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Guest Post: Why You Should Attend Graffitti’s Stand Against Privatisation Scandals At Castille This Evening

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Much has been said about the landmark judgement decreed by Mr Justice Depasquale, which effectively nullified the government’s 2016 hospitals concession. Rightly so, given that never in Malta’s history as an independent country have we seen a court of law describe a deal estimated to be worth around €4 billion as “fraudulent”, rife with “conflicts of interest”, and “corrupt”.

As Moviment Graffitti, we were there when civil society managed to pile enough pressure to force disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat to resign shortly after his equally disgraced chief of staff Keith Schembri and his former health and energy minister Konrad Mizzi stepped down in 2019.

Before that watershed moment, we were on the frontlines on a myriad of other issues – we were active in the fight against the scandalous ITS-DB deal in which business mogul Silvio Debono got his grubby hands on prime real estate for a fraction of its actual value to build his precious ivory towers.

We were there when the phantom institution calling itself the American University of Malta, with a student population that is more or less equivalent to the population of unicorns on Comino, began scheming to get a hold of as much public land as possible thanks to the extremely dodgy deals it signed with (you guessed it) our government.

We were there when, perhaps during the biggest scandal of them all in terms of sheer monetary value, the government shamelessly plodded along with its plan to privatise Malta’s entire energy infrastructure, selling it off to a murky consortium made up of Malta’s wealthiest business dynasties and massive foreign companies like Siemens and Azerbaijan’s state-owned oil company, SOCAR.

For ten long years, civil society has had to struggle against a government that is run by callous, self-interested sociopaths who sold a dream of meritocracy to the general public only to present them with a neoliberal nightmare of one privatisation scandal after the other.

Throughout all this time, the government delayed inquiries and fact-finding missions, denied investigations from the press, and defended its own interests above all else.

As a leftist organisation, it is doubly surreal to be a member of an NGO like Graffitti while having to operate in incredibly dire circumstances created by a government that describes itself as having a ‘socialist heart’.

And yet, in spite of all the gaslighting, all the lies and all the willful omissions of the truth, one thing is clear – the powers that be are not immune to public pressure, however delusional and power drunk they may be.

Mr Justice Depasquale left Steward Health Care seething following his scathing court judgement that essentially incinerated all the agreements signed with the blessing of Joseph and the gang.

More than five years after Silvio Debono originally announced his plans to build his phallic affront to God himself on what once was the site for the Institute of Tourism Studies in Pembroke, the site itself remains undeveloped.

As for the unicorns at AUM, their plans had to be repeatedly cut down to size over and over again. First, they were forced to abdicate their plans to develop the entirety of Żonqor point, then forced to relocate to Cospicua, then forced to completely scrap their expansion plans up until prime minister Robert Abela swooped in to sweeten the deal with a huge Smart City land-grab that will cost them less than one cheesecake per square metre.

Much had to be sacrificed in order for us to get to where we are today.

The journalist who was first past the post with most of the stories which shook the foundations of our democracy, the irreverent Daphne Caruana Galizia, was killed with a car bomb on 16 October, 2017. Activists and journalists alike were sued, harassed, threatened, and silenced. Government bootlickers were deployed en masse to target dissenters and isolate those whose intent was to hold the powerful accountable and salvage what’s left of our miserable political landscape.

Assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia

Assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia

But, we are still here. Amidst all the overdevelopment, the chaos in our infrastructure, the blatant corruption in public procurement, and the glaring institutional failures, the fighting never stopped and the pressure never relented. Indeed, it is the only thing that stood in the way of the government’s hegemony.

This is why public pressure matters. It is the only lifeline the public has when dealing with authorities that have turned two blind eyes towards blatant disregard for the common good and the greed of the wealthy few who buy politicians as if they were scratch cards at a lottery booth.

This is why we ask you to stand with us this evening, Tuesday 21 March at 6:30pm in front of Castille. To demand, once more, to have what is rightfully ours as citizens of this country – accountability, reparations, and the restoration of not just our public hospitals, but our wellbeing as a nation.

Julian Delia is a Moviment Graffitti member.

Will you take a stand with Graffitti this evening?

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