On the fifth anniversary of the brutal murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, all titles in The Sunday Times of Malta related to her killing pointed towards the lethargy and unwillingness to learn lessons from the powers that be.

I ask: why weren’t we able, as a nation, to delve into the real causes of such a tragedy?  Why didn’t we mourn, not only the brutal murder of one who had been exposing the filth and corruption of our government and institutions but also ourselves for being accomplices of such a corrupt and amoral system?

In the editorial of this paper on the day of the anniversary it was stressed that “the polarisation remains entrenched with rarely a conciliatory tone heard to steer away from populist sentiments which continue to drown out any semblance of reason”.

Let us all admit that our partisan blinkers are hindering us from accepting the truth, even though we know what the truth is.  Many of us are losing faith in the main political parties because of their hidden fake agenda. The starting point for any progress should be admitting one’s mistakes and misdeeds.

Five full years have passed and, though the report of the public inquiry into Daphne’s assassination clearly states that the responsibility for her killing lay on the government of the day for having created a culture of impunity that facilitated the murder, we still don’t hear any remorse from the authorities.

We are living in denial and if this state persists there is no hope of “wounds being healed”,  as former Labour minister Evarist Bartolo stated in an interview in this paper. “We need to understand that this is a tragedy for all of us,” Bartolo exclaimed.

Polarisation and partisanship are corroding the very foundations of our democracy.  Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, in their book How Democracies Die, state: “Polarisation can destroy democratic norms.  When socio-economic, racial, or religious differences give rise to extreme partisanship, in which societies sort themselves into political camps whose world views are not just different but mutually exclusive, toleration becomes harder to sustain.”

The authors go on to assert that “as mutual toleration disappears, politicians grow tempted to abandon forbearance and try to win at all costs.  This may encourage the rise of anti-system groups that reject democracy’s rules altogether.  When that happens, democracy is in trouble”.

Because we seem to be divided into two camps, many of us wait for directions to be given by the leaders of the respective parties to take action.  But we all know that we find ourselves in this stagnant situation today because the powers that be prefer to deny and ignore reality and go on with life pretending that our democracy has not been tainted.

We are living in denial- Ray Azzopardi

Former chief justice and member of the Daphne public inquiry, Joseph Said Pullicino, shows us the way forward when commenting about the present situation, on the occasion of Daphne’s murder anniversary. He affirmed: “The country needs a change of culture – a return to the traditional values of meritocracy, honesty, integrity, loyalty and a sense of service in the management of public affairs.”

A change of culture takes time and conviction but it is a must if we want to move forward as a nation.  Whoever was the mastermind of such a brutal killing, the fact remains that we, as a nation, have all been wounded. Pointing fingers at who the culprits were does not absolve us from admitting that we need to reconcile ourselves and start building anew our society on those values that help us live as one nation, as brothers and sisters.

We need to realise, though, that we should be the prime movers. We form part of the democratic system and we should be the ones who make our voices and complaints heard – and this vociferously.

In her contribution, Alessandra Dee Crespo, vice president of Repubblika, asserts: “We refuse to relegate our duty as citizens of this country to others. We are in the front line, showing our faces, using our voices, writing in our name... because the dark forces that killed Daphne are not yet appeased.”

We have to act now, and it is we, citizens, who have to act. It is encouraging to see civil society groups like Occupy Justice and Repubblika in the forefront fighting tooth and nail against corrupt practices and injustices. We also have the independent media, the fourth pillar of democracy, and a number of NGOs who relentlessly battle for justice and the truth to come out.

Lately, Labour activist Desmond Zammit Marmarà sacrificed his party for the good of the nation because he believes that the PL has drifted away from its original values.

It was also heartening to listen to Deputy Prime Minister, Chris Fearne’s comments, after the demise of Nationalist MP Robert Arrigo, when he remarked: “Those who say there are no men of substance in politics had never met Robert Arrigo”. These are the remarks and instances needed for healing to come about and for us to move closer to unity.

Hopefully, five years from now, we would be able to say that we had learnt something from this tragedy and have moved forward as a more unified nation.

We need to be reminded what Levitsky and Ziblatt contend about democracy when they state: “No single political leader can end a democracy; no single leader can rescue one, either.  Democracy is a shared enterprise.  Its fate depends on all of us”.

So, let us all play our part.

Ray Azzopardi is a retired headmaster.

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