The Malta Independent 27 September 2020, Sunday

TMID Editorial: Joseph Muscat - His continued presence does more harm than good

Monday, 27 January 2020, 09:51 Last update: about 9 months ago

Joseph Muscat’s continued public presence is doing more harm than good for Prime Minister Robert Abela’s image.

Muscat did not resign in glory, as he and die-hard supporters try to portray, but in disgrace. Muscat’s legacy has left a black mark on Maltese history, severely damaging the country’s reputation abroad and creating distrust in Maltese institutions due to his inaction over countless scandals, his friendliness with people of questionable repute, and his defence of situations which in other democratic countries should have warranted immediate resignations and removals.

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Prime Minister Robert Abela needs to get far away from Muscat if he truly wants change, and not have him be present during OPM meetings.

Abela has made some great strides in terms of the action he needed to take. Taking quick action where necessary. But he has also stumbled a bit, and given the gravity of the situation locally in terms of trust in the institutions and in politicians, he cannot afford it. For instance, Lawrence Cutajar resigned as police commissioner, a much needed move. But then the very Cutajar was, after resigning, employed by the Home Affairs Ministry as a consultant on public safety and logistics. This makes it seem as though Cutajar is being rewarded… but for what? Cutajar has been seen to be a very ineffective police commissioner who sent trust in the police plummeting downwards.

However now another issue has emerged, one which could perhaps stall public belief that Abela wants change.

Former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat attended a meeting between the Office of the Prime Minister and Steward Healthcare, This newsroom was informed that Steward Healthcare, a company which runs three of Malta’s hospitals, had asked for meeting with new Prime Minister Robert Abela, with sources saying that the company is trying to secure additional government funding and also wants to make changes to its contract. This newsroom was further informed that Muscat did much of the talking during the meeting, and that he was in favour of granting Steward its requests.

Some questions begin to come to mind as a result of this news. Is Muscat still pulling certain strings? Even if this is not the case, that is the perception. Robert Abela has done quite a bit to distance himself from his predecessor, however such a situation could send him reeling into Muscat’s shadow.

Now an OPM representative had officially told this newsroom that Muscat introduced the Steward Healthcare representative to PM Abela as part of the briefing process the new Prime Minister is receiving to adjourn himself on pending work in various sectors. Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne was also there. In reality, Fearne’s presence given that he is Health Minister makes sense, but Muscat’s does not.

As this newsroom has previously stated, Prime Minister Robert Abela does not have the luxury of making any mistakes at such a crucial moment in this country’s history, where trust in the rule of law is in the gutter, and where other countries are scrutinising Malta’s every move. The protests last December called for change. Abela has begun to deliver some of that change, but he needs to completely cut ties with Muscat, and not include him in any official meetings lest he be seen as not being the one pulling the strings.

 

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