The Malta Independent 13 June 2024, Thursday
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When a hand flick is much more than a flick

Victor Calleja Sunday, 19 May 2024, 07:53 Last update: about 26 days ago

One of the most lasting moments in modern history caught on film and etched in the memory bank of a country is surely when Roberta Metsola  flicked Joseph Muscat away and refused to shake his hand way back in 2019.

Optics, modern communications experts say, are the all-important factor in our life. Get it to seem right and you have it made.

But in the world of Malta’s politics, this photo of Metsola caught on camera by Ben Borg Cardona is definitely way beyond just visuals, just a show.

Yes, it was a theatrical move which caught the imagination of a nation. The Labour mass, blinded by the chicanery of Joseph Muscat and his core team, were knocked out – figuratively of course – by the gesture. The anti-Labour brigade, especially the valiant fighters for justice and truth, and any objective onlooker, was mesmerised by the flick. One little move, one huge message.

In light of the circumstances which have unfolded these last days, this act of defiance shines out as a sign of what every right-thinking man and woman should be – and should have been – doing.

That Metsola gesture, to anyone with a modicum of decency, means a denial of all things wrong. It means saying no, in no half-measures or measured way, to corruption. It is a visual act that signifies that, given a choice between right and wrong, right should always be chosen.

It also means that people like Metsola, who saw through Muscat from the beginning, are the ones who were and have remained on the right side of history. Metsola, before and after she was elevated to President of the EU Parliament, fought not to taint Malta but to fight the reason for our tainting.

Unlike what Labour propaganda parrots say, such behaviour by Roberta Metsola was honourable and far from traitorous.

Today in hindsight everyone, even those blinded by political allegiances, should see this. From the first day that Daphne Caruana Galizia uncovered the secret accounts of Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri in the Panama Papers scandal, it was obvious that Joseph Muscat and his band were involved in so much wrongdoing. The horrific murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, the horrendous attempt at a cover-up, and the continued defence of the ones involved in it, were all good reasons to snub Joseph Muscat.

This is what Robert Abela and the party he leads should have done too. He should have snubbed, even if not as wonderfully as Metsola, Joseph Muscat and his goons. He should have determined that it was time to look at our recent past and truly save our country from moving ever closer to the brink.

In today’s world, with Labour stalwarts still denying the undeniable, with top officials charged criminally, with no firings happening, and only a partial resignation being accepted, it is obvious that our reputation is, once again, suffering badly.

But in these circumstances, with all that is coming to light, should we care about our reputation? Or should we go way beyond our reputation? You don’t lose a reputation simply because a Roberta Metsola speaks about the horrific state of our democracy. Our reputation suffers when we deserve that reputation, when our institutions are not working. And when, if there is a spark and the institutions work properly, they are accused of being some mythical enemy of the truth.

You lose your reputation because, when faced with a crisis, the Prime Minister retreats to his castle claiming that all the world including the judiciary is against him. Then he calls his foot soldiers to show his strength at the elections. Your reputation is tarnished when, instead of trying to weed out the rotten apples in your fold, you defend them and glorify them.

When you denigrate the few good men and women left standing who are fighting for truth, justice, and unshackled freedom and democracy.

Saying no to bullies, saying no to injustice, saying no to anyone tarnished by the hand of criminality, saying no to corruption in all its forms, is our only way forward. Only then can we see a change and be seen by others in a favourable light.


It will take a long time to achieve this. Malta needs to change its ways and find new ways of dealing with its problems and its politicians. The whole of Malta needs to embrace – and emulate – Roberta Metsola’s flicking off of a hand deeply mired in wrongdoing.


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