MaltaToday, 16 April 2008 | The power of words


OPINION | Wednesday, 16 April 2008

The power of words

Saviour Balzan

If you ask me what’s the best thing to have happened to the Nationalist party, apart from having God and all the secret networks on its side, it’s the puerile decision taken by the Labour party to extend their leadership election to June.
If anyone had any doubts that the Nationalists will stay in power for donkey’s years, than this is the much awaited proof.
And if anyone believes that only the Maltese electorate is stupid, then why not look up the Italians? They elect a corrupt politician by the name of Silvio Berlusconi as if he was their saviour.
But abuse of power, corruption, nepotism, and the cult of personality have absolutely no bearing on how the electorate acts. Indeed, I think I will start to believe that the more bombastic and ridiculous you get, the better your chances of getting elected.
In the very end it is very much down to perception, good looks, smiles and all the other image-building gimmicks that lead the electorate to decide.
The problem with Labour’s long-winded election is that the new leader will have to rebuild the party from scratch. But not before the other battles.
After the leadership battle, there will be the deputy leadership election and after that, the one for the party officials. There can only be one winner for every post but evidently there can be many losers. And losers are traditionally bitter, angry and frustrated: they are ideal sources of inside information.
Well, the rest is history. The question the MLP should ask is whether all these losers will find a home in the party after the battle.
From what I am told, everyone seems to be at each other’s throat and everyone thinks that they are best and that the others are simply not up to it. One can just imagine the mindset of the losers after everything blows over.
In other words, the PN will be having a field day when truly, they should be under fire for their actions, or shall I say… inaction.
As things stand right now, the most likely candidate to win hands down is Joseph Muscat. He will be a formidable adversary: ambitious, intelligent, forward-looking, ruthless and moderate. He has the backing of Jason Micallef, and more importantly George Vella.
In my long years of dealing with Muscat, I have always made it a point to stand with my back to the wall. A habit, I guess, after years acting as editor and being the target of so much spin.
Evarist Bartolo is probably the most suited for leader, but he carries with him baggage which he will try very hard to dispense of before June. Like Muscat, he is ambitious and intelligent and forward-looking. And like Muscat he is no virgin, but surely he has come a long way and is abundantly more mature than Muscat.
George Abela is in the eyes of the diverse electorate the best bet for the MLP, but he is not trusted by the party because of his close ties with individuals with a PN link. There is little doubt that he will gain more support than initially expected. He is supported by a motley group which also includes PBS editorial acting chairman Dominic Fenech. Well, if this is not a conflict of interest I wonder what is.
On the other hand, Michael Falzon has a tightly knit hardcore team working for him that is loyal. He too is considered moderate by delegates and the electorate. He definitely does not have the administration’s backing, but he too will make gains as D-Day approaches.
When the leader is finally chosen after a Vietnam-style campaign, the round starts for the deputy leaders. And then if someone else gets the bright idea, the run for the new secretary-general will start.
Mr Jason Micallef says that he wants to stay on. But I am sure that most delegates do not share his aspirations.
And I am sure that Joseph Muscat being Joseph Muscat (if he does get to the top with the intention, that is, of being Prime Minister at the tender age of 39 in five years’ time) will make his calculations and if necessary, dump Jason.
Jason of course is not someone who will take no for an answer. Which is just what the Nationalists are praying for. The more arguments, internal battles in Labour, the better for the future of the 100-year party.
As the Labourites find solace in the kingdom of Sodom and Gomorrah, Gonzi in his sober setting is preoccupied with two major issues.
The first one is JPO. And the second are all the appointments that need to be taken care of… you know, those appointments for the blue-eyed boys and girls, the ones that will oil the machine and keep the grand 100-year-old dream for the PN alive.
Surely top of the list is the position for Mr Joe Saliba, the secretary-general who kept his mouth shut before the election when he knew what a mess JPO could have got the party in.
Surely the possibilities for Mr Joe Saliba are endless: an MEP, a prestigious appointment abroad, or even something more politically austere.
Well, needless to say, we will get to know in due time, that is, when Gonzi’s press friendly officer Josephine Vassallo sees fit to lift the lid on transparency.


