The Jason Azzopardis of this world

We have experienced many hypocritical politicians, but none of them beat Jason Azzopardi in magnitude and depth

Jason Azzopardi
Jason Azzopardi

Last week, Sunday newspaper Illum published two news stories on Jason Azzopardi. One revealed that his Tel Aviv escapade had been paid by the Tumas group, which had as CEO Yorgen Fenech; and the second story, the ongoing magisterial inquiry into a decision at the Lands Department, when Azzopardi was a junior minister, which favoured in no little way his constituents on Cospicua Road.

If we are to believe the Facebook comment posted by his ex-wife in reaction to the stories, Jason Azzopardi had informed her at the time of the Tel Aviv trip that he “intended to visit Christ’s tomb” (il-qabar ta’ Kristu) to spend some time in reflection. We certainly all need time on our own once in a while. Jason, of course, meant to say that his time on his own was with his lover, a person he introduced when travelling abroad as either his secretary or his ‘wife’.

Azzopardi reacted to this story by accusing Illum of being in league with ‘Labour’, or Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi, in some attempt to obfuscate their impending arrests and questioning. Which is of course a big fat lie. Nobody, least of all myself, knew that Schembri and Mizzi were about to be interrogated by the Economic Crimes Unit. If anything, Azzopardi knows whom to ask when someone is interrogated by the police.

Azzopardi has some gall, and I say this with intention and purpose. We have experienced many hypocritical politicians, but none of them beat Azzopardi in magnitude and depth. He has jumped on the Caruana Galizia bandwagon challenging the State on rule of law, and by doing so has made it extremely difficult for anyone to criticise him for fear of being branded enemies of rule of law or inimical to the fight for justice for Caruana Galizia.

But I am now more convinced than ever that it is a camouflage for many of his peccadilloes. Azzopardi has always been traditionally close to the media, feeding titbits and stories originating from his role as a lawyer. Good for him. But he cannot hit out at the press when stories are dug up concerning his inconsistencies.

He is privy to much insider information and has been for a long time, renowned to selectively discuss only that information which suits him. Par for the course, I guess. But don’t fabricate a conspiracy on the press when it’s your inconsistencies being called out.

In the spring of 2019, unknown to many – including myself but known to individuals such as Jason Azzopardi – Yorgen Fenech’s name was already being seriously considered as a person of interest in the DCG murder. As we all stood by in the media being fed contrary information and believing what we were told, Azzopardi and others had the benefit of another angle to the story which they knew to be true.

I am sure that at that point, they regulated their habits, knowing all too well that when the shit hit the proverbial fan, there would be recriminations on those who had enjoyed the largesse of the Tumas Group.

Azzopardi of course thought that his past and his habit of hob-knobbing with big business and asking them for favours would be lost forever in the dusty corners of yesteryear.

But if you knew Azzopardi like I do, he has since his first days in politics made it a point to capriciously and unabashedly ask big business to help him out; whether it is plastering and painting his office, going abroad, eating out or dipping his toes in some large pool at an exclusive hotel or training in the hotel gym.

And it goes on. His electoral campaigns were oiled by direct help from catering companies, hotel chains and car rental companies.

So, now that this devout disciple of God, with his Moses-like sermonising extolling the law of the Ten Commandments, is suddenly accused by his ex-wife of deceiving her on that Tel Aviv trip whose Hilton stay was paid by the Fenechs, you can’t not stop and stare at this Benny Hill show!

Camouflaged by his sanctimonious and self-righteous attitude, readers of course will forget that Jason Azzopardi’s stint as parliamentary secretary for lands was replete with shocking stories. The Lowenbrau land grab for one, where he allowed the land sold to Marsovin for €450,000 to be re-sold to Zaren Vassallo for €8 million.

There was the Fekruna Bay saga, yet another rotten deal where a multi-million compensation was finally sealed on the eve of the 2013 election.

And last and certainly not least, the decision to offer public land to a number of residents at Paola – all constituents of Jason. That decision led to a police investigation by Inspector Jonathan Ferris, now the head of security at an exclusive hotel, who happens to be facing perjury charges on the Egrant affair, and whose lawyer since 2016 has been none other than Jason Azzopardi!

That investigation was followed by a magisterial inquiry on trading in influence, which of course has consequences for Jason Azzopardi as the former parliamentary secretary for lands at the time.

Interesting, in his career Ferris prosecuted a former Pilatus employee, later turned Egrant whistleblower, Maria Efimova for misappropriation of cash from the bank. She now faces perjury charges along with him.

Azzopardi’s political future is looking dim, if not over. And it should be. He is the kind of guy that Bernard Grech should strive hard to sideline.

Certainly enough, the Caruana Galizia assassination blew the cover on so many flimsy politicians, as well as the media and the institutions. The faults are not one-side; they are overwhelmingly ingrained in the way we work as a society.

But the accusers are the same people who perpetrated the mistakes of the past and present, and those that replaced them on the premise that they would address these problems have failed miserably. Like the rest, they too are mortal sinners. It sounds like a miserable prospect, but they have changed next to nothing when it comes to politics. 

Azzopardi is not unique in being a hypocrite. Hiding behind that po-faced demeanour which conceals his true intentions, there are many Jason Azzopardis. Indeed, many politicians face the same predicament.

Azzopardi’s mistake was to give the impression that he was a virginal politician and the rest of us were replete with transgressions and crooked. There is much to be learnt from all this.   The system needs to change and like most of you, I cannot see it changing. But change it must.

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