What is your relationship with Yorgen Fenech? This was the simple direct question Edward Zammit Lewis was asked just over one year ago.
“There is no relationship”, Zammit Lewis said, “not professional, not even commercial, nothing.” Zammit Lewis falsely claimed that he had only got to know Yorgen Fenech when he became tourism minister. “It’s a normal relationship as with other operators in the tourism industry,” Zammit Lewis lied again. “Nothing more than that,” for a third time he lied.
“It was just an acquaintance – this is a small country and everybody knows everybody else.” Zammit Lewis lied once more.
So does Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis tell all his acquaintances, “I miss you so much”? When those acquaintances fail to respond does he keep badgering them for attention? “Speak to me because I’m getting worried – just tell me and I’ll be there – you were in my heart during all of this,” the brown-nosing Zammit Lewis messaged his ‘acquaintance’.
Just over one year after his repeated lying about his relationship with Yorgen Fenech, Zammit Lewis changed his tune. “I have always stated that I knew Yorgen Fenech, I occasionally communicated with him on a level of friendship”.
How can over 700 messages, dinners and requests for private meetings count as ‘occasionally communicating’? Zammit Lewis is still lying.
He started off claiming “no relationship” of any kind just months ago, only to admit “just an acquaintance”, and finally to concede “a level of friendship”.
Yet what the most recent revelations expose is no friendship. It is a sycophantic and needy Zammit Lewis begging for Fenech’s attention. Indeed, begging for much more.
Zammit Lewis was begging for exclusive meetings with the man who had already been exposed as owning the notorious 17 Black and was already a suspect in the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia. Zammit Lewis even asked the suspected money launderer for a private meeting with Keith Schembri at Fenech’s Zebbug ranch.
Why was Zammit Lewis so desperate to meet Fenech privately at his ranch? Why was Zammit Lewis sucking up to Fenech?
When Fenech, ignored the minister’s pathetic pleading, Zammit Lewis intensified the messages he was sending. Like a spurned lover, the minister resorted to flirty teenage messages: “I miss you so much”.
The most disconcerting and disturbing issue is not Zammit Lewis’ grovelling to Fenech. It is not Zammit Lewis’ sordid pestering of the man accused of murder. It is not even the likely nefarious reasons why Zammit Lewis was so desperate for the private meeting at Fenech’s ranch. It is the fact that Zammit Lewis can even show his face, continue to defend his atrocious behaviour and carry on as justice minister as if nothing untoward had ever happened. It is the absolute and utter lack of the slightest hint of self-respect.
But what drives complete desperation into any decent soul is that just days after the publication of the bombshell of the Caruana Galizia report, Prime Minister Robert Abela keeps protecting Zammit Lewis. Faced with damning conclusions about the “incestuous proximity” with big business, the impunity for those involved, the failure of the former prime minister to take any serious action and the complicit inaction of a castrated Cabinet, Robert Abela freezes into inaction.
If any evidence were required of the ineptitude and unwillingness of Robert Abela to tackle the Herculean task of implementing the inquiry recommendations, this must surely be it. Bragging repeatedly that he has never been afraid of taking decisions, he fails to take any. Even as his justice minister derides his own supporters, lies repeatedly to the public and snuggles up to money launderers and murder suspects, Abela stalls.
This is the real rot that has consumed the country. Former prime minister Alfred Sant is symptomatic of the willful denial that grips the Party. “As if the rot in the country’s governance started in 2013,” Sant said. The problem, according to Sant, is the “structural sins that cumulatively led to what has occurred”.
These sins were not created by Muscat’s government, Sant claims, but were there much earlier, at least since 1991. “If the rot accelerated after 2013, it was simply because the events of the previous 20 years showed how easily rotten governance can succeed”.
Could Sant’s logic be more warped than this? Sant contends that Muscat and his ‘Kitchen Cabinet’ ruined the country because the events of the previous two decades taught them just how easy it is to loot the State.
It’s not Muscat’s fault that he wrecked the country, protected crooks and enabled the murder of a journalist. No, no – it’s all the fault of the previous two decades for teaching Muscat treachery and State capture. He can’t be held responsible for demolishing the rule of law. He couldn’t stop himself from getting into bed with crooks. He couldn’t help it. How could he, once he knew just how easy it was to rip the State off? He just had to go for it.
And so did Zammit Lewis. And Rosianne Cutajar. And Konrad Mizzi. And so many more. When even Sant defends the crooks in his own Party, no wonder Zammit Lewis retains his swagger.
As an air of fake normality reigns in Robert Abela’s realm, the horror of a silent, invisible disease that is slowly killing a nation has taken hold. The plague that has now spread uncontrollably manifests as an obsession with status, a craving for money, a craven shamelessness and a hardness of heart. It is a plague of indecency.
In Camus’ brilliant novel, The Plague, Dr Rieux, who tirelessly and selflessly fought the pestilence, commented: “It may seem a ridiculous idea but the only way to fight this plague is with decency”.
Challenged as to what decency might be, the humble Rieux replied: “In general I can’t say, but in my case I know that it consists in doing my duty”.
It is high time Robert Abela followed Rieux’s example.