“Everyone knows we are honest with the people, and this is because we deliver on our promises”, a young Robert Abela bragged in July 2021.
So much muck has flowed under the bridge since that today, he won’t recognise those words as his. Nobody else would either.
When you have to make it a point to highlight how honest you are, it’s a sure sign you aren’t. As for keeping his promises, well, the less said, the better.
Suffice it to say that on being elected Labour leader and in the middle of a collapse in the rule of law, Abela cynically declared: “We will continue to strengthen the rule of law and good governance”.
Just chew on that for a minute – good governance, and then think of Rosianne Cutajar, Justyne Caruana, Anton Refalo, Ian Borg, Aaron Farrugia, Silvio Schembri, Alicia Borg Said, Clyde Caruana, Carmelo Abela and Robert Abela himself – all subjects of investigations into ethics breaches or worse.
Think Vitals and Steward, Electrogas, driving licences, social benefits, Silvio Grixti, and the American University of Malta.
Robert Abela hasn’t kept his word. He’s let us down, all of us, including those who unquestioningly voted for him.
That early sense of relief when Joseph Muscat was driven out, and the fresh-faced Abela made all the right noises has ebbed into a cold haze of fog.
“With us, you know where you stand”, Abela bragged. Sadly, we don’t. We have no clue where we stand because Abela broke another pledge – to be honest with the people.
Abela doggedly conceals even the most basic of information. In May 2023, all the names of members of dozens of government boards and committees were wiped off the official government website.
The composition of those boards and committees was previously known to the public. Since then, that information remains top secret.
Robert Abela gave assurances in parliament almost one year ago that this was only temporary.
His excuse for the “temporary” secrecy was that the government website was being modernised. All the information, including the identities of board and committee members, would become available “in the coming weeks,” Abela declared.
We’re now almost one year later, and it seems the government’s website is still being “modernised”. Robert Abela is still suppressing information, which is propaganda – the worst type of propaganda, the propaganda of secrecy and dishonesty.
Robert Abela has good reason for keeping that information concealed: those committee and board members are hand-picked by Abela and his ministers, but we pay them.
Abela doesn’t want you to know who they are and how much you pay them. Many of them don’t have any experience or expertise in the spheres the committees are responsible for.
The members of those boards aren’t selected for their competence, qualifications or work ethic. Those positions are gifts Labour hands out to its loyalists or those it wants to entice into its den of iniquity.
Two or three additional sources of income, for little or no work, guarantees absolute loyalty for Labour from those beneficiaries.
It’s not just the names of those committee and board members that Abela keeps secret, it’s also their remuneration.
The government manual on the computation of salaries for public officials refers to a framework for the remuneration of board members, the “Manual for setting the categorisation, classification and remuneration of government-appointed boards and committees”.
That manual outlines how much those committee and board members should be paid from our taxes, but Robert Abela doesn’t want you to know that.
The Shift lodged a freedom of information request to access this top-secret document, but it was turned down.
Robert Abela’s excuse was that this is a cabinet document and, therefore, cannot be released. The Information and Data Protection Tribunal is now investigating that excuse.
The man who bragged about how honest he is with the public digs up the most ridiculous excuses to ensure his adoring public has absolutely no idea what he’s up to.
Abela must hide that information as it reveals a painful and depressing truth.
Robert Abela is using public funds for his political interests and damaging national interests in in the process.
He doesn’t want you to know he’s appointed the most incompetent, if not dangerous, Labour loyalists to key positions on government boards and committees.
He’s not appointing them for their merit, he’s not thinking of Malta’s interests, he’s focused solely on maintaining power by buying people’s loyalty using public funds and keeping it secret.
But there are other reasons for keeping that information secret. Abela’s trying to quell internal revolts triggered by anger and envy amongst those who feel cheated at being overlooked for such positions while other “less-deserving” insiders sit on two or three of those boards – despite their manifest unsuitability.
Lifelong Labour activists cannot understand how Trischia Falzon, a ONE reporter in her twenties, sits on two of those boards or how her boyfriend, Ronald Falzon, sits on three.
Abela doesn’t want those riled by his decisions to know that those he appointed are actually being paid far more than what that secret “manual” establishes. That would really light the fuse.
Abela cannot do otherwise. He has to suppress information, he has to conceal the truth because the truth is ugly and the truth is damning.
Robert Abela doesn’t want you to know who he really is, he wants to create an illusion. He wants you to believe he is honest and trustworthy, but the truth reveals he is neither.