The authorities in Malta seem to be living in a cloud cuckoo land of their own, where everything is bliss, things work like clockwork, nothing is wrong and everything is perfect.

Joseph Muscat and company have conjured up the illusion, mantra and slogan that Malta is “the best in Europe”.  They ram this slogan down our throats convinced that the more it is repeated, the more it will be believed.  

What is even more tragic is that they themselves actually believe their own spin.    

Three events on July 11 and 12 reveal the pathetic state to which certain institutions and ministers have been reduced. Their subservience to the empty blabber of their political master has reduced them to burying their heads in the sand, repeating platitudes and not noticing that the emperor is naked.

Episode 1: in the European Waters Report for 2018, published this month, the European Environment Agency openly expressed its worries about Malta since our country continued to have “significant problems” with its groundwater levels.

For us at Alternattiva and for many Maltese people, this was absolutely no news. Marco Cremona, Carmel Cacopardo, Alfred Baldacchino have been saying for donkey years that Malta’s water table is being severely depleted and that nothing serious was being done to alleviate the problem.

We are the ninth most desertified country in the world and yet, what did the Maltese Energy and Water Agency tell the Times of Malta?: “The Maltese agency said water level measurements in gauging extraction from these sites were slowly stabilising. Over extraction was ‘progressively reducing’. Meanwhile, the agency said, Malta’s remaining 14 perched groundwater bodies, extensively used by the agricultural sector, were classified to have a good quantitative status.”

Unbelievable. The Maltese water agency is very content with itself spouting platitudes, while Rome burns.

Episode 2: Culture Minister Owen Bonnici flew over to the Frisian city of Leewaarden, to try and placate the wrath of Valletta 18’s European cultural partner, caused by Jason Micallef’s insensitive ridiculing of Daphne’s tragic assassination.

Joseph Muscat and company have conjured up the illusion, mantra and slogan that Malta is ‘the best in Europe’.  They ram this slogan down our throats

Bonnici came up with the usual propagandist rhetoric on what a liberal society Malta has been transformed into, free from any form of censorship (women sunbathing near Tritons Fountain, please note).

I do not know whether he repeated the mantra on what a wonderful Whistleblowers Act we have (Jonathan Ferris and Maria Efimova, please note) or whether we are a country that has rid itself of all nepotism, favouritism and clientelism, and which bases its whole raison d’etre on the concept of meritocracy.

Whatever, when asked about Jason Micallef’s comments vis-à-vis Caruana Galizia’s horrific murder, all our Minister of Justice could repeat, parrot like, was that “I will never ever, even by a whim of thought, do something which conditions the way a person speaks or exercises his freedom of expression”. 

Oh, what a paragon of liberalism our Minister of Justice is. To be honest, I am not impressed at all.

And neither were the Leewaarden officials, it would seem. Indeed, at the conclusion of the 45-minute meeting, Leewaarden 18 CEO Tjeerd Van Bekkum insisted that Bonnici and the V18 foundation had legitimised the situation by refusing to publicly condemn Micallef’s comments. Minister Bonnici might be illuding himself that he did a fantastic job by playing the ostrich and defending his government’s hacks. In reality, his trip to Holland was useless, which simply cost us taxpayers more money down the drain. 

Episode 3: following its investigation into the handling of the Pilatus Bank case, the European Banking Authority “concluded that the FIAU failed to conduct an effective supervision of Pilatus Bank due to a number of failures, including procedural deficiencies and lack of supervisory actions by the FIAU after its decision to close the case without imposing any sanctions on the bank”.

Serious accusations which are a blow to Malta’s financial reputation and which should make one reflect.

Instead, not only does the FIAU not acknowledge its possible failings but it goes on to insist that “it was disappointed with the European Banking Authority’s conclusion and had serious reservations on the process it adopted to carry out its preliminary inquiry and the subsequent investigation”.  

Again, burying its head in the sand and pretending it is business as usual.

If we continue this way, living in perpetual denial, there is a great risk that one day the situation explodes and leaves our country in tatters.

It is the duty of one and all to ensure that all this does not materialise.

Arnold Cassola is former Alternattiva Demokratika chairman and former secretary general of the European Green Party. 


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