And then he came tumbling down

Not all the media treated Labour and the Muscats unfairly; more importantly, Michelle Muscat’s real concern should have been the overly close fraternal relationship between Joseph Muscat and Keith Schembri

Joseph Muscat and his spouse Michelle
Joseph Muscat and his spouse Michelle

I’m fed up of hearing the same lame argument. When I am told that the murders of Raymond Caruana and Karin Grech were never solved in comparison to that of Daphne Caruana Galizia, I think we should remind Prime Minister Joseph Muscat that these murders all happened under a Labour administration. 

And at the time, Muscat was either a child or a teenager and could not quite comprehend the scale of corruption inside the police force.

Muscat argues that the Maltese police have solved the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia. What he did not say is that Melvin Theuma, the man he gave a presidential pardon to, painted a very ugly picture of how Muscat’s chief-of-staff Keith Schembri was aware of every step of the police investigation…. and, more importantly, had kept Yorgen Fenech aware of these developments, apart from all the other events that colour this horror story.

What Joseph Muscat also did not elaborate upon is that during the briefings of the Malta Security Service, it was abundantly clear that Yorgen Fenech was a prime suspect. His chief-of-staff Keith Schembri was present for these meetings since early 2018, and at no point did Muscat suddenly turn around to Schembri and ask him what the hell was happening. Or better still, ask him to resign at once now that his bosom buddy was under suspicion.

If he had some special excuse for not asking Schembri to resign in 2016 when he was outed for having a Panama offshore company, he surely could have taken a decision by then.

Muscat knew that Schembri and Fenech were long-time friends and probably had a very clear idea that there must have been a business relationship between the two. When Schembri went for cancer treatment in the US, it was Yorgen Fenech who visited him.

I cannot even believe that when the Panama Papers were revealed and the FIAU discovered right then of the existence of the 17 Black company in Dubai (there is no doubt in my mind), that the Prime Minister would not have known something.

Muscat also eluded any reference to the fact that he had let thousands of people down and that he had eradicated his legacy and made Labourites feel demoted and demoralised

We have asked the question as to why he did not act when the Panama Papers revealed Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri as having opened companies in Panama; but we have never asked if he knew about 17 Black.

There is no doubt in my mind that the FIAU draft reports, themselves badly scripted but leaked to the press, had already been available at the office of the Prime Minister, and I am certain that the police kept close contact with the Office of the Prime Minister on these issues. I understand why the police failed to act, just in the same way that they failed to act in so many previous allegations.

The police have some good officers but they have always been subservient to the State, and they have no room for manoeuvre, no independence to act and no resolve to question the powers that be.

When MaltaToday revealed the oil scandal in 2013, instead of calling in the minister responsible for Enemalta, Austin Gatt made his own way to Police Commissioner John Rizzo, where he was offered a coffee and was then out before he knew it.

With Keith Schembri, it was a little bit harsher but nothing to write home about, but then again, the crime he was being investigated for was no comparison to speculation about Austin Gatt’s involvement in the oil scandal. In Schembri’s case, the dotted lines are much clearer and surely the implications are so very much more serious.

The question is: how much did Schembri obstruct justice and to what extent was he party to this devious criminal act?

Appearing on One TV, Joseph Muscat repeated his same rhetoric, boasting about having been at the head of a government that solved the crime. No one can take this seriously anymore. I, for one, cannot keep a straight face when I hear say this.

He has avoided the most critical element of this crisis, that he was brought down because his chief-of-staff is at the centre of this criminal act, and more importantly, because if he had taken action in 2016 or later in 2018, he would not be in this position today.

Muscat also eluded any reference to the fact that he had let thousands of people down and that he had eradicated his legacy by making Labourites feel demoted and demoralised. In my eyes he raised more doubts and questions about his real political intentions and whether he had reached his goals without subterfuge and deception.

If that was not enough, Muscat’s wife Michelle Muscat, in her comment on One TV, said that they “always had the media against them”. Well, she must be careful in her choice of words.  Not all the media treated Labour and the Muscat’s unfairly. More importantly, Michelle Muscat’s real concern should have been the overtly close fraternal relationship between Joseph Muscat and Keith Schembri.

When Muscat appeared on the political scene, I for one felt that there was a breath of fresh air in politics. I personally repulsed the vehement invective about the Muscats, often based on class prejudice and other toffee-nosed perceptions about their lifestyle and appearance; I welcomed the new face of Labour that struck at our elites and the self-righteous anglophone middle-class.

But all that is now gone – destroyed by bad judgement, greed, arrogance and failure to see beyond the manipulation of Muscat’s chief-of-staff.

In one week, the magic of Joseph Muscat came tumbling down. And we were fed the narrative that the party is all about principles and that when he is gone the party will be strong as ever.

We know that this is utter bullshit.

The shine has not only gone, but today we have an electorate that questions the legitimacy of the Labour government. The thousands that put Labour at the top of the charts did so because they believed in Muscat, in his style and his politics. 

Today he may wish to believe that he has the respect of his former colleagues, but many of his Cabinet ministers have expressed horror at his inability to have seen this coming. And others do not even rule out the extent of what he could have known or whether he could have been involved.

This is not only a sad time for Malta and the truth, but it is a wretched time for Labourites who have never imagined that this could happen to them. 

And which of the two can pull Labourites, the party and Malta out of this rut? Is it Chris Fearne or Robert Abela? I am not too sure the Labour party members have much appetite for some Trudeau-like candidate who promises wonders but has no history to go by. Let us wait and see.