The Malta Independent 16 July 2020, Thursday

Keith Schembri: come back, all is forgiven

Victor Calleja Sunday, 31 May 2020, 09:37 Last update: about 3 months ago

Up to a few months ago, the prime minister of Malta was a certain Joseph Muscat. At least that was the official version for the history books. But the whole world knew that the real power behind Castille’s throne, the de facto prime minister, was Keith Kasco Schembri.

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Schembri was the real king and Joseph Muscat was just a smiling, grimacing figurehead.

Joseph Muscat was a good mouthpiece for Schembri. He allowed himself, enticed by all sorts of horrors and riches, to be totally led by his chief of staff. Schembri held the string that pulled Muscat who performed to perfection. Schembri was the ventriloquist, Muscat the happy-to-indulge puppet.

Then the world around Muscat erupted. He lost his smile and swagger and, when the going got too hot, out he went.  Keith Schembri needed just one more important chess move.

To Labourites and people in general Muscat was a marvellous super-hero, the man who gave the Labour Party dynamism and invincibility. So the Muscat magic was worked on the Labour delegates who were swayed to choose Robert Abela.

When Chris Fearne lost out, Malta did. By publicly backing Muscat to the bitter end, he was also complicit in the Labour administrations wrongdoings. However, he showed promising signs of not being Schembri’s lapdog were he to succeed to the throne.

I believe that Keith Schembri is still calling all the shots. His hold on the party in power is not just monetary or because he knows too much about the people in power. He also knows how to win elections and how to decimate the opposition. His ploys are nefarious, and his contacts never-ending.

For Schembri’s scheming to remain in full force and for him to avoid being prosecuted or investigated properly, he understood that it was time to shake off Muscat and invest his new puppet, Robert Abela, with so-called power.

Abela was, and remains, totally clueless and would certainly not dream of upsetting Schembri. Why else would Schembri remain a free man? Why else would Abela never utter a word against Schembri?

Joseph Muscat has now been appointed consultant to the prime minister. Is he giving his own advice or that dictated by Schembri? We will never find out of course, because Schembri works in amazing ways.

Justice seems to be, at best, delayed, but most likely, totally obfuscated by the powers that be. Too much is at stake, too much time has passed, too many avenues have been closed.

The Covid-19 horror has helped the crooks get away with murder and all their nefarious stuff.

Public protests got rid of Joseph and the main culprits in the cabinet of criminals. But Robert Abela merely continues where his old master left off. Even though he has to contend with a crumbling economy, which might lose him votes, he must be delighted that the crimes of yesteryear have been forgotten, that no one has ended up in the dock and spilt too many beans about what the power brokers really concocted deep inside Castille.

Chris Fearne promised better, he seemed more humane and in search of more justice than Robert Abela. But they are all guilty and have blood on their hands.

Far from our shores another chief of staff is in the news. Like Schembri, Dominic Cummings thinks he can get away with anything. Because the British prime minister owes him so much (just as Muscat owed Schembri), Boris Johnson has defended Cummings unreservedly.

But the similarity ends there.

Unlike in Malta, British parliamentarians from Johnson’s party are vociferous in their condemnation of Cummings. At the time of writing, a minister has resigned and the polls have plummeted for Johnson and his party.

Whether Cummings will be shown the door is doubtful, but at least in Britain there are still people with a spine who speak out.

In Malta, the ultimate irony with Muscat and Schembri was that, while the revelations of corruption, crimes, and coverups were happening, not one of the Labour parliamentary group did anything to stop the rot. Yet the polls keep showing that support for the Labour Party is still increasing.

Keith Schembri was never fired by Joseph Muscat; he resigned. This is how politics plays out on this island. Come back Keith, all is forgotten.

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