Malta Diary Not only are times achangin’ –they HAVE changed!
My trend of thought was triggered off by the ongoing Jeremy Clarkson incident. Not that this has anything to do with Malta and Gozo. His programme “Top Gear” used to be carried by BBC Prime television (BBC’s overseas television version and relayed by cable in Malta) but this stopped featuring it some time ago. However, the incident fits into an international jigsaw of distorted values, a trend that has now become alarming to society – Malta no less.
I commented as such on my facebook page (Albert Jerome Fenech) and wrote:
“EXAMPLE OF HOW WORLD VALUES HAVE BECOME DISTORTED – Almost ONE MILLION people have signed a petition that the loutish, laddish bully JEREMY CLARKSON should NOT be suspended by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and should NOT be removed as the presenter of the popular programme “TOP GEAR” following allegations that he (1) hit a fellow employee; (2) was drunk at the time; (3) used foul and abusive language. The petition is therefore saying it’s ok to (1) hit fellow employees; (2) be drunk at work; (3) use foul and abusive language at work – as long as you are a popular personality. I completely DISAGREE. Any one of these abuses – LET ALONE THE THREE COMBINED = INSTANT DISMISSAL.”
One of my friends Claire Calleja posted a follow-up comment that such a “culture” has been fomented by manipulated television and written media where such distorted “values” are being presented as being positive and desirable.
This has been a long time coming and is not merely a current phenomenon. Some 15 years ago when I worked for a company called STMicroelectronics (Malta) in my capacity as HR Manager I attended an in-house course on Group Dynamics. It included a very interesting and telling exercise.
The 15 course attendees were shown a large table on which 15 cards had been placed face down. The cards contained 15 different professions and jobs. Each attendee was to pick a card and then in discussion between them they were to form a queue (line) with what they classed as the most important and desirable profession/job at the head, tailing back to the least important and desirable.
The result was startling. The attendees had varying ages and different jobs within the company including Operators, Technicians, Engineers and Managers.
The final result was a line headed by (1) a Pop Star; (2) a glamour model; (3) a Hollywood film actor; (4) a top sports personality etc. The middle ranks were made up of tradesmen such as plumbers, electricians and building contractors. At the back of the line were clergyman, Court judge, doctor and bringing up the rear at number 15 – politician!
Since then the profile of politicians has continued to deteriorate rapidly and will probably have a marked effect on Malta and Gozo’s mid-term Local Council elections due to be held on Saturday, 11th April. The people of these islands are known to have a highly keen interest in politics where it is normal at General Elections to return polls of 95% plus. As it is not obligatory to vote this is the highest in the EU and amongst the highest in the world.
Yet, disillusionment is creeping in fast and the islanders are losing faith whilst numbers of politicians are losing their credibility as desired people representatives. There is a popular sentiment that elected politicians are in the game for what they can grab rather than for what they may contribute. Many are seen to promise the earth at the polls but then relent on their commitments once in power.
The situation is further complicated by incidents that continue to deteriorate political profiles. The current legislature has already experienced the resignation/relegation of one Cabinet Minister who although not proven to be actually implicated was nevertheless placed in an embarrassing position by his chauffeur.
Since then, Swissleaks has revealed that two former Ministers held millions of euros in hidden accounts with HSBC in Switzerland and although it is not as yet clear whether they did so for Tax Avoidance rather than Tax Evasion, the very revelation and the millions involved have left a bad electoral taste. In addition, more names of other politicians or those with political affiliations may yet emerge.
Slanging matches between the two main parties have now become par for the course with a wealth of accusations between the parties, further contributing to the sinking general profile of politicians.
There is also a great indifference to Local Councils, seen as professing much but actually delivering very little when the chips are down. Realistically, their powers are very limited and they often have to carry the can for general administrative shortcomings.
There is a feeling that the recorded poll on 11th April (although generally substantially less for Local Councils than that of a General Election) may be surprisingly low.
Alarmingly, this disillusion is not only manifesting itself over politicians. For hundreds of years these islands have been strongly religion-motivated to an extent that what the clergy ruled the people unquestioningly and blindly followed. That hold has deteriorated sharply over the last 20 years to an extent that today what the Roman Catholic Curia pontificates is taken with a pinch of salt. Additionally there have been some startlingly shocking cases of clerical sexual abuse and many sentiments that many, many more have been covered up.
The Law Courts and the Police Force have not fared much better. A recent EU survey showed that the wheels of Court Justice in Malta grind very slowly, in fact amongst the slowest throughout the EU. Court reform is high on the current Government’s agenda.
Credibility in the Police Force is at its lowest ebb and the popular feeling is that the forces of Law and Order are not a deterrent but only come into motion when a serious crime is actually committed – too little, too late.
There was an outburst of condemnation last week when a woman was allegedly murdered by her ex-husband when she was found dead with five stab wounds. In recent months she had lodged three reports of domestic violence which were actually heeded by the Police and for one of them the ex-husband hauled before the Law Courts. He was given a suspended prison sentence which is seen as being a slight slap on the wrist.
Sadly, we now live in an environment where the good is derisively dismissed as being “old fashioned” and “nerdy” and the bad is lauded and applauded and much of that, yes, has been brought about by the media but also as a result of the vast contribution of eroded and distorted values that many individuals who should know better, have actually themselves projected. It’s frightening.