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Our second-hand-for-new salesman

Guest commentary by Robert Aquilina, President-Elect Repubblika.

Crowds protesting in the country's capital, Valletta in a protest organised by Repubblika in December 2019. Photo: Joanna Demarco

Joseph Muscat used to take pride in being dubbed a salesman. At the back of his mind, he always knew that there are harsher, albeit more truthful, designations to term his stint in power.

He must have told himself a million times that settling for the salesman label certainly looked and sold better than his Azerbaijani friend’s standing as world champion in organised crime and corruption.

Yet, despite all the candles lit on One TV’s orders, and the crocodile tears shed in Corradino’s old prison, the world still chose to bestow on him the award of shame.

His successor in Castille is working hard to convince us that he’s a much better salesman. As I write, he’s all over the news and on social media trying to sell his second-hand Cabinet as a bunch of new happy faces.

Had he been a car dealer instead of a prime minister he would undoubtedly be accused of fraud by customers he’s attempted to con. Nobody would be happy with a salesman trying to sell a second-hand car for the price of a new one.

Yet, that’s what Prime Minister Abela is doing on a daily basis in his quest to restore what he defines as ‘normality’ –  a concept that is, to say the least, highly ambiguous and subjective.

So it’s important to understand what Abela means by his particular use of the term ‘normality’ before we pay our hard-earned money for it.

For instance, one of the new faces of Abela’s Cabinet is a man who for the past seven years has been working in Keith Schembri’s Cabinet. Everybody in Malta knows that Schembri is a person of interest in an assassination investigation and the subject of various corruption inquiries.

Today, we have a clear picture of what a ‘normal’ day of work at his office would have looked like: setting up companies in blacklisted jurisdictions, making coffee for, taking selfies with – and handing – phantom jobs to criminals, all the while plotting on how to make more and more money at the expense of the Maltese taxpayer.

Sourcing a windfall of opportunities in Montenegro and Azerbaijan appears to have been only a fraction of what was really happening in that office.

Schembri’s deputy of seven years was promoted by Abela to the post of junior minister. Alex Muscat is now Malta’s new face for Citizenship and the Communities.

Muscat is having his reputation laundered by none other than the prime minister himself. To add insult to injury, we are the ones footing the bill. Truth is, there’s nothing new about either Muscat or Abela. There’s nothing new about the ‘normality’ they want to sell us either.

This week Muscat lied about me in parliament. That’s what ‘normality’ means to him and those around him. A civil society activist must be the enemy. There are endless examples of this tactic against critics used by their Party.

Muscat’s former boss fed us lies upon lies for more than seven years only to hide corruption and, ultimately, murder. One should expect no better from his number two.

By promoting Muscat to public office and selling him to the people as a ‘new face’, as a solution to the problem his own office created is, to say the least, insulting.

If the prime minister thinks that civil society will settle for this as ‘normality’, it’s time for him to wake up to reality.

We did not leave our workplaces and families to take to the streets for him to have the lifetime opportunity to take the oath as prime minister and wave to a crowd of people in red from the Palace balcony.

This is not what we fought for and no second-hand-for-new salesman will succeed in twisting reality enough for us to applaud or retreat.

Glenn Bedingfield with former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat on a trip together to watch a football match.

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