The reporting of The Sunday Times of Malta today reveals in detail how a bureaucratic system that is supposed to fairly grant driving licenses to those who show that they are competent to drive was corrupted to buy votes or to reward those loyal to the government.
The investigation documents institutionalized corruption where government ministers and officials chosen by them or who work closely with them intervene directly so that those they want to do favours for, jump the queue and where possible an eye or two are closed so that those who are supposed to fail the exam pass anyway. To maintain their power the politicians in this case showed themselves perfectly willing to put everyone in clear danger on the streets.
The investigation also shows that hundreds of people expect to skip the queue or pass an exam they are not ready for because they have access to the minister. It shows a corrupt culture that has run deep in our society. For many people the queue and the exam are there for the dumb or for those of the other party. For them there is the minister.
As in any other systemic corruption scandal the police acted against a small number of people with a limited share in a scheme and turned a blind eye to the involvement of ministers and officials in their staff. The police themselves contribute to the institutionalization of corruption.
Corruption was not invented by this government. But it is this government that is responsible for the actions evidenced by the investigation published today. The way in which in their answers the minister Ian Borg justified his interference so that his friends would not wait when it was their turn and would not be examined like others is really disturbing. Not that he does not deny that he interfered, for he boasts that his doors are always open to those who want a favour.
The response of the prime minister is so worrying that despite being confronted with evidence that officials in his office arranged for those who did not deserve to get their driving licence, Robert Abela declares that he will do nothing if the police do not nothing.
It is therefore clear that it is not because there is no political will to clean us from corruption, because the party in government has a declared policy that at the cost of a clear danger to public health and safety, it carries out the injustice that it serves whom they vote for at the expense of others.
Our country needs to become a clean republic.
For this to happen:
- The police should fulfill their duty without favour. If a minister cheats in an examination required by law to please someone, the minister must be punished as if he cheated for himself.
- The political instructions to the government departments and agencies should only be done according to procedure and not by WhatsApp messages and secret messages to the errand boys employed in the departments. Ministers who break these rules must be fired.
- The political class should lead by example and close the door to those who are not looking for their rights but looking for favours to break the rules for them.
- We need cultural education, a collective conscience that abhors corruption. We need to feel shame when we are caught jumping the queue or pretending to be given what we don’t deserve.
It’s really saddening for us to read again how much the values of our society are ruined, apart from the deteriorating safety on the roads which is the obvious consequence of this scandal. We are not going to begin to heal with sadness alone.
We want a national discussion and effort to address and eradicate corruption from Malta’s institutions and culture. And whoever was caught by this journalistic investigation, like the many who were caught by journalistic investigations in recent years, should immediately be forced to pay for their actions.