The Malta Independent 16 December 2017, Saturday

TMID Editorial: Rule of law - Downplaying problems is not the answer

Monday, 4 December 2017, 11:15 Last update: about 11 days ago

In the latest chapter from a government in denial, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat yesterday tried to downplay the events that we witnessed last week, when a cross party EP delegation came to Malta on a rule of law fact-finding mission.

Speaking at a party activity in Mellieha Muscat insisted that Malta has a good relationship with the EU and only has a problem with a “particular group of people in the EP.”

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The PM conveniently forgot that an overwhelming majority in the EP last month called on his government to launch an inquiry into the panama papers inquiry and for the police commissioner he appointed to wake up from his slumber and act.

Muscat reminded told the excited crowd how he had told off the members of this “particular group” when they met him at Castille, and how he had questioned the ‘usefulness’ of their mission seeing that they had made up their mind “before even hearing the government’s side of the story.”

But the fact is that these MEPs have based their concerns not on hearsay but on actual events, the Panama Papers scandal and a number leaked FIAU reports whose conclusions are quite damning.

The government has also used the fact that PN MEP David Casa was part of the delegation as another way of discrediting the group.

It is true that the presence of a PN MEP on the delegation did not help much in countering claims that this was an orchestrated event. But just because Casa was on the delegation does not mean that the whole team, approved by the EP, was biased an acting on an agenda. Things at the EP do not work in the same way they do in Malta, but then again it is easy to fool the masses into thinking so, especially if the great leader says so.

Labour pundits and the PL media also tried to discredit the delegation by pointing out that one of the MEPs, Monica Macovei, comes from Romania, where the authorities are not exactly a shining beacon of good governance. But this is just a stupid generalization. Just because there is corruption in Romania does not mean that all of its people are corrupt. There is certainly corruption in Malta, but not all of us are part of it.

The greatest tragedy, apart from the corruption and hijacking of the institutions, is the fact that the government does not even acknowledge that there are problems, and serious ones at that.

Instead it uses its media and its leader’s charm to win over the people with talk of how well the economy is doing, and how Malta now has a better employment rate than Germany.

We are not saying that this is not good news, but it is hardly the argument to make to counter serious allegations of corruption.

Instead of saying that we can and we will do better, the PM says this is just an issue with a particular group and that it is borne out of jealousy.

This was said in the same event during which a Labour MP said that the number one regulation of rule of law is to submit to the will of the majority, and a minister said that it seemed that Labour was heading towards a third general election victory.

 

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The FIAU, which has lately found its voice and is issuing press releases on a daily basis, has lately reacted to claims that its former official Jonathan Ferris was unfairly dismissed and to the publication of a still-shot from CCTV footage of one of its meetings, which it says was obtained illegally.

But there is one thing that the FIAU has failed to comment over the last six months: those FIAU reports that found that there was reasonable suspicion of money laundering by top government officials.

The usually secretive unit finds no trouble in issuing press releases to discredit Ferris, saying that he was sacked because he fell short of its expectations, but it says nothing of the conclusions of the leaked reports, which were assumedly reached by others who did not fall short of those expectations.

That is what the people at the FIAU should be speaking about. 

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