The Malta Independent 17 May 2022, Tuesday

TMID Editorial: Jason Micallef’s outburst

Wednesday, 26 January 2022, 08:06 Last update: about 5 months ago

There’s a Maltese saying, quite vulgar, which refers to times when people do not think enough before they speak up. It mentions an anatomical part which does not see the light of day, unless one goes to a nudist beach. The English have a more polite way of expressing themselves: they call it shooting from the hip.

That expression came to mind when Jason Micallef came up with the bright idea of calling for mass demonstrations following the raid that was carried out at the home of Joseph Muscat last week.

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Micallef, chairman of One Productions as well as the Valletta Cultural Agency, did not accept the fact that a magisterial inquiry entails a search at the home of the former Prime Minister, the same man who, soon after being elected PL leader, had found a way to move Micallef out of the Labour Party administration in 2009 by abolishing the post of secretary general to replace it with a CEO.

The two must have made up since then. After all, Micallef is still leading the Labour media propaganda machine and is head of a government agency, so he was compensated well for his being kicked out of the Hamrun headquarters.

And so Micallef is still one of the frontliners of Muscat’s defence, like a true soldier whose commander can do no wrong. Muscat, as we all know, is under the microscope for being the head of government at the time that the controversial deal with Vitals for the transfer of three public hospitals to the private sector was signed. It’s a deal that could cost the taxpayer €100 million if the government pulls out, a clause that former Finance Minister Edward Scicluna was not told about, according to the latter’s testimony in court.

For Micallef, it is not right that police officers turn up at Muscat’s door. He said nothing that this happened years after any search should have been carried out.

For Micallef, Muscat is untouchable.

Micallef epitomises the way the Labour grassroots think. Joseph Muscat lifted them out of 25 years of misery in opposition, and so anything he did, or might have done, was forgivable.

Micallef described the raid on Muscat’s home as “obscene”, carried out to “embarrass the Labour Party” before the election, and was undermining the government’s work. Like anyone else, he is entitled to an opinion, whatever that may be.

But to instigate mass protests in the streets simply because the police are doing their duty – and, we repeat, very late in the day – is something that goes beyond just simply expressing oneself. Micallef is not just a man in the street; what he says, because of the positions he held and holds, carries weight.

When the chairman of a media owned by the party in government lashes out at the police for doing their work, and seeks an investigation as to why sections of the media were informed about the police’s plan, something is very wrong.

This makes us question whether we really live in a democracy, and whether Labour really wants the institutions to work as they should.

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