Nostalgia, as they say, is a seductive liar. It effectively distorts the past, unabashedly painting a rose-tinted version of long-ago events, diluting them into a more palatable, acceptable version. Selective amnesia actually boils down to the same thing; a condition which unfortunately seems to be rampant among the political classes. And this art of smoothing over the rough edges of unappetising events in our history has been honed down to a tee by none other than our very own high falutin, truth and justice champion, Dr Jason Azzopardi.
That Dr Azzopardi has a miniscule memory span is by now no secret. Why, just last week, Dr Azzopardi has all but forgotten that he had ever had the privilege of meeting Yorgen Fenech, the alleged mastermind in the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia. Adamant to the extent that he even swore to his followers on Facebook that he never, ever met the man, it took an intervention by Fenech’s mother and the resurfacing of a photo of Azzopardi congratulating Fenech at his wedding reception to jog his somewhat sluggish memory. Inevitably, Dr Azzopardi credited this particular memory blip to the fact that this happened ‘years and years ago’ and he had no recollection of being at the wedding at all. Alas, such memory loss is a tragic occurrence in someone as young as Azzopardi and someone who as a lawyer earns his daily bread by depending on razor-sharp brain power.
But selective amnesia is not the only affliction ailing Dr Azzopardi. Nostalgia must also be muddling his keen brain. Sharing a Facebook post by ex-Minister George Pullicino, Azzopardi sought to remind us that we are now enjoying our clean seas thanks to investment in sewage treatment plants by past Nationalist governments. Oh, how the mists of nostalgia colour our memory! How easy it is to boast of half-baked achievements when the decades have mellowed their devastating impact.
When sharing this misleading post, has Dr Azzopardi forgotten how during his party’s tenure fish farms have sprung unrestrained all over the south of the island where he now boasts we can all enjoy the quality of our beaches? Does his memory not stretch to endless summers where fish slime adorned our coasts, where going to the beach was inadvertently a game of potluck? Does his selective amnesia prevent him from remembering the residents’ protests ensuing from the opening of the sewage treatment plants he seems to be so proud of?
Can he for one single moment put himself in the residents’ shoes, especially Xghajra residents who for years on end had to endure the stink pervading their homes from the sewage plant next door? And while he’s at it why not ask Marsascala residents, who on one fine sunny day were lumbered with the Sant’Antnin treatment plant slap bang next to one of the village’s most attractive neighbourhoods? Has he forgotten how hundreds of families were up in arms at the time? These, and so many more phenomenal ‘projects’ have, in Azzopardi’s sentimental view of the past, somewhat ‘enhanced’ our quality of life during his party’s tenure.
And yet, and yet, Dr Azzopardi still has the temerity to share and boast of these ‘achievements’. Ironically, if Dr Azzopardi can cite memory loss when it suits, if his brain power is sometimes befuddled by the spectre of nostalgia, the same cannot be said for all those Maltese citizens who through no fault of their own had to suffer his government’s inept and haphazard performance over the years. It is by now a given that people have a long memory, they rarely forget those who have trespassed against them; a fact which I am sure that Dr Azzopardi, whether suffering from selective amnesia or not has understood loud and clear during these past few years… and even more so since 2013 to be precise.