Malta living ‘dangerous times’, minister says after protests intensify

Minister calls for reason to prevail over passion and hatred

Education minister Evarist Bartolo
Education minister Evarist Bartolo

Malta is living “dangerous times”, education minister Evarist Bartolo has warned in a Facebook status posted at 2am.

As protests in Valletta demand Joseph Muscat’s resignation while Labour supporters converged outside the Mile End headquarters in support for the outgoing prime minister, Bartolo said many had called him expressing concern at the situation.

“We find ourselves in dangerous times and a delicate period where it should be the common good that prevails: reason instead of passion and hatred, calm instead of violence, patriotism instead of partisanship and egoism. Justice can be done without the people and country getting burnt. Our duty is to do our part so that we do not see this country crumble,” Bartolo wrote, followed by the opening lines of the Maltese national anthem.

The veteran Labour minister Evarist Bartolo has already likened Labour’s fate to that of the dinosaurs, unless the party starts facing its predicament with honesty and realism.

Bartolo posted his Facebook status a day after the Tumas magnate Yorgen Fenech was charged with being the mastermind behind the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, in a case that is now implicating the prime minister’s former chief of staff Keith Schembri.

“The dinosaurs were gradually made extinct by the catastrophes that struck them. Labour is a great party, which has done much good for our people and our country. But if we don’t react with honesty and realism at what is happening, there is a big chance that it will go the way of the dinosaurs. And it would be suicide. Why should we commit this suicide if our party can still do much good?”

Bartolo, one of Labour’s only vocal critics of the way Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi were protected during the Panamagate scandal, has previously said Labour was at a crossroads. “We will be a worse-off country if we protect murderers and money launderers; a better place if justice is carried out with everyone without fear or favour.”

Bartolo has also harkened back to the founding ideals of the Labour Party, suggesting he wanted to remind activists what the party stood for.

“Some 100 years ago, honest people who loved their country worked to create the Labour Party because they wanted a just society: not only in the redistribution of wealth but also in the safeguarding of the law, where everyone would be equal before the law and not people of wealth or in power ruling over all.

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