The ultimate aim of politics should be to change people’s lives for the better. The well-being of each citizen should be the ultimate priority for the State. At least that’s what I believe.

Governments must prioritise the fundamental needs and rights of their populace over abstract markers of prosperity.

Without a concerted effort to enhance the daily experiences of individuals, economic growth loses its significance and becomes an empty measure devoid of true value. Genuine progress isn’t solely reflected in GDP figures but in the tangible enhancements to the overall quality of life for every member of society.

Bragging about economic growth amid declining basic healthcare services, crumbling essential infrastructure, and lack of true justice all around, is akin to celebrating reaching the height of a tower while its foundation is crumbling away. This discrepancy starkly contrasts the rosy macroeconomic picture painted by Robert Abela and his cabinet with the harsh reality faced by Maltese citizens.

Traffic jams worsen and our town and village streets suffocate. The construction industry operates under chaotic rules with people’s lives being endangered in their own homes.

We doubt whether the most basic electricity, water and drainage services will be available especially now that the summer months are approaching. We fear needing to go to the hospital in the knowledge of long waiting hours which are slowly turning to days.

When you consider all this, it is evident that prioritising excessive growth over sustainable development has made our quality of life a mess.

Within this landscape, corruption thrives, the powerful operate with impunity while the vulnerable are left to fend for themselves. I was unfortunate to come face to face with this stark reality myself when three weeks ago, a family member of mine was admitted to Mater Dei Hospital. Within the space of two weeks, she had to change ward 11 times, causing a great deal of stress for both her and her nurses.

Doctors are heard complaining that daily life at Mater Dei has become a “fill-in the blanks” exercise as doctors and nurses are forced to vacate beds to make space for incoming patients immediately as soon as they show signs of improvement. Unfortunately, she ended up passing away. But this is not an isolated incident.

After recounting this experience in parliament, I was contacted by many people who have had similar experiences at our hospital. From being proud of a “state-of-the-art” hospital, we are now afraid of having to go to hospital.

We are now afraid of having to go to hospital- Mark Anthony Sammut

This is the stark reality of Abela’s Malta. The sick and the vulnerable are having to make do with a disorganised healthcare system, while the ruling class and the criminals that they protect continue to fill their coffers.

Look at Abela’s friend and property-sale partner, Christian Borg. Borg is currently being charged in court with kidnapping. He is also being investigated for suspected drug trafficking and money laundering through his car rental company. In 2019, he also had his public service garage licence suspended by Transport Malta, a suspension which was further confirmed by the Court of Appeal a year ago, and by the Constitutional Court a week ago.

In a normal democracy, such an individual would never dream of being awarded public contracts.

However, in Abela’s Malta, the same individual still has two contracts with government agencies, both for car rentals, the same business through which he is being investigated for laundering proceeds from crime: one with our Local Enforcement Agency, the other with the same Transport Malta which suspended his licence!

One does not need to go to depths to decipher the rationale behind such madness. The same Borg was exposed to have paid thousands into bank accounts held by the prime minister and his spouse. These same bank accounts had raised red flags in internal Bank of Valletta reviews. But different laws apply for Robert Abela and Lydia Abela compared to the rest of us: Lydia Abela simply refused to share copies of her tax returns when the bank started asking questions.

While ordinary citizens face intense scrutiny for even the smallest of transactions, the prime minister and his wife consider themselves superior enough to avoid having to explain anything.

The grim truth of Abela’s Malta depicts a troubling image of a government that places the interests of the privileged few, including criminals, above the welfare of the general populace. As citizens contend with decaying healthcare services, widespread corruption, and institutional apathy, it becomes glaringly clear that the current administration has failed in its duty to safeguard the most vulnerable in society.

It is important to usher in a new era of governance that prioritises the well-being and rights of all citizens, transcending mere economic metrics to focus on the holistic prosperity and contentment of the Maltese people, and for the law and justice to be applied equally for all.

Mark Anthony Sammut is the Nationalist Party’s spokesperson on transport.

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