The bigger picture

In a normal country, the Opposition would blossom and hit the roof. The opposite has happened, and the problem is clearly Adrian Delia

PN leader Adrian Delia
PN leader Adrian Delia

I have not met one minister who has not expressed disgust at the way Joseph Muscat seems to have suddenly changed. Some even compared him to Alfred Sant in the aftermath of his short stint as PM – that is, it seems to them that he thinks everyone owes him some extraordinary respect. Which feeling is made worse by the fact of his reluctance during that fateful Cabinet meeting in November not to leave, despite everything that was stacked against him. Indeed, it has to be said that the decision for him to leave was forced upon him, because the Cabinet made it very clear that it was over for him.

What is abundantly clear today is that the magisterial inquiries into the Vitals Global Healthcare PPP, and other matters dealing with Muscat’s inner circle, will not go away. More is yet to surface – we could be just looking at the tip of the iceberg.

But to more mundane things: this week, I sat in court to listen with delight to Ray Mintoff, a director of the Valyou supermarkets, saying that he had received €5,000 from disgraced former Times journalist Ivan Camilleri. Not because he shoplifted – for he claimed Camilleri had not stolen anything – but simply because Camilleri forgot to pay for some bottles of water in his trolley (which according to Camilleri he had paid for after all). Funny that...

Now, thank God everyone just laughed away when they heard this story. Quite similar to when we were told that Keith Schembri had lost his mobile phone and followed by the news that the police had accepted his version of the facts.

What everyone believes is that the €5,000 that was paid by Ivan Camilleri was a very hefty compensation for his alleged shoplifting. And what I am told by Valyou employees is that Ray Mintoff is just the guy to ask for that compensation... one surmises that it’s so he does not report the hapless customer to the police.

Now if is it true that this is not the first time that Mintoff has done this, then this would be a very serious matter. It would be the perfect case of extortion, a criminal act.

But this particular episode reveals two interesting aspects to the story. The first one is that anyone who stupidly or unwittingly is caught shoplifting or forgots a bottle of water in a trolley at Valyou could be faced with a surprise meeting with Ray Mintoff, who will then leave you €5,000 lighter than before.

In return for what? For not being reported to the police and have your name splashed in the media? Maybe. Surely enough, had we a decent police force in this country, this incident would be followed by an investigation. But the police do not take reports seriously. They do not even follow what the courts ask them to do. When some years back in the case against Sandro Chetcuti, the courts called on the police to investigate perjury from three top GRTU officials, the police did what they usually do: f*** all.

The second aspect is the fate of Ivan Camilleri, a journalist whose loss was a sad one for The Times, but they were forced to eat humble pie on this story and retract their former statement defending Camilleri. Pity I didn’t get the apology from managing director Michel Rizzo for calling my story a malicious attempt to discredit Camilleri.

But what I am getting at is that Ivan Camilleri’s stories should be given a good scrutiny by his former employers, to see how many of his articles were linked to cosy relationships with vested business interests. And by interests, I am suggesting that this journalist did not simply follow a story because he had the public interest and good at heart, but because there other motives at heart. When I employed one journalist who was allegedly getting favours and rewards in kind for the stories he wrote, I showed him the door.

Time to see the bigger picture

The latest MaltaToday survey clearly shows the stratospheric rise of Robert Abela and the catastrophic results for Adrian Delia.

In the last two years and a half, we have had two major events which shook this country. The assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia and the undeniable link between the highest officers in the office of the Prime Minister and this assassination.

In a normal country, the Opposition would blossom and hit the roof. The opposite has happened, and the problem is clearly Delia. Not because he is intrinsically unsuitable for the job, but because time and time again he has been repudiated by the Nationalists themselves. Of course, the solution is not the unappealing and blinkered activists who have exiled themselves from the Stamperija to take refuge in civil society.

This country deserves an opposition, and it is no longer about the PN but about the country. Rally around a visionary and a capable orator – I always seem to have someone like Claudio Grech in mind – or someone with the sense to build an opposition.

Democracy cannot exist with one party. This time the writing is no longer on the wall, it is engraved in franka and it is not going away.

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