Malta faces many significant challenges that would tax the best of leadership even in normal times and circumstances.
A brief list of such challenges might include the need for considered and informed debate on environmental destruction, infrastructure development on land and sea, migration and how to approach it, the future of tourism, agriculture and education.
This is by no means a full list.
Each individual challenge is deserving of research, public and expert input and national deliberation. Answers to such challenges are not simple or obvious – they are clearly complex and always contested.
Malta is a country constricted, hogtied and almost immobilised by the dominant agenda of criminality and corruption
They involve multiple interests and agendas which need appropriate management and often mediation.
Given its history, geography and culture, Malta’s future direction cries out for careful thought, skill, creativity and vision. Personally, I have no doubt whatsoever that these exist in profusion in Malta if the opportunity and context permit.
Each challenge is deserving of a full-blown national conversation, but these are not normal times and Malta is currently not a normal country going about its regular business.
Instead, it is a country constricted, hogtied and almost immobilised by the dominant agenda of criminality and corruption among its business, political and administrative elite.
It is a country staring down a tunnel mesmerised by the oncoming lights and what they might portend.
As the name of Malta is yet again associated with high level and widespread sleaze, dodgy dealing and criminality, there is growing unease and dismay nationally and internationally.
All of this is accompanied by a soundtrack of ongoing tribal political chanting which specialises in banality and political and cultural illiteracy.
As a direct result, Malta’s social, environmental, political, legal and economic urgencies are cast aside in a flurry of corruption ‘management’ and ‘distraction’ tactics.
So much of the time, energy and focus of government, business and administration are taken up with simply dodging this week’s set of scandals in order to survive until next week.
We have all become experts in ‘reading’ and ‘parsing’ today’s speeches, policy twists, and assertions.
We have learned to read between, beneath and above the lines, wondering who is actually dictating strategy, response and agenda.
In the meantime, ministers of state, government administrators, professionals and businesspeople go about their work of plundering the country and its people.
We have learned to read between, beneath and above the lines
It is as if the country is experiencing an advanced form of democratic paralysis.
This is clearly no way to run a country especially in the throes of a pandemic let alone planning for its future well-being and human development.
Nor is it a fruitful or positive way in which to channel the energy and focus of the public.
It also actively undermines Malta’s professed commitment to the rule of law, to having a living democracy and to the country’s standing in the world.
Simultaneously, it feeds public cynicism, disbelief and disregard for others and for the idea of public service.
It offers nothing positive to Malta’s younger generation and it most certainly contributes nothing to the country’s urgent need to address its priority challenges.
It simply must continue to be challenged - there is no other choice.
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