Labour & Flames

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On March 9th 2013 Joseph Muscat’s Labour government decided to switch off the eternal flame (from 6am to 6pm) at the War memorial in order to save money. The move was calculated to save the government €9,000 a year.

On August 27th 2015 it was announced that Joseph Muscat’s Labour government had opted not to have a statue of Dom Mintoff in Castille square. Joseph Muscat’s Labour government opted for an abstract 5 metre high flame instead. Estimates of the cost of creating this flame are around €500,000.

That half a million euro could have kept the eternal flame going for another 55 years.

L-aqwa l-fjamma astratta f’gieh is-salvatur. 

Castille square, now bereft of greenery, will sport a design that mimics the idea of Piazza Campidoglio in Rome. It will be “adorned” with a series of statues culminating in a five metre high flame designed by a ceramic artist commissioned on direct order. In a way it is a fitting symbol of all that is wrong with the ideas behind Joseph Muscat’s Labour.


The Business of Worship

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The Office of the Prime Minister has been busy denying that there are any plans for building a mosque in or around the American University of Malta. Yesterday, the Malta Independent had reported the result of a Social Impact Assessment on the Zonqor Site for Sadeen’s University and had:

“revealed how the Social Impact Assessment on the Zonqor site suggested the inclusion of a mosque on campus seeing that the majority of students attending the American University of Malta are expected to be Muslim. It did not suggest a new mosque for the Cospicua campus since students would be able to attend the Paola mosque. The report, by Dr Marvin Formosa and Mr Joe Gerada, also called for a multicultural education campaign for residents of Marsascala. [The Malta Independent] never implied that a mosque would be built but simply stated the facts that emerge from the document, which was disseminated to the media by the OPM last week.”

The opposition media had jumped at the opportunity to fan the waves of anti-muslim sentiment in Malta by highlighting this suggestion. It is one thing to sell the new University as an opportunity for heavy investment in Malta, it is another to understand the obvious implications of attracting the purported 4,000 or so students and all their needs – including those spiritual. The fact of the matter is that the people happy clapping Joseph Muscat on his visit to Dock number 1 in all the pomp and glory (all the while showering new gifts on the local populace like some character in Sid Meier’s Civilisation) might have quickly turned into a disgruntled lot had the highlight been on the obvious consequence of having to cater for the spiritual needs of the same student population.

This was never meant to be the discussion about whether or not Malta needs a new mosque. Chances are that the current number of practicing Muslims  in Malta warrants a new mosque anyway. The Paola mosque might have become too small for the burgeoning community so we are probably talking about an inevitable consequence anyway. Allah knows whether another construction enthusiast from the Middle East might turn to investing in the construction of a spiritual refuge and whether that will also be considered a good “investiment f’Malta ghall-Maltin”. Good luck to Joseph selling the land space necessary and convincing any local council to become the beneficiary of such heavenly blessings.

And that, really, is the case. Whether or not the OPM intended to heed the warning signs of the Social Impact Assessment is neither here nor there. The truth is that this dubious university investment obviously has the government by the balls. The whole point is neither improving educational standards in a region that is a stone’s throw away from Tal-Qroqq (compare the “South” to Gozo – arguably the furthest region from the UOM but with the highest percentage of students in tertiary education for a very long time) nor about  bringing money or employment that will stay in this fictitious “South”. The point was finding an excuse for Sadeen to build his residential part on ODZ land. In a throwback to Mintoffian begging bowl years disguised as supposed smart salesmanship, Muscat bent over backwards to appease a construction specialist and grant him the people’s land. To sell the project he invented stories about improving education – for whom? Will the sons of Cottonera who failed to attend the UOM for free benefit from the four IT degrees of a haphazardly assembled university?

He sold the lie that this would increase employment for the area: It’s a lie because you are not allowed to discriminate on the basis of residence when employing someone. He sold the lie that the students would leave money in the area. Would they? If Sadeen’s plans are what they seem to be then the students will be spending most of their money in the “American” University itself – when they are not travelling around Europe thanks to the student visa that will perforce be issued (u hallik minn  Joe Sammut). Those who will not be doing the Grand Tour d’Europe will be living in and around the AUM right? Which is where the need for a mosque comes in. Not just a mosque mind you. Is it fear tactics that lead me to mention proper food catering (hallal), maybe a bank or two dealing in sharia approved commerce. How does this impact the local population?

