The boys are back in town

Malta’s part-time prime minister is on holiday again. Not on his yacht, but your dime. Get ready, New York — Bobby’s in town.

The EU’s smallest country is well known for punching above its weight. Ok, yes, that’s for political corruption, but Malta also has the EU’s largest parliament per 100,000 inhabitants, backed by an army of hand-picked expert persons of trust.

How could you expect a nation of this stature to attend the UN General Assembly with anything less than an entourage?

According to The Times of Malta, Robert Abela is painting the town dollar-green with 30 of his most important staffers, family members and a three-person film crew.

And that’s just the lot who flew over from Malta. He’s also got six locally-based Maltese officials to draw on — six people whose salaries and expenses you’re already paying for full-time in New York.

Putting everyone up in five-star hotels is a bold statement of confidence in the Maltese economy when the rest of the EU is free-falling into recession, and German industrial giants are filing for bankruptcy. I guess the Finance Minister’s order to find €200 million in cost cuts doesn’t apply to the OPM.

Why do they need a three-person film crew when they’re already bringing an OPM videographer and Abela’s personal photographer?

That’s a good question. Ayrton Bonnici’s crew is specifically tasked with gathering materials to commemorate Malta’s uncontested ‘election’ to a rotating two-year seat on the Security Council.

Foreign Minister Ian Borg interpreted the 97.3% vote margin as “a strong mandate” for Malta. Two seats were allocated to Europe with two countries competing for them, and the only choice on the ballot was ‘yes’ or ‘abstain’. There isn’t an option for voting ‘no’.

But let’s cut Borg some slack. He has difficulty telling a hole from a hole and tends to dig himself into them with great regularity.

Anyway, I’m sure Ayrton Bonnici will make them all look really really important. The media agency owned by the 25-year-old Labour Party activist paid for 44% of Finance Minister Clyde Caruana’s electoral campaign.

Perhaps the group’s boring old Information Office photographer who also went along can act as his tripod sherpa.

According to the official schedule, Robert Abela would speak before the General Assembly on Thursday.

Another task on his list was to address the Transforming Education Summit. He strode to the podium and made a three-minute speech, at the end of which he assured his fellow delegates that “as an elected and proud member of the Security Council”, Malta would prioritise literacy.

He might want to begin a little closer to home. According to the European Commission’s 2022 country report on Malta, its percentage of underachieving pupils is “above the EU average across the entire socio-economic distribution” in an “education and training system [that] struggles with ensuring quality of education and effectiveness of spending.”

The Prime Minister also met with the LGBTI Core Group, where he “reaffirmed that Malta will be hosting next year’s EuroPride from 7 – 17 September, ” which I’m sure he could have told them by email.

When he’s not discussing crucial “bilateral and multilateral ties” with the president of Yemen, he’ll take time out for a meet and greet with New York’s Maltese community, alongside Chris Fearne “and delegation”.

Lucky them. There are lots of Canadians living in Berlin, but we’re never invited for free Timmie’s and butter tarts when the prime minister comes to town, despite being eligible to vote.

In other important diplomatic news, Ian Borg shook a lot of hands with the heads of small countries and reassured the People’s Republic of China that “Malta firmly adheres to the one-China policy and believes that Taiwan is part of China.” With any luck, his brown-nosing will get you some ‘free’ Belt and Road funding.

And even if not, he did get a lot of photos for Twitter. In addition to a press assistant, chief of staff and another unspecified “officer”, Borg travels with his own personal photographer.

Malta’s other VIP delegates were equally determined to put your tax money to work.

Health Minister Chris Fearne was scheduled to attend a one-hour meeting on antimicrobial resistance, backed by his own two-person entourage.

And the First Lady of Abelastan attended a fashion event hosted by Fashion 4 Development, where she “spoke during an interview in Park Avenue in New York” on the themes of “the social and environment”.

This was, in actual fact, a 30-second corner of the room comment filmed by TVM, Malta’s taxpayer-funded public broadcaster, who sent a crew to New York to follow “a number of activities”.

Mrs Abela also attended a brunch hosted by the wife of Ukraine’s president, who spoke about the Russian invasion. “I could better experience the suffering that the people of Ukraine are passing through,” she said, “and I was truly left speechless.” She could have heard much more harrowing stories by meeting with Ukrainian refugees in Malta, but that wouldn’t involve a trip to New York.