In this new age, when the Nationalists enter their fifth year of government, one should really acknowledge the words of wisdom that spill out of the Prime Minister’s office.
When asked what they had to say about the carnage in the Maltese countryside by hordes of hunters, the PM’s spokesman said they condemned the illegal acts and that they had full confidence in the police.
It sounds very much like a badly written children’s novel.
The story is of course rather different. The Police as we all know are as over-stretched as every other publicly funded department or agency. The last thing on John Rizzo’s mind is worrying about those gentle-looking hunters who gun down birds.
With limited resources, the PM can say what he likes. He can also say that he condemns these acts but in reality, as we very well know, for something to happen the PM has to rearrange his priorities and stop concerning himself on whom to appoint or not to appoint, and instead take action.
In the meantime, Dr Joanna Drake, the Commission representative at the heavily guarded EU delegation to Malta, would do well if she could send a message to her colleagues in Brussels to tell them that really and truly, the Maltese government is doing “un bel’ niente” about hunting abuses.
While back here, the Broadcasting Authority finds nothing untoward in the repetitive verbal diarrhoea spewed in my regard from individuals who run the hunters’ TV show on Smash TV.
Neither does Joe Baldacchino, the not so eloquent owner of Smash TV, find anything out of order when Lino Farrugia and Joe Perici Calascione paint me as enemy number one to all the hunters. If these two gentlemen think that I am scared of their verbal abuse, they had better think twice.
Needless to say, the hunters have reacted to this very helpful description of myself by greeting me every time I walk in the countryside with death threats and colourful biological labels, most of them concerning the blasphemous travels of spermatozoa and the Virgin Mary.
And of course the cherry on the cake was when my wife passed away – the comment on the hunters’ website forum run by Lino Farrugia is copied her for all to see:
“Oqghodu tuh il-kondoljanzi ‘il-Saviour Balzan ta… nerga nghid… jien jiddispjacini ghalija u ghal shabi intom, narana hekk. Dan kollu tort tieghu u ta dak il-liba Joe Sultana.”
But then I am sure the PM’s secretariat will condemn these acts outright. Perhaps when something serious does finally happen, Gonzi will discard his Joseph Muscat-like smile and soberly decide to personally issue a heartfelt statement and reiterate his blind faith in the police.
After all, one should recall that my front door was only burnt down in front of the Naxxar police station in full view of a very attentive police officer. And just in case the Equality Commission wants me to be specific, the officer was a diminutive female who could not scare a cockroach, let alone two determined arsonists.
But then I guess it will be too late.
I promise however, that before I go down, I will do so in style. Certainly colourful enough to be reported in a B-page in The Times.
The only positive aspect to this morbid story is that at least, if the hunters have their way, I will be in another world were surely elections for party leaders do not take three months and a half; where hunting for doves is unlawful and out of the question; where people like Lino Farrugia are out of bounds and most important of all, where the people that matter most can be encountered in some peace and tranquillity!

Any comments?
If you wish your comments to be published in our Letters pages please click button below.
Please write a contact number and a postal address where you may be contacted.




MaltaToday News
16 April 2008

Nuns take ‘vow of silence’ on Lourdes Home abuse

Back from the wilderness

Labour leadership

MaltaToday in Ombudsman’s 2007 selected case-list

Maltese man charged with human trafficking freed

Bishops call for prayer to defend unborn at Council of Europe

MLP accuses government of being ‘anti-national’

Increase in Maltese travellers in February

New law introduces civil liability for environmental damage

MIDI borehole seeping mud into the sea

Charles Thake sustains minor injuries on ‘Agora’ set

Copyright © MediaToday Co. Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann SGN 9016, Malta, Europe
Managing editor Saviour Balzan | Tel. ++356 21382741 | Fax: ++356 21385075 | Email