Which is the point I want to get at. The issue of integration where a muslim community is concerned is far from being an openly discussed one in Malta. The assumption is that this is a catholic country with catholic mores. A new mosque is the least of the worries if worry it is. What it cannot be is an unplanned afterthought forced on a community without much planning and education. In a country where the press goes with the flow and ignores the nuances and effects of the choices it makes when reporting we are far from having a clear plan that understands the functioning of a multicultural community. The adaptation of our society to one that really understands and works fully with integration cannot happen as a result of hodgepodge spin-offs of ill-thought planning by this government.

It cannot happen especially in the context of a project that is one big sham from start to end – an excuse for a university that leads to the raping of public land outside a development zone (compromise or no). The mosque cannot become Joseph Muscat’s Trojan to his prostituting of more land and resources to the highest (and shadiest) bidder.

***

The TV station Al-Jazeera has announced in its official blog that it will no longer be using the term “migrant” and its derivatives to refer to the peoples being displaced across the Mediterranean and from the Middle East. The Doha based network has chosen to refer to all such persons as “refugees” from now on. The power of the media is also in the words it uses. Public opinion and sentiment can often be swayed or fanned by the use of certain terms and not others. It is decisions like this that highlight  the full force of words and their use in reporting.


Terms they employ

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Everybody loves the Gaffarenas. Or so it seems. They have been “in bed” with both of the main parties in one way or another. They have kept up their part of the general unspoken deal of the Maltese version of the mafia “pizzo” by making sure that donations (of different proportions) go to the two parties. Whenever they have had business in court they made sure to make use of the services of lawyers on both sides of the great divide in Liliput – the Independent is currently running a story that not only was Beppe Fenech Adami once a lawyer to the Gaffarena family but so were PL MP Joseph Sammut and PL president Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi. It’s not so much a tirade of mud as it is a tirade of non sequiturs.

This blog has gone on record as saying that the simple matter of begging for and receiving donations from the commercial sector (no matter the amount) is a dangerous game that is played by all parties – whether or not the IOU is eventually cashed later on. Unfortunately this risks to be misinterpreted thanks to the malady of “par condicio” that all parties are guilty of playing the game in the same manner. It is not the case. At all. First of all the political game requires that the message is garbled and confused by throwing together the matter of donations and legal services given to the Gaffarenas as though it was all part of the same boat.

MaltaToday, just before a visit to their offices by Joseph Muscat, had gone ballistic about links between former PN secretary General Joe Saliba and some dealings of the Gaffarena family. Again, no surprises here – even where Saliba is concerned. International politicians like Tony Blair and Bill Clinton retire to the lecture circuit that pays millions in return. Politicians like Saliba and, Austin Gatt (he comes to mind) “retire” to businesses run by former sponsors of their parties. Where does it all put us?

The PN is right to insist that the Labour government is much more eager to allow Gaffarena to cash in on his “investments” with the PL. The proof that we have before us points strongly in that direction. Gaffarena’s petrol stations and property dealings happened under a very faulty and accommodating Labour watch. Labour’s attempt at deviating the issue onto Beppe Fenech Adami’s involvement with Gaffarena as a lawyer is pathetic to say the least. As was the botched attempt to nail Busuttil with some kind of pre-electoral deal with the same. There is no doubt that in this particular circumstance Labour’s clumsy way of playing the political power game is much more at fault than the PN’s.

Is it a defence for the PN that in its time in power it maintained a level of “decency” when dealing with the how and when to accommodate its own sponsors? Not really. The end result is the same – especially in the construction and planning business. PL took up the baton where the PN left it. Only to shed completely any mask that feigned democratic accountability and to plunge directly into undemocratic mayhem. This “mess in denial” is the same one that is reforming MEPA to blatantly accomodate the greed of the construction industry. It is the same one that explodes smoke bombs of supposed scandals in the PN past while obstinately steamrolling over public opinion in matters such as the Zonqor development. As for the latter scandal, for scandal it is, the noise is still so loud about the development in Zonqor that little or nothing more has been said about the actual “university” itself. A real social movement would not only oppose the development in Zonqor per se but would also oppose a Sadeen University of fake anywhere. Yes, anywhere.