Finally, no one’s quite sure why backbench MP Michael Farrugia went along for the ride. He posted a vague statement on Facebook saying, “a busy day for me with active participation in several meetings outside the plenary, apart from attending the plenary as part of the delegation led by the prime minister”.

The accompanying photos show him gazing wistfully at Robert Abela as they take a walk along the East River.

But you can rest assured all was not empty speeches and self-promoting glamour shots. Who’d spend so much public money on that?

                           
                               
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KLAUS
KLAUS
2 days ago

ROBBER Abela. The gamechanger?

He just play the old cards of Joseph Muscat.
Even when Joseph Muscat was a ‚no go‘ at the EU summit,
he played here in Malta that he was there the ‚sun‘.
Old ‚movies‘ were played at ‚PL‘ as if they were just taken.

Please remember:
The population of MALTA is just among the 100 biggest cities in EUROPE!

From my view:
A crook is playing again a ‚wannabe‘. Nothing fits.

Doesn‘t he need police protection in NY?
BTW: Where is his pet Angelo Gafá?
He does need special police protection, doesn‘t he?

Peter Grech
Peter Grech
2 days ago

OPM is no longer Office of the Prime Minister but ORGANISATION PERTAINING MAFIA

A. Fan
A. Fan
2 days ago
Reply to  Peter Grech

In the financial circles, OPM stands for Other People’s Money. Meaning money you can wager with limited risk to your personal wealth — taking full credit for any gains while blaming all losses on some extraneous factor. Like how racking up billions more in national debt is all due to Covid or the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and not at all to local graft and mismanagement…

makjavel
makjavel
2 days ago

and with Russia threatening Nuclear War , Bobby Abela talks about the weather , while his entourage talk about the shopping.
What a clown of a Prime Minister.

Last edited 2 days ago by makjavel
KLAUS
KLAUS
2 days ago
Reply to  makjavel

You are so right.
While distress calls from refugee boats are not answered and refugee children die of thirst.
How rotten. Rotten to the bones.

Frans Cassar
Frans Cassar
2 days ago

“Ali Bobby and the many thieves”

Misidjan
Misidjan
2 days ago

Will the army of photographers charge a fee for providing the visuals? That would push the €140,000 much higher.

Paul Pullicino
Paul Pullicino
2 days ago

Just got back home from the supermarket checking their new prices as Lydia comes on my flat screen telly, in a strapless evening gown and looking like a million dollars, to tell us and the world that “fashion needs to be sustainable”.

Joseph Tabone Adami
Joseph Tabone Adami
2 days ago

This write-up seems to represent Malta’s august presence at the UN general assembly as a complete farce – a very expensive one, yes, (although its funding came from taxpayers’ pockets, barring a very minute fraction, we are told) but still a complete farce.

My guess is that not a very few among us will certainly agree that it was.

One sentence which may strike out is that which supposes that the 200 million Euros savings in public expenditure for this year decreed by the nation’s Finance Minister does not apply to the nation’s Prime Minister and his Office.

To one source – and, as far as we know, to one source only – it has definitely applied. The One Million Euros cut in the Malta University’s budget is tangible evidence of that!

We have still to be informed as to where will the ‘savings’ axe – and to what extent – will strike next. And, maybe, this time round also why!

Last edited 2 days ago by Joseph Tabone Adami
AD38
AD38
2 days ago

Hope they enjoyed travelling by Air Malta
Now that the gov has to fork out 50 million euros in golden handshakes and giving them jobs with the almighty government.

carlos
carlos
2 days ago

ben tornati – have you enjoyed your free holiday? the workers’ party turned into a muvument korrott supporting people of trust and their friends and mistresses.

carlos
carlos
2 days ago

At least you should have taken josmuscat with you to show your appreciation for helping you getting the job of pm – he helped you quite a lot when you were his consultant advising him how to ruin Malta’s image.. But maybe you were afraid that he would be held there.

James
James
2 days ago
Reply to  carlos

If he isn’t already on the same US State Department’s list of persona non grata, like Konrad Mizzi & Keith Schembri are, he should be. As indeed should be the current PM who as Mr. Muscat’s former legal advisor must know plenty which would be of interest to the US authorities and indeed could be added to the AG’s request for judicial assistance as so well reported in Caroline Muscat’s excellent article this morning.

I. Gatt
I. Gatt
1 day ago

“The similarity between a politician and diaper, is that they MUST be replaced frequently, and this because they are filled with the same stuff”

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