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MALTATODAY 30 January 2022

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maltatoday | SUNDAY • 30 JANUARY 2022 COMMENT What are we skinning? The opening salvos of what is a de facto election campaign, rung in most memorably by the Nationalist Party proposing a raft of anti-corruption bills, the Prime Minister dismissing them as an evil ploy to gratuitously wreck Malta's economy, and PL whip Glenn Bedingfield essentially saying that a number of Malta's institutions should curb their investigative work if said work makes the Labour Party look bad. Why are we skinning it? Because it reveals that we have once again crossed the threshold line that appears in front of us every four or five years – when we're given a chance to lift the veil on the notion that Malta is a normally functioning democratic country, and take a peek into the true chaos that lies within. What kind of 'true chaos' are you talking about? For starters – and picking up on some 'leftover' reactions to the police raid on disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat's home – there's Glenn Bedingfield's attack on several institutions including the Ombudsman, the Standards Commissioner, the judiciary and even independent media and civil society… Well, what about it? Like the PM said, Bedingfield is merely expressing his opinion. Yes, certainly - an opinion which states that, in direct contrast to what's rhythmically trotted out through the party rhetoric, the institutions aren't quite working as they're expected to. As they're expected to, or as they should? Ah, you've hit the nub of the rub, my friend. Indeed, one could argue that what Bedingfield is saying is that the regulatory institutions – which in any fully functioning democracy should be allowed to operate without the threat of political interference breathing down their necks – should simply fall in line with the whims of the Labour Party. But Joseph Muscat is no longer an integral part of the current Labour Party apparatus. Which speaks volumes about the kind of reputational influence the problematic former leader still yields over both the party itself, and the country. Couldn't the government just stay silent on this? They could, yes. But the cries of the populist peanut gallery are too strong to resist, it seems. From what I understand, neither was the PM immune to their cries? Yes, he characterised the Nationalist Party's raft of anti-corruption bills as an attempt to destabilise the country's economy… just because. Like they're moustache-twirling villains? Indeed! One would perhaps expect that in Enrico Mizzi's time, when it was fashionable for that age cohort to still sport glorious facial hair worthy of a twirl. Yeah, Bernard Grech has none of that devilish gravitas. The PN only ever danced with the devil in the most boring of ways. More's the pity. Ah well. I guess we'll have to wait for the current crop of young hipsters to come of political age before the mustache twirling can begin in earnest. Wait a minute, this talk of mustaches is distracting us from the issues at hand. That's the idea. The scenario is just too depressing. What's this about Abela talking about institutions 'terrorizing' businesses? Sigh. Wanted to scrub that out of my mind but there you go again… Surely that means the opening of a Ministry for Clientelism after the inevitable Labour victory in the 2022 general election? This is another benefit of crossing into the realm of chaos - what was whispered becomes very much evident. Do say: "While there's certainly quite a bit to criticise about the PN in general and their point of attack with this mega-bill in particular, Abela's hoarse scaremongering about how it aims to 'wreck the economy' taps into the cheapest, knee-jerk populist impulses, and betrays the belligerence of an immature politician clutching at straws while appealing to the lowest common denominator. In short, it hardly bodes well for the election campaign to come." Don't say: "Glenn Bedingfield suggesting that various institutions – including, by extension, the police – should respect the whims and sensitivities of the Labour Party in favour of doing thorough investigative work when it makes his side of the political bench even slightly uncomfortable is not in any way redolent of Trumpian tactics. Oh, not at all." A victory for women's autonomy ISABEL STABILE PAGE 15 The Skinny Malta, shrunk down JOSANNE CASSAR That's not very sporting of you, Minister Fearne PAGE 6 MICHAEL FALZON Robert's surreal administration PAGE 7 No 124 – Flexing Them Muscles For Election Time SAVIOUR BALZAN Upstanding citizens following the rules PAGE 5 EDITORIAL A disgraceful déjà vu PAGE 2 One day, abortion in Malta will be available without shame or stigma. Until then, banning the morning after pill makes no sense at all

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