In 2003 Malta held a referendum for EU membership to which the Maltese said yes. Nearly twenty years later, today, very few are those who would reverse the decision.
Back then our decision to join the EU was motivated by the dream to modernise our country. This dream faltered under successive Nationalist administrations which were incompetent and corrupt. Although EU accession had helped economic growth and provided the benefit of freedom of movement, we didn’t see our modernisation dream materialise. Instead, many young people left for greener pastures in Europe. Today, the exodus of the youth continues even further.
Enter Joseph Muscat, who renewed our dreams to modernise the country and then crashed these dreams with a rent seekers’ paradise and the murder of a journalist. Today we are governed by a continuation of the wreckage of the past. We have a new facade which so far has kept everything the same: a rule of law in shambles and a crippling democracy with a dying press. The construction lobby which funds the main political parties still decides economic policy. Meanwhile, the government sustains a narrative of fraud and lies by pumping millions of Euros into its propaganda machine via public funds and private donations from the likes of Joseph Portelli. Every day we wake up to the news of corruption, deceit and abuse, one of the latest being how private IT companies related to the Labour Party are handing out your private data to the Labour Party, illegally, of course and without your permission. Then there is our energy sector which is dominated by the corrupt cartel of Electrogas and also Shanghai Electric.
The honest truth is that we don’t have a serious government. We have a group of infantile rent-seekers who are out seeking their piece of the pie while pretending to govern. Like Silvio Schembri, the Minister of the Economy announcing that the government is going to purchase four million Euros of “AI software”. First of all, it’s not AI – the use of the term is a gimmick. It’s an algorithm which collects data for a database and it’s an overpriced software which is being bought to appease specific interests. You would assume that as millions of Euros every year are pumped into MITA for capital expenditure we would have our own systems, but we can’t even be bothered (this year alone MITA has been allocated €2.5 million in capital expenditure from public funds).
Journalists, those that are left around, don’t even ask questions anymore because the press rooms literally don’t have time to conduct investigations in order to keep producing content under over-worked and under-staffed conditions. The money is in ONE and pseudo-independent news sites propped up by government finance to disseminate its propaganda. This is partly the reason why Labour’s gimmicks are relatively successful. The 1000 ideas government that promises to conserve what is left of Malta’s environment and agriculture but will cover up Malta’s agricultural land with solar panels. It’s insanity taken to the next level where only dictators usually get away with such outright deceit.
Take a pause to reflect and ask yourself this. Does this sound like a Western country to you? Or do it differently. Imagine you live outside Malta and you have a billion Dollars. You switch on Malta’s Parliament TV and you watch our government MPs debating in parliament. What would your reaction be? Would you invest your money in Malta based on what they say? Would you put your money managed by infants who in Parliament would say something of the sort that Malta is against a Russian oil embargo, buys gas via a corrupt contract from Socar and has 49% of its electric grid owned by China because it needs to protect its national interests?
The Western dream we dreamt about by joining the European Union never materialised. Joseph Muscat had a shot at it, yet betrayed us. Robert Abela is digging us further into the gutter. The world is going through a political and trade re-alignment. All of Europe will be part of NATO bar a couple of countries such as Cyprus and Malta. The Russian war on Ukraine has re-calibrated our way of viewing international trade and national security. European countries which have energy deals with Russia or its allies are rushing to the exit – we on the other hand will be left behind eating dust. NATO too will change. Turkey as a dictatorship has become the uneasy guest and its strategic power and influence in NATO will disappear as Finland and Sweden join in. Hungary too will be left eating dust as they clutch their Russian straws. The inevitable realignment of values in the way we trade and the way our democracy operates is unfolding organically and not just by political decree. The European governments which are ready to outsource their energy security to dictatorships have little concern for democratic values – this is no coincidence.
This is not just about NATO. Malta doesn’t need to join NATO and neither does it need to abrogate its neutrality to join the Western camp. This is about how modern states are changing and developing in our challenging times. Those who understand the world in the democratic and Western camp are today very much aware that our energy and food security must come from countries with a democratic rule of law and not from warmongering dictatorial powers. In a liberal democracy, business and politics are done on the basis of trust where promises have to be kept. We can do business in the West because we know that the State is not going to forfeit your private property nada presumably we can do politics because we know that we won’t be blown up or sent to prison. Dictatorships don’t run on this foundation of trust and are rather more arbitrary and more violent.
So, for now, we slide into darkness. We’re back in the past. It’s 2003 all over again. Our inflexion point today is between more one-party dictatorship or the struggle for modernity. The only person right now who can renew our hopes and dreams to modernise our country and turn us into respectable members of the Western camp is Roberta Metsola.