The Gaffarena family is now a hot potato in the PLPN battles. It is becoming the scapegoat for all the deals and trading that happened in our corner of the world. Do not get me wrong. Deals with lobbyists, musical chairs in “positions of trust”, preferred traders and the like are a trademark of the democratic system as it happens in the western world. The danger in Malta is that the PL seems to be intent not only to play the game at its most blatantly obvious but also to dismantle completely the system of checks and balances that every now and then acted as  a brake.

Pointing fingers at lawyers for the having offered their services in the past (so long as such services are legit) is just not on. Muscat and his clan are quite adept at surfing the wave of public ignorance. They have little care about the “collateral damage” that could be done in the process so long as the ends justifies the means in the short run. In this, as in many other matters, they are proving to be short sighted and risk being hoist by their own petard in the future.


Donations and Donations

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Donations to political parties were already a hot topic during the last election campaign. We all remember the explanations given by Paul Borg Olivier regarding what amounted to the practice of “trading and barter” between the PN and commercial “supporters” of the party. Doubts were also raised about the Labour party’s mysterious meetings with persons of substantial economic weight that seemed to explain the expensive electoral campaign afforded by Muscat and the Taghna Lkoll gang. During an electoral campaign it all boils down to more fodder for one or the other party but ultimately little is ever done about the links between parties and their economic “sponsors”. As for the unprofessionally drafted party financing law, don’t hold your breath if you are expecting it to change anything. It has more holes in it than Swiss Cheese – and little wonder at that for it is drafted and “fine tuned” by the very parties that are supposed to be kept in check.

More recently we have the Gaffarena scandals with Marco (of said Gaffarena descent) making much fuss about the fact that he donated monies to both parties. We’ve been there before. Sandro Chetcuti, of Malta Developers’ Association fame, also went on record in the press as to how much of his money went to line either of the main party’s pockets because “it was important to be in their good books”. There is no doubt that the structure of our political fabric is such that depends equally on having a well-oiled party funding machine as part of the greater process of achieving the Holy Grail of a place in power. The not too finely spun network of quid pro quos that follows logically from such a system of interdependence is one that belies the recent statement that “it’s not whether you took a donation that counts but whether you do anything in return”.

Such a statement alas is equivalent to ignoring the bare truth that lies before all to see. The only reason that such donations are given (whether on or off record) is to curry favour with the recipient party. In the words of the man in the street… “they owe them one”. Sometimes they owe them much more than one. The structure of our political system cannot ignore this simple state of affairs. It is useless to assume a holier than thou attitude when the general trend is to enable the giving of donations anyway. Whether you allow the donor to cash back his cheque in the future is, frankly speaking, rather irrelevant.

I for one do not doubt (and am rather glad) that the PN did not cave in to Gaffarena’s requests with regards to his Qormi petrol station but the fact of the matter remains that Gaffarena was at some point a registered or unregistered donor of the PN to the tune of a thousand or so euros. Why were such donations accepted? Because the sub-literate Gaffarena was eager to support the party ideals inspired by Don Luigi Sturzo, Rafael Caldera and Serracino Inglott? Pull the other one. The smallest donation of 1€ to the largest donation lining a party HQ in marble and snazzy furniture is all there for a purpose. It is an IOU that lies heavily on a political party’s conscience.

Labour have proven to be masters in the IOU banking service. They have taken the informal word of donations exchanged for favours and have brazenly exercised it out in the open without any ounce of shame (when they are not profiting from the expropriation and use of public land such as Australia Hall). Far from the meritocratic and transparent government the Labour movement has signified the consolidation of the hitherto subtle network of exchanges between businessmen, lobbies and politicians. Cui bono? That is the question (sadly, the only question) that can be asked of practically every measure and move under the present government. Who benefits? Laws can be altered hastily and even framework legislation (such as that for planning and environent) radically reformed simply to be able to allow donors and supporters to cash cheques. This is no system of donations to support a roadmap… it is a direct consequence of cosi fan tutti reaching its final climax of corrupt obscenity. With practically no one batting an eyelid.

