Voters in Malta love a good thief

I know ‘Only in Malta’ has become a cliche, but where else would you see a crowd of voters cheer a former politician bragging about his own Party’s corruption?

The country surely hit a new low when Joe Debono Grech stood behind a podium in Xewkija reflecting on the glory days of his 50 years as a member of parliament.

“Once a guy told me, ‘They’re all corrupt, both sides’. I told him, ‘Look, you’re right. But during the time of your corruption”, meaning the Nationalist Party, “we got nothing. We got something out of our corruption.”

You’d think he’d stop there, but surrealism replaced reality when the old codger justified his incredible statement with a Biblical citation.

“Christ said that there were two thieves,” he told the crowd, “the good one and the bad one. We’re with the good one.”

The audience applauded. Among them was Gozo Minister Clint Camilleri, who was quick to say, “When I became Gozo minister I promised you that the ministry’s doors will be open to everyone, and I have kept that promise.”

The thing about the ‘good thief’ is that he repented. “We have been condemned justly,” he said in the Gospel of Luke, “for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes.”

You’ll note he didn’t attempt to sway the celestial judge with whataboutism.

Debono Grech must have mixed up his parables. The policy he’s advocating is the one Joseph Muscat lives by: The Lord helps those who help themselves. Now why not help yourself to another direct order?

I suppose the charitable interpretation is senility. The former minister probably confused The Bible with the story of Robin Hood — but that doesn’t hold up either.

Robin Hood stole from the evil usurping King John and gave to the poor. Labour steals from the poor, gives a hefty cut to the rich, and then scatters a few crumbs from the poor’s own loaf back on the dirt for them to fight over.

Robert Abela tried to distance himself from the Xewkija rally, claiming Labour had “renewed itself” in order “to eliminate such kinds of speech”.

Unfortunately, Debono Grech isn’t just some poor old crowd pleasing has-been they propped behind the podium. He’s employed by Abela’s own Office of the Prime Minister.

The Continuity Prime Minister can take a lesson from the previous election. The 2017 contest attracted a lot of attention from Europe, given the Panama Papers and Egrant scandals.

When a visiting journalist asked a taxi driver for his opinion, the driver said, “They can take whatever they want because they haven’t taken it from me and I don’t care because I have money in my pocket.

Debono Grech said what Maltese voters want to hear. They approve of corruption as long as they think they’re benefitting from it.

And so Abela makes an endless stream of contradictory promises he can’t possibly deliver.

“Everyone in business will have the right to a bank account,” he claims, citing an EU directive that gives individuals the right to a basic payment account and promising to implement the same for businesses — presumably overriding the bank’s legal responsibility to conduct due diligence on prospective clients.

“Sometimes I feel like I am losing my patience with this sector,” Abela said. “While I understand the importance of the regulatory aspect and understand that banks increased due diligence and their scrutiny processes, which is good and is needed, there is extra bureaucracy which I frankly struggle to understand.”

I’m sure the legalities of money laundering are confusing to him. Perhaps he should hire a consultant to explain it? I’ve heard Abela Associates is desperate for another retainer.

Bottom line: Don’t expect to get off the grey list anytime soon.

In the meantime, Finance Minister Clyde Caruana said the government might dish out more cheques to address the rising cost of living, which he blames on the pandemic and the war in Ukraine and not on his own government’s financial free-for-all.

They never point out that those cheques come from taxpayer funds: out of one pocket (yours) into the other (also yours), with a nice ‘administrative’ cut skimmed along the way.

If you liked that one, you’ll love the €700 million they’ve set aside for your green future while Abela swoons at the feet of Joseph Portelli and gives the nod to the rape of Gozo.

Of course, the prime minister has his own dodgy property deals he wants you to look away from.

There’s the villa in Zejtun he bought at bargain basement prices five days after the Planning Authority sanctioned massive illegalities on the site — at a time when Abela Associates was raking in €17,000 a month as legal counsel for that same Planning Authority.

And let’s not forget the tidy €45,000 profit he made on a quick flip property deal with alleged kidnapper and narcotics smuggler Christian Borg.

What a clever chap he is, cashing in on both sides. He could give that Joseph Muscat a run for his money.

Speaking of Muscat — both Joseph and Alex — it’s good to know the cash-for-passports programme they’ve defended in the face of international opprobrium is being put to good use.

Those essential revenues aren’t just being spent in Alex Muscat’s own electoral district. Some €16 million will go towards building a race track at Ħal Far. What would you do without all those oligarchs?

Want to patch this sinking ship and create a country that’s fit for your children to live in? Here’s an electoral platform for you.

Economy: stop wasting hundreds of thousands of euros on bloated consultancies, direct orders to friends of friends, and massive severance packages to disgraced former politicians.

Health: Cancel the “corrupt” hospitals deal. Stop shovelling cash into the Steward Healthcare black hole. Spend it on the health of Maltese people instead.

Environment: Fire Ian Borg. Stand up to hunters. Get out of bed with developers like Joseph Portelli.

Finally, the blatantly ignored ‘rule of law’ portfolio: Prosecute criminals, including corrupt politicians. Bring in foreign law enforcement professionals to collar everyone involved in the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia. Implement the Venice Commission’s recommendations, and those of the public inquiry — in full, with no loopholes.

That’s it.

Unfortunately, given the way the crowd cheered Debono Grech’s ‘good thief’ nonsense, this simple manifesto has about as much chance of being implemented as Chinese democracy.

But don’t worry, there’s an alternative.

Robert Abela is drawing on a new form of math that’ll allow him to simultaneously cut income taxes while increasing the GDP from €14 billion to €20 billion AND reducing the national deficit by 3.3%.

In case you have trouble wrapping your head around this, he’s promising to take in less revenue in the form of taxes, spend less borrowed money AND increase the GDP by 42% while continuing to hand out covid subsidies (which are now war subsidies) to failing businesses and cash strapped workers.

Don’t wurr-ry. Finance Minister Clyde Caruana said, “We know what we’re doing”.

So do I. They’re digging the country into a very deep hole.


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2 years ago

It simply beggars belief that all these corrupt deals are ultimately being paid for by fellow citizens of the EU.

When is the EU going to step in and stand up for democracy and the upholding of the rule of law as clearly Malta has no wish to put its own house in order.

2 years ago

Qalilhom lil kotra li mis serq li sraqna hadna xi haga! U l kotra qamet icapcap! U le le! Biex tara x poplu jezisti fuq din d daqsxejn ta Gzira!

Lino Vella Clark
Lino Vella Clark
2 years ago
Reply to  M.Galea

Kellu ragun il-mjnistru Zammit Lewis ghied li l-laburisti huma GAHAN!!!!

2 years ago

Kellu ragun Zammit Lewis

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