He was screwing his face up, scowling and frowning, flushed with rage. His anger flew like a pack of hounds into his eyes and eyebrows. His body seemed to emit sparks, not words.
This was President George Vella interviewed by Newsbook. Watching the interview without sound betrayed the hostility in his body language. Watching it with sound, revealed a partisan, partial, insensitive and self-centred man desperately trying to defend the indefensible.
This was no father of the nation, no conciliatory paternal figure, no caring presence, no consoling force. His interview did not bring hope, reassurance or peace.
The President was interested only in himself; his objective was to defend his position. His interview was not the selfless, gentle entreaty of a mature responsible father of the nation healing his sick country. It was a self-centred whine of a petty, prickly, emotionally stunted man.
It was an insolent defence of those responsible for the piteous state the country is in.
It was a cruel affront to those who have really known hurt, and incitement to sow revulsion towards those who dared dissent.
“I don’t deserve it and I hurt and I hurt,” Vella said, pointing his finger. This was all about him. How were the President and his wife hurt? The President was furious because protesters shouted “assassins” as he was driven to the Palace. Umbrellas even came close to his car window. This triggered his shock and outrage.
The thin-skinned Head of State has no clue what real hurt is. Real hurt is seeing your mother’s body parts strewn across a field. Real hurt is losing your wife in a car bomb after having been relentlessly persecuted, unprotected for years. Real hurt is watching your own daughter dismembered and watch Labour supporters celebrate.
He rubbed salt into the wound. “The impunity which might have led to the murder existed long before Labour’s ascent to power,” he claimed. Might? With that word “might” he destroyed the central conclusion of the Daphne Caruana Galizia inquiry: the State must carry the responsibility of her assassination which was caused by a culture of impunity.
The President recklessly casts doubts even on that central finding. According to Vella, impunity started well before Labour. Why? Because when Caruana Galizia’s door was burnt down nobody was charged. The President deviously equates failure to prosecute arsonists with “the collapse of the State” caused by the “impunity which was orchestrated at the heart of the highest level in the Castille administration”.
Who was at the highest level of the Castille administration?
Even if the impunity started earlier, does that justify the impunity that reigned while he was minister? Vella uses the same tried and tested tactics of Labour’s ONE News. Impunity was already there – they’re worse than us, is his pathetic defence.
The former Labour minister springs to Muscat’s defence, even now. “When I called out those who seized power,” he said, “I was not referring to Joseph Muscat’s office”.
The inquiry report specifically singles out Joseph Muscat’s office. But Vella discredits and belittles the inquiry report, seeking only to exonerate his former boss.
With partisan blinkers, he defends even Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi. Playing Labour’s broken record, the President informs us “there was nothing illegal in opening Panama companies”. Nothing wrong with the links to Yorgen Fenech’s 17 Black.
Vella has long ditched his moral compass. His damaged gauge for right and wrong is evidence admissible in court.
His warped judgement was manifest in defending his inaction to prevent Malta’s “collapse”. “I might have taken the wrong political decisions because nobody is perfect”. That word “might” again, still unconvinced he was wrong, that he let his country down, that he was responsible, like the rest of the Cabinet, for what happened.
“I had no ulterior motives,” he declared. Nobody claims that. If he had ulterior motives, it would be criminal prosecution he would face and not calls for resignation.
Vella is totally oblivious of his own gross incompetence and dereliction of duty. He is also oblivious that utter failure due to incompetence is a resignation issue in normal countries.
What’s his defence? “A restricted circle of power might have acted below the Cabinet’s radar,” he quoted from the inquiry. So he couldn’t be held responsible.
As a senior cabinet minister, he should have smelt the plague of rats infesting his Cabinet. He should have demanded to see and scrutinise that Vitals contract. He should have demanded to see the due diligence on Ram Tumuluri.
As a doctor, could he not possibly realise that the man was a crook and a scam? Did he not suspect his colleagues were up to no good? His responsibility was to protect the country, his people – and failed. He still fails. His judgement is corroded by years of political partisanship.
“I have no difficulty visiting her burial site, memorial or murder scene,” he claimed. Is this the country’s father? Which father loses his daughter in a brutal assassination and does not rush to the scene, does not visit her burial site every year to pay respects? But Vella “has no difficulty”. Is this the genuine anguish of a father?
Worse still, that father attacks her siblings, enraged by the evil that assassinated her. “Whoever is talking nonsense” (min qed ilablab), should at least read the inquiry report, Vella said, taking an obscene swipe at those calling for his resignation.
Vella discredits them by accusing them of not having read the report. And opens the floodgates for more harassment and intimidation of citizens he is meant to protect. The Labour Party’s station wasted no time. Simon Busuttil, his partner Kristina Chetcuti, Alessandra Dee Crespo and I were all singled out for public flogging.
George Vella propagates the harassment and intimidation roundly denounced by the inquiry, from his privileged position of Head of State.
If there were the slightest doubt of this man’s unfitness for the office, he has single-handedly obliterated it.