This is Franco Debono. The village lawyer who likes representing hardened criminals. Please note that Malta is a village with a village mentality and that is why I am using the term village lawyer, and not in its literal sense of someone who serves exclusively clients from his village. He will probably come back at me telling me he is Malta’s most successful criminal lawyer and not a village lawyer. There’s really no difference when you understand the Maltese mentality and its social dichotomy. Credit where credit is due, however, he is indeed one of Malta’s most successful criminal lawyers. He was Yorgen Fenech’s second option in case Giannella refused him.
Franco has also been the subject of numerous posts and stories by Daphne Caruana Galizia which were never to his liking, and this is why he is busy defending Mario Philip Azzopardi’s play. Franco hated Daphne for making fun of him and pointing out his deficiencies and ridiculous character traits. It used to be real and harmless fun, but Franco never took it in his stride. He was very childish about it and the angrier he got, the more Daphne wrote about him and the more hilarity ensued. Those were very nice times and I miss Daphne. I also miss the time when politics were normal and we didn’t worry about Ministers colluding with criminal cartels who conspire to murder journalists.
Back to the subject at hand. Some of you have been following the controversy over Mario Philip Azzopardi’s play and I would like to say about this that the issue is not about free speech. Mario has the right to do his play wherever he wants but not in the publicly subsidised national theatre with public funds that are also supporting the play itself. The Maltese government hasn’t even yet commemorated Daphne, yet it is funding plays that tarnish her name with lies and propaganda. As I wrote in my previous article, this is the result of a rent-seeking regime and of a system that rewards government propagandists at the expense of real intellectuals and artists. If Mario wants to do this play he may very well do it in a private venue that he fully hires and pays for himself.
In addition, the management board and chairman at the Manoel Theatre should resign right now. This was their job to prevent such rubbish from being allowed to perform, but they didn’t do their job. In fact, very few of the politically appointed bosses in cultural entities do anything other than dishing out favours and engaging in cronyism and rent-seeking. Albert Marshall is one of them. Throughout his tenure Albert didn’t do anything which left his mark on the Council – he is only there because Labour trusts him to engage in favouritism and corruption when needed. Just like Johann Grech of the Malta Film Commission who used a fake Film Awards Ceremony to pay off for the Labour Party election logistics. Artists have been happy to accept these people for fear they would miss out on public funds if they air any criticism whatsoever.
To conclude, consider this too. One of the reasons there is very little good art produced in Malta is because many of the cultural projects are government subsidised under a very rigid rent-seeking regime.