Outspoken criminal lawyer Franco Debono has pledged to campaign for a more “dignified” L-Istrina, warning that the current version of the annual telethon only helps delude Maltese society about its own condition.
“We are starting the year poorer, much poorer than we ended the last, and on the wrong foot!” Debono wrote in a blogpost. “For now that grotesque oversized cheques have been glamorously presented with clownish fanfare thus destroying the very intrinsic essence of charity, solidarity, generosity and altruism, in the yearly drama splashed on all TV stations and we have been declared by none other than the President of the Republic (of Paqpaqli catastrophe fame) as the most generous and altruistic people on Earth, we can now comfortably afford to go back to each others’ throats in a year of insults, hate, threats and incessant fighting (not to mention the occasional murder), in what is probably, considering the small size, one of the most highly politically polarised places on Earth.”
“And we start the year poorer because no one bats an eyelid when President Coleiro Preca, who not only made a Gargantuan effort to distance herself from the Paqpaqli ghall-Istrina catastrophe when things went wrong, but has also taken all this unbelievable thing to a completely new level, makes some of the best delusions of grandeur declarations we’ve ever heard – we are the most generous country on Earth.”
Photo: L-Istrina 2018
Despite this year’s L-Istrina raising over €7 million for people in need, a national record, Debono argued that Maltese society is actually destroying the intrinsic meaning of solidarity, compassion and altruism.
“[These values] necessarily consist of giving without getting anything back, without mentioning let alone advertising in the most in-your-face method,” he said. “We are much poorer because we have managed to destroy the true meaning of all these fundamental values turning them upside down and patting ourselves on the back for doing so. These are the clear symptoms of a decaying society.”
“We start the year poorer because we have not yet started to realise, let alone learn that the metric of solidarity, empathy, generosity and altruism is not measured by pounds, shillings and pence just like distance is measured in metres not kilograms. This notion of wrong metrics is not limited to solidarity. Not to mention that even if one had to argue that money is the right metric for solidarity that would be a huge injustice since one can hardly compare donations by a civil servant to that of a corporate donor. The issue is really complex indeed.”
“All this national patting on the back, megalomania and delusions of grandeur concerning things that shouldn’t even be made public is one of the reasons why this country thinks its people can afford to spend the intermediate periods between l-Istrinas hurling all forms and manners of hatred towards each other. For let’s be honest, hatred in all forms and colours has increased in the last few years. So l-Istrina helped nothing in reducing this.”
President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca at L-Istrina 2018 (Photo: L-Istrina 2018)
“We are poorer because no one questions even for the sake of questioning, even for the sake of the fundamental democratic value of healthy debate and to convince ourselves we have not completely dried out of ideas, and to convince ourselves are not robots, to convince ourselves we are not in a coma.”
“It was a good idea twenty years ago, a new thing, I have no doubt about the genuine intentions of the volunteers, but now that we had ample time to assess the pros and cons of it all the next President needs to take the bull by the horns. Seven million is a small sum to include in the following year’s budget especially for a country in a booming economy. But then what are the Social Policy and Health Ministry there for?”
With Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca’s term coming to an end in the coming months, Debono urged her successor to focus more on the constitutional role of the presidency and less on fundraising.
“I will be campaigning for a more dignified L-Istrina for next year which focuses and enhances the true values of solidarity, empathy, compassion and altruism so that only then we can subsequently tackle the consequent issues of deep hatred within this society. As long as we think we are the most generous people on Earth, we are doomed.”