Today’s report by The Sunday Times of Malta would have been shocking if we did not know that corruption has entered the culture of how our country works from top to bottom.
This scandal has several implications that are not all immediate:
- It is clear that government officials and the Labour Party systematically use public funds to buy votes, which is a crime twice over: stealing the people’s money for personal benefit, and vote buying.
- A Labour MP was the epicentre of a systematic fraud scheme. He resigned from Parliament long ago when the Police arrested him in their investigation into this case. But for two whole years the Labour Party and the government have hidden this fact. When you hide corruption, you’d be aiding it, not fighting it.
- For several years hundreds of persons were issued monthly benefits on the basis of forged documents and signatures. This shows that the control and verification systems to avoid such circumstances have failed, and it is the administration that is responsible for this.
- This was an act of political discrimination because it is evident that Labour Party supporters have been systematically given money put aside for people with severe disabilities irrespective of whether they support the Labour Party or not..
- This was yet another case of voter manipulation on a grand scale. It continues to raise doubts whether we still have or can have free and fair elections in Malta.
- Up to a point the Police are doing their job when they indict people who took benefits they did not deserve. But it truly is false justice to punish these people but then let off scot-free those who use political power to manipulate them with money that isn’t their own.
Like the many scandals in recent years, this scandal teaches us many lessons that the government and the Labour Party will probably ignore.
We need a specialized law enforcement agency to fight corruption.
We need a national effort to mobilize citizens’ participation in the fight against corruption. No one should want money stolen from the mouth of those who deserve it.
We need political parties that fight corruption seriously, in the first place when they discover it within them by denouncing it, not cover it up.
And if our social benefits system does not reach people who fall into poverty because of their health, politicians’ work should be the promotion of new schemes that help those who are suffering, not as Labour MP Silvio Grixti did: feigning charity by fraud and theft.