“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it–always.”– Mahatma Gandhi
The image of Repubblika president Robert Aquilina standing alone outside the main door of the Hilton Hotel yesterday, surrounded by at least seven posturing, thuggish security guards and three police officers, offered a stark reminder of Malta’s current, desperate position.
The attempt by hired heavies to intimidate and shut down a protest against the capture of the State by bribe-paying criminals serves as a poignant metaphor for these terrible, dark days in Maltese history.
Repubblika’s ‘jeep safari’ protest, involving a handful of activists including the NGO’s president and president-elect Alessandra Dee Crespo, took the call for action over justice minister Edward Zammit Lewis’ shocking intimacy with Yorgen Fenech to the streets of Birkirkara, Valletta and St Julians.
Driving around with a loudspeaker blasting out Repubblika’s message to prime minister Robert Abela, demanding Zammit Lewis is sacked, Aquilina’s voice read out the messages Edward Zammit Lewis sent to Fenech – known corrupter of politicians, Hilton and Electrogas shareholder, and accused mastermind of the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
The justice minister’s quasi-romantic courtship of Fenech via hundreds of sycophantic, wheedling WhatsApp messages, appears more akin to a cringe-making obsessive teenage crush than any type of normal adult friendship.
Zammit Lewis, who by the way, as justice minister gets to influence exactly what, when and how the recommendations in the public inquiry’s report are implemented, has now been irredeemably cast as Fenech’s brown-nosing lackey. A “bootlicker of millionaire criminals,” as Aquilina’s pithy, scathing broadcast put it.
Starting with a press conference in Zammit Lewis’ own constituency, Birkirkara, and then making a stop at the justice ministry in Valletta before parking itself outside the main entrance to the Hilton Hotel, Repubblika’s ‘jeep safari’ was a powerful initiative to remind government that civil society will not rest until every compromised and complicit member of Cabinet is booted out.
Watching the live feed as Aquilina stood his ground against the Hilton’s menacing thugs while three police officers clustered around him and attempted to intimidate him into leaving was both nerve-racking and sobering.
And as a symbol for everything that’s been happening over the past eight years, it was also powerful and moving.
The weak trying to fight the strong, the minority being silenced by the majority, the ‘small’ man-in-the-street pitched against the ‘big’ millionaire puppet-masters of corrupt politicians.
The ‘erba’ qtates’ meeting doggedly, month after month, to demand justice for a murdered woman – the lone, intrepid journalist who battled single-handedly to expose the wrongdoing of a government packed with crooks: Malta’s version of the standoff between David and Goliath repeats itself, time and again.
What Abela, Zammit Lewis and the rest of the criminal gang in power should keep central in their minds, though, is that David, the underdog, on the side of right, always wins. And, as Mahatma Gandhi’s unforgettable words remind us, no matter how invincible the tyrants and murderers may seem, in the end, they always fall.
So, while Zammit Lewis dismissed his voters with a sneering description of them as ‘ġaħan’ and his colleagues as ‘babies and poseurs,’ he should take note that his opponents are, in the main, most certainly not ‘village idiots,’ nor are they the ignorant, incompetent Instagram-mad adolescents with whom he shares the Cabinet table.
David defeated Goliath using a combination of courage and wit. In Malta, Daphne Caruana Galizia was assassinated by the tyrants and murderers in and around the government in a desperate attempt to stop her from exposing their crimes.
But, like David, she’s still won. Her main targets, disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat, minister Konrad Mizzi and diabolical chief of staff Keith Schembri, are all gone. Not yet jailed, but chased out of office, humiliated, shamed and on the run.
Ex-minister Chris Cardona? He’s also disappeared into the oblivion of disrepute. The disgraced, inept former police chief Lawrence Cutajar too.
Despised former finance minister Edward Scicluna cowers in the Central Bank, undone by his indecent lust for money and power.
Spineless enabler Evarist Bartolo desperately scribbles himself deeper and deeper into hypocrisy and dishonour every morning on Facebook.
Alleged bank robber and sitting minister Carmelo Abela trembles at every glimpse of a police officer, knowing that the day of reckoning will surely come, now that everyone knows what he’s accused of doing.
Glenn Bedingfield, the state-sanctioned character assassin singled out by the public inquiry, has been exposed as the grotesque, vicious bully that he is.
Robert Abela should take heed. He himself is not untainted. He served as Muscat’s legal adviser during the worst of the excesses committed under the ‘artful dodger’ of Europe’s tenure.
Since he became prime minister he’s allowed brazen illegalities and criminality to continue unchecked.
Direct orders running into millions of taxpayers’ euros have been, and are still being, handed out to ministers’ friends and families across Malta and Gozo; ditto with plum State-funded positions in agencies and authorities throughout Malta. There’s barely an uncompromised minister left in Abela’s Cabinet.
Incompetent and unprepared Labour-appointed magistrates and judges continue to shock the island with senseless and unjust decisions, as court cases continue to drag on interminably, depriving the Maltese population of a crucial keystone of democracy, their right to timely, effective justice.
The police continue to arrest and charge small time offenders on petty crime and misdemeanours while allowing the big time criminals to swan around, undeterred.
Abela’s appointment of police commissioner Angelo Gafa, now proven to be as deliberately obstructive as his predecessor, is yet another indelible blot in his copybook.
Gafa, under the pre-2013 Nationalist administration, was considered an excellent investigator. Yet it took the publication of the public inquiry conclusions to push him into suspending assistant police chief Ian Abdilla.
He has failed to arrest or properly probe many of the above-mentioned corrupt politicians as well as his erstwhile boss, Cutajar, and colleague, Silvio Valletta. He has failed to act on the myriad reports of crime committed by high ranking officials in the civil service, the MFSA, the FIAU and other State-funded entities and regulatory bodies.
The job of annihilating Goliath isn’t yet done, not by a long shot. But Daphne Caruana Galizia has already won the most important battle. Her lonely struggle laid the foundations for everyone else to build upon.
And people like Repubblika’s Aquilina and Dee Crespo, standing alone before a menacing show of thuggery, along with groups like Occupy Justice and their small but dedicated following, will make sure that she goes on winning.
Goliath may have the unlettered hordes on his side, but in the end, David won. The killers and thieves in this shameful PL government won’t get away with their crimes forever.
The image of Aquilina facing up to an alleged killer’s seven henchmen and three policemen will forever live in my memory, a reminder that the tyrants and the murderers do always fall, in the end.