Let the one with the proverbial balls step forward

Muscat has kept a straight face, arguing that his consultancy with a Swiss firm just after he resigned from prime minister in 2020 was a bona fide business deal

Former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat
Former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat

Sunday's survey just shows to what extent the public has been swayed by the new revelations on former Labour leader Joseph Muscat.

At face value, very little has changed but we must not underestimate the long-term impact of the hospitals scandal and the people involved in it.

Muscat has kept a straight face, arguing that his consultancy with a Swiss firm just after he resigned from prime minister in 2020 was a bona fide business deal.

But it does not appear to be that straightforward. It is now clear that Accutor the company that was to pay Muscat over half a million euros was formerly VGH Europe (linked to one of the Vitals investors) and that some way along the line Steward transferred millions of euros to VGH Europe, or shall we say Accutor.

The smoke is there, and it is very thick. The implications are there for all to reach.

It has to be noted that very soon after Muscat was forced to resign as PM he became the link between Steward and the new Labour administration under Abela. Not to mention, that well before that he was crucial in bringing the whole Vitals deal over to Malta with Ram Tumuluri and Mark Pawley heading the dubious venture.

The rest is history but it is clear that the whole hospitals deal was devised by Muscat and his two captains, Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi. Their stewardship was also important when the concession was transferred from Vitals to Steward Health Care, the American company that was supposed to be the real deal.

The National Audit Office has confirmed what had long been known that Vitals had no track record in the medical field and no sound financial base to rely on. These two issues on their own should have lit a red bulb in the Cabinet of ministers at the time. It did not.

Enthralled as they were with Muscat’s gigantic persona, ministers just let the hospitals deal go on, and on, and on.

And neither when Vitals reached the end of the road and government rushed to transfer the concession to Steward, instead of an outcry, there was an eerie silence.

This allowed Muscat et al to simply transfer the whole operation to another company.

Somehow, it never seemed to have caused any consternation that the same man (Armin Ernst) who served as CEO of VITALS was the same CEO at Steward. The man who captained the original failure was back in charge of another company taking over the botched deal. But no one in Cabinet flinched, it seems.

Ignorance is no excuse for mistakes of this proportion.

Now, the big question that many Labourites and individuals who had blind faith in Muscat ask themselves is why he defended Schembri and Mizzi to the hilt.

When they were outed as the owners of companies in Panama in 2016, Muscat’s excuse was that the pair were important for the government. It seems they remained irreplaceable until the very end of the Muscat administration in 2019.

I guess today the answer to that question is clearer.

Muscat knew exactly what was happening in his immediate circles and was privy to the intentions of his peers. Needless to say, to continue arguing that he was surrounded by crooks and was deceived does not hold water anymore.

Panama, Electrogas, Montenegro, Vitals, and 17 Black, culminating in the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, were all part of the game plan that would finally implode in Muscat’s hands.

He may have not been the instigator of each and every scandal, but he tolerated the people who made it happen.

And yet throughout all this not one Labour official decided to speak up and call on Labour to admit its mistakes and for Muscat to be expunged. Is it possible that no one has the balls to tell it as it is?

All those people who believed in Muscat have been let down. Those who experienced the ire of the Muscats never ever questioned his intentions. That they feel deceived is more than understandable.

But what transpired in the last few days has nothing to do with loyalty or appreciation for the charisma of Muscat or the success story of getting the PL into Castille.

It has everything to do with deceit, greed, and using a political platform and position to enrich oneself. It also has a lot to do with turning a blind eye to incorrect behaviour that could have led to more corruption and possibly murder.

Robert Abela is still riding relatively high in the polls, and he knows that disassociating himself completely from Muscat will lead to a backlash from the hard-core. But doing nothing is not an option.

Abela faces another four years before the next election, and he can afford to do the right thing. Doing the right thing is not always the easiest way forward.

Yet, it needs to happen. Failing which, people eventually will act decisively to oust or to change.

And if nothing happens the fall will be ugly and cruel!