In 2014, Joseph Muscat, in what was a seemingly humble manner, claimed that his decision on the Café Premier was a rushed decision stemming from his inexperience and that of his government.
So there we were, all thinking that Muscat had impulsively rushed his decision. Little did we all know that, while Muscat was deviating our attention, he was hiding yet another scandal. A dirtier scandal with more sleaze. A scandal which has cost one Parliamentary Secretary his political career, even though ultimately that responsibility should be carried by the Minister. And who is that minister? Muscat himself.
It now transpires that the Gaffarena deal couldn’t have happened without the collusion of many people.
To make matters even more surreal, now, Joseph Muscat, as a member of parliament, is taking to court the Minister responsible for the Lands Department, a.k.a. the Prime Minister, a.k.a. Joseph Muscat himself.
This plot is totally absurd but not at all humorous or comic. Muscat is suing himself and expects us to be impressed by his seriousness.
In a normal democracy, Joseph Muscat should have, and would have, resigned.
For the first time since the Independence of our country, the Prime Minister has chosen the Lands Department to be under his responsibility. And it is under Muscat’s watch and responsibility that the hottest scandals have surfaced at the Lands Department.
Let us not forget the Australia Hall scandal. Remember when Prime Minister Muscat gave a multi-million euro gift to Labour leader Muscat? At our expense?
There is an entire list of dubious, devious and collusive decisions on public property: Café Premier, Gaffarena and of course the GWU/ARMS deal.
This means that Café Premier was not a rushed decision. It also means that the Gaffarena scandal is not a one-off.
Thanks to the NAO report, now we also know that civil servants at the Land Department advised against the Gaffarena collusion (in part and in full). Of course we all know that fools rush in where angels fear to tread; but our Prime Minister is no fool. As Minister of the Lands Department, he was not ignorant of how wrong the Gaffarena deal really was. He obviously did nothing to stop it and only took action when it was blatantly obvious to everyone that he had absolutely no way out of it.
The sad thing about this huge mess is that it reinforces the widespread perception that politics and politicians are automatically corrupt and the only way to do politics is the scheming Machiavellian way.
In contrast, Simon Busuttil is proposing a way to institutionalise good governance, a practical set of proposals to turn principles of good administration into laws that bind any government. His proposals on good governance are not just a criticism of Muscat’s corrupt practices but they are practical, hands-on alternative commitments in black on white.
The harm Joseph Muscat is doing to himself, those around him and politics in general needs drastic counter-measures. I have no doubt that, out there, a silent majority is totally disgusted at the state of our government.
Muscat promised change and, in a very sleazy way, he kept his promise by changing things for the worse. His sleaze depends on a basic Machiavellian assumption: “One who deceives will always find those who allow themselves to be deceived.”
The recent surveys are showing that this assumption may not hold for much longer.