The Malta Independent 28 May 2018, Monday

A challenge to Konrad and Keith

Stephen Calleja Tuesday, 30 May 2017, 12:00 Last update: about 12 months ago

Less than 60 hours remain till the end of the election campaign.

Mizzi and Schembri were the new faces of Labour before the 2013 election. Labour was promising heaven on earth at the time, and Joseph Muscat convinced the electorate to give him a chance. Labour obtained the largest ever electoral victory, as most of the country believed it was what Malta needed.

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Four years down the line, Mizzi and Schembri have become an embarrassment to their party and government. Their opening up of secret companies in Panama, which were exposed only because of the Panama Papers revelations, showed that they were more interested in themselves rather than the well-being of the country. That the Prime Minister, through his wife, is now accused to have done the same adds more fuel to the burning fire.

They have brought shame to Malta. Our country’s reputation has been hit badly because of their actions. It will take us a long time to rebuild our image on the international stage, as companies prepare to leave unless the situation improves. And so Mizzi and Schembri are no longer the faces that Labour wants us to see. Every time they appear in public, the country (the unblinkered part) looks at them in disdain, because it is mostly their fault – and that of the Prime Minister, of course – that we are in this crisis. It is their doing that Labour, once again, has failed to complete its term in office.

Mizzi has kept a very low profile during the campaign. Unlike other ministers, he has not taken part in any of the press conferences that the Prime Minister has organised almost every morning. In 2013, he was there almost every day. Which means that something has drastically changed. Which means that Labour wants to keep him away from having to face questions from the media.

Apart from offering wine with his photo on the label during restricted activities, he has not appeared during mass activities. He has rarely been present in Labour’s evening events, and it was only yesterday that he was given the microphone for the first time, in Birzebbuga. I guess he visited China more than he visited Birzebbuga in the last four years.

Keith Schembri has actually disappeared. He is not present at all in Labour’s activities.

Both are hiding behind emails to rebut stories that continue to come out about their behaviour in the last four years. But, all throughout the campaign and even long before that, they have not faced journalists with the hard questions.

There is still time for this to be rectified.

Labour knows how to organise press conference within an hour.

There are still 60 hours left, ample time for Labour to put Konrad and Keith behind a table facing journalists.

If they really have nothing to hide, if they are really convinced that they did nothing wrong, they should do it.

They should answer our questions.

Truthfully, for once.

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