The importance of the current election has moved me to take a public stand in the name of moral integrity and upright behaviour.

Corruption does not have a political colour – it is immoral, condemnable and cannot be tolerated under any circumstance, and from whatever party it is gene­rated. No one should choose to turn a blind eye to it or to dismiss it as ‘the way things are’.

Our politicians, whom we entrust with the power to rule in our name, are even more condemnable when, through corruption, they betray the precious gift of trust we have bestowed on them. These politicians are totally despicable when they blatantly lie about their lack of honesty to the people, rather than hang their heads in shame.

No person, and especially no politician, should be allowed to get rich through immoral means, whether the income he or she generates is coming from Maltese or foreign sources. Illegally generated income is a loss to the country’s economy: it is not put back into the nation’s coffers for all the country to benefit from, and ultimately, it is robbing the nation’s people of benefits all might enjoy for the private enjoyment of a corrupt handful.

Sadly, in the 63 years since Malta achieved independence, the country has been, far too often, tainted with corruption. What is even sadder is that this has hardly ever been duly punished. On the contrary, corruption has penetrated every level of society, and we have now come to a state of affairs where it is taken for granted, as though the fact that politicians, officials, policemen, businessmen and others are corrupt is a situation that cannot be helped.

Moreover, there do not seem to be effective measures to guarantee accountability for one’s actions and to ensure the total separation and independence of the three powers (legislative, execu­tive and, above all, judiciary) that Montesquieu called for as far back as 1748.

It is up to you and me to take the right moral action in the privacy of the voting booth to vote out corruption

Let us not forget that the present government was voted in because people were hoping for a clean, uncorrupt State. As it proved, those who voted with this aspiration in mind were totally misguided, because instead of veering towards a modern and model State, never has corruption attained the levels it has attained today.

We are witnessing the results of a crafty master plan that was carefully thought out before the 2013 election, which none of the culprits involved ever dreamt would be revealed on a worldwide scale. It has shamed the nation’s reputation and has made Malta the object of scandal across Europe and beyond.

Our country does not deserve this. Our people do not deserve this. None of us deserves this, even those who are blind to the serious implications of the current situation.

Once again, we are faced by an important choice – between a regime that took barely four years to go beyond the highest levels of corruption ever attained on the one hand and on the other, a new leader who up to this day has consistently defended moral integ­rity and denounced corruption. The latter has also welcomed other like-minded politicians, who may not necessarily share the same ideo­logy but certainly the same values.

We need these types of leaders, who can stand up to the temptation of ‘get-rich-quick-while-one-can’ and who live very happily with the fact that they are in it because they really want to do something for the people who put their trust in them, and not for their sole interests, to line their greedy pockets.

Let us be seen internationally once again as moral, upright citizens and reject this corrupt regime. Let us demand that the next Nationalist/coalition government immediately get rid of anyone even slightly tainted by corruption, and certainly not allow him or her to get anywhere near any political seat of power, let alone occupy one.

To quote a character in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, it is essential to “Be bloody, bold and resolute”. It is also necessary to have the integrity to castigate one’s own. Let us, once and for all, provide proof to our young generations of our moral integrity and demonstrate that corruption cannot and does not pay.

The present times call for active citizenship, and bad governance must be voted out. It is now up to all of us to take strength and voice our concerns publicly.

It is up to you and me to take the right moral action in the privacy of the voting booth to vote out corruption. Let us, together, vote out this corrupt regime.

Prof. Vicki Ann Cremona lectures at the University of Malta and is a former ambassador to France and Tunisia.