Two Maltese judges walk into a meeting to brief three MEPs...

It’s no joke: it’s insulting that two members of the judiciary discuss their ongoing inquiry, however limited in scope, with MEPs when the whole nation waits in earnest for closure

Ten years ago I interviewed Joseph Muscat on TVM: he had a goatee and I sported a bushy beard and was 17 kg lighter. You can watch it on YouTube. In this interview before the election for the next leader of the Labour Party he talked of a new Labour and mentioned in his second sentence a “partit ambjentali” – an ecological party. Ten years down the line, Muscat has recreated himself, modelling his success story on the Eddie Fenech adami formula and the grand finale has been a veritable success.

But the partit ambjentali he talked about is only a pale shadow of that mental note he communicated in haste on the 10-minute programme.

Today we publish yet another survey which shows that if an election was held now Muscat would win with 82,000 votes. This would translate into an abysmal disaster for the Opposition and a great victory for the PL.

But it is not good news for the country.

I do not deny that I am not surprised. But I am also not unhappy for the PN – if you ask anyone out there, the PN right now stands for nothing new. Muscat has transformed the PL into a populist movement encompassing all the ideas of the right with a big splash of liberal politics to keep it from moving too far to the right. He is unashamedly against increased taxation and insensitive to environmental issues but a champion for gender and identity issues. That fits in easily in his neoliberal forma mentis, embracing big business and pretty much saying there is no leftist road to electoral success.

The Nationalist Party has little to offer other than a new face who spends more time fighting the rebellion from within than the adversary on the throne. Better still, the same old faces have little or no credibility when it comes to confronting the government on transparency and good governance.

Muscat’s biggest and most worrying aspect is his reluctance to reform planning laws and stop the wanton destruction of skylines, villages and more importantly the complete transformation of our country into something unrecognisable. This is no joke. Defending the track record of Muscat is not difficult but today the surveys are finally bringing together the top three concerns namely traffic, environment and construction… which all have a green tinge. Corruption is slowly fading into the background.

Muscat can choose to ignore all this. He has a majority that can quell a rebellion from within but if there is something that could move him, it is his concern about his legacy. Generations to come will not remember the numbers and the statistics. Instead they will look at the concrete masses around them, that obliterate the views, the footprints and the public land that was once accessible to one and all.

I was brought up with a sense of open spaces: the countryside, the opportunity of playing in the streets without fear of traffic, of walking from one small town to another and taking note of the green buffer zone between the communities.  I remember looking out from the roof and seeing Mdina and Valletta, and the typical outline of Maltese villages.

Malta has changed and the overriding excuse for this phenomenal wave of rampant destruction is the blind financial greed led by construction magnates and budding developers. Yet while few question the free market economy, we cannot renege that we have a social obligation towards future generations. And if that does not ring a bell for Muscat, I don’t know what will?

Now I will not mince my words, but the decision by Magistrate Aaron Bugeja and Anthony Vella to meet the three MEPs is not only unacceptable but a very serious mistake. I would like to know what the Chief Justice thinks of this. 

Was he informed? 

If he was, did he agree to this?

Can you imagine Bugeja and Vella accepting to appear in front of a Public accounts committee in parliament?

Can you imagine both magistrates meeting the press in an informal meeting with an ongoing investigation?

The answer to the last two questions is that they would not have agreed. And I am certain of that.

Most members of the judiciary do not even talk to the press. And let us face it, if I had to interview Aaron Bugeja I would definitely ask him the important question that everyone is asking: “You are in the 13th month of your investigation, when is the inquiry going to be finalised and published?”

And then I would ask Magistrate Vella, if he had not taken possession of the Caruana Galizia laptop because he did not want to irk the family.

Well, both Bugeja and Vella will not talk to the local press or the local parliament because somehow it appears that they consider the European Parliament to be more respectful and important than the local one.

However. they have to be reminded that it is the Maltese parliament and the Maltese parliamentarians that wield legislative power rather than the overpaid and underworked MEPs.

Sven Giegold and Ana Gomes, of course, are so lost in their narrative that anything you tell them literally refracts over their head. Giegold especially, with that Star Trek mannerism about him, seems to think Malta is some silly backwater whose people are subhuman – very much in line with what Caruana Galizia thought of most of the nation. 

Ana Gomes too, has this obsession, even questioning whether Vella should be promoted to Judge. Maybe she could consider giving up her comfort zone in Brussels and with her handsome salary to sit on the Maltese commission for the administration of justice.

What is insulting is that two members of the judiciary discuss their ongoing inquiry and the procedures, however limited in scope, when the whole nation, the press, the political parties and the government are waiting in earnest for a closure to all this.

If Bugeja and Vella were associated in any way with the Labour Party I have no doubt that today they would have been dragged before the Commission for the Administration of Justice. 

The third member in the MEP delegation is, of course, David Casa. Casa should be closely observed when Giegold was asked about Adrian Delia by the Maltese press: his feet start to shake under the low table, his shoulders move up and down and he looks down to avoid any eye contact with the journalists as he fidgets with his things. 

Casa knows that the party machinery will not be backing him in the next European elections even if they will surely deny this. But many an insider Nationalist from Pietà have told me that Casa is not their favourite and that they would rather go for a more faithful and more genuine person.

What a pity it would be for Malta to lose a stalwart parliamentarian who, I am sure, will miss Brussels sorely with its grey weather, the rain, the low clouds, the endless administration blocks and, lest I forget, that great feeling when the lights of the Parliament in Paul Henri Spaak Building, in Wiertzstraat 60, are turned off and one heads home.

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