A spokesperson for the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage confirmed that a national historical artefact was found at the private residence of Minister Anton Refalo. “The proprietor is collaborating in full,” the spokesperson declared. What else could he do?
Attack the inspectors? Prevent them from accessing his property? Hide the artefact, or destroy it by dumping it in his pool after The Shift published photos of the artefact in his garden? And, ‘proprietor’? Wouldn’t the term looter, thief or criminal be more suitable?
Appropriating historical items is a criminal offence. The punishment is six years in jail or a €116,000 fine.
That Anton Refalo felt within his rights to grab a part of the national heritage for his personal enjoyment was bad enough. To plant it in his private residence for his delectation while bathing in his pool is reminiscent of that other great looter of art, Adolf Hitler. Hitler’s subordinates regularly looted works of art to gift them to the Führer. Goebbels gave him Becchi’s ‘Leda and the Swan’. Mussolini sent him Hans Makart’s ‘Plague in Florence’.
What is most disturbing is that Labour’s ministers know they are above the law. As our Foreign Affairs Minister Evarist Bartolo aptly put it, “there is a law for the gods and a law for the animals”. Refalo, one of the gods, feels entitled to plunder the nation’s heritage for personal pleasure, knowing he enjoys immunity.
He is right. His immunity is guaranteed.
The most shocking part of the whole rancid affair is not that Refalo robbed the nation. It is that the prime minister did nothing. Abela not only failed to demand Refalo’s immediate resignation for his shameless robbery, but he also didn’t even comment on it. Abela is a moral void. His pitiful inaction affords blanket immunity to Refalo and the entire cabinet to loot and rob the people at will.
Robert Abela is building quite a repertoire in defending the indefensible and protecting the reprobates in his party. Clayton Bartolo’s reprehensible attempts to conceal his girlfriend’s role at his ministry were quickly brushed aside by Abela’s “case closed” comment.
The cringeworthy video of his Manchester United themed birthday bash, organised by his girlfriend, raises more questions. Who funded the professional video? Who paid Destiny and Ron Briffa? Were they paid at all? And if not, what will they get in return? Who in Bartolo’s ministry authorised the transformation of the minister’s office into a Manchester United mock stadium? Who gave Amanda Muscat access to the minister’s office if she doesn’t work there?
Abela has long been protecting the minister in his own office, Carmelo Abela, despite the repeated and worrying allegations about his links to the HSBC heist. Abela lauded the attorney general for reaching a plea deal with Darren Debono, it-Topo. “I have full trust in her integrity and the meticulous way in which she works, I believe that the AG’s decision will be reflected in procedures which are ongoing,” Abela said.
Of course, the AG’s meticulous work did not ensure that Debono identified the HSBC heist accomplices before murder charges against him were dropped. Exonerated of attempted murder by the AG’s deal, Debono now refuses to testify about his accomplices. But Abela assured us, “I categorically deny that the plea deal was reached to favour Carmelo Abela”. How did he know? Was the plea deal discussed with him?
Abela also rewarded Rosianne Cutajar with the presidency of the parliamentary health committee despite her acceptance of thousands of euro from an alleged money launderer and murder mastermind. Her failure to declare the money she made from a property deal involving Yorgen Fenech is still being investigated by the tax authorities, but Abela’s already forgiven her.
Abela also continues to protect Edward Zammit Lewis despite his grovelling messages to Yorgen Fenech and his shameless lies about his relationship with the business tycoon.
Of course, Abela is in no position to condemn his MPs. The recent revelations about his own links to an alleged kidnapper, money launderer and drug smuggler, and his subsequent failure to answer basic questions about those links, demolish any trace of moral authority.
His obscene looting of State resources through his Planning Authority, Air Malta, Environment Ministry and ARMS direct orders and contracts has left the country reeling. No wonder Abela refuses to publish his tax returns or reveal his income. No wonder Abela fails to answer questions about his luxury yacht, how much he paid for it, and why it was berthed in the luxury Marina di Ragusa rather than in Malta.
Abela’s deafening silence in the face of his MPs’ outrageous indiscretions contrasts with his aggressive vocal attacks against the judiciary when searches were conducted at the house and offices of another former Labour MP, Joseph Muscat.
He is ready to stick his neck out to protect friends with serious criminal suspicions hanging over them. Yet he did not even bother to utter a single word in defence of Labour’s own Desmond Zammit Maramara, viciously abused by Labour supporters for voicing his honest opinion.
Abela made no attempt to defend l-Orizzont and it-Torca editor Victor Vella when he was rudely suspended by a GWU controlled by Abela’s government. Despite his 27 years of service, Vella was callously axed simply because the issues he covered — the rising cost of living, poverty, appalling working conditions — irritated the GWU’s handlers.
Abela is not interested in truth, fairness or justice. He is interested only in himself, his own success and his own ego. Instead of acting for good, he militates only for what serves his own ends. As the philosopher Iris Murdoch wryly remarked, “in the moral life, the enemy is the fat relentless ego”. Abela’s has an obesity crisis. He’s caught in an ever descending, ever narrowing cycle of self absorption.
He is collapsing on himself, crushed by the pressures of his own ego, willfully blinded to the infringements of his cabinet, and immobilised by his own dark past.