Author: Ranier Fsadni

We need new terms of abuse for our politics because the old ones just won’t do. It’s impolite to be inadequately rude and, frankly, our targets shouldn’t have to put up with put-downs that miss the mark. Yes, we have our share of champagne socialists, armchair revolutionaries, proto-fascists, unreconstructed dinosaurs, radical chic, roiling racists, blogging blowhards and blustering bigots. But those terms are not enough. We could import some new terms. Kleptocrats. Kakistocrats. Both useful and necessary. And all those Ks suggest a neologism, Konkoscrats. Still not enough. Pornocrats. A lovely word, coined by the ancient Greeks and recycled to…

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A reversal of policy doesn’t have to be bad. Particularly if there’s bipartisan agreement on it. But if it’s a reversal of a long-term strategy, based on the assessment of every government of the last 40 years, then it needs to be noted and the consequences assessed. The finance minister’s announcement that Malta intends to declare an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) might sound like a technocratic decision to permit Malta to explore, conserve and exploit its maritime resources better. But a strategic reversal is what it is. In parliament, the opposition, through Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici, supported the proposal while stating…

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It’s 1994. A fourth-term, backbench Nationalist MP Lino Gauci Borda resigns from parliament. The newspaper Alternattiva had just revealed that he had a UK investment account, with £48,000, that he had never declared to the taxman. Gauci Borda was a respected family doctor. No one doubted that he had earned the money honestly. Many professionals like him had opened such undeclared accounts in the politically- fraught 1970s and 1980s. But not declaring money to the taxman is still illicit. Gauci Borda did not invoke context. He accepted an MP should be held to the highest standards. In resigning, he salvaged…

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We will leave the FATF’s grey list, Robert Abela says, a stronger and more attractive jurisdiction. Who would have guessed? Of course, we’ll leave stronger. If we don’t get stronger, we don’t leave. Does anyone expect us to be taken off the list if our anti-money laundering deficiency remains classified as ‘strategic’ by the FATF? Or if the World Bank Group continues to rate us as medium risk for corruption? Abela spouts banalities but they are laced with cunning language. He says “we” will get stronger and “we” will leave the grey list. But the two ‘wes’ are not the…

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Like everyone with a head on his shoulders, I hope I’ll have woken up this morning to the news that Malta escaped being put on the grey list of the FATF, the global watchdog against money laundering and terrorism financing. It would mean we’ve escaped a severe economic blow, almost dealt thanks to corruption and political inaction. I’m writing this on Tuesday, however, having read the op-ed by Clyde Caruana, the finance minister, who said that he and the government have done all they could to avoid the dread fate. No, they didn’t. It’s worth understanding what they didn’t do.…

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Transparency International has just published its Global Corruption Barometer report and its Malta scorecard has three numbers to make us pause. The Maltese residents who think government corruption is a major problem constitute 65 per cent of the sample. Those who think the government is doing a good job in fighting corruption are 56 per cent. Yet, those who fear reprisals if they report corruption constitute 56 per cent, too. These numbers are not contradictory. But they do require explanation and comparison with the rest of the EU-27. Some context. The survey was conducted between October and November last year.…

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