The Malta Independent 17 August 2022, Wednesday

How avarice killed us

Sunday, 15 November 2020, 07:42 Last update: about 3 years ago

Kevin Cassar

Alex Muscat, Labour MP and OPM deputy chief of staff, accepted €5,000 from Nexia BT. He told the Daphne Caruana Galizia public inquiry that he saw nothing wrong with accepting payment from those who now refuse to answer any questions and who set up offshore secret companies for Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi.

Keith Schembri was Muscat’s direct boss. And he had done far worse besides setting up secret offshore companies linked to the notorious 17 Black. So can you blame Muscat for claiming he did nothing wrong? Avarice was the raison d’etre for Joseph Muscat and all of his inner circle - so what was wrong with siphoning thousands from those draining millions of taxpayers’ money?

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In an article penned by Alex Muscat in July 2020 (“Being frank with our friends”) he staunchly defended the obscene passport sale. “They are so blinded by what they believe is just plain wrong that they are failing to recognise the way they benefit themselves” Muscat argued in reference to our European partners. Translating the gibberish, Muscat is really saying “Why are they so stuck on principles and values when they could be making millions like us”. Muscat was being frank. And betrayed the psyche permeating Joseph Muscat’s “moviment”.  Avarice is the driving force of both Joseph and Alex Muscat.  Its normalisation is so complete that the younger Muscat fails to realise how repulsive his argument is.

Avarice is not just greed. It is a disordered, insatiable and ruthless desire for wealth - a desire so overwhelming that it destroys everything and everyone in its path to achieve its aim. It is not about wanting to have it, but wanting to have it all and wanting to have it now. How you get it is irrelevant as long as you do.

Joseph Muscat and his inner circle contracted the incurable disease of Plutomania. His movement of so-called business friendly progressives and liberals were nothing more than a party of greed.

The long list of Muscat’s inner circle who succumbed to that temptation is endless:  Konrad Mizzi’s secret companies and 17 Black links, his wife’s 13,000 euro per month job, his 80,000 euro consultancy post-resignation; Silvio Valletta’s trips with Yorgen Fenech; Edward Scicluna’s silence to protect his ministerial salary; Joseph Cuschieri’s stingy claim for 15,000 euro in addition to his exorbitant salary, for attending MFSA Board meetings and the hundreds of thousands spent on travel jaunts; Neville Gafa’s claims for overtime payment; Chris Cardona’s raiding of the mini-bar, his fake Portomaso rental agreement, his obscene expenses on luxury hotel weekend breaks; Deborah Schembri’s multiple jobs; millions of direct orders for Nexia BT; Robert Abela’s hundreds of thousands euro worth of contracts; Lou Bondi’s pseudo-consultancy, on and on it goes.

Even the GWU got its cut. Transport Malta leased a property for 500,000 euro per year from the GWU. Worse still, the union was allegedly paid 8.5 million to ‘employ’ unemployed workers in order to strike them off the unemployment register and appear as private sector workers. The Community Work Scheme Enterprise Foundation set up by the union to run the scheme has no employees.  Its board is chaired by Josef Bugeja and includes Aaron Mifsud Bonnici, Konrad Mizzi’s personal lawyer.  It even rents its offices in Hamrun from a member of the board, Robert Borg who saw no conflict of interest in renting his property to the Foundation. The GWU, whose reason for existence is protecting workers, exploits those workers to siphon millions of taxpayers’ funds. And what does government get in return from the GWU?

The standard of course was set by Joseph Muscat himself. Starting off with renting himself his own car at 7,000 euro, he continued with accepting Yorgen’s expensive wines and watch and ended with receiving 21,000 euro in flights from a secret benefactor.

Joseph Muscat recognised that in our culture, avarice is a virtue. The greedy are considered successful, talented and smart. His standards of success are inextricably bound to the lust for acquisition. He exploited the toxin of avarice to compromise all those around him and buy their acquiescence or silence.

In Scott Fitzgerald’s words: “They were careless people - they smashed up creatures and then retreated into their money....and let other people clean up the mess they had made”.

Muscat and his inner circle’s abundance however has brought them neither peace of mind nor serenity of spirit. Muscat has retired in disgrace, haunted by the fear that the long arm of the law will finally reach him.  His two right hand men have been arrested and interrogated. Their friend Yorgen Fenech counts his days in jail. Chris Cardona, Silvio Valletta, Lawrence Cutajar, Brian Tonna, Karl Cini, Joseph Cuschieri wait anxiously to hear their fate. “What shall it profit a man to gain the world, and lose his own soul?”

But it is not only themselves they have destroyed. The national reputation lies in tatters. A journalist has been sacrificed at the altar of avarice. The nation has lost its soul.

How did we end up in this mess? More importantly how do we get out of it?  An examination of our national conscience is well overdue. The Labour Party, or at least those members noble of heart who were not ensnared in the trappings of the Greed party, must be asking how the trust of the nation could have been so completely betrayed. The whole country must be asking how the most catholic of European countries provided such fertile ground for such avarice. The Church must be contemplating its utter failure to instill the virtues of justice and courage. Those purporting to be an alternative government must be cleaning out their own Augean stables.

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