The below article was published this morning on The Malta Independent on Sunday. An online version is not up at this time. Incredibly these strong words from a former prime minister were relegated by the newspaper to its twelfth page.

Lawrence Gonzi again speaks clearly. Institutional chiefs must leave. Politicians must cut the platitudes and do their job of addressing the causes of this catastrophe and restore our country’s reputation.

Do we dare hope for a better future?
Dr Lawrence Gonzi – former Prime Minister

Over the past few days since Daphne’s assassination, hearing and reading a cacophony of reflections, eulogies, and analysis, a deep sadness crept in, recognising that the most powerful investigative journalist on the island has been silenced precisely because of her crusade to seek justice, propriety, good governance, honesty, fairness, transparency and political accountability.

This sense of loss and anger is being openly expressed by many others some of whom have experienced something similar back in the eighties when the right to freedom of expression was a ridiculed concept, when corruption was institutionalised, when the police force became the regime’s puppet, when the democratic institutions were practically all compromised.

There was the exception of some members of the judiciary whose moral courage and rectitude provided us with a shining beacon of hope, believing that all was not lost.

And there was also political leadership that walked the talk, and guided us along the difficult path that does not compromise with truth, justice, honesty and moral integrity.

There are, of course, those who choose to interpret what happened last Monday in Bidnija as having no significance beyond the criminal act itself. Many have, till now, preferred to remain within their comfort zone, and continue with their “business as usual” attitude, seemingly oblivious to the institutional crisis that has been covertly undermining our democratic fundamentals.

The above notwithstanding, I am not alone in genuinely continuing to believe that the values of justice, truth and honesty can continue to guide us, even though what has happened to this country in these past four years will make this an uphill struggle. It is not always easy to believe in the innate potential of the Maltese people to choose the right path when faced with crucial choices.

Yet, there have been many instances in our distant and recent history when we managed to overcome what, to some, might have appeared to be unsurmountable challenges, such as the choice to join the EU, the ability to manage the transition which membership implied, the Libya crisis and the global economic and financial crisis.

Maltese society is again at a crossroad, as we mourn the loss of a unique women, a journalist who embodied the right to freedom of expression without fear or favour, the mother and wife of a family who have found themselves innocent victims of those who did not suffer their mother’s fight against corruption: Do we hang on to, or give up on, the courage and hope for a better future?

As civil society joins forces and chooses to hope rather than despair, it sends a strong and powerful plea:

– To the powers that be: Burying your heads in the sand will not make this nightmare disappear. It is a nightmare that is the offspring of wrong decisions and an amoral political agenda that is inspired exclusively by the personal bottom line instead of the social gain of every single human person, especially the most vulnerable ones. We expect you to acknowledge and address the causes rather than utter platitudes that mourn the consequences.

– To those who lead our most important institutions which are supposed to be guardians of our basic rights: Some of you have failed us miserably in our hour of need. When we expected you to stand up for us, you chose to keep your mouths shut afraid to rock the boat. It is now too late to redeem yourselves as the damage has been done and nothing can put the clock back to where it was last Monday morning. We therefore expect you to shoulder your responsibilities and submit your resignations immediately.

– To our politicians: It is now time to show your true mettle. The country demands leadership by example. Nice words are simply not enough to soothe the rage felt when listening to the damning comments about this island made by the international media. The ball is in your court to do what is necessary to restore our reputation as a nation that embraces social justice, fundamental human rights and the rule of law.