Creating spurious distinctions on whether the donation was “cashed” directly by some counter-move does not help in uncovering the deep-set malaise that both underpins and (ironically enough) undermines our political system. Accepting donations from the Gaffarenas and Chetcutis of this world is wrong in any case. It is wrong because such donations have ALWAYS created an expectation for what the donor seems to perceive as a legitimate return. The fact that our political parties need to millions of euros in order to exist is neither here nor there nor an excuse for this kind of enabling of a sick network.

A new style of politics is one that clearly creates a huge distance between profiteering businessmen and the political parties. It is one that reneges on developing money hungry political parties and concentrates on a system where the boundary lines between policy making and benficiaries of such policy are clear. We are very far from that ever happening. Frankly it might be too late.


Ivan Fenech is a dick

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I remember waiting eagerly for the latest installment of “Aħna aħna jew m’aħniex” on TVM. Ivan Fenech’s Cukaj was one of the more memorable characters that satirised the state of Maltese society through the virtual world of Cukaj which, we are told, was originally meant to be Tibet. The TV program was a breakthrough Maltese first (at least for quite a while) – laughing about ourselves and our ways of doing things. Like Peppi and others Ivan had a part in this that cannot but be acknowledged and for which we are grateful. Fast forward to today when Ivan made a return to the media with what has become an exercise of (often justified) labour bashing in the Times.

Certainly the many miles of opinion columns that grace today’s media are salutary to the well-being of our democracy and Ivan Fenech’s contribution should be no less appreciated than any other. Having said that Fenech has sometimes betrayed a rather crass aptitude to the use of sweeping statements and categorisations. Other columnists too have fallen into the trap – sometimes disguising it as some sort of supernatural innate instinct – sniffing “hamalli”, “underworlds” or “chavs” in much the same way a dog might sniff cocaine being clandestinely imported.

Fenech’s latest column (Is Labour burning?) included the following phrases:

“Corleone-born Mafia boss Totò Riina, on the run from the law for decades, is rumoured to have loved visiting Gozo and drinking wine at It-Tokk. It is just a rumour, of course, because in Gozo you cannot pin anything down. Riina needed a holiday now and again and what better place to go to but an island where omertà is something that comes natural. Try asking a Gozitan for directions to someone’s house and you’d see where you’d end up. Even worse, ask them for a VAT receipt.”

Really Ivan? For one second just replace “Gozitan” with “black person” or “Jew” or “woman”. What kind of crap is Ivan peddling here? This denigration of “gozitans” crops up time and again and it is downright ridiculous. First of all it is offensive. Second of all it is an ill-founded assumption. Ivan Fenech should take a look around Malta (you know, the OTHER island where omertà is something that comes natural). He might find that the traits that he attributes to the persons who happen to live on the smaller island are just as rampantly observable on the bigger island. Hell, he just has to take a look at the main protagonists in most of the scandals raging (and burning) on the island to notice that the criminal and anti-social element that he is so keen to attribute to Gozitans is really all-pervasive.

As for Riina. Unless he landed directly on Gozo when flying in from Sicily I am sure he passed through quite a few omertà-inclined individuals in Malta on his way to the ferry. Just a rumour Ivan?

I heard a rumour that you are a dick. There’s quite a few people spreading it, particularly those who you irk with your (often spot on) assessments of Labour’s haplessness in government. It’s only a rumour and you know, on the net it’s hard to pin anything down. probably the best thing to do with this kind of rumour is to treat it for what it is – and unless facts get checked and points proven it would be better to not include them in opinion columns and publications.

The nasty habit of bandying around rumours, hearsay and half-truths will just not do. It makes total dicks out of whoever chooses to do so.

Here’s one from the 80’s Ivan. Dedicated to the good old times of Ahna… and please… no offence… it’s just a rumour.


Constructing Truce

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Tourism is not Luxembourg’s main industry. The Duchy is much more renown for its tax haven status than for the busloads of over-nighters visiting its quaint capital and tourism remains low on the priority list for the nation (not that no investment is being made there either). Malta’s politicians, on the other hand, are obliged to give particular attention to the industry that is the bread and butter for so many. Any measure that improves conditions for tourism is surely welcome in Malta.

