What was Byron thinking? What was Graziella thinking too?
On a relatively quiet evening in parliament, a parliamentary question tabled by opposition MP Graziella Galea concerning donations from passport buyers led to an eyebrow-raising reply by Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri. It transpired from the reply that a long list of NGOs had benefited from a donation of a minimum of €10,000 from potential passport buyers under the IIP programme.
Certain sections of the media pounced on this information and went so far as to imply hypocrisy on the part of some of the NGOs who had been vociferous against the Golden Passport Scheme.
The whole business stank from the get-go.
To begin with, there was the eagerness with which a minister was listing what, on paper, could have been legitimate recipients of legal funds under the passport scheme.
That eagerness was even more worrying when one considered the list itself and the obvious fact that it was prepared without any clear criteria.
There was no alphabetical order. On the contrary, the list began with Repubblika and Moviment Graffitti, two NGOs that had loudly opposed the passport scheme.
The rapid way in which the usual suspects in the press leapt at the opportunity to defame the NGOs in question with accusations of hypocrisy was also suspicious.
Sure enough, denials from the interested parties were not long in the coming. Separately, they each denied ever having ‘knowingly received’ any such donations.
Graffitti went so far as to specify that it “does not want donations which are used to meet criteria related to this disgusting scheme”.
No surprises there. I would bet on the integrity of Repubblika and Graffitti against that of the present government any day of the week. Yet the charade had taken place and there still remained the mystery of this random list that Camilleri laid on the table.
So, what indeed could he have been hoping to achieve? If the NGOs are right in their denial (and there is no reason to believe otherwise) then there are very ugly conclusions to be drawn about the operations within the Home Affairs Minister’s responsibility.
The worst-case scenario is that the list is a complete lie. A lie conjured up to muddy the names of civil society champions that have become a thorn in the side of a tired government. Should this be the case, there would be no other outcome but the minister’s resignation.
The other scenario is not much nicer and should still lead to heads rolling. We can assume that representatives of the oligarchs and rich men and women of this world who are guiding them through the process of applying for a passport are the ones who suggest putting down the names of various NGOs.
Surely the oligarchs themselves would not know their Repubblika from their Graffitti from their Dream of Horses, to name but a few.
Judging by the decisiveness of the denials from the NGOs in question, we can safely assume that even if they were named on the forms as the recipients of the donation, no money was ever transferred. This would not be too much of a far cry seeing how the residency part of the requirements is also regularly flaunted as has been proven several times.
All this would show crass incompetence by Maltese authorities when it comes to scrutinizing the applicants. Byron surely believed the names on the list to be true. Only he was about to be hoisted with the petard that is his own administration’s crass incompetence and corruption.
Our government has reassured the EU time and time again that the conditions of the passport scheme are strictly applied and that all applicants are scrutinized in detail for the fulfilment of that criteria.
The European Commission, however, still does not believe Abela and his team – so much so that a case was opened against Malta in the Court of Justice of the European Union concerning the passport scheme.
Do not for one minute underestimate the significance of the government attempting to bully civil society NGOs like Repubblika and Graffitti for one minute. This is nothing less than bullying tactics.
On that point, do you remember the reassurances Abela gave the EU Justice Commissioner last week about the progress being made in Malta?
Well, Byron has put paid to that.
Has anyone considered that the persons interfacing between the passport buyers and the passport sellers Pocketed the money while declaring that the contribution went to Maltese NGOs? These guys killed Daphne to cover their dirt.
Some points to be considered here.
It doesn’t make sense at all to have IIP Scheme applicants to donate to NGOs in Malta, and thus to fulfill requirements by that scheme in order to get a Maltese passport. Everybody knows where the money has to be placed, just like the rules of the ‘Casino Maltese’ require it.
This is just another clumsy smear campaign by the PL and I rather suspect that this list in which Repubblika and Moviment Graffitti are listed, is rather a list of those who openly and thus publicly have opposed the IIP Scheme and all that goes with it. To be precise, one might, if one is inclined to think that way, refer to that list as a ‘black listing’ of PL opponents. The ‘outer parliamentary opposition’ which forms the civil society movement in Malta.
There are various ways used by PLers to ‘bring others to their side’ with. From the more clumsy and hypocritical means (like the phrase ‘hate begets hate’, so one better embraces them and their corruption or being left in the cold), to intimidation (see the SLAPP court cases on The Shift), threats (see Robert Aquilina of Repubblika), or worst to make one’s life hell like in the case of Daphne Caruana Galizia.
This smear campaign the PL has launched against the two NGOs is to fail and in the end backfiring on the PL itself. It has no substance and is easily to be seen through as a made up story, probably to undermine the good reputation they have among the non-corrupt Maltese. But also to please the Gahans to have another hobby horse (means: ‘look at them, they are no different to us’).
The harder the PL tries, the stronger the resistance will grow against them.
I believe the NGO s and it looks like some one is trying to throw mud as usual, at who opposes them. .