Rule of law or musical chairs?

The rule of law is fundamental to protecting people’s rights and freedoms, and is foundational to curbing corruption, restraining the abuse of power, and to establishing the social contract between people and the state.

Contrary to popular belief, the goal of the rule of law is to control the abuse of power, not to ensure citizens submit to formal legal processes; the latter happens even in dictatorships.

The World Justice Project developed a working definition of rule of law based on four universal principles, the first of which is that government officials must be accountable under the law.

This means that government officials get sanctioned for misconduct such as using public office for private gain.

So it’s not enough that government officials that were close to Keith Schembri such as Neville Gafa resign or get transferred from OPM to some ministry.

The work they did needs to be scrutinised for bribery, improper influence by public or private interests, and misappropriation of public funds or other resources.

Bear in mind that these are the minions of a man under investigation for murder and a litany of other offences which include corruption, leaking extensive information about the investigation into Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination, obstructing justice, and acquiring a phantom job for middleman Melvin Theuma.

If this does not happen then what we are seeing is merely a charade, a travesty of rule of law, of justice, a game of musical chairs with a few expendables as collateral damage.

Putting whipped cream on cow dung and calling it a culinary delicacy

If you dress cow dung with whipped cream and call it a culinary delicacy, it remains cow dung.

In case it’s not clear, I’m talking about Robert Abela’s attempts at hiding his government’s corruption behind a veneer of good faith and a semblance of good governance.

The same people who were in in Joseph Muscat’s cabinet which was mired in corruption are nearly all in Robert Abela’s cabinet too. That includes Abela himself.

The same people who failed to stand up to Joseph Muscat’s defence of the indefensible, of the corrupt, are in Robert Abela’s cabinet too. That includes Abela himself.

Asking the Police Commissioner to resign may seem as though Abela is trying to do the right thing, but that’s bullshit.

Doing the right thing would mean firing Lawrence Cutajar, not asking him to resign, and asking the acting or new police commissioner to investigate Cutajar.

Cutajar’s serious omissions of duty resulted in the assassination of a journalist and the transformation of a country into a heaven and haven for criminals and money launderers.

Robert Abela’s asking Justyne Caruana to resign (of course he asked her) because her husband – an ex-deputy commissioner of the police and who sat on the board of directors of the FIAU – consorted with the alleged mastermind behind Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination may seem as though Abela is trying to do the right thing but that’s bullshit.

Did Abela ask Caruana whether she was aware of her husband’s intimacy with a person mired in corruption and accused of complicity in murder? If she did, he should have a big problem with her. She deceived him. She deceived everyone.

Terminating Adrian Hillman’s contract with the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) and Lou Bondi’s contract with the Arts Council may give the impression that Abela is trying to do the right thing.

The right thing to do would be to also fire the ministers who employed/contracted them back then. If it’s a bad thing now, it was a bad thing then. Clearly the objective of these terminations is merely that of keeping up appearances, a PR strategy.

Good governance can never be half-baked or in bad faith. There can be no compromises when it comes to justice and integrity.

It’s the little foxes that ruin the vines.

A brilliant career not

Mary ran to the police station bruised and bleeding.

She had just been savagely beaten up by her ex-partner.

She reached the police station, rushed to the desk, and told the police officer behind the desk what had happened.

The policeman calmly wrote out a report on the incident.

He opened a file.

“Thank you, we’ll look into it,” he told Mary, as he put the file away.

Mary stared at him. The violence had happened a number of times before. Each time it happened she filed a police report. Each time the police officer – Lawrence Cutajar – opened a file on the incident and told her that he would be looking into it. He never did.

Three weeks later she was dead. Buried six feet under the ground.

Replace “Mary” with “Malta”.

It is the story of Malta. A Malta that was raped, ravaged and pillaged by corrupt politicians, criminals and money-launderers. While its police commissioner chose to wilfully ignore it all.

Thanks to him, Malta’s reputation is in the mud, it’s economy endangered.

Thanks to him, impunity and lawlessness have become the order of the day

Thanks to him, a woman was assassinated.

What he did was criminal.

His resignation must not be the end of the story.

Will the next commissioner investigate him?

Arnaud investigates Arnaud

I nearly fell off my chair when I read that Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar said that Inspector Arnaud had been tasked with finding who was leaking information on the investigation into Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination, given the possibility that Arnaud was the person leaking the information.

In a normal country a police officer is not tasked with investigating himself.

