There is something weird going on. When back in April, Malta had the grand total of 11 COVID-19 cases, we used to spend evenings clapping for our doctors and nurses from our balconies; now that there are 111 cases and our ITU is chock-a-block with COVID patients and those same doctors and nurses are stretched to their very limits, we all go about business as usual, happily infecting each other.
Here’s the difference: back in April, the government was promoting caution. But by June that caution was thrown to the winds (or should I say, the waves?): Prime Minister Robert Abela pooh-poohed the pandemic and waved off all related penalties; it was party time, with Julia Farrugia Portelli’s planeload of British revellers (unsurprisingly the most prevalent COVID strain here is the same as the UK).
Chris Fearne, who was as proud as a Paolite peacock back in June when WHO said that Malta was an exemplary study of how to tackle the pandemic, must now be plucking his feathers in frustration. And Charmaine Gauci, the Superintendent of Public Health, must surely be regretting taking part in that “war-is-over-video” back in June.
Now, last week, Gauci, in throes of desperation, said: “We do have measures in place but they are not being adhered to!”
For starters, it would be great if the prime minister himself showed a bit of alarm – and an ounce of empathy with the victims and their families. No one is saying that the airports should close, or that all businesses close shop like back in April – but at the very least, impose the basic measure of getting everyone to wear masks when out in shops or streets.
The economy can only survive when people trust their leaders- Kristina Chetcuti
Across Europe, bars and pubs are closing earlier to limit the spread – and in Malta? Just go down to Marsaxlokk and you see people social crowding, wearing masks as necklaces or as hairbands (!), while restaurants further up are threatened with closure if their tables are a centimetre too close; or go to Paceville and it’s party as usual so long as there’s peanuts on the table.
We must all get our act together – for all our sakes: young and old. But most of all, Abela must stop acting like the cool dude who’s surfing the wave – he’s flailing underwater, and no gym muscles will now convince us that he’s in control. No, not all is well.
Perhaps for starters he should stop taking advice from The Office of Joseph Muscat (and his amazing technicolour dream economics), and at least until the vaccine is out, walk the talk and show utmost respect to our doctors, nurses, COVID patients, victims of families and all the citizens under his responsibility. The economy can only survive when people trust their leaders.
The government has handed over the management and operation of the Miżieb and Aħrax woodland areas to the FKNK hunters in an agreement signed in stealth last week – because you know, environment conservation and bird killing go hand in hand.
The first we got to know about it was when the DOI released a photo of the signing; straight out of the Sicilian village of Corleone, circa 1950. One man stood out like a sore thumb in that photo: the young Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia, whose job it is to, well, protect the environment,
including birds. He had so far given everyone the impression that he truly cared for his portfolio: he cycled to meetings, he travelled by bus, he cooperated with NGOs… and last November, when the shocking Yorgen Fenech-Keith Schembri revelations came to light, he even spoke in no uncertain terms. Ah, I thought back then, finally a bit of fresh air in that rotten piece of government.
But it seems that after all he has no qualms betraying his own principles and being part of a disgraceful sham just to maintain his seat of power. Et tu Farrugia?
Friday marked the third anniversary of the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia. In three years, thanks to her family, civil society, independent media and a handful of politicians, we have inched towards the truth – but we are still a long way off from justice.
But all throughout there have been moments which spurred us all on.
This month, MEP David Casa, who has been giving his heart and soul to ensure that the legacy of his closest friend Daphne lives on, has spearheaded the European Parliament Daphne Caruana Galizia Prize for outstanding journalism which will be awarded every year to journalists who highlight the principles and values of democracy.
Last week, fellow columnist and journalist blogger Manuel Delia dug up a 1998 interview with Daphne Caruana Galizia. Please do take the time to
listen to the podcast: https://manueldelia.com/2020/10/podcast-an-interview-with-daphne/.
Daphne had back then been interviewed for the national radio station in Finland as part of a series of interviews with Maltese people to give the audience an impression of Malta.
Her incisive assessment of our country is still as accurate today, if not more.
Also last week, Sky News foreign correspondent Alex Crawford was the main speaker in the Daphne Caruana Galizia memorial lecture – she spoke about how journalism – in Malta and worldwide – is under attack.
It’s a veritable eyeopener – please do log on to Repubblika’s Facebook page, watch it, and in whichever way, try to support independent media.
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