The incorruptible(s)

Somehow I was still waiting for the PM to pronounce some innovative administrative steps to sort of ensure that politicians are more transparent about their investments and monies.

There is of course some air of arrogance in the air. And guess what? It is to be found across the board.

There is also quite an abundance of disappointment.  

Somehow I was still waiting for the PM to pronounce some innovative administrative steps to sort of ensure that politicians are more transparent about their investments and monies.

Until I went to print this had not yet materialised.

As expected, there were no resignations and it would be difficult to believe there would be, considering that Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri are vital components of Muscat’s nerve centre.

But though there are serious ethical issues, the whole matter is one based on plenty of smoke, but is there any fire? If the fire does transpire then Muscat will be in really a much bigger mess – he is clearly wounded, though not mortally so.

In recent years there have been a number of scandals but the only case where there was smoke and fire, was the oil scandal. That was a serious affair. And it is still smouldering.

That time TVM had no interest in following the story, nor did the bile blogger. Most of the time, with the exception of the oil scandal, it was all about ethics in politics and conflicts of interests, but there was never any hard proof that the people calling the shots on procurement had been bribed or that influential businessmen had bought themselves a political decision.

We could speculate, but we could go no further without evidence. There was much hoo-ha, and that is the stage where it remained. We did not even venture to call it corruption.

There was Tonio Fenech on a private jet with businessmen, his private secretary admitting to having accepted political donations as bribes for him to influence decisions, Fenech’s tal-lira clock gift, George Pullicino waiting for a chartered yacht, Joe Saliba on Nazzareno Vassallo’s private yacht and of course political donations to Austin Gatt’s personal campaign. The list was endless, that is just scratching the surface.

In all cases, we could see a lot of smoke but no hard evidence that there was a direct intervention by the politician involved in return for a bribe.

The present case falls into this category. 

It smacks of political intrigue and there is a lot that can be speculated about and surmised, but the proof that there were bribes or kickbacks is so far lacking.

When it comes to speculation, nothing beats the gory circus from Bidnija, who is now even being invoked as a reference point by Nationalist MPs on claims which are not even being verified and fact-checked beforehand – that I find unacceptable.

It is of course very clear that the great disappointment in Labour’s electorate is because many were expecting so much, much more from their government, a government that espouses social democracy as its political base. Panamagate has sent into a state of depression many of those who had given the government the support that was needed. 

Whether a majority has been so traumatised as to cross the line and embrace PN leader Simon Busuttil is debatable, especially since there are still some polarising differences between the two parties that leaves voters wary of making a switch - even in this disheartening climate.

Busuttil is justified in taking a stand. His role as Opposition leader is to serve as a watchdog on the government and he is now stepping up to deliver.

But his declaration on Friday that anyone who chose not to join the PN in its protest would be complicit in corruption, was childish at best. Corruption is easy to complain about, but are we sure our political class has the right antidote for eliminating it?  Surely most people do not believe that Busuttil has, though time may prove otherwise.

Well, if that is the case, then I and several others have been complicit in corruption for the last 50-odd years. I never once attended a mass meeting of either the Nationalist or Labour party. Never, and I can assure everyone there were worse scandals than this. Cases of proven corruption and, yes, many of us felt uncomfortable aligning ourselves with politicians of whichever hue.

Busuttil must understand that those who take the decision not to join the political circus of either Labour or the PN, cannot be simply pigeon-holed so easily on what he calls corruption. There are angry people out there who detest the political class. Even the PN (but surely enough, Labour too...) must show some humility and treat the electorate with some respect.

On Friday I received a call from a senior PN official asking me if I would attend the protest. I reminded him that it was not my place to be at a political rally other than to report and I reminded him of when in 2008 I censured a senior editor with MaltaToday for having attended a Labour rally. 

A political protest is a pillar of democracy, and it should be resorted to, to change things. I have the feeling that our political parties are more concerned about remaining in power, or gaining it, than in really making a genuine revamp. Basically, it is more of the same.

People voted for Muscat, and effectively for Labour, because they wanted change. They were parched for it, as the electoral result proved. They got a lot of change when it came to civil issues, the economy, business, decision-making, and to see a government not bogged down by inertia. Some new faces offered relief after so many years of the same gang engaged in musical chairs.

But Labour did not bring change on the environment, transparency, governance and political nepotism. In some cases it did friggin’ worse and acted in contempt of our genuine concerns on its governance. Surely the trouncing the PN was given went to its head. And now it has angered people, both on the left and the right.

I will insist that there are marked differences in certain sectors of civic life. Notwithstanding the political prejudice it fends off on a daily basis, TVM is infinitely better - not the greatest - but better than during the Fenech/Bondì days. Women’s participation in public life is much higher, and in the labour market it expanded thanks to free childcare. A secularist agenda has paved the way for civil unions, gay adoption, and the end of ecclesiastical dominance on the marriage courts.

But change is needed across the board and this is where Muscat is failing. If he fails to address these changes, he may hope to win the next election with an embarrassingly trimmed majority, with his first administration’s legacy in tatters.

But winning, no matter with what majority, is not necessarily a recipe for making Malta a better place. So even if the PN’s protest will come and go, what will be much harder to go is the wound inflicted on Muscat.

He knows he has to address the injury, because failure to do so will lead to gangrene and amputation. Further clinical details will surely follow.


I am horrified at news that a young man who was stabbed in 2013 by a well-known personality from Valletta is now facing charges of attempted murder. The young man was stabbed in an altercation that started when his attacker started calling the young man and his friends names - putting it mildly of course.

The victim, Adam Cini, 24, was stabbed in the back and operated on, but told that he could die. His lung was punctured.

Well, that is the part of the story that everyone would have read in the press. All’s well that ends well, and Cini is back on his feet and so is his aggressor, who seems to have coughed up the money for his bail.

And who now is accusing Cini of attempted murder. This is happening more than three years after the knifing, and of course I am quite sure that this is the result of some timely advice taken up by the lawyers themselves.  

It is just incredible that the police automatically entertain such a ludicrous idea.

So next time you walk down Great Siege Road and get called names from a distance by a man, make it a point to ignore the taunts. Don’t be offended if someone calls you “gay” (which is not an offence), or suggest you get sodomised, or that your mother is a whore.

Embrace the culture change and the eloquence of the Maltese language. If you get knifed, try and deal with the wound yourself. If you are reported in the media, insist that you instigated the knifing. And if you die just thank the lucky stars, while you still can breathe to do so, that you do not have to face the wrath of the police force and the Maltese courts.

Għarakuża! Is anyone listening?