“Our voice is not one crying in the desert but a deafening sound of thousands”, Joseph Muscat warned. He is back, again. Threatening and intimidating those who dare do their duty.
“Today, I feel that my work is to defend the citizens from the institutions that crumble under pressure”, Muscat added. “This is the wrong decision and carries consequences – and somebody must be responsible”.
Muscat shed his mask. His empty boasts that “I have always defended the institutions and that is what I will continue to do” are even hollower than they ever were. The disgraced former prime minister is openly threatening and undermining the rule of law.
He’s inciting his mob – who didn’t need much encouragement. “When you call us, we are there,” one follower promptly responded. “Call us when the time comes, and you’ll find us behind you,” another added.
Muscat is reduced to exploiting his loyal fans to browbeat and terrorise prosecutors into submission. He’s using his base to bully. He’s shamelessly flexing his muscles and broadcasting his power.
That only means one thing. He’s lost it. His hysterical response reveals his rising anxiety and increasing jitters as more of his links are exposed. The dread he experiences must be choking as more of those closest to him slowly but surely start to face justice.
Frederick Azzopardi, married to Joseph Muscat’s cousin, was Infrastructure Malta’s CEO. Infrastructure Malta defied a stop and compliance order issued by the environment watchdog at Wied Qirda in Żebbuġ and continued to uproot protected carob trees. Infrastructure Malta was in breach of several provisions of the Environmental Protection Act.
A court sentence fined a contractor €36,000 for carrying out roadworks at Wied Qirda, ignoring the stop order issued by ERA. The contractor claimed he was receiving orders from CEO Fredrick Azzopardi and architect David Vassallo to ignore the stop notice.
Infrastructure Malta was also fined €50,000. Thanks to Frederick Azzopardi, our taxes will pay those €50,000.
Yet Joseph Muscat conveniently ignored these facts. “Fredrick Azzopardi is being dragged to court for doing his work,” he wrote on Facebook.
Muscat claimed that the work was urgent and necessary to remove a danger to the public. The court, in its ruling against the contractor and Infrastructure Malta, reached a different conclusion.
Muscat is now attacking the “public functionary” who made the decision. “She or he was afraid of being criticised for not prosecuting – that person was under pressure from the usual people to take this extreme measure,” he said.
Is prosecuting a public official who broke the law an extreme measure? For Muscat, it’s only extreme because it’s his friend Frederick Azzopardi who’s being prosecuted.
Muscat never expressed outrage when Giovanna Debono’s husband was prosecuted. If there were justifiable concerns and verifiable accusations, prosecuting him was the right thing to do. The man was exonerated by the courts. Justice took its course.
Giovanna Debono did not call her thousands of Gozitan supporters to take to the streets, to make their voice heard. She did not intimidate the prosecutors or the Attorney General’s Office. She simply supported her husband in his quest for justice as any decent citizen would.
Even though she surely must have had serious reservations about the motivation of the man provided whistleblower status. Despite her concerns about due process, the integrity of the police force and the concern about pressure to secure a conviction for her husband, she remained silent.
She never abused her popularity. She never rallied the masses of Gozitans who adored her. But Giovanna Debono is not Joseph Muscat.
Like Trump drowning in his electoral defeat and calling his supporters to “fight like hell”, Muscat calls on his own boys. He’s not interested in articulating a reasoned defence of his friend Azzopardi. He appeals only to raw emotions – “my sadness and anger” – to rouse the hostile rage of his followers.
He’s not interested in presenting any of the facts. He makes no reference to the court decisions relating to the case. He simply slanders “the public functionary”, accusing officials of weakness, cowardice and panic. Yet the only panic on display here is Muscat’s.
If he’s on the side of truth and justice, he doesn’t need a mob. He doesn’t need the mindless thuggery and abuse of his trolls.
If he’s so convinced that Fredrick Azzopardi was doing the right thing, he’s got the perfect opportunity to present his case in a court of law. But Muscat is not interested in due process, in the course of justice, in the independence of the institutions.
Muscat only defends the institutions when they are subordinated to his will, when they’re dominated by his lackeys, when they’re protecting his interests. He respects the institutions only when they’re pliable and inactive.
He’s happy only when there’s a police commissioner who lauds him for his manhood. Or when the Attorney General dissuades law enforcement from raiding Brian Tonna’s Nexia BT. Or when Speaker Anġlu Farrugia protects him at the parliamentary standards committee – and dutifully exonerates him of his serious ethics breaches on some puerile pretext.
Muscat is an existential threat to our democracy, to our institutions. His Facebook post is a warning that Muscat is still here, still powerful, still a danger. And he has no qualms about inciting his mob.
His aggressive rhetoric and eagerness to wield his crowd to protect Fredrick Azzopardi is an ominous preview of the lengths he will go to when that arm of justice finally reaches him.
But the man most at risk from Muscat’s feverish nervousness is Robert Abela, who walks a tightrope between appeasing and suppressing his former leader. Abela will need to decide, sooner rather than later, when it is time to discard Muscat.
Abela’s personal strong mandate provides him with the clout to stop the clamour of ‘Joseph come back and take control’. Abela needs to act before it’s too late.