How do you solve a problem like Rosianne? The sacked junior minister caught accepting ‘gifts’ of money from 17 Black owner and accused murderer Yorgen Fenech lurches from one scandal to another, without a backward glance or even the tiniest wrinkle in her brow.
Today, the Council of Europe will be deciding on what action to take against this Teflon MP, who seems impervious to the normal feelings of shame or embarrassment most people caught in as many compromising positions as she has been would feel.
Cutajar’s impassioned speech at the Council of Europe against a rule of law in Malta report – in not-so-subtle defence of her then-secret paramour, has brought her into international disrepute after she was accused of conflict of interest issues by the Dutch MP who drew up the report, Pieter Omtzigt.
Despite attempting to wriggle out of facing this particular music by not turning up, and then ‘resigning’ her position on the Malta delegation to the Council of Europe, the Instagram-loving Cutajar could still face serious sanction.
It’s unlikely to make any difference to her behaviour or attitude though. Nothing else has. Caught in an illicit ‘close friendship’ with Fenech, exposed as having accepted envelopes of cash from him and others, which Standards Commissioner George Hyzler concluded were indeed likely to have been commission fees in a property transaction, she remains seemingly untouchable – and entirely unfazed.
She lost her position as junior minister as a result, but this hasn’t dented her defiance or caused her to rethink her activities. She sits in parliament on the backbenches every day, whispering and giggling with whoever’s sitting next to her, perusing her phone intently or flicking her hair back and forth self-consciously whenever she remembers she might be in camera shot.
On Halloween, she turned up at a school gate and started doling out sweets to the children as they emerged, like some sordid character hanging around to lure innocent kiddies into a life of vice. She announced on Facebook that she’d given them a tube of toothpaste too though, being such a responsible and well-meaning person, so that makes it alright.
But of course, it doesn’t make it alright. MPs are precluded from doling out gifts to constituents – though they are slyly arguing it is only actually banned during an electoral campaign when it counts as attempting to buy votes. In Malta, Cutajar and her chums don’t appear in the slightest bit concerned about ethics or decency.
She’s done it before, famously, when she distributed gifts of oranges to elderly people living in residential care homes. She got plenty of flak for doing that then, but of course, it just bounced right off her.
Her Party clearly has no interest in demanding normal standards of behaviour from their representatives, but you’d think that the public humiliation of being lambasted for irregular or illegal behaviour would prompt at least some modification.
Nope. Nothing. Cutajar, the former Catania ‘hostess’-turned-MP, simply carries on as if nothing had happened, or turns on her detractors and accuses them of smear campaigning, or attempting to damage her politically. No matter that there may be solid proof, witnesses, texts, photographs and even video footage showing that she did actually do what she was accused of doing, she has never accepted that she’s done anything wrong.
Many malefactors don’t ever admit their malfeasance, that’s true. But usually, in normal countries at least, their colleagues, their community, the society around them, will ensure they understand their wrongdoing is unacceptable.
Here, though, Cutajar’s colleagues – her boss, Robert Abela, even – have allowed her to continue almost unchecked. Losing her parliamentary secretary position should have given her pause, but it clearly hasn’t – her bellicose response was to announce that she’d be contesting the next election and would come back bigger and stronger than ever.
Her self-described “close friendship” with Yorgen Fenech bears a lot closer inspection. The former casino boss and Electrogas shareholder now accused of commissioning the plot to assassinate journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia has said multiple times that politicians and high-ranking government officials were also involved in ordering the brutal killing.
Was it ‘just’ money and attention that the former Catania hostess was getting from her “close friend” Yorgen Fenech? He certainly doesn’t seem to have any concept of discretion: he seems to have spent his entire waking life texting and messaging politicians and friends, mocking and sneering about each to the other, in truly sordid, unpleasant fashion.
I almost felt sorry for ‘Nuxellina’ when I read the texts Fenech wrote about her to another woman, published on Facebook by Mark Camilleri, the maverick former Labour delegate and book council chairman, who turned on his Party under disgraced ex-prime minister Joseph Muscat.
There she was, Rosianne Cutajar, putting her entire career and reputation on the line to defend Fenech, while, behind her back, he was ridiculing and deriding her to all and sundry.
Almost, but not quite. For she remains an individual who is not only manifestly unequipped to be a representative of the Maltese people in parliament but one who has broken all standards of ethical and decent behaviour.
And the question of what she knows as a result of her ‘close friendship’ with Fenech remains paramount. What gives her the gall, the sheer brass neck, to defy her prime minister in the way she did following her sacking as junior minister? Why does he allow her to get away with her brazen challenges to his authority? Why does she appear to believe that rules don’t apply to her?
The Council of Europe meeting today will determine whether, outside Malta at least, she’s finally given the pariah status she deserves. But within Malta, her ability to escape that status is becoming more and more sinister by the day.