This week has been no ordinary week. It’s been a long and hectic one indeed. People have been glued to the internet and television, picking up any extra information or important breaking details that could easily alter the heated political situation. Irrespective of one’s alignment to any particular political party or opinion, people could feel a myriad of different emotions disrupting their thoughts and disturbing their peace of mind. Should we feel angry that the highest office of government is drowning in several corruption related allegations? Should we feel skeptical that albeit such allegations – no concrete evidence exists, apart from very strange coincidental happenings? Should one be disappointed that the Police Commissioner was oblivious to the gravity of the situation, and preferred to devour a rabbit feast with a bunch of his pals? It felt like we were living through a teaser of what could have potentially been a blockbuster mafia movie.
The excitement and fear that something wasn’t quite right, hastily erupted into the talk of the town, and the only ones to blame are the accused themselves. How can one say that everything is normal when the bank accused of having facilitated the alleged money laundering, was open (with several high officials entering and leaving the building) after business hours? Is it normal to have the Chairman of the bank in question leave the building in the dead of the night with baggage from the fire exit, when their vehicle was parked a few metres in front of the main entrance? Why would employees of the bank purposely roll down the blinds, when the glare was completely inexistent because the sun had set, if it was ‘business as usual’? Is it merely coincidental that a mysterious chartered flight is recorded leaving the airport at 4am that same night? A voyage straight to Azerbaijan (a direct flight to which, is not normally scheduled) and proceeding to land in Dubai, two countries heavily involved in the accusation of transfer of payments, is far from ordinary. Is it normal to be faced by a cameraman and a journalist after a supposedly genuine visit to your workplace in foreign country? It is not. Then why did the Chairman and Risk Analyst of this bank completely ignore every question posed to them if they were innocent and had nothing to hide? My dilemma is this – while this could be total speculation and any allegations made could very well be false or purposely intended to harm the government prior to speculation of a snap election; could all these happenings merely be a mishandled and unlucky series of events? If so, they surely deserve first place for shooting themselves in the foot.
Apart from having all these suspicions looming in the air, one was expecting a reassuring and confident Prime Minister to dispel any doubts. On the contrary, we were faced with misconceptions, falsities and mind-boggling decisions. Prime Minister Muscat stated he didn’t want to appoint an independent inquiry because he wanted to prevent any excessive and undue pressure on the financial services sector. Unfortunately, he was the one who allowed this unstable situation to consume this sector as diligent foreign investors will knowingly abdicate from pursuing business interests with a country facing a serious money-laundering headache. Soon after, he decided to make a U-turn, and ask (when it should have never been his prerogative to do so), the Commissioner to appoint an independent inquiry. Arrogantly, the Prime Minister is under a criminal investigation whilst still occupying his role. Therefore one sincerely asks – how can the inquiry ever be independent when those who are investigating him, are those who indirectly report to him? The captain & guardian of the ship cannot seek one of his sailors to investigate fairly. It is a blatant conflict of interest – and this is not a matter of opinion, but fact.
As said before, what we have witnessed could simply be a stroke of bad luck for those accused, but even so, if all allegations prove to be unfounded, the fact still remains that the damage has been done. The public does not feel at ease with the state of the police force, the FIAU, the MFSA and the many other institutions supposedly holding the government to account. So, this is exactly where the problem lies. It’s not simply a problem of lack of faith in the government itself, but also in the institutions that are there to scrutinise. This undoubtedly leads to a deficient democracy – and for this the elected politician needs to be held accountable.
So when one amalgamates all that has gone on in the past week, however confident, appealing and innocent the Prime Minister may seem, one cannot put his mind to rest that everything is ‘serene’ and business as usual. There is uncertainty and fear that the level of corruption has reached one of the highest offices’ of the land, and trickled down into the supposedly independent institutions that should be there to protect the public interest and not the personal interests of the few. Whether or not these allegations are true or otherwise – it has left the population in a sorry state of disbelief, anxiety and ambiguity. It is not only the people’s condition and well-being which is ambivalent, but also that of the State. Malta deserves better. Malta is a European country, holding the rotational EU Presidency. Hence, at this moment more than ever, our country has to pass the test. We cannot remain in this current sorry state, but need Maltese people of good will to stand up as they did when our country yearned Independence, freedom from foreign power and accession to the EU – and yet again rise to the occasion to protect the national interest.
Nick DeBono – A highly opinionated law student enjoying the occasional debate/heated discussion on anything to do with politics, culture, policy and football. Loves the typical Maltese lifestyle. Tries to pass the time by sharing my views (by writing articles/blogs such as these), coaching football, socializing and traveling.