The Malta Independent on Sunday, last Sunday, reported that Labour Party MP Silvio Grixti received a direct order worth €37,200 from Transport Malta.
The payment was for “consultancy fees” which, in the words of Grixti himself, translate into providing “medical direction to the Driving and Vehicle Licensing Unit on medical cases of clients who apply or renew their driving licences”.
The work involves “40 or 50 files” per week, with Grixti, a doctor by profession, determining whether the “patient/client is fit to drive and identify(ing) their adequacy to be issued with a driving licence until the next medical review is due”.
The process of direct orders is something that is always a matter of concern because, in spite of all the good intentions there may be, it always smacks of favouritism. So, probably, if Grixti had not been a government MP, one of the few that does not form part of the Robert Abela Cabinet, the idea to give him such a lucrative assignment would still generate some kind of suspicion.
This misgiving is therefore multiplied when, then, the person who receives it is a Member of Parliament on the government side. That a government entity directly employs a government MP via a direct order – and €37,200 is more than most individuals and many couples pocket via their main job every year – is appalling.
We are not belittling the work that Grixti carries out. We are sure that he performs his duties to the best of his abilities and offers a sterling service to Transport Malta. But it does not sound right – and it is, in fact, not right – that such a job is given, directly, to a government MP.
What is equally disturbing is that such an appointment does not create uproar. It’s as if the people have come to expect such things to happen. We have got used to them so much that it no longer makes people cringe. So much so that there were people who, on the social media, criticised this newspaper for publishing such a report. In their mind, it was the newspaper that was doing something wrong by bringing such a matter to light, and not the fact itself.
This is the kind of mentality that the Labour Party has created since taking over in 2013. It started from the top, with the Labour government defending the indefensible and throwing ethical standards out the window. It quickly infiltrated through to all sectors, and what was once unacceptable suddenly became acceptable – to many, we add, because there is still fortunately a small group which thinks that this behaviour should not be considered as “normal”.
We still fight against the trend. We still battle to reverse the situation. We do still hope that, someday, the harm that has been caused with this type of thinking will be erased, and that something as the Silvio Grixti direct order will, one day, be seen as appalling by one and all.
We still hope that, one day, if something like this is discovered and made public, the decision is reversed or, at least, not repeated.