The effort to stay awake is exhausting. Electric shocks start out as torture. But now our body aches when the shocking stops. This is a sample from only this week, the slowest news week after Christmas, of the ‘you’ve got to be kidding me’ moments we’ve had.
The Broadcasting Authority ruled that journalists create imbalance by asking questions at press conferences. So, from now on whatever they ask and whatever they’re answered will not feature on live broadcasts on public TV. This Solomonian ruling followed a complaint by the opposition that the government was using health press conferences for propaganda purposes. There could have been a million solutions to ensure balanced reporting on public television. The Broadcasting Authority’s solution? Let’s cut this baby of free flow of information in half. One mother was happy with the solution. Labour doesn’t mind. This really happened.
To prevent the further spread of covid, bars are being shut down. After all they’re not like restaurants. People in bars huddle up close to each other, get closer to hear their friends over the loud music, wait for their drinks at the bar and are just generally closer to each other than they would be in a restaurant. But bars can still open if they serve two pints of lager and a packet of crisps. Chris Fearne wrote a prescription but Julia Farrugia Portelli dispensed the cure. This really happened.
Yorgen Fenech’s doctor said Keith Schembri lied to the court when he denied giving him a letter to hand over to Yorgen Fenech when he was under arrest. When the police took away the letter they found written instructions to Yorgen Fenech on how to pin the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia on Chris Cardona. That’s weird enough to earn a spot on the week’s top WTF moments ranking. Except what really matters is what happened after. Or what didn’t happen. Keith Schembri was not charged with perjury. This really did not happen.
Robert Abela shuttled between Malta and Sicily several times over the last few weeks. That’s while a second covid wave crushed over the island of which he is prime minister, not the island to which his new boat is tethered. When last March, the rate of contagion was a fraction of current numbers, a medical emergency was declared and Robert Abela became a wartime don. This time he went spinning on a beach front gym in Ragusa. He repeatedly bought tickets on a ferry to Sicily to reach his big boat in Ragusa which he uses as a floating hotel. It’s not unlike parking your new sports car in a car park with a view and taking the bus to reach it for a picnic on the back seat. This really happened.
Peter Grech resigned. Except that the development is overdue by several years, there’s nothing remarkable there. His resignation letter was published which in view of the country’s tradition of secrecy is, at best, extraordinary. Peter Grech gave his reason for his resignation: he was worried about his health caused by unfair criticism he has had to face. In other words, the attorney general, a state official so powerful that only a super-majority in parliament can fire him and no one can give him instructions on how to do his job, and with the function of dragging bad people to prison, quit because people weren’t nice to him. This really happened.
Soldiers at the AFM barracks, officially heroes of the resistance of the North African invasion, victims of evil NGOs and stoic Sebastians of marauding protesters at a Republic Day march, indulged in something called “a cocaine party”. We found out because an ex-soldier who was fired for making fun of a gate erected in the middle of nowhere told the rest of us on Facebook. Because mocking a pointless gate gets you fired on the spot. A “cocaine party”, whatever that means, is more complicated. Pluri-promoted Jeffrey Curmi, hero of the resistance, remains army chief. This really happened.
The chief civil servant’s brother, also a civil servant, was arrested and charged with money laundering. Until recently Aldo Cutajar was Malta’s consul to Shanghai selling Maltese passports to who knows who. He was dispatched there after the so-called “security services” cleared him for a sensitive diplomatic posting in spite of a past conviction for stealing public funds. He was sent to Shanghai in 2018 (to Beijing in 2016) but a government investigation found it was Lawrence Gonzi’s fault. Lawrence Gonzi was out of government in 2013 but if Mario Cutajar – tagħna lkoll flag-bearer at the head of the public administration – cannot be blamed, someone else must carry the can. When in doubt, blame Gonzi. This really happened.
Adrian Delia is as bankrupt as ever. Times of Malta refreshed its assessment of the opposition leader’s money systems and he’s still broke as fuck. That’s bizarre in and of itself. And yet he’s still running a campaign to remain in office. Only in this warped universe does the excuse that the only thing worse for him than winning the coming confirmation ballot is losing it, justifies things. His leader of opposition salary is not enough to make ends meet. Imagine how far apart those ends will be without it. Perhaps this time round Adrian Delia is actually pleased Times of Malta are updating readers with details about his penury. Pity, after all, is also a voting consideration. This is really happening.
While Adrian Delia’s poverty is inexplicable, on the opposite side of things, Joseph Muscat’s wealth is positively baffling. Officially he left office with a savings account of €70,000. His wife hasn’t been gainfully occupied for years and whatever it is he’s doing, his earnings remain an unmeasurable quantity. His beachside t-shirts cost more than some people’s living rooms. His holidays would be ostentatious for royalty. And the smirk he wears for his wife’s Instagram account is worthy of New York’s top plastic surgeons. And yet he acts as if he has nothing to apologise for. He’s not the only one that thinks so. A committee of parliamentarians ruled that his ‘sorry-not-sorry’ letter fudging some sort of excuse for receiving wine worth its weight in silver from Daphne Caruana Galizia’s alleged killer, when he already knew the police thought he was the money-man behind that outrage, was punishment enough. This too really happened.
That’s just a sample. There’s much more out there that is still too strange to wonder at. They used to say nothing ever happens in August here. Right.