In a normal country it is protocol and policy that anyone above the rank of inspector is investigated by an officer of a superior rank, and definitely not by himself.

In a normal country, it is protocol and policy that such a matter would be investigated by a unit dedicated to such matters. Arnaud contradicted the commissioner and said that it was in fact the Economics Crime Unit that was tasked with investigating the leaks, which is baffling, since it is the remit of the Internal Affairs Unit not that of the Economic Crimes Unit to investigate such matters.

The remit of the Economic Crimes Unit (together with its parallel unit the Money Laundering Unit) is to investigate the Panama Papers, Keith Schembri, Konrad Mizzi, Adrian Hillman, Brian Tonna etc.

The number of people who would have known the full details of the case, including who the suspects were, and any planned actions should not have exceeded three or four persons. Other members of the team would be acting on a “need to know” basis.

In the UK this group of people would be known as the knowledge group. The people within the knowledge group for this case would normally be Arnaud’s immediate superior – Assistant Commissioner Kevin Farrugia , the Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar, Inspector Arnaud himself, and possibly Arnaud’s right-hand man.

Joseph Muscat and Keith Schembri should not have been privy to the information, but they were. That’s five or six people in all.

It shouldn’t be hard to figure out who leaked the information.

Call a spade a spade

Disgraced and discredited ex-prime minister Joseph Muscat said that he is paying the highest price possible for “whatever mistakes I made or were made by others”, whilst freshly appointed prime minister Robert Abela is continuing in the same vein, assuring all that “mistakes will not happen again”.

But “mistakes” were not what bought down Joseph Muscat. Crime and corruption bought him down. Crime and corruption which he allowed to happen under his watch bought him down.

Premeditated murder is not a mistake. It’s a crime. Earning millions of euros illicitly (off taxpayers’ money) is not a mistake. It’s a crime. Corruption in the prime minister’s office is not a mistake. It’s a crime.

Whenever we allow people to relegate corruption and crime to mistakes, we allow them to rationalise and justify corruption and crime and even to trivialise them.

Crime and corruption are not mistakes. Crime and corruption are exactly that – crime and corruption. They should be called crime and corruption and they should be treated as crime and corruption.

And the new prime minister speaking of crime and corruption as mistakes does not bode well.

A breath of fresh air

In the midst of the political crisis on our island, there’s a refreshing and unprecedented rise in civil society speaking out and taking a visible and tangible stand against the corruption, crime and treason of the highest order that has overrun the country.

People who never cared started caring. People who never spoke up started speaking up. People who never took a stand started taking a stand. NGOs came together to speak up and take action. New ones have been formed.

It’s time we realised that politics is not just about political parties, or exclusively their remit and domain, though political parties are of course essential, and their role can never be ignored, sidelined, bypassed or eliminated.

It’s also time we realised that being indifferent to politics is being indifferent to the society we live in and our quality of life, indifferent to the deterioration of human rights, democracy, rule of law and freedom of expression, indifferent to impunity, corruption and crime, indifferent to the principles of justice, fairness and social justice, indifferent to the quality of the air we breathe, to the environment and to the education of our children.

One NGO , a fledgling NGO which vociferously fights corruption is Repubblika. It has become conspicuous thanks to its admirable and unrelenting efforts, and thanks to its success in mobilising thousands to join in the fight against the impunity, the sleaze and the lawlessness that has taken over this country. It has become conspicuous because it is making a tangible difference.

During the meeting the NGO identified and approved the following areas which it will be directing its attention to:

  1. Public Life based on and guided by ethical principles
  2. Structural and Constitutional Developments
  3. Training for a participative and responsible citizenship
  4. A New, Honest and Sustainable Economy
  5. An Environment that is enjoyed by All
  6. . An inclusive, just and humane society.
  7. Equal Justice, Guaranteed Liberties

Their full policy document can be accessed in Maltese or in English.

It concluded that as citizens we need to understand that:

Democracy means much more than the five minutes we spend every five years to cast our vote.
Democracy is not the tyranny of the majority.
Democracy is far greater than a parliament that works on a part-time basis.
Democracy is a fragile treasure that is constantly under threat but which can flourish if we protect it and sustain it.”

They’re right about that. Democracy doesn’t go out with a bang, with an apocalyptic event. Democracies are dismantled in hard to perceive steps: take over the executive, take over the judiciary, take over the police, take over the institutions, take over the media. Bribe a media house. Democracies are dismantled when people don’t mobilise because their attention is diverted to smokescreens, to manufactured lies, conspiracies and enemies.

