2021 has been a challenging year, with its ups and downs. On the last day of 2021, let’s take a look back at the top 10 moments that defined Malta.
The first COVID-19 vaccine given in Malta
While this actually occurred on 26th December 2020, the hype for vaccines lasted all the way from January to June, where Malta was heralded as the first country in Europe to achieve herd immunity on 24th May. The vaccines offered a way out from the pandemic that has been ravaging the world for the past two years, with fewer hospitalisations and deaths from the virus than ever. Funnily enough, the year is ending as it started, with booster shots now dominating our lives.
Neil Agius breaks world record
The former olympian broke a record for the longest, continous, unassisted, current-neutral swim along a single-segment natural route in an ocean, sea or bay, by swimming a total of 125.6km over 52 hours. Agius beat the previous record by 1.2km, whilst raising awareness of sea plastic pollution.
Malta’s Olympic Delegation
Agius was not the only Maltese olympian to make headlines this year. 8 Maltese athletes made it to this year’s edition of the Olympics. These were swimmers Andrew Chetcuti and Sasha Gatt, target shooter Eleonor Bezzina, badminton player Matthew Abela, track and field sprinter Carla Scicluna, and Yasmin Zammit Stevens who made her debut as the first female Maltese weighlifter at the Olympics.
FATF adds Malta to its grey list
In June the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) added Malta to its infamous grey list due to concerns that the country has not done enough to prevent and prosecute money laundering. Financial crime has increased over the past years, with Malta failing a crucial Moneyval test in 2019. Due to reforms done since then Malta has since passed the Moneyval test however this was still not enough for the FATF. The greylisting has affected a lot of businesses on the island.
The Daphne Caruana Galizia Report
Another red mark for Malta this year was the Daphne Caruana Galizia inquiry report which indicated that the state was responsible for the journalist’s cruel assassination in 2017. The 437 page report concludes that due to a culture of impunity which perpetuates all sectors of the island from top to bottom, the State failed to recognise and protect Caruana Galizia from the “real and immediate risk” that was on her life.
Roberta Metsola nominated as European Parliament president
In a rare moment of pride in Maltese politicians, Maltese MEP and current vice-president of the European Parliament, Metsola was nominated by the EPP as the next president of the European Parliament. Should Metsola win the election, to be held next January, Metsola will be the first female European Parliament president since 1999.
Migrant left for dead on Mellieha pavement
On 28th September Malta woke up horrified to find that a severely injured man had been abandoned on the pavement by his employers. Lamin Jaiteh, a 32 year old Ghanian, had been working on a construction site where he fell at least 2 stories. The contractor Glen Farrugia took him into his car with the promise that he was taking him to the hospital. Instead he left him on a pavement in Mellieha, where luckily he was found by Caroline Galea. Since then Glen Farrugia has been charged with grievous bodily harm and currently awaits trial.
Malta legalises the use of recreational cannabis
On 14th December Malta became the first EU nation to legalise the growth and personal use of cannabis. The law now states that adults can carry up to 7 grams on them and can grow up to 4 plants at home. Several other EU nations plan to follow suit with similar plans.
Sean Meli rescues drowning boy during thunderstorm
The last but certainly not the least memorable moment of 2021 was when ex-waterpolo player Sean Meli jumped into the Qui-si-Sana sea during a thunderstorm to save a drowning 14-year old. Sources say that had it not been for Meli’s actions the teenager would have surely drowned. Meli was awarded a Medal of Service to the Republic on 13th December.
On behalf of the Insite team, we wish all our readers a great year ahead, with hope that it will be better than 2021!