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MALTATODAY 26 February 2023

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maltatoday | SUNDAY • 26 FEBRUARY 2023 COMMENT Censoring Roald Dahl RAPHAEL VASSALLO PAGES 10 & 11 The Skinny Malta, shrunk down MICHAEL FALZON Cosmopolitan Malta PAGE 7 SAVIOUR BALZAN Humility and pointing to the culprits PAGE 5 EDITORIAL The ball is in Abela's court PAGE 2 JOSANNE CASSAR So, in whose interest was the Vitals/Steward deal exactly? PAGE 6 Censorship, by definition, will invariably have consequences that go beyond the censors' actual intentions, and - in many cases - those consequences will turn out to be the clean opposite of the desired effect) What are we skinning? The court's damning judgement on the Vitals/Steward saga, as former PN leader Adrian Delia's five-year battle against the suspect deal came to a triumphant close this week. Why are we skinning it? Oh, only because it is the latest concrete example of the rocky ground the Muscat administration was op - erating under as it set about its neoliberal revamp of the country while still working under a curi- ously socialist rubric. That's a mouthful right there. Let me try simply matters: This looks bad for Muscat, and by extension, his cabinet, on which he's con- veniently placed the blame for validating his maneuvers here. But that was a previous ad- ministration... The current one pledged to operate as a 'continu- ity' government to that one, and such a promise comes with its own consequences. And the fall- out from Vitals/Steward is a pretty heavy cross to bear, but borne it must be. So an attempt to privatise the Gozo, St Luke's and Karin Grech hospitals fell through because neither Vitals nor the subse - quent concessionaire, Steward Healthcare, could live up their brief. That's the tip of a particular- ly dirt-encrusted iceberg. What else is at stake, then? Ac- cording to Mr Justice Francesco Depasquale, the entire process was allegedly riddled with both "amateurish" if not downright fraudulent procedures, in a way that renders Vitals suspect and the government -- at the very least -- blinkered as to their over - arching goals in this regard. This is likely all down to a rush to fulfil electoral promises, right? The Labour Party's electoral pledge to improve the three hos- pitals in question certainly stands as a key motivating factor in this rushed and legally pot-hole-rid- den deal. The Taghna Lkoll Squad being drunk on power and rendered snowblind by their success must have played a part in it too. There is a strong sense of Muscat and co. wanting to come across as winners 'by any means neces - sary', and that their victory lap would ensure that any shortcom- ings would be squelched aside as their marathon sprint continued apace. In many ways, it's a beautiful- ly symmetrical arc. Oh yeah, in narrative terms it works a treat -- the Muscat administration once again brought down by its hubris. But life isn't just about the stories that we spin about the political cycle. Alas, no, and apart from the fact that this is a knotted, complex case, the fallout in trust will be tremendous. It's something of a narrative shift for Delia, though, too. And per - haps the Nationalist Party? Going by the archetypal trajectory once again... the whole affair depicts Delia as a patient stalwart of the 'correct way' of doing things, vs Muscat, Mizzi and co, who sought to succeed via short-cuts and cheat codes. Turns out healthcare was in fact a good issue for the PN to latch onto to regain some semblance of integrity and public support. Surprisingly enough, legally shaky privatisation of hospitals works better in that regard than railing against female bodily au - tonomy. Do say: "The court judgement on the Vitals saga has vast legal and political ramifications for the country, and paints a bleak picture of the already embat- tled Muscat legacy. The current Labour administration would do well to treat this matter with the dispassionate care that it is due." Don't say: "This is Malta. We don't want no American univer - sities nor American hospitals. Go back!" No. 179 - Multi-Tasking for Destruction

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