Daphne and monuments – Arnold Cassola

Maltese politicians  seem to have a hereditary phobia or, should I say, malady: that of trying to ensure eternal glory for themselves by having plaques placed all over the country commemorating the opening of anything – from a road to a parliament, from a monument to a bakery, from a village fountain to a village toilet.

Having one’s name eternally inscribed in stone seems to be the be-all and the end-all for a number of politicians. The number one prerogative.

This malady has now spread even to local councils, with mayors and councillors competing among themselves to ensure that their name and period of tenure of office is carved in stone, or even in marble, for all posterity to enjoy.

I still remember when I was a local councillor in Swieqi in the 1994-96 period having to persuade my colleagues that their ‘important’ priority of having a marble slab with all our names inscribed on it in remembrance of the first Swieqi council was simply not on.

When I was no longer a councillor, my colleagues soon agreed that a plaque with the names of the councillors forming part of the council should be placed in the local Swieqi garden.

Today, the commemorative tablet inscribed with our names is still there, faded and quite illegible. I do not see any crowds or hordes of residents queuing up to quench their insatiable curiosity as to who were the locality’s first representatives.

However, the fact that – just like many of these plaques all over Malta – it has been placed at quite a low level, just above the ground, it could also serve a second purpose, being of utility to the odd stray dog, when nature calls.

Reverting to issues of sterner stuff, I feel it is quite sad that the debate on a monument to Daphne has been reduced to a scurrilous brawl between narrow-minded people. This debate has reached high levels of absurdity, fired also by strong partisan feelings.

On the fourth month of her assassination, the photos of Raymond Caruana, Karin Grech and Dom Mintoff were placed alongside Daphne’s at the makeshift memorial in front of the law courts.

I believe that the photos of Karin and Raymond are most welcome alongside that of Daphne’s.  What I find unacceptable is Dom Mintoff’s. What has Mintoff got to do with the other three?  Some people are really blinkered in our country.  The situation is really desperate.

As for Daphne, to paraphrase what I had myself written during her lifetime: “Daphne’s investigative work is rendering an indispensable service to transparency and democracy in our country. When however she attacks people for having a fat wife or short husband or an ugly face, she is as obnoxious as Glenn Bedingfield.”

Having said this, our country would do well to always keep remembering its citizens who have had their lives truncated by politically insane people.

It was a duty to have a garden named after Karin Grech and a monument in memory of her sacrifice.

It was a duty to have a garden named after Raymond Caruana and a monument in memory of his sacrifice.

Daphne should be given tribute with a monument not for what she wrote but because of the way she was assassinated by hidden powers who wanted to shut her up.

We need to remind these hidden powers that no intimidation will stop us from going after the truth… and from going after them.

For all of us who believe that Malta needs to get out of the moral and ethical morass that egoistic politicians and greedy people tied to money and power have got us into, that is our prime duty.

Arnold Cassola
Published on the Times of Malta​ – 27 February 2018