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MALTATODAY 4 April 2021

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9 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 4 APRIL 2021 the Malta Tourism Authori- ty and procrastinating on the fate of Rosianne Cutajar have sent the wrong message. His reassuring aplomb on the pan- demic in 2020 also have come back to haunt Abela "especial- ly with the perception that the Superintendent of Health was not being allowed to operate autonomously." Sociologist Godfrey Baldac- chino also says the country is already in election mode, with the date of the election "as al- ways", remaining "a question of strategic timing". "Abela needs to 'earn his spurs' and secure his PL leader- ship by beating Bernard Grech and a somewhat revived PN at the polls. For those who can be patient, there is no 'politi- cal impasse': in due time, Ab- ela will either get his electoral mandate; or he will lose it". Will Abela defy history? Despite what Baldacchino terms the "juicy allegations, revelations and unreliable ev- idence" coming in almost as thick and fast as the requests for presidential pardons", La- bour could still be on its first, historic, third consecutive electoral victory (he excludes the 1981 constitutional anom- aly that returned Labour to power on a majority of seats, not votes). But it remains to be seen whether recent revelations in relation to scandals related to the Panama saga will have a bearing on the electorate. "Starting with the Panama Pa- pers leak of early 2016, Malta has lived through an unparal- leled storm. Muscat called an early election amid swirling accusations, and Labour was re-elected with a historic ma- jority. Among those returned to Parliament with more formi- dable voter support was none other than Konrad Mizzi. For all we know, the Maltese elec- torate may repeat 2017 and, once again, largely shrug off what is now being exposed in dribs and drabs at the Valletta law courts." The change in the party's leadership has also created an opportunity for Labour to present itself in the next elec- tion with a new team. "With an eye to improve its chances of being re-elected, the Abe- la government has engineered major changes to its Cabinet." The timing of the next elec- tion may well be determined by Abela's other great challenge during the past months: the pandemic. "Some good news about the handling of the pandemic is bound to materialise sooner or later, as the proportion of the population that is vaccinated continues to rise steadily…. In- deed, the number of reported daily infections has fallen sig- nificantly, albeit along with the number of swabs." "Abela needs to 'earn his spurs' and secure his PL leadership by beating Bernard Grech and a somewhat revived PN at the polls. For those who can be patient, there is no 'political impasse': in due time, Abela will either get his electoral mandate; or he will lose it" Godfrey Baldacchino WITHOUT a doubt, a soul-searching exercise is es- sential given all the revela- tions and allegations that have emerged in recent months. The Labour Party's first step should be an apology to all those who genuinely believed in its moral credentials and supported it, and to all the people of these islands. A soul-searching exercise is a necessity even more so now, to clearly establish what Labour stands for today, and whether it is a party that is simply power hungry and merely directed by surveys rather than by political, social and moral values. Those who have the party at heart need to ask: Is it a party that is still faithful to its found- ing principles to support the workers, the poor and the vul- nerable, or is it a party simply mesmerised by any business that comes along? Is it truly committed to fair business? Is it truly committed to the wellbeing of all? Is it really committed to pre- serving our unique cultural her- itage, and our beautiful coun- tryside; to reducing pollution from our air, water and seas; to increasing open spaces in our villages; to providing access to nature; to ensure sustaina- ble development and promote clean means of transport? Is it driven by a human rights- based approach, by democratic principles, by effective social justice, equality, inclusion, eq- uity and peace? What sort of checks and bal- ances does it hold to ensure ac- countability and transparency of processes? Soul-searching and reflection is an ongoing process for all po- litical parties, organisations and individuals with public respon- sibility, in particular, when the organisation veers so drastically off course. As a nation we also need to ask ourselves very pertinent ques- tions as to why people losing trust in our institutions, in our leaders and our political parties: Why are people kept in the dark about what is really happening? Why do many of us, including some politicians, speak against political tribalism but then stop short of taking the bull by its horns to concretely address this divisive culture? Why are we not investing in our children and young peo- ple to be seriously empowered to become active citizens and critical thinkers? Why are civil society organisations ignored many a time or demonised? Why do we not seriously up- hold the media as the impor- tant fourth pillar of democracy and ensure it is strengthened to play this essential role for a functioning democracy without any arbitrary intervention of the state? Why do we drag our feet every time a substantial reform needs addressing and decades pass for something to move in the right direction? Why do we adopt a firefighting piecemeal approach to important and essential re- forms? What are the democratic principles we want to guide us? Why do people continue to be blinded by superfluous and skin-deep matters? The current government has made some significant changes to strengthen our institutions, but we need to ensure that our institutions are guided by the principles of good governance, transparency, accountability and effective checks and bal- ances. Trust is not a one-time acqui- sition. Trust has to be continu- ously earned and nurtured. Trust is built when words translate into concrete actions; and when citizens are provid- ed with peace of mind, safety, dignity, respect, and an overall sense of holistic wellbeing. For trust to be earned we need to rise above this country's po- litical divisions. We need to unite, to bridge what divides us and provide hope through a sustainable approach to our children and our future. The unity of all people of goodwill, from whatever polit- ical allegiance, can bring about the change, the hope, the trust and the meaningful prosperity for all. The questions we need to ask Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, President Emeritus

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