The Malta Independent 5 August 2021, Thursday

TMID Editorial: Labour Party - An apology is not enough

Thursday, 8 April 2021, 08:06 Last update: about 5 months ago

An article on Malta Today penned by President Emeritus Marie Louise Coleiro Preca, who before reaching the top institutional post in the country had served the Labour Party for decades, ruffled some feathers in the past days.

Coleiro Preca, who was the first woman to hold the post of party secretary general and later was also named a minister in the first Joseph Muscat administration, wrote that the Labour Party owes the country an apology.

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In the wake of the latest allegations involving the Labour government and the arrests and arraignment of, among others, Keith Schembri, the former chief of staff to Muscat, the PL must apologise to “all those who genuinely believed in its moral credentials and supported it, and to all the people of these islands.”

She added that Labour must go on a soulsearching exercise to establish what it stands for and whether it is just a party driven by “powerhungry” individuals and led by “surveys rather than political, social and moral values”. The PL must question whether it is still faithful to its founding principles to support workers and the needy, or if it is “simply mesmerised by any business that comes along”, she added.

Her request was picked up by most media outlets, given its source. The Labour Party reacted a day later, but only because it was forced to do so by journalists who attended a press conference on an altogether different subject. Pressed to give an answer, PL deputy leader Daniel Micallef said that the party had no problem saying sorry to people who feel hurt. A rather vague response to the strong words used by Coleiro Preca.

But an apology, welcome as it would be, is not enough.

For years, under the Muscat leadership, Labour allowed some of its top people too much leeway and, even when this was highlighted and criticised, Muscat continued to defend them, rather than kick them out.

The culture of impunity permeated across all sectors and the level of corruption grew to unprecedented levels. In spite of warnings, Muscat failed to take action, even when other members of the Cabinet were privately expressing their misgivings.

If Muscat had stopped the rot immediately, we would not be in the position we are today, with the country rocked by scandal after scandal. The details emerging daily from the law courts – finally, and after Muscat left the political scene – are shocking, to say the least.

And we are nowhere near knowing the full story, if we will ever get there. The police continue to investigate other avenues, and we do hope that they will ultimately deliver the culprits before the courts to face justice.

An apology would do little unless Labour distances itself completely from Muscat and all that happened under his leadership.

It would mean nothing if the perpetrators are allowed to roam free and not face the justice they deserve.

Most of all, it will not bring Daphne Caruana Galizia back. The journalist was on the forefront in highlighting Labour’s scandals. Labour tried hard to belittle and demonise her, and she ended up being assassinated for her efforts.

No, an apology is not enough.

 

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