Wake up. All this has already happened.

Good riddance to bad rubbish

Rather than taking delight in the removal of a person on whose watch:

  • Malta became a heaven and a haven for criminals and money-launderers,
  • corruption and crime prospered,
  • rule of law was replaced by impunity, lawlessness and mob rule,
  • freedom of expression deteriorated,
  • and a journalist was murdered for uncovering the corruption of his best friends and closest collaborators, corruption of which he was aware and which he defended,

they gave him a hero’s send-off.

They depicted him as a saviour, a saint and a martyr, the ultimate politician and statesman.

They should have depicted him as he really is – reprehensible, repugnant, repulsive and revolting.

They should have told him “good riddance to bad rubbish”.

The fact that they didn’t shows that it doesn’t really make a difference who is elected as his successor. All we can expect is more of the same. Cut from the same cloth.

It’s time for change. Real change. But change doesn’t happen just by saying that we need change, or by thinking it. By doing nothing. Words are cheap.It’s time to stand up and be counted.

Mahatma Gandhi once said,

“Silence becomes cowardice when occasion demands speaking out the whole truth and acting accordingly.”

I would add it also becomes complicity.

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Repubblika PR

09.01.2020

Repubblika will be holding a General Meeting on Saturday 11 January 2020 to discuss and consider the adoption of its policy document “Malta Ġdida: Repubblika Ġdida”. The meeting has been convened with the following agenda.

09:00 Registration

09:30 Call to Order   + Introduction by Robert Aquilina, President-Elect

09:40 Presentation of Policy  Document by Manuel Delia

10:00 Debate Part 1

10:45 Coffee Break

11:15 Debate Part 2

11:45 Vote

11:50 Concluding remarks by Vicki Ann Cremona, President

12:10 Closing

12.15 Refreshments 

The General Meeting is convening at the St Aloysius Assembly Hall, Birkirkara. Entrance through Triq il-Kulleġġ.

The Press is invited to attend any part of the meeting and committee members will be available for interview. A digital copy of the policy document in English and Maltese will be provided.

Nothing wrong Robert? Think again

Robert Abela says he sees nothing wrong for his legal firm to continue “competing” for government work if he is elected Prime Minister if he resigns from the firm.

He’s wrong. What he see as “nothing wrong” actually goes against the law. It’s illegal. Even if he resigns from the firm.

The aspiring Prime Minister of Malta does not understand that the possibility or perception of conflicts of interest are considered as actual conflicts of interest at law.

He never understood that good governance is not only about doing things in the right way, but also about being perceived to do things in the right way.

The EU has laws on conflicts of interest.

The applicable EU provision is Article 24 of the consolidated directive on public procurement, which applies as law and above any Maltese law within its scope.

Member States shall ensure that contracting authorities take appropriate measures to effectively prevent, identify and remedy conflicts of interest arising in the conduct of procurement procedures so as to avoid any distortion of competition and to ensure equal treatment of all economic operators.


The concept of conflicts of interest shall at least cover any situation where staff members of the contracting authority or of a procurement service provider acting on behalf of the contracting authority who are involved in the conduct of the procurement procedure or may influence the outcome of that procedure have, directly or indirectly, a financial, economic or other personal interest which might be perceived to compromise their impartiality and independence in the context of the procurement procedure.

DIRECTIVE 2014/24/EU OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL Conflicts of interest


The conflicts here are obviously massive. Here are a few:

  • Abela has an interest in his wife, a member of his family, making money.
  • There’s a direct hierarchical relationship between all awarding officers and Abela as prime minister.
  • Employees of public authorities may have an interest in helping Abela and his family as that can have an impact on their career.

Effectively, Robert Abela is planning to break the law once he becomes Prime Minister.


Repubblika PR

09.01.2020

Repubblika will be holding a General Meeting on Saturday 11 January 2020 to discuss and consider the adoption of its policy document “Malta Ġdida: Repubblika Ġdida”. The meeting has been convened with the following agenda.

09:00 Registration

09:30 Call to Order   + Introduction by Robert Aquilina, President-Elect

09:40 Presentation of Policy  Document by Manuel Delia

10:00 Debate Part 1

10:45 Coffee Break

11:15 Debate Part 2

11:45 Vote

11:50 Concluding remarks by Vicki Ann Cremona, President

12:10 Closing

12.15 Refreshments 

The General Meeting is convening at the St Aloysius Assembly Hall, Birkirkara. Entrance through Triq il-Kulleġġ.

