OPINION: This Charade Must Stop…

For that is what it is… it is a real charade when political party news hacks, working from the comfort of their newsroom and from behind the keyboards of their computers, give the utmost demonstration that one can wish for of the simple truth that they cannot, or rather will not, see the difference when one is using a word in a “literature” sense and not in a political one!

This was best exemplified by NET Tv’s manipulative attack – so blatantly done for the gallery – perpetrated on Wednesday when Finance Minister Clyde Caruana’s use in Parliament of the word “komunisti” (notice with a small “k”) was abusedly used to seek political endearment with the business class through accusing the Minister that he was calling them Communists (with a big “C”)!  What did this charade show? If nothing it demonstrated that the particular journalist who sought to so perform is either illiterate (in the sense that he does not know how to distinguish between possibly different contextual uses of a term), or, as so many news hacks in the newsrooms of most of our local media, only see their job as being that of pushing a particular political agenda.

And this is why we clamour for a stop to this sort of deplorable journalism. It is all right for key people in that calling to work hard for legal protection when carrying out their jobs. And, yes too, it is right that proposals be put up, to whichever authorities, for such protection to be enhanced in Malta. But then, on the other hand, the need for much more intelligent people being employed in our news organisations – and, indeed, also paying them suitably for their attributes – is becoming more evident day after day.

We are not saying that when politicians, or other personalities in the country, commit omission, or omission, or indeed also verbal, gaffes then they should not be subject to criticism. But when any such personality is voicing factual criticism of what is indeed a national problematic reality, then why should he come to be attacked in such an ignorant manner?  Is it, or is it not true, that tax evasion is in Malta the prime national hobby? Is it, or is it not true, that engaged in this pastime are both big businesses and also a large part of the smaller businesses we have in the land? And, for God’s grace, let’s put a stop to this charade of “iż-żgħir u il-kbir” (the small and/or big businesses!).  

Many of them are factually playing the game which the Minister mentioned in Parliament, i.e. that of denying the state its dues of income taxes, VAT, national insurance contributions, etc., whenever economic times are right and good, and then bleating like whipped kids whenever their sales, for whatever reasons, including often also their own managerial incompetence, end up in some year not making for them as many profits if not, even more, than in previous years.  These are facts, in a system that is often allowing them to get away with murder.

Are there ways and means of getting our journalists to be more honest in their work? Of course, there are.  Are there ways and means of ensuring that businesses no longer get by with such rampant practices? Of course there are. For example government could extend the remit and operating responsibilities of its Tax Compliance Unit to include carrying out random, totally unannounced, audits of both individual businesses and companies which would be over and above those which the law currently prescribes for.

If so many journalists cannot get their focus and understanding of a problem right… then yes, we really do have both a problem… and a charade…