Last Sunday, like many others I joined the protest in Valletta. I arrived early and on my way in, on foot, I ran into a couple of friends of mine. We sat down for a coffee opposite Parliament and before we knew it, the demonstration kicked off. It was at this moment when I went my way and moved on with the crowd.

A few metres into Republic Street, I came face to face with Adrian Delia. Since July, this was the first time opportunity posed itself for us to talk again. I must say, I enjoyed meeting Delia’s father. More importantly, I enjoyed the cordial and respectful conversation with Delia. There is no doubt that he and I are on the same page in our views of the current political climate.

Why am I writing this piece? While I was near Delia and chatting with him, I spotted a few friends in the crowd. I believe I know their political allegiances and, in this regard, we are on the same side. When I spotted them, I immediately waved at them, I was genuinely happy to see them.

If looks could kill, I’d be dead by now. The eye contact and body language were a complete message of disapproval of me chatting and exchanging my views with Delia. I must say, this incident disturbed me to the extent that soon after, I started walking opposite the crowd and left. This seriously got me thinking about a reality which I fear so many of us are not taking into consideration.

We all recognise the fact that the current political affairs have rocked the foundation of our democracy. Yes, we are all concerned and fighting to protect our democracy. At the same time, we must not lose sight of another fact. Since 2013, on the world stage, Malta’s integrity and reputation started to melt. This political avalanche will no doubt seal our reputational faith throughout the western world.

With the MoneyVal report hanging over our heads, with the international media permanently focused on us, with the pending negotiations with the EU in relation to funds, we must quickly unite and protect the Maltese flag.

The probability is that Malta will get blacklisted next year. This will have a serious and significant impact on our economy and our well-being. If we hit this bottom, if we are lucky, it will take us 10 years to recover. We must all recognise the facts of our reality.

Our objectives must be to get rid of Joseph Muscat as quickly as possible. Every day he occupies his office he is damaging our reputation and killing the last few breaths of our integrity. Not if, but when Muscat leaves, we will have a new Prime Minister. The last thing we need is a general election a few months after that. The Labour Party must be encouraged to pursue its mandate and complete the full term.

We are currently busy dying, we must wake up and take the challenge head on

Whoever the new Prime Minister is, we must all come together and support him or her, be it from within government, the PL, the PN, the business community and others. We must all participate and do our part as our common goal must be to clean our name, to rebuild our reputation and to restore our integrity.

We must all recognise that integrity and reputation have served us very well since the Nationalist Party placed us on the world stage in May 2004.

It is through our integrity that we have managed to build our services industries and compete internationally.

If the Malta flag does not fly high on the world stage, the PL, PN, AD and PD flags are useless as on the world stage they carry no value. It is our duty and moral obligation towards the younger generation to come together behind one cause, “Restore Malta’s integrity on the world stage”. We can all contribute to this goal. How?

In the way we conduct our business overseas, in the way we talk and behave when we are abroad on business or pleasure, in the way we are going to reengineer our commercial and government processes to demonstrate that we have learned from our mistakes, in the way we are going to implement our checks and balances. We must surely without further delay abandon the IIP scheme. Anyway, if Malta gets blacklisted, this scheme will have no more value for the foreign crooks.

This adds up to one word, our attitude towards the truth and the future. We are currently busy dying, we must wake up and take the challenge head on, we must, as one nation get busy living to protect our country, our flag and restore our integrity.

We can no longer waste time giving each other negative looks. We must rise above our differences and face the challenges ahead. We must not waste more time on our inward look, we must consume ourselves on the outward look to ensure we restore our lost integrity.

We must all remember. The decisions we take today will dictate the lifestyle we lead tomorrow. Today, we must decide to be positive, forward looking and to fight for our country. To do so, we must support all those in power that evidently demonstrate their good national intents. I hope that the new Prime Minister will have Malta’s interest at heart and will make restoring Malta’s integrity on the world stage his/her sole purpose.

We must allow political maturity to prevail and no longer consider colours. We must come together as one nation and restore the integrity of the country we all love so much.

Ivan Bartolo is a former Nationalist Party candidate.