The curious but sad case of the Maltese ‘buts’
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The curious but sad case of the Maltese ‘buts’

The cumulative impact is to convince ourselves that all is well

A search for the great ‘get out clause’ whereby we do not have to face up to serious issues and challenges.

A search for the great ‘get out clause’ whereby we do not have to face up to serious issues and challenges.

The response emerges in nano seconds… BUT…

When faced with our daily ration of widespread and now deeply ingrained corruption as pursued by Malta’s economic and political ‘elite’, the standard, knee-jerk response is BUT…THEY did it too. When the ‘other’ tribe was in power, they rewarded their supporters, made political appointments, muzzled institutions, civil servants and critics, turned a blind eye and, in short, did much the same.

So (the response goes), while what is being done cannot be fully condoned, THEY did it too. Therefore, in some way, it’s OK. It’s just the nature of public life in Malta.

The second BUT follows swiftly. But this did not begin with us, it goes way back to previous regimes and the regimes before them. Malta has always been ‘run’ this way and, therefore it is ‘our’ way of doing things. When THEY engage(d) in dodgy behaviour and practices, it is/was definitely wrong. But when ‘WE’ do so, it is somehow ‘less wrong’.

To outsiders (like me), this is a curious way to engage in public life BUT, as I am frequently told ‘you don’t understand, ‘you have to be Maltese to understand’.

A third, closely related BUT (one that is very popular in recent days and weeks) involves a different THEM. When challenged internationally about the rule of law in Malta or about the effectiveness or independence of Maltese institutions, the response is almost inevitable. THEY are jealous or devious. THEIR countries are not perfect. THEY are up to the same or similar tricks. THEY have an agenda (unlike US).

THEIR institutions are defective and often irrelevant (especially many EU ones – except, of course those dispersing grants to US).

A fourth important BUT is that THEY don’t know what they’re talking about. Their sources of information are suspect as are their motives and character. THEY don’t understand legal procedures, economic cycles or how the real world works (no need to mention that WE clearly do).

BUT, it is obvious to everyone that we are doing so, so well. Keep looking at the basic economic indicators. We will all be rich if our very rich become mega rich. Any other story is demonstrably false.Far too many Maltese remain in deep denial

The cumulative impact of all these BUTs (there are many more) is to convince ourselves that fundamentally all is well (even if not quite perfect). The readily visible plunder of the assets of Malta and its people is not something that should really bother us too much.

This Maltese search for the great ‘get out clause’ whereby we do not have to face up to serious issues and challenges (to our democracy, the rule of law, our environment, our public morality) continues at ever greater speed.

This ‘get out clause’ allows us slide under or around such challenges promoting the impression that something is being done while nothing substantive about them is happening.

This ‘get out clause’ facilitates the mega, the large and the small daily acts of plunder.

Sadly and ultimately at great cost, far too many Maltese remain in deep denial.

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