The Malta Independent 23 June 2018, Saturday

TMID Editorial: The Panama Papers’ long shadow - Konrad’s treasure hunt

Thursday, 14 June 2018, 10:03 Last update: about 9 days ago

Either Minister Konrad Mizzi has an uncanny knack of walking right into the punch line of a joke, or perhaps it is just too easy considering all that has come to pass over the last couple of years.

He can answer questions about a children’s television channel’s episodes coming to Malta but not questions about Air Malta or, for that matter, his own treasure hunt or the hunt for his fabled treasure.

We can understand that the man has a job to do, and we can also understand that Maltese kids will be in for a big treat next year as several of their favourite cartoon characters descend upon the island as part of a major network’s ‘treasure hunt series’.

But, really, for Konrad Mizzi to address a press conference about a treasure hunt could be considered more than a little farcical.  In fact, the situation would be comical if it were not so serious.

That is because the ramifications of Mizzi’s actions, and the fact that they have gone completely unpunished, are leaving some very serious residual problems for the country.

Konrad Mizzi was, after all, the only European Union minister exposed by the Panama Papers and as such, he is the only EU minister to have been investigated as a result of those revelations, and as a result, Malta is the only country embedded in this quagmire.

At a rather innocuous press conference yesterday, Mizzi was quizzed about Air Malta.  Now we understand that it may be a little rude to go straight for questions that are unrelated to the subject matter at hand, especially when there are foreign guests who know nothing about the state of the national airline.

But, on the other hand, it is also somewhat rude to have the minister remain in position as though it is merely business as usual and that the eyes of Europe have been on us and our government for years now.

Mizzi’s people did not take kindly to the Air Malta questions, but just imagine if journalists had started asking the very valid questions about Panama, New Zealand, Dubai or 17 Black?

But the minister, his colleagues and his people have to realise that the truth of the matter is that this just will not go away, and the questions will not go away until the country has the answers – maybe not the answers many out there do not even want to know, but the answers that they need, and deserve, to know.

That is because these multiple accusations of financial misconduct by those in power have been festering under the nation’s skin for far too long and they hang like a shadow over this government, and as a result large swathes of the population, those who did not vote for this government and even many of those who had, are openly or secretly calling into question every deal the government strikes –from the power station to the hospitals to Air Malta and, who knows, maybe even with the television network at yesterday’s press conference.

The thing is that trust has been lost. And once that trust is lost, it is exceedingly difficult to regain.

No government should be able to afford that and no government should allow itself to be regarded in such a negative light by any significant portion of its population, irrespective of any electoral result no matter how favourable.

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