So it was to my surprise that I was reminded once again of a practice that is peculiar to the construction industry in Luxembourg in the middle of summer (well I say summer but we did wake up to 12 degrees again). The construction industry in the Duchy grinds to a halt on the 31st July and will not resume before the 22nd of August. This happens thanks to a collective leave agreement that applies to 1,452 companies (21 202 employees). Only the most essential of works (renovations in schools for example) remain open during this three week moratorium imposed on construction.

Now imagine that the same happened in Malta. It’s a dream of course. The mighty Malta Developers Association and its chief lobbyist Chetcuti are bound to throw a massive fit claiming that this was an attempt to choke a much needed “industry” on the island. Surely in an island that is desperately in need of 40 storey towers in the middle of Sliema we cannot afford to take a pause and breathe.

Yep, we might as well build ourselves to oblivion.

See L’essentiel: 1452 employees seront en congé collectif cet été

 


A Mess in Denial

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The devil used to be in the detail. That was before the Labour government imploded. It’s a bit like what they tell us about some of the stars that we see at night. In truth they are not there, they vanished in a huge explosion a long, long time ago but since it takes light a great amount of time to reach us we still see the stars that are not there.

The Labour government has exploded on all counts. There is barely a ministry or minister who has not got it wrong – and by “it” I mean the whole business of politics. The explosion was gradual, a series of petards that began to hoist Muscat’s roadshow bit by bit. The damage containment was crucially successful at first with the “tu quoque” gambit lasting as long as the dupes who swallowed it allowed. What we are seeing now are the shards and splinters of the explosion flying past our eyes as we look on in disbelief at a government run by a PM who hails from a fireworks importing family get hoist by its own petard. Or petards.

The detail that is not so much a detail now lies in the daily exhibition of denials and weak counterarguments being doctored by government spokespersons, ministers and media. Requests for information turn quickly into denials of the shallowest kind. More often than not “public safety” or “economic sensitivity” are invoked to cover up evident blunders. And the lie is running thin.

Take Michael Falzon’s charade in parliament. The question put to him was clear – has anyone ever benefited from the same ad hoc arrangement that he has. An early retirement that is not really a retirement since he can return back to work with the company whenever he wants  (or at least in 2018). Falzon chose to focus on the sum for early retirement (and thereby distract from the crucial answer).

There were nationalists who got more. Indeed. Possibly. Setting aside the violation of privacy, Falzon failed to explain whether any of these nationalists had the right to return to the bank and get their job back notwithstanding the fact that they had obtained a retirement package. Ad hoc he said, much like the faffing in the last answer he gave before going mum – claiming that he would have to pay the retirement package back “pro rate’. How does that work exactly? Pro rata to what?

Ah the BOV. Good old BOV. The same BOV that is used by the government as a doormat at every opportunity. There it goes making good for 88 million euros out of the hundred something million that the beleaguered Electrogas is supposed to pump into the utopic power station (as promised by Shame On You Wife on Government Payroll). That’s the kind of guarantee no ordinary citizen in Taghna Lkoll Land will ever get. Basically what the bank is saying is that if something goes wrong and Electrogas cannot pay then it is the taxpayers money that will be used to make good. Do you think the government has justified this intervention? You guessed it. Another denial.

Electrogas and BOV that leads us straight to the Chris Cardona farce of a rental contract. If ever anything was evidently drafted ad hoc it is not Michael Falzon’s retirement package but rather Chris Cardona’s hastily drafted rental contract. Should it matter that this contract is signed with someone closely tied to the Electrogas business and that the contract swings excessively in favour of the tenant like no rental contract drafted in recent years has ever done before? Of course it should. We would not care if the implausible rental conditions (practically a gift given the circumstances) were between two normal citizens. But the Economy Minister accepting what is virtually a handout from a person linked to Electrogas. The alarm bells should be ringing. WHat we’ll get is more denials.

Owen Bonnici can wax lyrical about the supposed good the new party financing law will bring but so long as farces as Cardona’s can be carried out in full view then it is all exposed for what it is. A farce. A farce is what went on when Sai Mizzi Liang joined the PM to launch the ever so incredible charade that is being officially referred to as an investment by Huwawei.

