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Land of impunity, not responsibility - Anthony Buttigieg

One of the reasons I became involved in politics so late in my life is that a slow-burn of indignation and anger at what I perceive to be a total lack of accountability and responsibility by those who should be giving an example to others, those at the highest level of authority in this land. Those who put the title ‘Honourable’ before their name.

Not all, of course, can be tarred with the same brush. We have been blessed with great prime ministers and great politicians in the past, but in our recent political history it seems the bad apples have started to outnumber the good ones.

A culture of impunity has infiltrated the halls of the highest institution of our land. This culture has been encouraged by the ingrained two-party system we have and the narrowing of the ideological divide of the two main parties. De facto, when you look closely at what they really stand for, it is very hard to spot the difference. Delving even further you will find that their main donors are the same, MPs from both sides of the house work on similar projects for the same corporations and have interlinked business interests.

Big business, contractors, foreign companies with a direct interest in which direction our country heads all back both horses in a two-horse race, and they will always be the winners. We can see this in the uncanny pattern where certain planning permits applied for by party donors are waved through by both main parties even though they are not in the public interest.

This has now been taken a step further. After the ‘publishing’ of the Egrant Inquiry, a summary of a summary delivered to us by the Prime Minister, a man whose wife was directly involved with the inquiry and who, with all the good will in the world, cannot be defined as impartial, the leader of the Opposition, based on what was said, called for the suspension of Simon Busuttil from his party’s parliamentary group.

The average person in the street has become a commodity, a pawn, in a game where profit is king

He did not wait for the full report, a report he is only now trying to force the Attorney General to release through legal means. No, like a puppet on the string he has danced to his supposed political opponent’s tune risking a major split in the main opposition party. Whether it is through collusion, naivety or sheer political incompetence, time will tell. Adrian Delia has conveniently forgotten that it was his own head of communications that was the prime vehicle at the centre of obtaining the same documents that he now wants Busuttil’s head for.

Only today, at the time of writing, that same Prime Minister who himself called for Simon Busuttil’s resignation due to the failure of the inquiry to implicate anyone, through his Attorney General, has appealed against the occlusion ordered by our Constitutional Court of a judge who is married to a Labour MEP to hear the case regarding the revelations of the Panama Papers and Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri. The Attorney General, incongruously both chief public prosecutor and defender of the government, has obviously chosen sides, and guess who is losing out?

The obstruction of justice through legal delaying tactics, the defence of a minister and chief of staff with offshore accounts where elsewhere in Europe all those even more remotely implicated resigned… that is acceptable. But a man who probably truly believed he had genuine documents in hand, who was defending ALL of us against corruption? No, he is a pariah, he must be destroyed.

In the meantime, the average person in the street has become a commodity, a pawn, in a game where profit is king and nearly all the wealth gained in the past few years has been channelled to the top of the economic pile. Our economy grows, our quality of life goes down the drain.

The reason is our country has morphed from being governed by a culture of responsibility to that of a culture of impunity.

If the very institution that governs us bends the law at will, allows members of the ruling party, their friends and business associates to do as they will, what message does it send to the rest of the country?

Partit Demokratiku, the party I lead, does not want to re-invent the wheel. All it wants is that a sense of responsibility is re-instilled in those who govern. Where social justice and the common good are the yardsticks by which we measure progress, not concrete and profit margins. We want to see a new class of politician serve this country, not be served by it. We want everybody to know, whoever they are, that they are not above the law, but subject to it.

We want to kick this culture of impunity out. And that can only be achieved if the stranglehold of our current two-party system is broken forever.

Anthony Buttigieg is leader of the Democratic Party.

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