Probably the least helpful attempt to reassure us in the government’s post-FATF hymnbook sung to get us to start loving the grey list was the oft repeated line that the sun will still rise tomorrow.
The day after Hiroshima was nuked, the sun still rose over that city. That didn’t mean all was well. The comparison is only useful to dismiss the blandly obvious distraction attempted by the politicians who want us to think of everything but our fate.
Each day since the FATF decision emerged, a general sense of normality and ease has set in deeper.
Life doesn’t feel like the earthquake that was feared, tombs have not cracked open and Buskett hasn’t walked to Birżebbuġa.
If anything is amazing, it is the banal normality of it all. And not for the first time.
The sun still rose after the Panama leaks were published and after news of the Egrant cover-up broke. It shone bright the day after Joseph Muscat was re-elected. A late summer’s day came after Daphne was killed. There was sun after Muscat resigned and Robert Abela replaced him.
The sun and the universe do not blink while this country persists in error.
If there’s anything the motto ‘the sun will still shine tomorrow’ can teach us, via Annie, is that the sun is indifferent to our fate. The world will not shudder if we continue to harm ourselves. The sun will continue to shine.
It is this perpetual sense of false normality that is sinking us lower. The people who complained that the FATF’s judgement was unfair because we are far from the only jurisdiction with money laundering are intentionally misleading their audience. Being exposed as hosts of money laundering did not cause this. Refusing to do anything about it did.
Consider our reaction to the momentous developments listed above. Did we recoil in shock when we discovered Konrad Mizzi’s and Keith Schembri’s Panama companies? Did we express anger when we saw the transparent manipulation of the evidence surrounding Egrant and Pilatus Bank?
Some of us did. Too few. The country resoundingly confirmed Muscat at the polls.
Did we demand justice, including political justice, when Daphne was killed? Did we demand fundamental change after Muscat resigned in disgrace? Some did. Most were pleased with the promise of ‘continuity’ and the last two years delivered.
The sun and the universe do not blink while this country persists in error– Manuel Delia
And now, after the FATF’s greylisting, the ruling party that drove us here is rightly expecting to be confirmed in power for another five years of this rapid backsliding of the economic, and, therefore, social, environmental and political viability of this country. They’re not forcing us to re-elect them. Sure, they’re manipulating us and lying to us and deadening our resolve with trinkets and sweet talk. But we choose to fall for it.
When they point us towards the sun, so we look at anywhere but the mess they made, we choose to look up and to chase the comforting reassurance that, no matter how dark things are down here, the sun still shines brightly.
As the holiday of false normality continued, Repubblika’s recommendations last week for political parties to form a crisis government of ‘national solidarity’ proved to be good comedy material in the hands of government apologists, knowing or oblivious, peppered throughout what passes for our media landscape.
Why should we have a crisis government while the sun still shines? Look around you, Repubblika insisted darkly.
The FATF greylisting is another formalisation of the lack of trust we enjoy in the rest of the world. Add it to the pile of European Parliament, OECD and Council of Europe resolutions and that’s just what we see. The government does not speak much about the awkward conversations it has with ambassadors or the uncomfortable exchanges at international summits.
Being cut off from the friendship of the world has a price that can never be measured but must still be paid. When it comes to it, this country will not have the credit of favours owed or the leg up from friends made.
This unquantifiable cost is reflected in hard economic realities. Right or wrong, this does not merely threaten gambling, tax structuring and generic pharmaceuticals that rely on the rest of the world closing an eye on our creativity with other countries’ rules. It threatens our ability to replace these industries as they wane.
We are not going to find gold in our hills any time soon. As pseudo-intellectuals who have never had to work a day in their life to generate enough wealth to employ others rattle on about our sovereignty and our entitlement to do as we please not as we’re told, the people who create the economic activity that pays these scroungers will be the first to perceive what it means to be alone in the world.
Repubblika asked political parties to use the 12 months left in this legislature to team up and agree on a reform programme. They should focus on their job as parliamentarians to oversee a government that, in view of the crisis, is drawn up from trusted and expert technocrats with a mandate to implement the changes and start earning the world’s trust.
No wonder the suggestion was deemed funny. We live in a country where, after Panama and Pilatus, Edward Scicluna is appointed to run the Central Bank. Where politicians run the technical institutions, how dare we ask for technocrats to run the government for a brief, critical period?
Don’t worry. The sun will still shine on us tomorrow.
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