The Malta Independent 22 October 2020, Thursday

TMID Editorial: Muscat’s resignation - Lest we forget

Thursday, 8 October 2020, 08:10 Last update: about 13 days ago

Disgraced former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat was given a hero’s send-off this week by half the country, which seems to only remember his good side and forgot the bad.

In typical North Korea-style idolism, the Labour Party sent out a longish statement outlining Muscat’s achievements and describing the former PM as if he was the best thing to ever happen to this country.

Facebook was flooded with ‘Thank you Joseph’ posts and the entire Cabinet went into overdrive, with Ministers competing to upload their best selfies with the former PM.

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But we also remember a different side to him.

Muscat resigned in shame in January after new links between his office, and people close to him, to the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia cropped up.

His six-year tenure was marred by constant claims of corruption. He was even bestowed the title of most corrupt politician of 2019.

Yes, the economy grew, and more civil rights were ushered in. But his main pledges, those of meritocracy, transparency and fairness never materialised. To the contrary, what we saw under his watch was rampant nepotism and corruption.

Yet for many people, it is the glitzy pre-2013 image that sticks. They only see him as the person who delivered Labour to historic electoral wins after an almost uninterrupted 25 years in Opposition. They still see him as their golden boy, not as the person under whom Malta suffered its worse reputational damage in history.

They love Muscat because he gave them the impression that he was one of them, he went down to their level and spoke their language. They seem to forget that he was not. That he dealt with ultra-rich but shady individuals across the globe, that he acted as a passport salesman for multi-millionaire individuals and negotiated with corrupt individuals in Azerbaijan. That he brushed shoulders with and received opulent gifts from millionaire businesspeople who were given lucrative government contracts worth millions.

They seem to forget that he surrounded himself with dubious individuals and defended them to the hilt, even when they were caught with their pants down dipping their fingers in the honey pot, time after time.

They seem to forget that, unlike them, he spent more than a year’s average salary on a single holiday in Dubai, without ever fully explaining how he funded that trip. That is not your average people person.

The same goes for Konrad Mizzi. When the disgraced former minister lost three libel suits and won one this week, he only posted about the case he won.

He had several hundreds of comments by blindly loyal fans who were urging him to keep fighting. Some said the truth will emerge (iz-zejt jitla f’wicc l-ilma), and others that they believe his version and that he was one of the best ministers Malta has ever had.

For the record, the truth has already emerged. Mizzi was the only European Minister to open up a secret company in Panama. We are not inventing this. He admitted it. He was ultimately sacked for it, and for many more misdeeds.

Mizzi was involved in many shady deals and was the subject of FIAU investigations. He was part of so many corrupt agreements, including the Electrogas power station and the 18-year fuel purchase agreements, the outrageous Vitals deal from which we are being robbed millions a year and the equally outrageous Montenegro windfarm deal. Yet for many people, Mizzi remains a hero.

This overzealous idolisation has to stop. Politicians come and go. None of them should be given a God-like status. All politicians do good things for their country. But they also do bad things, some more than others. Muscat and Mizzi did a lot of good but, in our opinion, this is far outweighed by the bad things they did. And the country is suffering for it. Swooning over them on Facebook will not change this fact.

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