Lo and behold, even Jason Micallef wanted a public inquiry. He publicly announced that if Repubblika, Occupy Justice and the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation hadn’t declared they were attending the vigil, he would have been there. “Tonight, because of them, I will not attend the protest,” he declared.
Micallef – the Valletta Cultural Agency Chairman and former ONE chairman and the staunchest of Labour stalwarts – took a position against Robert Abela and his 39 MPs.
He is not alone among Labour’s grandees who feel disgusted and appalled at Abela’s infantile foot stamping.
Micallef is one of many thousands of ‘Laburisti sal-mewt’ (Labour till death) ashamed that their own party leader coerced his MPs to pick a fight with the grieving mother of the young man killed in his prime under an illegal development.
Micallef is just one of a multitude of Labour officials who know that Abela let his ego and arrogance push his parliamentary party beyond the limits of decency.
The respected Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca didn’t mince words. The Labour Party, she announced, must always be on the workers’ side. How can Labour position itself in direct confrontation with parents fighting for justice for their innocent son’s life, cut short while at work?
Evarist Bartolo, Conrad Borg Manche’ and Simone Cini all took a clear position against their leader. They all openly and boldly supported Jean Paul Sofia’s cause. They all finally found the courage to stand up for what is manifestly right – and against the petty, childish stubbornness of the spoilt Robert Abela. Even the General Workers’ Union joined the call for a public inquiry.
Joseph Muscat declared that he is 100% behind a public inquiry to look into deaths at construction sites. “There should be a public inquiry,” Muscat declared, piling pressure on the beleaguered Abela. Muscat might have attended the vigil hadn’t he been “currently abroad”.
Even Muscat’s employer, Malta Developers’ Association President Michael Stivala, commented that the association doesn’t have any objections against a public inquiry. “We believe that it is important to have a transparent, accountable and rapid process in place to investigate this tragedy and any tragedy in all places of work.”
So Jason Micallef is in good company. Practically the whole country wanted a public inquiry. Everybody wanted justice for Jean Paul Sofia and for all those who, like him, met their tragic end on construction sites. The only person in Malta who still steadfastly and stubbornly opposed it was Robert Abela.
But Jason Micallef wasn’t going to take a stand against his own party leader without also attempting to take a swipe at his eternal foes – Repubblika, Occupy Justice, and the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation.
In the process, Micallef made an utter fool of himself.
“The right to protest is a right which I will keep defending until my final breath,” Micallef pompously announced. That great champion of free speech and democracy Jason Micallef will be there to guarantee your right to protest. But not if you protest against Labour.
According to Micallef, if you protest against “the government of the day”, Labour, that is, you should have no such rights.
“The beauty of protest is that genuine people from different facets of life come together for one reason,” he announced, “people who genuinely believe in the cause”. So who decides whether a protester “genuinely” believes in the cause or not, Jason Micallef?
Micallef then tied himself up in knots. He sought to explain what he meant – only making things worse.
“Then there are others who don’t mind taking advantage of any cause to protest…those who take advantage of anything and anywhere to protest against the government of the day, those whose only cause is to acquire power at all costs, including if it means taking advantage of others’ unfortunate human tragedies.”
These, Micallef decided, have no right to protest because, according to him, they are not genuine. Because they protest too much, about everything. But mostly because they protest against Labour.
So according to Micallef, you have every right to protest – he’ll defend your right to protest until his final breath – but only if you protest about anything that’s not Labour. Micallef has no idea how ridiculous he is. He has no clue how anti-democratic his statements are. But Micallef honestly articulates his true convictions. He’s certain that those critical of Labour shouldn’t be allowed to protest and shouldn’t be given a platform to voice their views.
This is nothing short of authoritarianism. Micallef is voicing his desire to stifle dissident voices. Micallef wants to silence those he considers not to be “genuine”. Micallef wants to deny critics of “the government of the day” the fundamental right to protest. Micallef wants to make a distinction between those who are “genuine”, meaning those who are on Labour’s side, and those who are not. And we all know who Micallef has in mind.
Micallef deviously casts aspersions, accusing Repubblika, Occupy Justice and the Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation of “taking advantage of others’ unfortunate human tragedies”. How low can you stoop? Having endured the barbaric murder of their mother, wife and daughter, those members of the Caruana Galizia Foundation are now being accused by Jason Micallef of “taking advantage of others’ unfortunate human tragedies”.
Jason Micallef is utterly disgraceful. But not half as disgraceful as Robert Abela.
When Abela finally realised everybody had turned against him, just minutes before a massive vigil was due to start, he caved in and announced a public inquiry.
Having subjected the family to months of suffering, Abela, the political opportunist, stepped away from the precipice. His only objective was to save his skin, to avert a humiliating public condemnation of his callousness.
Totally detached from reality, Abela had the audacity (or stupidity) to gatecrash Sofia’s vigil. Abela turned up on the steps of Castille expecting a hero’s welcome.
Instead, he was chased away with raging chants of “Mafia” and “Shame on you”.