The emptiness of this “investment” has been investigated at length elsewhere. We only need comment here that Mizzi Liang’s performance on this and the previous conference where she declared that “Finally we have found her” is below pathetic. Even from the little we could see, the behaviour, the gestures, the little words we got, we could tell that this was someone launched into a position that was far beyond the depth that she could cater for. It might have taken Simon Busuttil a trip to China to gauge that Sai is not fit for purpose but in truth a few minutes of a press conference gave us a glimpse of her absolute incompetence.

The Supernova in the middle of all this explosion is the hapless PM who either lives in denial or who has decided to just live out the next three years as some kind of perilous joyride. While all forms of protocol and institutional balance are thrown to the wind he persists in denying any accusation that his government and its pie in the sky projects (from Sadeen Unis to Medical Schools to Power Stations) is in absolute meltdown. He runs the most expensive cabinet ever that is proving to be the hugest bunch of incompetents ever to have (dis)graced the rooms of government.

It is a mess, in denial.


Cue Daboma, See Black

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Hindsight. It can be a good thing. With hindsight, and the help of a video filmed on the personal initiative of one of the RIU officers, the police union are trying hard to show that your average constable does not include racism or racial profiling when in the course of performing his duties. In an interview I caught this week (still cannot find the link) the union officer stresses that Daboma Jack was handcuffed for “only” four and a half minutes and that the procedure leading to his handcuffing can not be classified as “excessive use of force”.

The explanation given by the officer does go a long way to explaining why it takes two officers plus one from a specialised unit to immobilise a protesting “well built” (sic – fih ragel) person of dark coloration. Apparently no matter your coloration or build it will always take two officers to do the job – and this for your own safety. I am prepared to accept this line of reasoning: that if you have to immobilise and detain someone then the safest option is two officers who do so while taking care that you do not incur any injuries.

What is more worrying is the reasoning as to why it was deemed necessary to handcuff Jack in the first place. While I set aside my worries that the RIU arresting officer constantly addressed Jack in Maltese throughout the handcuffing procedure, issuing curt orders such as “wara”, “oqghod” and the like, I am more inclined to question what led to the suspicion falling immediately on Jack.

Who called the RIU to the scene? What kind of information was given to them upon arrival? What did the policeman who had been on scene until the arrival of the RIU tell the officers? The Union spokesperson seems to have blamed two factors that could have led to the unnecessary handcuffing. First of all it seems that Daboma Jack was very agitated (rightly so, the spokesperson adds), and secondly the crowd that was present (and the reference seems to be to the patriotic locals) did not help the cause much.

Four and a half minutes in handcuffs are four and a half minutes too many, even given the scenario as presented by the police union spokesperson. That our nation is still chock full with uneducated bigots who are ready to ride the wave of intolerance at any opportunity is a given that the strong arm of the law should by now have factored in whenever it makes an intervention. It hits strong at the core of the issue of tackling the possibility of racial profiling.

It’s either that or a descent to the law of the pitch-fork carrying rabble, so help us god.


I.M. Black

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That’s karma for you isn’t it? Sometimes the reality of life in Malta has a way of bitch-slapping you in the face like no other. A diligent and upright resident of the island takes it upon himself to try to organise a mob that is assaulting a transport company kiosk in order to top up their transport cards. Said diligent and upright resident is not seen in a very good light by his fellow strugglers for a top up – particularly those who feel that they have some God-given right to be first to receive any service on the island and who frown upon “foreigners” who dare breathe in the same part of the eco-sphere.

Things get ugly and said upright resident gets hassled, harassed and ill-spoken to by a deviant of the fairer sex. He is told in a less than roundabout a way that he better pack his bags and return to his country of origin lest he will be told where he can take his weird foreign ideas of queueing up for a service. How did the dame know to politely address him towards the nearest exit border? How did she tell that he was not one of us? Why by way of the colour of his skin (and maybe because he was marketing a foreign philosophy that jarred heavily with the idea of pushing and shoving to get served).

The bagarre did not stop there. Transported by the heat and frustration of the moment, the local maiden decided to refresh the upright resident’s general being by despatching a few dollops of freshly brewed saliva in his general direction. For good measure said woman also let rip a handful of applauses straight onto the upright resident’s person.

