Sociologist, Local Councillor, Activist from Malta

Monday, October 23, 2017

Daphne and Democracy - Michael Briguglio

This year, seven journalists were murdered in Iraq, four each in Mexico and Syria, and two each in Yemen and Russia. Other countries include South Sudan, Somalia and Afghanistan.
Apart from Malta, the only other liberal democracy in which a journalist was murdered this year was Denmark. But Denmark happens to have a robust system of good governance, and police investigation is in progress.
To the contrary, Malta’s governance is in crisis. The Police Force lacks legitimacy, and Prime Minister Joseph Muscat himself unconsciously confirmed this when he emphasised that foreign police would be investigating the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Let us keep in mind that in his latest annual address, Malta’s Chief Justice remarked that the country’s police force and attorney general should fulfill their duties. He must have been referring to the position taken by both these institutions in corruption controversies such as Panama Papers, which involves key members of Muscat’s government.
When the Prime Minister, the Attorney General and the Police Commissioner act to protect those involved in factual corruption scandals such as the Panama Papers, this is metaphorical violence towards journalists who unearth facts involving untouchable people. This is institutional breakdown.
The murder of Caruana Galizia is the terrible climax of the government’s suppression of truth. The fact that she wasn’t protected by the State is worthy of resignations. Especially when police are present in numbers for so many relatively minor events ranging from village festas to Michelle Muscat’s charity swims.  This is a breakdown of democracy.
Liberal democracy isn’t just about electing a government. It is about basic civil rights. It is about checks and balances. It is useless boasting about a financial surplus and the liberalisation of everything when Malta’s institutions are burning. It is useless having glitzy PR campaigns when journalists, civil society and opposition politicians are in fear that they may be next.
Malta’s recent liberal reforms do not interfere with the interests of oligarchs. Our freedom is limited. And we are governed by a party that’s basing its power on the transformation of citizens to beggars to ministers’ incumbency. Beggars for favours, positions and permits, as long as the vote goes Labour’s way and oligarchs’ interests are served.
In the meantime our country has hit the world’s news headlines for the wrong reasons. We are being associated with drug trafficking, car bombs, money laundering, sale of passports to dubious clients, Panama Papers and the like. And reflective citizens in Malta are highly concerned with the breakdown of meritocracy, the poor quality of air, and the malaise associated with lack of enforcement on so many matters. Malta has become a bully’s paradise.
Many people, myself included, are still in a state of shock following Daphne’s murder. We are robbed of peace of mind. To make matters worse, we know that her death is irreversible. We feel that there is no one to protect us. We feel colonised by gangs of crooks who are above the law.
Sunny ‘welcoming’ Malta is becoming an eerie dystopia. What makes matters worse is the narrative of relativistic cynicism, the narrative that fails to see the bigger picture, a narrative that chose to diminish the mammoth significance of Panama Papers.
I can only repeat the same appeal I made some days ago. I appeal to those who as yet fail to condemn the most corrupt Maltese government of all time: Malta’s institutions have collapsed, rule of law is out, everything is for sale, some people are untouchable, organised crime is flourishing. The oligarchy is usurping everything. 
Let us for once put partisan tribalism, obstinate pride, ideological paralysis and sectarianism aside: let us call for justice for Daphne. Let us call for a proper system of checks and balances, rule of law, and good governance.

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