Beneath contempt – Kevin Cassar

Tista’ taqra dan l-artiklu bil-Malti hawn.

What was the cost of the Malta film awards?  “I don’t speculate on numbers,” was Minister Clayton Bartolo’s arrogant reply.

“When I was asked how many tourists were coming to Malta this year, I didn’t speculate,” he announced. The slight difference is that the Film Awards event is in the past. So there’s absolutely nothing to speculate about.  All it takes is responsible accountable governance, which is completely anathema to the inept minister.

“What I do is I keep my word, which means I will submit all the information to parliament once it reconvenes,” he declared.  Translation: I’m not going to tell you how much I’ve spent on that one night. I’m going to conceal that information until after the general elections. It won’t really matter then because I’ll be minister and Labour in government again – and whatever you say doesn’t matter.

Freedom of Information requests about that event’s cost have been rejected. The minister was repeatedly questioned about it.  He refused to answer every time. His rudeness and arrogance reached their peak with his snide remarks: “You should investigate your leader Bernard Grech, how much tax did he pay?”

Why is Bartolo so desperate to hide the facts?

Bartolo cannot divulge the amount he’s squandered on a single night. That would be too damaging, too embarrassing for him, his government and his Party.

Bartolo knows exactly how much he’s squandered. He is lying when he claims the cost is still being computed – more than a month later.

If the minister truly doesn’t know how much was spent, he’s lost control of the entities he’s responsible for and of his ministry’s budget. Or else he gave the Malta Film Commission carte blanche to spend as much as it pleased, as long as he got to strut on stage in his tuxedo, as long as he could play at being a celebrity at an ‘Oscars ceremony’ for one night.

If he didn’t know how much was spent, faced with so many questions, he should have found out by now. If he still hasn’t, he must be the most incompetent minister in the whole Cabinet – no mean feat. Maybe he’s too lazy or too distracted chasing after his private secretary instead of responsibly administering public funds.

Everybody knows the truth. The minister squandered millions of taxpayer euros to get his five minutes of publicity and his photo with David Walliams. He abused public funds to feel important and famous, with added free promotion on national TV.

He pumped hundreds of thousands of public funds to close allies of the Labour Party, rewarding them for their support and buying their loyalty for the upcoming election campaign.

His sheer hypocrisy was crystallized in his insolent comment:  “It is a shame that certain people attempted to politicise the Film Awards”.

That event could not have been more politicised.  A parade of Labour ministers pranced on stage – Clayton Bartolo, Carmelo Abela, Jose Herrera. Even the divisive Jason Micallef, head of ONE productions was there.

Kurt Farrugia, the disgraced former prime minister’s spokesperson was presenting awards.  Norma Saliba, the PBS head of news and former ONE journalist was there too. Albert Marshall the former Labour TV CEO, notorious for his dressing down by the NAO for the millions of direct orders he dished out also joined in.

Johann Buttigieg, one of Joseph Muscat’s inner circle was presenting awards too. Buttigieg reportedly told Yorgen Fenech, “We can do business whenever you want” while he was Planning Authority chairman in 2019. Simultaneously he was handing over €17,000 per month to Robert Abela at the Planning Authority. Buttigieg pointed out to Yorgen Fenech which property he should take from Joseph Portelli, “Take the one in Qormi, opposite the post office – it’s a good one”.

Instead of being arrested and prosecuted for trading in influence, Buttigieg is handing out awards at Clayton Bartolo’s vanity event.

That Bartolo lacks any sense of honour or decency has been made clearly evident. When the revelations about his girlfriend Amanda Muscat were revealed by The Shift, a frantic attempt was made to cover it up.

“Ms Amanda Muscat is not employed at the Tourism Ministry or at the Gozo Ministry,” his spokesperson claimed. The Shift however had already kept a screenshot of the government address book listing her at the Gozo Ministry Secretariat as a person of trust.

But even that was a lie.  Muscat didn’t work at the Gozo Ministry. Photographic evidence showed her sitting next to Minister Bartolo at one of his meetings. The Malta Chamber listed Muscat as the private secretary for Minister Bartolo whom she accompanied to an event. She organised his expensive birthday bash, featuring Eurovision singer Destiny, at the ministry.

Bartolo was caught lying again. Driven by his baser instincts he exudes incompetence and ineptitude laced with arrogance and rudeness. He treats his ministerial post as a limitless source of funding for his own personal entertainment and that of his close aides. He posted pictures of his VIP jaunt to Manchester United’s Old Trafford accompanied by Amanda Muscat and at least three ministry employees. Questions as to how these trips were funded remained unanswered. Following in the footsteps of other government ministers, Bartolo openly squanders public funds but insolently refuses to answer questions about costs.

In a recent promotional interview, Bartolo was asked about ‘people’s concerns’.  He replied: “I am observing a common concern about what is happening in Ukraine”. For a second, he seemed to be a politician in touch with world affairs and atrocities in Ukraine. “People are raising questions as to what extent the war will impact our economy, especially fuel and food prices,” he then added.

Bartolo is not fussed about children buried in the rubble, expectant mothers trapped in the ruins of a maternity hospital, the millions forced to flee their homes and the countless deaths. He’s troubled by the potential increase in the price of bread his constituents might face. This is the sort of shallow parochialism, the callous detachment, the narrow-minded egocentricity and flagrant abuse that Labour offers the electorate.

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Mary Mills
Mary Mills
1 month ago

I wonder if, perchance, Clayton Bartolo might have given David Walliams ideas for writing another little children’s story about an inane, vulgar faker – with a hitting moral, of course!

Raymond Borg
1 month ago

Does the Maltese nation need more evidence to decide? GREAT article.

Joseph Tabone Adami
Joseph Tabone Adami
1 month ago

Tuxedos and hair lacquer – where applicable – do not an honourable gentleman make!

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