting the section of the law and the actual time and date of the offence wrong.

Fine, mistakes happen, although it's amazing how no-one ever picks up responsibility for them. Then, you get the mother of all whoppers. Chief Justice Silvio Camilleri has been granted the use of two official cars, we just learnt today.

Compared to the other, more serious matters that seem to happen across the board, I suppose it sounds a bit ridiculous to make a fuss over a second car.

Only, it isn't really when you think about it, and for more reasons than one. Starting with the obvious: we are paying for this. Divided per capita, it might not sound like a massive amount but little things have a habit of adding up.

And it's not just a question of cash. The reasoning behind placing a second car at the disposal of any official is just as mind-boggling. Where, exactly, is the use in giving out a car for official business and another one for personal use?

Maybe I'm missing something here, but I can't figure out why the chief justice can't simply use the same car for everything. Actually, the argument doesn't just apply to the chief justice – apparently ministers and parliamentary secretaries get one too. The same question applies: why do they need it?

The only instance I will accept the necessity of a second car is in the prime minister's case. Not because of practical necessity, but because this is one of the very few roles that does require the cachet of a separate personal car.

Ah, don't you just love it when Big Brother gives us the recession talk, employers everywhere talk about "tightening belts" and then the authorities just go ahead and reward themselves for nothing?


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