Nineteen eighty-four

Nineteen eighty-four

When Alfred Sant prepared for the 1996 campaign his imported US advisors told him truth was what he made of it. If he repeated a lie often enough, no matter how fanciful, he could change that lie into truth.

Sant’s most famous apprentice was Joseph Muscat, who spent a dozen years on TV conjuring all sorts of horror stories about EU membership, losing in the process his soul and acquiring in its place an inscrutable poker face.

When that sort of technique is used from opposition it is a national inconvenience. When it is used to prop up the functioning of the state it is a nightmare.

And to deal with the nightmares, we’re all trying to think of fluffy pink sheep so that we can have some peaceful sleep.

The interview carried by The Sunday Times yesterday with Jonathan Ferris, former police officer and former FIAU investigator, is the horror raising its head. An investigator known for his zeal in prosecuting crime, no matter the identity of the suspect, is prevented from dipping into the Pilatus Bank scandal and summarily dismissed with no official explanation.

Put in a situation where he depends on the Police Commissioner to be re-instated back to work, the authorities presume he will stay silent. But a zealous and principled investigator will not compromise his own principles in favour of his basic need for a job and a salary. Mr Ferris placed his own interests in second place and spoke up letting us know just how extensive the cover-up of crimes at the very top of our power structure is.

Mr Ferris’s dismissal is but another facet of a conspiracy to commit crime and to do worse by covering the original crime up.

Faced by the courage of a man alone, the government reacts with Sant’s old playbook. It says Ferris lied about the criminal complaints the FIAU had filed not being registered by the police. Because, we are told, they had been. We’re not told when. We’re not told who processed them. We’re not told who the investigation is assigned to. We’re not told if the investigation is completed. We’re not even told if the investigation has started. If it has, we’re not told when.

All we’re told is Mr Ferris should be ashamed for casting a shadow on the police force’s (and the FIAU’s) reputation. What reputation, pray? It’s a reputation of co-conspirators who will cover up the crimes of the powerful, whether out of a sense of misguided duty or for the right price it is impossible to guess.

Mr Ferris’s interview, and the flimsy and unhelpful denials that were published by the government in response, is just as shocking as the interview with the whistleblowing bank clerk a couple of months ago.

It provides stark corroboration – this time from a witness whose character and personal history is publicly well known – to the mountain of evidence already in the public domain of grave financial and fiscal crimes perpetrated by people at the very top of the power structures of our nation. It also helps explain why in spite of all the evidence, nothing is done. Because evidence is manoeuvred by the conspiracy itself to fall through the memory hole.

The conspiracy is made up of the people committing the crimes, the people profiting from them, and the people who neglect their duty to prosecute them.

And the rest of us are complicit in that conspiracy with our collective silence and indifference. Compare the popular reaction to the whistle-blower’s interview 2 months ago, with the interview yesterday. Two months ago there was hope that a general election could bring about action that would exorcise the rot at the heart of power. Now that hope is gone.

People no longer see a connection between their genuinely felt anger and frustration and an outcome they have an influence on. If their vote could not make a difference, what could? The bus that came by to take us to cleaner politics has passed us and we are not going to spend 5 years studying the unreliable timetable.

We must all go on with our lives. So many stopped listening. We lost the energy and the inclination to feel anger. We conspire to ignore that which we cannot change.

All of us can live happily in this 1984 by going along with the lies we are fed. We commit our memories to a hole and believe ourselves when we repeat after our masters’ voices: there are no Panama Papers, there is no Egrant, there is no Pilatus Bank.

There never was.