Sticks, stones, saliva and slaps did not break the resident’s will and having spotted the strong arm of the law (Domine dirige nos) he appealed for their judicious intervention. Such intervention was sadly left lacking, especially since the aforementioned serjeants of justice had seen a colour. Black to be exact. Before you could say Fundamental Human Rights or even Simple Common Decency the blue coloured officers had used all the force that was necessary (and a bit) to immobilise and handcuff the upright resident.

Yep. In these days of Ferguson controversies that surely never reached our shores, members of the police force entrusted with out safety have gone and arrested a manifestly innocent person for the obvious reason that his skin colour was not to their liking and made him an automatic suspect for any crime – even when a madwoman of Maltese nationality had just been caught spitting and abusing the black person in question. Surprised are we? If this is the same corps that speaks of Madonna Tas-Suwed on radio despatches then not really.

There will be an Inquiry. Leave the capital I. They are so a-la-mode these days. We have a flurry of inquiries being called for by our smug PM that will hopefully uncover a web of fraud and deception that is to be found at the core and more sensible areas of the notorious corps. Are we wrong to arrogate political responsibility to the rotten state of the corps? Hardly. Two years into Labour government and the cowboys are out – more brazen, more audacious, and ever so effectively entwined with the underworld.

The black man in question is “lucky” enough to have a hungarian ID. Very lucky actually – and this is where Karma comes in big time. Only a few days ago – the 23rd June to be exact – Hungary suspended the application of the Dublin Regulation in full defiance of EU asylum rules. The Hungarian government is itself not going through a very democratic period what with illegal expropriations, rampant corruption and the rise of the ugly head of racism. Surely Mr. Jack (for that is the name of the upright resident of this island who has been wronged) might have thought that a year in Malta away from the dangers of the new Hungary would be a good thing.

Go figure. Domine dirige nos (God guides us) is the motto of the police corps. There is very little of God’s hand in what happened today. Mr. Jack, a devout christian would tell you that himself I am sure. Another infamous set of “defenders” also used to fight battles in God’s name. Gott Mit Uns they used to say…  fat lot of good it brought to them.


Cardona’s Meritocracy

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“Nahseb ghandu dritt dan il-guvnott.” There they go again. Economy Minister Chris Cardona tried to ward off questions related to the appointment of Karl Cutajar (an 18 year old) to head the board of Fort Security Services – a newly set up government company. The controversy has raged for a few days now, especially since it has featured on Malta’s version of Wikileaks quite extensively (spreading to other relatives of Cardona’s Chief of Staff) so you’d expect the Minister to be better prepared to fend off questions.

Well, he is either not prepared or he is ignorant of the goings on under his watch. Just wait for some idiot to come and tell us that so long as Cardona has no “mens rea” then its ok.  They’ll tell us that notwithstanding the fact that the answers given by Cardona when “cornered” by the press with very legitimate set of questions smack of anything but a meritocratic approach to public appointments we must assume that he is cleaner than Caesar’s Wife.

As it happens judging by Cardona’s reply we have the following facts:

1. An 18 year old was employed by MIMCOL as an executive clerk (which could be quite ok – and is where the buck stops with “ghandu dritt dan il-guvnott”);

2. The 18 year old has been placed at the head of Fort Security Services which is a company that will be taking care of security on sites where the government is winding down operations such as Malta Shipbuilding;

3. His job on the board is not remunerated;

4. The best one – there will probably not be any persons employed by Fort Security Services so it’s anyone guess whether the 18 year old Cutajar will be doing all the night watching on his own (sans remuneration);

5. It is a complete and utter coincidence that the eighteen year old put at the head of a one-man security company sans remuneration is the nephew of the chief of staff of the minister under who’s remit the very same company falls.

There you have it. We have moved far beyond the “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” days. The denial of the patently obvious (tmeri is-sewwa maghruf) is now becoming a day-to-day business at the Taghna Lkoll factory. Never, never-ever has this amount of patent disregard of meritocracy while abusing the government appointments system reached these levels.

Taghna Lkoll indeed.

“Jghodd mhux dak illi taf imma lil min taf”.


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