Saturday 16 February 2019

Now that we’ve stopped laughing…

Is this what Vince Farrugia meant by a ‘cant wrapper’?

We all had our laugh this morning at the expression “cant wrapper” which Vince Farrugia used to describe Sandro Chetcuti in one of his text messages.  You can read about the court case where the whole story was revealed here.

I had my share of fun trying to come up with plausible explanations of what Vince could have possible meant when he said “then we dump him as a cant wrapper.”

But the text messages themselves are no laughing matter.

The whole thing is extremely sinister and reads like something out of a bad Mafia movie;  laughable yes, if it were not so disquieting.  It has lifted the lid on certain behind-the-scenes manoeuvres which many of us have always suspected, but could never really prove.   “We must blacken his name with all ministers and parliamentary secretaries, MPs and authorities so that nobody trusts him and nobody touches him,” one of the incriminating SMS’s by Vince Farrugia read.

Mr Farrugia is himself in a position of extreme power, as the head of the GRTU, the union which groups together all retail outlets. He is also, let us not forget, a former candidate  for the European parliament, standing on the Nationalist Party ticket.  Whoever accepted his candidacy made a great judgement call, huh?

Today’s story comes hot on the heels of the now notorious fib by the Prime Minister that a substantial investment was made by a large Brazilian company which had moved its headquarters to Malta…only for us to learn that the company had already closed shop and left.  Talk about a souffle which fell flat.

Desperate to furiously backpedal  on his initial fanfare of an announcement, the PM did everything he could at damage limitation.  But all attempts at spinning the real extent of the Brazilian investment  (“these days you can still have huge foreign investment with just four employees”) on various TV stations and radio talk shows by PN politicians simply made things worse.  Even trying to turn the tables on the Labour party, whom they accused of “enjoying” the fact that the company closed down, did not work.

I watched and listened to them in sheer disbelief wondering if they have now so completely detached themselves from reality that they simply take us all for unquestioning morons. There was either a huge investment or there wasn’t, and if the investment fell through, just say so.  But please don’t try and twist the facts which you yourself publicised and entangle yourself in more and more half-truths because you cannot bear to admit you made a mistake.

The bizarre nature of the whole Brazilian investment that never was, created another opportunity for all of us to laugh and poke fun – but even as we joked and shared posters and billboards, you could sense that this was laughter born out of almost hysterical desperation.  This country has been lurching from one surreal episode to another for over a year.

We have a government hanging on by a thread, a backbencher who daily fires off blog posts against his own party and  a PM who tried to pull a fast one on live television with a chuckle while flourishing a pile of thick reports during a so-called debate.  Meanwhile, from the clips I’ve seen, I noticed that Joseph Muscat spent much of that debate with a bemused half-smile playing around his lips – a smile which many interpret as a smug smirk.

Quite a few people I spoke to have described his performance during that debate as lacklustre,  and in retrospect I wonder whether Muscat did not try harder to impress viewers  because he knows he does not need to do much at this point.  After all, he was rescued from what looked like a gaffe about the Brazilian company  (which he did not seem to know much about) by the press (especially blogger Alison Bezzina) who did a little digging and came up with the facts.

Of course, not even bothering to try and convince floating viewers because you assume you  have the election in the bag is not a good sign. Nor is constantly harping on and on about the water & electricity bills. OK,  you made your point already. Next?

The fact is that the longer the election date takes to be announced the more people’s interest is going to flag. We are suffering from campaign ennui without having had an official campaign yet.

In the meantime, between the almost daily blunders by the present administration, and the “let’s sit back and wait” attitude of the Opposition, it is no wonder that most of us seek refuge in satire and jokes.


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