The problem of corruption will not be solved with an election – Busuttil

Nationalist Party leader Simon Busuttil drives home message that Joseph Muscat is synonymous with corruption and must go

Nationalist Party holds first campaign rally

Malta is currently facing a political and institutional crisis because of instability caused by rampant corruption in Castille, according to Nationalist Party leader Simon Busuttil.

Addressing the hundreds of supporters who gathered at the party headquarters for the first rally of the campaign, Busuttil said the country was in need of a change in direction.

“The problem is clear, it is corruption and corruption is synonymous with [Prime Minister] Joseph Muscat. This is why we asked for the resignation of those responsible for corruption,” he argued.  

Busuttil stressed that the Nationalist Party welcomed an election because it was the only way the country can finally be rid of the current administration.

“The problem of corruption will not be solved by an election,” said Busuttil.  “Joseph Muscat thinks an election is like a washing machine: you put Joseph Muscat and Labour Party in it and everything comes out clean.”

Busuttil added that those who are corrupt remain corrupt and that the country risked enabling the Muscat even further if he was given a second chance.

“We are here because yesterday the Prime Minister decided to call an election,” said Busuttil “I have been told that this was the first time a Prime Minister announced an election during a mass meeting rather than from Castille which goes to show what type of Prime Minister he is.”

Busuttil then questioned why Muscat had decided to call an election so early.

“How is it that with such a big majority he is calling an election after only four years,” he asked. “The Prime Minister we have was, and still is, in the midst of criminal investigation and should have resigned a long time ago.”

Busuttil argued that Muscat had called an election because he thinks that the survey’s show he is winning and that his chances are good.

“What happens when the inquiry is over and it turns out that he or Keith Schembri are guilty of wrongdoing? Will he resign shortly after being elected?” said Busuttil.

He said it was clear that Muscat is “drowning in his government’s own corruption” and has realised that the corruption has grown so much that he is unable to continue running the country

“He had to drop everything and everyone with him. This is what he said to his party, his ministers,” he added. 

Busuttil said the country was passing through extraordinary times because never before has a prime minister been the subject of a criminal investigation.

“In European countries, when Prime Minister are investigated they resign,” he said, and asked Muscat whether he really wants to be the best in Europe. “Or were you lying about that as well.”

Turning to the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, Busuttil said that it was clear that he was guilty of money laundering and that his close relationship with the Prime Minister made both their position untenable.

“I am not here to talk about speculation but about facts. Keith Schembri has made corrupt money out of the sale of our citizenship,” he said.

Busuttil recounted how according to the information he passed on to inquiring magistrate Aaron Bugeja, three Russian individuals had paid Brian Tonna through his company Willerby Trade Inc, for purchasing Maltese citizenship. Tonna, he said, in turn paid Keith Schembri

“Both Tonna’s and Schembri’s accounts were opened specifically to accept these funds,” he said. “It is therefore clear that this is corruption. This is money laundering.”

Busuttil once again pointed to reports by the foreign press about Malta’s snap election arguing that no media house had said that an election was called because the leader of the opposition created instability in the country, but rather because the Prime Minister is being accused of corruption.

He stressed that the Nationalist Party was the only alternative for those working under precarious conditions, workers and pensioners struggling to make ends meet, young couples looking for a home or those looking for a job.

“Youths have to go and beg someone for a job, or ask the minister,” he said. “We want to liberate these youths from the chains of politics. We don’t want you to beg politicians to progress.”

In addition to this, he said that a change in government was essential for those working in the financial services, Igaming, and construction industries, all of which were threatened by corruption.

According to Busuttil, the election would be a choice between “the corrupt clique in Castille”, and “Malta, the Maltese people and all those who are good willed”, people who he said desperately wanted to live in a "normal country" where corruption isn't a perrenial problem.  

Speaking before the party leader, PN deputy leader Beppe Fenech Adami highlighted a number of electoral pledges that he said Muscat had not kept, including his promise of meritocracy, transparency and a zero-tolerance towards corruption.

Deputy leader Beppe Fenech Adami called for vigilance during the distribution of voting documents
Deputy leader Beppe Fenech Adami called for vigilance during the distribution of voting documents

Fenech Adami appealed to the government to ensure that arrangements are made for those living abroad to be given a chance to come and vote, and urged Air Malta to announce what flights would be available as soon as possible.

In addition to this, Fenech Adami appealed to party activists to help in overseeing the process by which voting documents are distributed in people’s homes.

“Without this vote, people can’t vote,” he said. “Help us assure there are no abuses.”  

Finally, he said that Joseph Muscat was in a state of panic and has called an election in the shortest time possible “because he thinks this way he won’t get caught”.

“Each and every one of us has the responsibility to remove Joseph Muscat since he has chosen not to leave himself,” he concluded.