The former prime minister savaged the current one, despite coming from the same party. “The prime minister and our present government not only challenge the law but also believe that they need not obey the rules of public life”.
Citing the need for openness and honesty, he continued, “candour must be freely offered, not dragged out under the searchlight of inquiries. If it is not whole-hearted and convincing, the loss of trust can be swift and unforgiving”.
This wasn’t Joseph Muscat or Alfred Sant denouncing Robert Abela. It was former British prime minister John Major excoriating Boris Johnson. Speaking at the Institute for Government, Major publicly rebuked his fellow conservative.
Major, an honourable and respected elder statesman, put his nation’s interest before partisan loyalties.
“Brazen excuses were dreamed up. Day after day the public was asked to believe the unbelievable. The prime minister regularly sent out ministers to defend the indefensible, making them look foolish and gullible”.
“When ministers respond to legitimate questions with prepared sound bites or half-truths, or misdirection or wild exaggeration then respect for government dies a little more. Misleading replies to questions invite disillusion. Outright lies breed contempt,” Major concluded.
Major’s angry condemnation of his own party’s government stems from an abiding loyalty to truth and justice. It is a heartfelt lament for the serious deterioration in standards and the risk it poses to the country’s democracy.
Major sent out a message to conservative MPs that they have “a duty to act in the face of threats to trust and to the institutions”. He encouraged them to dump their prime minister.
“Our democracy is a fragile structure, it is not an impenetrable fortress. It can fall if no one challenges what is wrong, or does not fight for what is right,” Major warned.
That chilling caution should ring loud and clear for our own government MPs. It should ring even louder for voters soon to be called to fight for what is right.
Instead of candour, our government resolutely conceals all information of public interest. It furiously fights off freedom of information requests about burning issues.
As the grossly corrupt Vitals deal unravels and more sordid details emerge, the public should take note of the irreversible damage Labour has inflicted.
No wonder Labour adamantly refused to publish the Vitals agreement. When it eventually tabled the document in parliament, over 48 pages were blank and other sections blacked out. Labour was so desperate to hide the deal because it was so obscene.
Labour exploited gullible and willing individuals who held the public’s respect to convince the country that Vitals would transform the health service. Labour lied that Vitals would invest hundreds of millions, it would expand bed numbers, develop new services and revolutionise the quality of care.
Labour knew from the start it had colluded with Vitals to devise a rotten deal that would reward its owners and the politicians involved. Now we know that millions of euro were paid by Steward to Accutor AG, which bound itself to pay Joseph Muscat €540,000.
Ram Tumuluri and his son made millions off the deal through the same company. No investigation or prosecution of Tumuluri appears to be on the horizon despite millions of debts his company accrued, failure to hold accounts, or pay VAT and NI or for collusion with government ministers.
Steward’s president Nadine Delicata revealed in an op-ed published in The Times of Malta that Labour’s government did not even make “so much as an attempt at an audit of the company”.
Of course. Labour knew exactly what was going on. It knew Vitals consistently failed all its targets. Labour knew that none of what it promised could be achieved.
Labour not only hid Vitals’ utter failure, but when its complete dissolution was imminent, Konrad Mizzi and Joseph Muscat entered into a secret agreement that government would pay €100 million if the concession were terminated.
Muscat was desperate to ensure the concession ran its course – 30 years and €2.1 billion.
Now we know that the government frantically tried to find a new concessionaire to keep its corrupt Vitals deal secret when the company was on the brink of collapse. Having deceived the public once, Labour attempted to do the same with Steward, presenting them as “the real deal”.
Muscat accompanied Steward to Castille to fight their case with Prime Minister Robert Abela when grey clouds loomed. Abela gave in – and continues to pump millions of euro into Steward.
Abela went further. He continued to hide Muscat’s suspicious severance package. Muscat not only made over €120,000 in termination benefits but was also given use of refurbished government offices with all equipment at Sa Maison.
That too had been kept secret. Now that The Shift has exposed it, Abela claims it was part of Muscat’s severance package all along. But continues to refuse to publish the agreement on the ridiculously offensive excuse that “no such document exists”. So whenever new revelations emerge, Abela can safely claim it was part of the package.
Abela has to keep everything under wraps – because it stinks. Even the cost of the Film Awards is secret.
The case of Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo’s girlfriend is “closed”, according to Abela as he dodges all of the burning questions.
Stagno Navarra’s Air Malta contract remains an official secret, even as the government tries to put him on the public payroll permanently. So are the conditions of hundreds of persons of trust. So are the deluge of direct contracts awarded to party loyalists. So are his tax returns and his own income.
Instead of an honourable former prime minister condemning the deception and secrecy of the present one, Malta has a disgraceful and dishonourable former prime minister forcing the present one to lie on his behalf, to intimidate and harass the institutions to protect him. Or else he’ll return and take over.
But then, John Major didn’t distort the leadership race to make Boris Johnson his successor. While Johnson is punished for his dishonesty and secrecy with plummeting polls and open revolt from his own benches, Abela enjoys his MPs’ support. Yet polls suggest that Abela’s star is fading. The public’s contempt for Abela’s secrecy and deceit is starting to show.