“The opposition… pointed a pistol towards Judge Grixti’s head, a pistol that was fired,” Prime Minister Robert Abela said outside the court in a display of anger and hyperbole, using gratuitous macabre metaphors and inciting his ardent supporters against the opposition.
“Grixti was placed (by the opposition) with his back to the wall,” Abela added, eliciting the idea of a firing squad.
It was a shameful episode, the shameless and frontal way in which the opposition disinterred the dead,” he went on.
“There is an element of aggression being applied by the leader of the opposition against members of the previous and current governments”, he said, accusing the opposition of working against “the interests of the Gozitan and Maltese people” and aiming to “hinder not help” international arbitration procedures.
“The PN does not respect the institutions but threatens them in order to make them decide in its favour,” Abela concluded in his bizarre and toxic rant.
This is a reckless escalation in harmful rhetoric, fuelling the flames of divisiveness, rage and hate of political adversaries. That is evident from the thousands of hostile comments uploaded on social media against the Nationalist Party after Abela’s statement.
Why does the PN’s legal attempts to protect the nation’s interests rankle so much with Abela? Is it because it exposes his incompetence, if not collusion, with the most fraudulent deal in Malta’s history?
One minute, he’s defending Steward; the next, he claims he’s fighting them in international courts.
First, he claimed he didn’t know how much Vitals and Steward siphoned into their own pockets and insisted on waiting for the NAO to tell him; the next, he claimed he was chasing Steward for the money.
How can he fight his case if he doesn’t know how much money they stole? Or maybe he knew all along and pretended not to, to protect Vitals, Steward and those who received tens of thousands of euro in their bank accounts from companies linked to Vitals and Steward.
No wonder Abela’s losing his cool. His latest display shows he is no longer the calm and collected moderate he projected himself to be. He is under strain, and it shows. The question is, how much longer can he keep it up?
It’s time for some recalibration and for Abela to remember this is a European Union member state on the eve of European parliamentary elections. This is not the time for prime ministers to talk about firing pistols and members of the judiciary, fuelling already problematic division and hatred.
He’s making errors. He accused the opposition of forcing Judge Grixti’s recusal by “disinterring the dead” body of the Judge’s cousin, who’d been a member of the Vitals selection board when actually he recused himself after his partner, lawyer Yanika Bugeja, was appointed curator representing Steward Assets Management Malta.
Abela accused the opposition of threatening the institutions, but we know that making legal arguments before a court is not a threat. What is a threat is Abela threatening institutions by publicly attacking magistrates, humiliating them by casting doubts about their work ethics and impartiality.
Abela knows those magistrates cannot respond to his false accusations, just as he knows that by mentioning them in this way, he unleashes thousands of Labour trolls upon them.
He also knows it takes just one rogue individual among his thousands of diehard supporters to take matters into their own hands. By behaving this way, Abela recklessly endangers the security and safety of those he singles out, and he knows it.
Judge Grixti didn’t accuse the opposition of threatening him, but he deplored the “inappropriate and rather intimidating tone” adopted by Abela’s government when it urged him to reverse his recusal.
Abela demonstrates a viciousness that comes from desperation, as he knows he’s losing control.
Meanwhile, as Ablea panics and lashes out, the public is left waiting hours to be seen at Mater Dei’s Emergency Unit and hours more to be admitted to windowless underground corridors without basic facilities – and that’s if you’re lucky. The rest are kept on stretchers in dangerously unhygienic proximity to other patients.
They want to know why they’re waiting for months, if not years, for essential investigations to guide treatment for their potentially serious conditions.
This is the legacy of Labour’s Vitals/Steward ‘real deal’.
Those are the real issues people want resolved. They’re not interested in hysterical statements about pistols pointed at magistrates’ heads, but Abela cannot afford to lose control of the narrative, and he needs people to remain distracted in petty partisanship and parochial pique.
Otherwise, they’ll wake up to the reality that Labour conned them.