Not ‘business as usual’ in Valletta

Labour MP Robert Abela thinks that the ongoing regular protests are unnecessary, and are merely provocative. The protestors gathering in Valletta can all go away, eat turkey or pudding and drink wine, and exchange Christmas presents. And they should stop disturbing the shopkeepers. Everything is fine and business should go on as usual.

Joseph Muscat’s former aide Keith Schembri is at home, where he is visited by friends. Konrad Mizzi remains an MP. Chris Cardona has been reinstated as Minister. Muscat says he will continue to be active in the Labour Party after January, as the new captain’s trusty sailor. He speaks of enjoying a happy and relaxed future with his family, basking in the sunshine of his success.

If only things were that simple.

‘Out damned spot! out, I say!… What, will these hands ne’er be clean? … Here’s the smell of blood still: all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand’, said Lady Macbeth as she sleepwalked around the castle at night.

The man (not likely to be a woman) who walks into Castille after Muscat’s departure will not find it easy to wash off the deep stains, to wipe away the dirt and try to salvage the country’s sanity and reputation. He will bear a heavy load.

The list of persons and entities in Malta who are calling for Muscat to step down immediately, and not wait until January, is growing longer by the hour. The country is in a state of crisis. Muscat should hand the reins to the Deputy Prime Minister, Chris Fearne, without delay. If nobody else puts in their nomination for the PL leadership by today, that is a possible outcome.

But Abela thinks that he would quite like to be Prime Minister too. So he is creating a contest for the leadership, set to last until mid January. If the protests in Valletta continue for another month or more, calling for justice and the immediate resignation of the Prime Minister, he only has himself to blame.

The citizens of this country have had enough turmoil, upset and grief, and do not deserve to now be subjected to a full month of a crude battle for political power, and over the Christmas period.

People are hurt on all sides of the political divide. The brutal assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia has torn the country apart. The thousands of protestors bear witness to this. Nothing has yet been solved. Her murder has destroyed her family. Their grief and determination to achieve justice are heart-rending.

In June 2018, Abela had accused her family of intentionally putting spokes in the wheels of the murder investigation. He reportedly said: “I am convinced that the family’s interest in seeing the case solved is superseded by their repugnance towards Malta. In fact, they believe that the release of the three suspects will land a harder political blow on the government.”

This week Caruana Galizia’s husband Peter testified before the public inquiry into the circumstances of the murder and recalled that the gas power station is a link in the chain leading to the crime.

In November 2018, Abela held a press conference with Minister Ian Borg to stress that the contract for the power station project had been awarded to those who truly deserved it. He said that the choice of consortium was transparent and fair. He rubbished the many charges of corruption in that project being made by the Opposition.

In January 2019, Abela held another press conference. He proclaimed that the decline of Malta’s ranking in the international Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) was nothing to be ashamed of. Instead, he pointed out that it was Simon Busuttil who was “harming the country”.

But Busuttil was right on this, all along.

In February 2019, Abela then addressed PL supporters and told them that the Labour Party must always ‘take care of its own’. That speech had prompted a scathing article by blogger Manuel Delia, writing that Abela is “a tribal dinosaur who thinks in binary terms of ‘us’ and ‘them’ and for whom the world belongs to them by some right at the exclusion of the rest of us”.

Looking back at these type of public statements, it is hardly surprising that Abela thinks the protests being held in Valletta, demonstrating against murder and corruption at the heart of government, should stop. Protests by civil society are not warranted, in his opinion.

The choice of a new PL Leader lies with the Party members. But as that person will be the next Prime Minister immediately, the whole country is tense and uneasy. The smoothest transition in this political mess would be to let the country’s Deputy Prime Minister take over immediately.

Muscat must go, right away.


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