Muscat, disgraced and dishonoured, does not fear arrest.
At least that is what he said to journalists who questioned him outside Parliament where he went for his appointment with the Public Accounts Committee.
To be fair, the question was put to him by others. He did not bring up the subject of fear himself. His answer and the way he gave it was telling though.
Dismissive, derisory, and denigratory, he tried to make light of the issue with an ill-placed jibe about Gozitans.
Maybe the question was badly phrased. Maybe, just maybe, the journalist in question could have asked Muscat whether he ever worried that there was a remote possibility that he would be arrested.
Something like: Is there an infinitesimal chance that after your toying with the nation’s institutional set-up and neutering the guardians of the law the way you did that you will ever really face charges of any kind?
That is after all the definition of acting with impunity. That is what the Muscat triad of collusive corruption is in the limelight for. That they brazenly did what they did because they firmly believed themselves to have become untouchable.
Behind the nervous smile of the man answering the questions before Parliament is the uncomfortable feeling of someone losing control of the narrative.
That is why Muscat spammed Facebook with a barrage of posts that were probably the kind of answers he was hoping to give to the PAC.
On Facebook, he remains master and commander. Outside Facebook, he can smell the water rising below deck as the ship is sinking fast.
He is not the only politician to risk facing the music. Like him, others have argued that they have “paid the highest political price” when ousted from power. Like him, they have insisted that theirs is the only narrative to be followed and that all the rest is simply the result of a concerted effort to destroy them.
Muscat’s fate is intrinsically tied to the future of our democracy, just as the fate of Boris Johnson and Donald Trump in their respective ordeals will tell us much of the future of populism and populist politics. Muscat is still trumpeting “achievements” that only he can see.
He is still in denial of the immense damage that his period of non-governance wreaked on a breaking society.
The Muscat years and those that have followed are very minutely chronicled by the activity of portals such as The Shift. If we were to take the hundreds of investigative articles that have appeared in this publication since its start, we would have an encyclopaedic chronicle of the larger and smaller crimes of corruption perpetrated by a government acting with impunity.
Do not underestimate the value of such an exercise.
We are facing daily revelations of corrupt activities that are testimony of the erosion of the state. From crimes to misdemeanours, each report is either a small brick or large building stone in the temple of corrupt activity that is still to be brought to heel.
For many years Muscat headed this temple. For many years he has misconstrued the idea of “without fear or favour”.
Muscat is not incorrect when he says that he does not fear arrest.
There is something worse than arrest that gives him the chills and probably does not let him sleep comfortably at night.
Muscat’s greatest fear, and he will never admit it, is that eventually the truth will out.