The Press is invited to attend any part of the meeting and committee members will be available for interview. A digital copy of the policy document in English and Maltese will be provided.


Stop throwing stones at every dog that barks

Diversionary tactics have long featured in war and in politics. They serve to attract people’s attention away from something which you do not want them to think about, know about, or deal with. They divert attention and resources away from the key, core issues.

In the summer of 1998, at the height of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Bill Clinton confessed on television that his romantic relationship with a White House intern amounted to “a critical lapse in judgement … a personal failure.” Three days later, with his presidency hanging in the balance, the administration announced airstrikes against suspected terrorist sites in Sudan and Afghanistan, following the bombing of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Many observers claimed that Clinton had launched a classic diversionary war, or a use of force to sidetrack the media, whip up patriotic sentiment, and boost approval ratings. ”

The Atlantic June 15 2017

Diversionary tactics are a staple of the Labour party’s strategy. The Labour party manufactures and fuels distractions from key issues on a daily basis. Now more than ever.

Those opposing to this government’s corruption – NGOs, civil society and the Opposition party – need to be careful not to fall into the their trap. No one should lose sight of the endgame – justice, and doing what needs to be done to ensure that we never end up in the situation we are in today again.

‘You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.’

Winston.S.Churchill

So here’s a reminder of what some of the key matters I believe we should keep our focus on:

  • The Electrogas power station project was designed as a lucrative pension fund for Joseph Muscat, Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri and a number of other people.
  • The police commissioner’s attention was drawn to the corruption in which the whole project was mired, however he refused to do his job and investigate.
  • Daphne Caruana Galizia however did do her job, she did investigate, she did ask the right questions, and she found out the truth, but at a terrible cost.
  • What Daphne found out about the Electrogas scam cost her her life. Those who were (are?) making millions thanks to the scam off taxpayer money assassinated her, so that they could go on with their criminality unhindered.
  • Joseph Muscat, Keith Schembri, Konrad Mizzi, and all those who enabled, allowed, or closed an eye to the brazen, blatant corruption and crime have blood on their hands.
  • In the meantime, Joseph Muscat is globe-trotting, ensuring that he and his assets are beyond the short arm of the law, Keith Schembri lives like a Rajah, running the country and its institutions from his luxury home in Mellieha, and Konrad Mizzi has dropped out of sight and out of mind.

We need to keep our eye on the ball, and starve ourselves of any distractions from the core issues.

The priority at the moment is to ensure that all the people involved in the Electrogas scam and in the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia are put away behind bars. All involved in any way and at any level, without exception.

Then comes the next step – to ensure that such atrocities never happen again.

Why you shouldn’t attend protests against corruption

There’s going to be a protest next Sunday, a protest organised by Civil society organisations and NGOs such as Repubblika, #occupyjustice and manuedelia.com, and supported by Moviment Graffitti, KSU, aditus, UHM Voice of the Workers, Friends of the Earth Malta, The Times of Malta, The Shift News, Lovin Malta, The Malta Independent, and MaltaToday as well as several artists.

While most people agree that the country has been overrun by corrupt politicians (it’s hard to disagree since it’s a well-established, documented fact), many are not too sure whether these protests are the way forward.

Here are a few of the “buts” I get when I encourage people to attend these protests.

But wasn’t there corruption under the previous administration too? Yes, but the amount, level and the rate at which corruption increased post 2013 is unprecedented, and the institutions whose job it is to safeguard against corruption, crime and the deterioration of rule of law were completely captured and emasculated in 2013. This is why civil society, NGOs etc must take a stand – otherwise no-one else will; not the police, not the AG, not the judiciary.

But why didn’t people hold such protests back then?pre-2013? Many did – with their vote. The governing party at the time (PN) lost the 2013 election with a resounding defeat.

But aren’t the protesters being incited and egged on by the PN? This is not about PN and PL but about the corrupt and those who reject corruption. Anyone who reframes the issue into a partisan context is doing so to obfuscate, and manipulate minds and hearts.

But aren’t these protests damaging Malta economically? The only thing that is damaging Malta economically and politically is unchecked, brazen corruption, crime, lawlessness, impunity and breakdown of rule of law.

But don’t you think that these protests are a bit too much? The people who are at the centre of the network of corruption and crime were ready to snuff out an innocent life and assassinated a journalist because she uncovered their corruption and would doubtlessly have revealed more had she not been savagely silenced. Do you want to live in a country where such things happen / are allowed to happen? I don’t.