Sunday, 4 June 2017

Collective Wisdom 2

Image result for collective wisdom quotesYet again the Maltese electorate has delivered a judgement in the tradition of its collective wisdom.

I had written about this already in an article published in 2014 which can be accessed through this link:

http://alfred-mifsud.blogspot.com.mt/2014/04/collective-wisdom.html

It is terribly na├»ve for quarters close to the PN to blame the electorate for its loss.   Arguments that the majority of Maltese must be stupid to hand  Joseph Muscat a re-instatement mandate with an even bigger majority, expose arrogance and disdain just at a time when humility and self-assessment are called for.

The electorate saw no reason to depart from its long held tradition to mandate same government for two consecutive  terms and all the claims of corruption and bad governance marshalled by the members of the network of power of which the PN is simply the political cell, could not move the electorate one teeny weeny bit from its determination to judge Muscat on overall performance rather than on unproven suspicions of mal-practice which are still being investigated.

This reminds me of 1992 when PN gave Labour a bigger drumming at the polls than the first win of  1987.  It was only after the second electoral defeat that Labour realised that unless it re-invents itself it will remain unelectable.   Alfred Sant as new leader working on a blueprint I had penned in 1990 won the following 1996 election against all expectations.

The PN must now realise that to be considered as a true alternate government they must act like an alternate government and not simply obstruct  all the way using questionable means which harm the country's  international reputation.

We should all celebrate the electorate's further demonstration of its collective wisdom.   It rewards Labour and PM Muscat with a well-deserved second mandate.   It hopefully forces the PN to re-define its strategies, consider the best persons who can lead the necessary transformation to regain electoral credibility, and above all stop playing dirty games by internationalising our defects beyond all proportions.

Most of all PN must allow our regulatory institutions and law enforcement organs  to work with the autonomy bestowed upon them by law and uphold the rule of law by desist orchestrating internal leaks which create huge obstructions in the proper functioning of such institutions.

It is never too late for a new beginning.   Malta needs not only a strong government but an effective opposition which can keep the executive on its toes without damaging our international reputation.  Even for the PN the election result of 2017 could be a covert victory just as the electoral losses of 1992 and 2008 where covert victories for Labour.

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Upholding the rule of law

Image result for rule of lawNow that I made it public that I will be relinquishing my post of Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Malta as of 30th June 2017, I feel a bit freer to start commenting on current affairs.

I look forward to the period post June 2017 when I will be able to explain in more detail  what led me to give up my 5 year appointment after just 2 years.   But these are pleasures yet to come as the truth is that persons holding positions with security of tenure, like the judiciary, the Attorney General and Governors of the Central Bank, are disadvantaged when they are criticised on a personal basis, especially when such criticism is part of the political crossfire. Respect to the Organisation they represent,  holds them back from properly defending themselves in order not to carry the Organisation itself in the political crossfire.

Democracies are built on the rule of law.   These are rules that apply to one and all, government, opposition, civil society and ordinary citizens. Upholding the rule of law is particularly important during an election campaign when the executive is in a holdover caretaker role and the prospect of alternation of power through the voting process becomes a real possibility.

The rule of law depends on those charged with upholding being allowed to operate autonomously and respectfully.   Amongst the organisations that upholds the rule of law are the judiciary, the FIAU (Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit) and the Police authorities.

It is very regretful to note that during this election campaign and the weeks leading to it,  all these organisations where not allowed to operate with the tranquillity they need and deserve in order to execute their duties to uphold the rule of law.  

The Police were consistently criticised by the Opposition for purportedly not fulfilling their duties of properly investigating the cases flagged to them by the FIAU involving key government executives.   Police investigations require time.  Whilst the FIAU trades in suspicions the Police can only charge people based on hard evidence that can stand up in a court of law.   This needs time.   There are cases involving prominent Opposition executives who are also being investigated by Police following suspicions raised by the FIAU.   Even in these cases, which would play well in favour of the government, the Police have not yet pressed charges even though the evidence is relatively straight forward according to an investigative report filed by three appointed judges.

Can the police perform properly if they are continuously criticised rather than allowed space to execute properly?   As the law stands, a new government has right to fire and replace the Police Commissioner.   This is not a desirable practice and hopefully it will be changed,  but that's how presently it is.  But what sense does it make to continually threaten the Police Commissioner with dismissal and still expect him to perform professionally?   This practice is also unfair to an incoming Commissioner as the implication would be that such Commissioner is expected to be loyal to the executive not to their responsibilities.

The FIAU can only function properly if its reports are treated with utmost secrecy as provided in its law.   Anyone breaking such secrecy rules is subject to criminal penalties including fines and imprisonment. Unless this rule of law is respected the FIAU cannot function.   The FIAU depends on suspicious transaction reports it receives from the licensed institutions and other obliged entities. These reports are submitted on the strict understanding that such reports stay secret.   But if through internal sabotage the FIAU leaks information like a bullet holed water tank, how can the operatives have confidence to continue submitting suspicious transaction reports? Anyone who aides and abets in breaking the secrecy needed by FIAU operations, is actively defying an important aspect of the rule of law.

The judiciary must be allowed to operate without pressure.   It was wrong for the Prime Minister to hold the Magistrate responsible for consequences that may result from not concluding his enquiries before the elections.   If anything such responsibilities are to be carried by the Leader of the Opposition who made the allegations and by the Prime Minister who called early elections.  I believe it was a slip of the tongue as it goes against many other statements made by the Prime Minister respecting the independence of the judiciary .  But it is equally condemnable  when the Magistrate is held responsible if he does not find evidence that the Prime Minister is guilty.

The paladins who pretend to be on the forefront of upholding the rule of law do so by actively breaking it.   The Chamber of Advocates only find their voice to criticise the Prime Minister.   Ex Chief Justice Said Pullicino finds courage to condemn the 'tibna' in Labour's camp and ignores the 'travu' of the PN.

The rule of law is being undermined by those who preach the need to uphold it.