Saviour Balzan | Sunday, 19 July 2009
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If there is need of any further evidence that Joseph Muscat is fast becoming a clone of Lawrence Gonzi, yesterday’s joint letter to the speaker over election spending by electoral candidates is proof enough of this unnatural phenomenon.
So yesterday, the two political leaders wrote in to the Speaker of the House Dr Louis Galea – himself a former candidate, who knows all too well what election campaigning is all about – and opined that “there should be transparency in the electoral process”, while at the same time arguing candidates should have “the freedom to convey their message in a way that was effective and realistic under rules that were clear and did not allow grounds for ambiguity or interpretation”.
Just for the record, political candidates have had the freedom to do f*** all, and nobody has ever told them what to do. They have spent thousands of euros and lied when declaring that they have not spent more than the ridiculous limit referred to in the electoral law.
The Electoral Commission has chosen to ignore the fact that for decades the political parties have flouted the same electoral law, which stipulates the limit for electoral spending.
The joint letter by Gonzi and Muscat sounds like a truly noble initiative.
This is what seems to happen when two leaders spend quality time together on a cruise-liner and seemingly get close together and start feeling linked with one another.
And at face value it seems that sharing the same writing pad is a positive step forward in a democracy. To me, it is proof that politicians only come together when it suits them.
The letter is an attempt by both leaders to cover the asses of candidates who have raised thousands of euros from undeclared and unknown sources, many of which could have vested interests and conflicts of interest.
I see democracy in a rather different light. Democracy is about conflicting ideas and persuasion. If ideas are similar, we do not call it a democracy.
If anyone needs any persuasion it is me. I have witnessed the two parties receive thousands in euros from undeclared funds, and use it to sponsor their electoral campaigns.
And no one seems to question why people give money to parties. Forget about the little gullible people who give five euros: just think of the big boys... i.e., the many companies that bankroll the top political employees in the two parties.
The fact that Lawrence and Joseph have come together to protect the expenditure of candidates does nothing to help us regain our trust in politicians.
Joseph Muscat has embarked on this unique adventure of being non-controversial and more importantly, non-committal. He is so shit-scared about being labelled “Mr No” by The Times brigade that he is now going for pussy politics.
And that is exactly what will get him elected in the next election. By being neutral and soft he will do what Gonzi does.
The letter to the Speaker by both leaders may be the first joint effort, but it will not be their last. Both leaders have similar goals, parallel politics and styles. Even the red and blue hues appear to have faded.

De Marco’s mistake
Mario de Marco has been entrusted with spearheading MEPA reform. What MEPA reform has to do with tourism beats me, but at least we now know that de Marco has so much precious time on his hands because of the smooth running in tourism, that he now has enough time to spend on MEPA.
Mario is surely not without wit and wisdom, but this reform package may well be another Machiavellian move by Gonzi.
People around and close to Gonzi underestimate the mindset of this politician. By placing de Marco at the forefront of this retrograde reform, so reminiscent of the dark days of Lorry Sant, de Marco has set himself up for a barrage of criticism. And in the process, the PM has protected himself from all the flak.
De Marco has all the good intentions, and surely has not yet realised how seriously flawed the suggestion to take MEPA policy to the Office of the Prime Minister might turn out to be.
If this goes through, the policy will be close to the heartbeat of the Prime Minister’s sycophants: those who meet and fraternize with big speculators and big business on a daily basis.
No amount of solemn declarations will convince me that policy decisions will be taken without taking into account the electoral interests of the party.
Welcome back, Jazz Festival
The Jazz Festival has reappeared after being regurgitated by a private company that made a mess of it. I am not too sure it will make money this time round. But why does everything have to make money?
And the line-up this year is also a breath of fresh air. It is true jazz, not entirely mass-oriented, but it offers a niche and serves a particular crowd.
Apart from the farcical security arrangements around some foreign jazz singer, who most Maltese did not even know existed, the festival is definitely good news.

Service with no face
The other day I decided to visit some retail outlets in l-Iklin in search of some products.
There was one salesgirl smiling at the computer monitor: it was on Facebook.
The other youngster was looking at YouTube, and yet another looked busy on the phone.
No amount of consternation on my part led any one of them to look up and ask me if I needed to do the showroom a favour and buy something.
Which is why I cannot understand why some business outlets grumble in the first place.
If you ask me, it serves them right.

Swine hype
It seems quite interesting to see how all the evidence shows that swine flu is less potent than normal influenza. And it is also rather interesting to see how much some local pharmaceutical companies have cashed in on drugs meant to fight swine flu, thanks to all the media hype.
Next Wednesday’s MaltaToday takes a closer look at Tamiflu and the Swine flu hype.

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