What is happening to this country and its governing bodies? A court of law finds that a cabinet minister acquired land to extend his countryside villa at the expense of a vulnerable person; he retains his seat in cabinet.
A cabinet minister first tries to amend the Constitution and when there was no chance of his obtaining the support of two-thirds majority of the members of parliament, he proposes changing the meaning of the constitutional provisions and nullify the judgments of the Constitutional Court through an ordinary law requiring only a simple majority of one!
A magisterial inquiry is requested by the then leader of the opposition, Simon Busuttil. Around the same time, a magisterial inquiry on Egrant is requested by the then prime minister. The then prime minister and his lawyers get a copy of the Egrant inquiry report – the leader of the opposition does not! Nor is Busuttil given a copy of the magisterial inquiry report which he himself requested!
The state-owned television station (PBS) transmits the joyful news that Lady Gaga’s dogs, which were lost, have been found, are in good health and now enjoy again the warmth of their owner’s love and affection. However, on the same day, no mention is made of an allegation against persons in high places made by a person who was given a presidential pardon on the condition that he states the truth.
The opposition requests a right of reply to a two-hour long press conference on May 18, 2020 by the prime minister, called officially to inform the public about the COVID-19 pandemic but which covered all sorts of things, praising the government’s alleged achievements, denigrating the opposition and defending ministers.
Not only does the Broadcasting Authority refuse to grant such request, it avails itself of the opportunity to prohibit the screening of questions made by journalists, allowing only the answers by the prime minister to be transmitted!
The Commissioner of Voluntary Organisations pounces on Repubblika, two years after its regular registration, accusing it of being affiliated or controlled by a political party just because in its mission to promote human rights and democracy – values expressly recognised in the Voluntary Organisations Act – it criticises the government’s abysmal actions regarding such values.
Are these incidents the result of arrogance or folly of the powers that be?- Tonio Borg
The commissioner does so with a straight face, using his legal counsel to send the relative atrocious letter, probably being ashamed to send it himself. There is no doubt that no political superior was involved in any way.
The health minister refers to the number of vaccines distributed as being identical to the government majority over the opposition in votes at the last general election. The government then accuses the opposition of making political mileage out of its criticism of the management of the pandemic.
On the same lines, the government exploited full political mileage in the first wave of the pandemic, stating that it had “won the war”, that waves are only found in the sea and that Malta is, thankfully, a “paradise on earth”. Now that in the second and third waves the COVID-19 figures skyrocketed – leading to a second shutdown – it is not the government’s fault, or its lack of enforcement of the weak restrictions it had adopted at the expense of people’s health and lives, but it is the fault of the criticism made by the press and the opposition.
Indeed, as John F. Kennedy once said while following the Bay of Pigs debacle: “Victory has many fathers but defeat is an orphan.”
Are these incidents the result of arrogance or folly of the powers that be? Is it possible that these extreme, unreasonable and disproportionate actions are the fruit of arrogance after eight years in government or merely the folly of politicians who have lost the plot?
Probably they are both.
Tonio Borg is a former European Commissioner.