The Malta Independent 6 August 2020, Thursday

Hope for a Second Republic

Timothy Alden Monday, 2 December 2019, 12:54 Last update: about 9 months ago

This week, the nation reeled at the shock of discovering that the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder plot extended to the highest corridors of power. The Panama Papers toppled governments and ended political careers abroad, with even the Prime Minister of Pakistan facing justice over the leaks. Only in Malta was there an exception to that rule. Malta was the exception – until now.

We do not know yet exactly why Joseph Muscat defended Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi over a scandal that led to the death of a journalist but, as his reign comes to an end, we are starting to get a clearer idea of his culpability in this sordid chapter of our country’s history. As the bell tolls for the Panama regime, there are a few crucial things that need to be said to the Labour Party.

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First of all, a message of thanks to all the Labourites who resisted this rot – starting, of course, with Marlene Farrugia and extending to all those who stood up to be counted this week. What is wrong is wrong, regardless of political party allegiance. We cannot dehumanise one another for the mere baggage of tribalism.
Secondly, it must be emphasised that for all these years a distinction has been made between Joseph Muscat and the Labour Party. Partit Demokratiku, in particular, was born out of a rebellion against the corruption of the Panama Papers and Muscat’s broken promises. It always maintained that Joseph Muscat and his Panama gang hijacked the Labour Party and used their immense power to control the media and the loyalty of the people – based on lies. However, the opposition to Muscat was therefore not opposition to the entire Labour community. Even Forza Nazzjonali in 2017 campaigned to free Labour from the chains of the corrupt business klikka which had placed itself above the rule of law.

Therefore, now that there is hope of justice being done at long last, and the truth is coming out, let us seize this opportunity to begin a new chapter together. Malta deserves a Second Republic, free from partisanship, where the law applies equally to everybody and where people are elected for the value they offer to the entire nation, not just to factions within it.

The ties with corrupt business must be permanently cut and the reform of party financing will be one way of bringing this about. The crooks implanted by Muscat into positions of influence must be purged so that upstanding public servants who have the national interest at heart can work on healing the injuries that have so divided us.

This is the chance for our country to begin anew and for this to happen there must be goodwill on the part of Labour to understand that the people who have been protesting only seek a fair and level playing field, where the rules are respected. Once the siege mentality has been lifted, and criminals have been brought to justice, then politics may become a dialogue rather than a war between communities.

Might does not make right and in order to achieve this new start it is absolutely imperative that leading Labour officials do not shield the wrong-doers in their midst. No excuses must be made, and Joseph Muscat’s legacy must end here.

The longer the Prime Minister clings to power, the harder it will be for the trust that now needs to be built between communities to succeed. Joseph Muscat has been compromised, and any conclusions to investigations under his watch are suspect.

As Mark Camilleri, Chairman of the National Book Council, has said, it is also imperative that dodgy contracts be revisited. We must clean our houses – from top to bottom. Muscat fooled the nation into thinking that an economic model based on ignoring the rule of law would deliver to us a Golden Age. He has left many realising that his economic model only made the rich richer, while sabotaging quality of life, our identity and our peace of mind.

As we witness the end of the beginning, I would also like to show my appreciation to all those on the side of the Opposition who have fought this good fight with me for years. At certain times, there were very few of us putting up any resistance, as it was no longer politically convenient. Motivated by principles rather than power, we endured through the darkest of hours to emerge vindicated against all the odds. The story of David versus Goliath has proved true and now we reach out to Labourites of good will, hoping for a government of national unity that will oversee a process of Constitutional reform that can be carried out in the spirit of solidarity and healing. May the Second Republic be born, called Malta and Gozo, to include our siblings across the channel as equals.
May we all stand – and work – together for peace, at long last. Let us give true meaning to the words ‘Malta Tagħna Ikoll’, and also pay tribute to the spirit of Forza Nazzjonali, where those from different parties set aside their differences for a vision that included everyone and left partisanship behind. Let us look to our common ground. Viva Malta u Ghawdex.

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