The Malta Independent 17 January 2020, Friday

'Tardare si, scappare no'

David Casa Sunday, 8 December 2019, 09:15 Last update: about 2 months ago

Less than month ago, when Malta was busy bracing itself for the bad weather, nobody would have believed what kind of storms the nation was heading into. The suddenness and momentousness of the revelations resonated with the force of thunder. While many knew Muscat had been guilty of something from the very beginning, just how guilty he was shocked everyone. The political storm Malta is facing now hit Castille first, and stripped away Muscat’s quasi-regal, untouchable image.

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People have been seized by the incessant updates of high-level criminality and corruption, each worse than the last. Just as soon as the papers reveal another damning update, Muscat and his minions make some draconian move to curtail protests or intimidate the press. Before anyone has had time to recover from the last jaw-dropper, Malta’s name is whisked back into the mud.

The suffocation brought about by this deluge of information is almost enough to make us forget the Police Commissioner’s dereliction of duty. Keith Schembri remains comfortably immune from police interrogation in his Mellieħa villa, happily receiving Neville Gafà, while everyone is left baffled as to why Keith Schembri is not in custody.

It really makes you wonder who is still pulling the strings when the police remain inactive while incriminating testimony pours of court, especially when the Labour establishment has claimed that they felt betrayed by Schembri.

This only confirms what everyone, from the protestor at the ironic Freedom Square to the European Parliament delegation, has been saying: Muscat should have resigned long ago. While he continues to occupy Castille, it is impossible to ascertain the rule of law in Malta. He knows this, and Owen Bonnici knows this, despite their self-serving panegyrics claiming the contrary.

It is not enough to claim betrayal to sympathise with the Maltese public’s sentiment. The Maltese do not want sympathy, they want action, starting with Joseph Muscat’s immediate resignation and continuing with a full, public and independent investigation into his behaviour. Because it is more than obvious that he is far from having nothing to hide.

The ‘honourable exit’ ship has sailed for Joseph Muscat. It sailed back in 2016, when the Panama Papers story broke. That he is trying to mitigate the damage to his legacy now is only signs of serious delusion or, much worse, that he is doing so deliberately. If so, he has to have a fairly persuasive reason for jeopardising the country’s sanity and democratic credentials: self-preservation.

Like any good dictator, he has sunk to new depths to save his own neck, all whilst flailing about trying to keep a straight face. He had already made a habit of dodging the press, but now, aside from dodging soaring eggs, he has become increasingly inventive in his approach. You do not have to run away from journalists if you lock them in a room in the OPM guarded by unauthorised thugs.

Each day he remains in office, the country’s agitation increases exponentially. Dictatorial tactics have no place in a modern, European state. While his colleagues criticise protestors, Muscat’s own supporters are assaulting and intimidating journalists and activists in an incredibly tone-deaf move while Malta struggles to cope in the shadow Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder.

It is clear that Muscat is not seeking to repair his reputation or to mitigate any damage being caused. He is using his power for nothing more noble than to defend the indefensible, to undermine investigations and to aggravate the cleavage he has carved into Maltese society. Each hour he remains in office is exponentially damaging an already desperate society.

Barricading Freedom Square will not solve anything. Smiling for selfies while protestors fight for the good of their country does nothing to improve tensions, nor does it send the message that the people’s representatives are taking this crisis seriously. If it is storms that show the seaworthiness of the sailor, these people are proving only their invertebracy in compliance with the will of their despicable leader.

With a personal reputation in tatters, independent institutions emasculated, a criminal investigation compromised, the rule of law dead in a ditch and a society heartbroken and betrayed, it is bewildering and outrageous that Joseph Muscat should remain Malta’s Prime Minister for another minute. He is the last person who should be wielding those powers, more so when he has not even committed to saying whether or not he is still in touch with Keith Schembri.

Trust in Muscat has been fragmented and, while he remains in office, so has the Maltese people’s trust in our country’s institutions and leaders. It is shameful that the hard work of so many honourable people in the course of Maltese political history is rapidly being voided, while hard-working Maltese are forced to take up the fight for truth, justice and democracy.

In his own words, the same people who caused our nation’s problems cannot be the ones to resolve them. Muscat has been – and will continue – trying to prolong the inevitable. He Muscat should know that his efforts to delay judgment day are futile and will only cause more hardship on people of goodwill. To Muscat, I say, “tardare si, scappere no”. Do Malta and the rest of Europe a favour and leave now.

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