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.

It’s time you showed up

We are currently witnessing one of the most tempestuous and turbulent periods in Malta’s recent history, and the manner in which we are responding to it (or not responding to it) is defining our political and economic future for many years to come.

The country is in the throes of a constitutional crisis and administered by a government which is the epitome and personification of blatant, shameless corruption.

Parliament and the institutions are rubber stamps for the whims of a corrupt Prime Minister and his corrupt collaborators.

The police are led by a commissioner who refuses to do his job and to allow his reports to do theirs. Thanks to his failure to fulfill his oath of office, lawlessness and impunity have become the norm.

The attorney general unashamedly goes out of his way to hinder the course of justice.

Magistrates and judges are appointed on the basis of political allegiance and connections. It is impossible for justice to be done and to be seen to be done.

Patronage, clientelism, nepotism and cronyism have become the order of the day.

Freedom of speech and expression are in free fall.

There’s never been a time before when it was so urgent for people to stop believing lies manufactured by politicians rather than indisputable facts.

There’s never been a time before when it was so urgent that people who have the values of justice and integrity at heart stand up to be counted and make their voice heard.

There’s never been a time before when it was so urgent to stop justifying all that is wrong with feeble excuses.

There’s never been a time before when it was so urgent that people stop taking decisions and acting on the basis of tribal politics, personal interests, fear or indifference.

We are fast approaching a time where the only semblance of democracy is an election every five years.

The decimation of democracy, rule of law, and human rights, does not happen in an apocalyptic fashion. It happens unnoticed, while people go about their daily business, oblivious or indifferent to what is going on around them.

Until it’s too late.

It’s time to show up and to make your voice heard.

When Judas betrays the cult

The amount of information emerging every day about the web of corruption and criminality emanating from Castille is shocking and overwhelming many of all political leanings.

Many activists of the ruling party – Labour – are reeling in disbelief. Some of them are angry. Some of them are anxious. Some of them are disorientated. Some of them feel hurt. Some of them are in denial.

Some of them closed ranks because their party is their cult.

And a cult means unquestioning commitment to its leader. Anything he says is the absolute truth, anything he does is perfection personified. Any accusations of wrongdoing or allegations of a crime on his part can only be the result of a conspiracy, a persecution by the outside world.

Being in a cult implies having convictions manufactured by the leaders of the cult for their own personal advantage. And the more these convictions are challenged, the more the cult member’s belief in these convictions is reinforced.

“A man with a conviction is a hard man to change,” Festinger, Henry Riecken, and Stanley Schacter wrote in When Prophecy Fails“Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point … Suppose that he is presented with evidence, unequivocal and undeniable evidence, that his belief is wrong: what will happen? The individual will frequently emerge, not only unshaken, but even more convinced of the truth of his beliefs than ever before.”

The Shift News had published an excellent article on how the Labour Party manipulated supporters’ minds to transform Joseph Muscat into a god in their eyes.

But the truth of the matter is that the evidence that Keith Schembri is a criminal is becoming more and more overwhelming day by day. And the truth of the matter is that Joseph Muscat knew enough to realise what Keith Schembri, his best friend and closest collaborator was up to. That makes him an accomplice.

To Labour activists, Joseph Muscat embodies their party’s Messiah. After 25 years relegated to the Opposition benches, the PL is now celebrating landslide victory after landslide victory thanks to him. PL have a champion, a winning horse. Losing Joseph Muscat is a bitter pill for them to swallow.

But Labour activists have to realise that this is not about PL and PN. It is not about bringing PL down. It’s about the corrupt and the criminal versus those who do not want to be governed by the corrupt and the criminal and those who do not stand up to them. It’s about integrity and justice. They need to get past the cult mind-set, they need to realise that the leader of the cult was a Judas who used them and manipulated them, and they need to evict the leader of the cult from office and from the party yesterday. It should never be Judas who sets the timetable of his resignation.

Unfortunately, it seems that integrity and justice have long left the building and have no intention of returning.

Liar

The Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat is on record claiming credit for the arrest of the alleged mastermind behind investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination:

“He compared the journalist’s assassination to the murders of Karin Grech and Raymond Caruana, saying previous prime ministers had vouched to resolve the cases, but had failed to do so.”

The Times of Malta 12th December 2019
  • Prime Ministers do NOT investigate and/or solve crimes. Intelligence and law enforcement agencies do. What he probably means to say is that he meddled with the investigation.
  • How is he so sure that Yorgen Fenech is the sole and ultimate mastermind of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination?
  • This assassination should have been an easy one for him to figure out, since it was unfolding right under his nose, literally.
  • Justice is served when ALL the people who were involved in ANY way in the assassination, including those who closed an eye or enabled/facilitated the crime are behind bars.

The only “credit” he deserves is for not taking action against the corruption and the corrupt in his office.

Had he done so, Daphne Caruana Galizia would still be alive.

He has blood on his hands.

The person at the helm of our country has blood on his hands.

That’s why people are protesting.

The Untouchables

If anyone thinks that with Yorgen Fenech’s arrest for the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia things on this island will revert to any semblance of normality any time soon, he or she is very mistaken.

Fenech’s arrest is a first step not an end.

Fenech’s arrest has exposed an intricate, villainous network of corruption and crime which has the office of the prime minister as it’s command and operations centre.

This den of iniquity at Castille enjoys complete immunity from the law and justice. It can never be uprooted if the institutions maintain their current policy of shameful, brazen dereliction of duty.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat is undeniably implicated in Daphne’s assassination even if indirectly. He bears a great responsibility for it and has blood on his hands. He has been aware of Keith Schembri’s and Konrad Mizzi’s 5,000 euros a day Christmas gift from businessman Yorgen Fenech for a long time (we all were), yet did not take any action. Anyone who tolerates or closes an eye to the mere whiff of corruption is corrupt, and a crook.

Yet Muscat remains in office despite the clear danger (and probability) of his obstructing justice to protect his best friend and himself. Muscat has at least six weeks to do that, and to try to arrange for a successor who will be his proxy/puppet when he resigns.

The Police Commissioner does not seem to think that Joseph Muscat should be investigated.

Keith Schembri, the disgraced former prime minister’s chief of staff is comfortably holed up in his luxurious home. He should be arrested and investigated for corruption and for his part in Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder. The testimonies by the alleged mastermind of the assassination Yorgen Fenech and by the middleman Melvin Theuma clearly indicate that Schembri did all he could to help Fenech evade justice for Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination. That would make Schembri an accomplice. It was in Schembri’s own interest to protect Fenech. He had (has?) a 5,000 euros a day source of income to protect.

The Police Commissioner does not seem to think that Keith Schembri should be investigated.

Neville Gafa visits Keith Schembri regularly (he seems to have replaced Dr Adrian Vella as Keith Schembri’s preferred carrier pigeon). Gafa has been accused of of criminal activities, including a medical visas racket (in which he is also being accused of having attempted to bribe witnesses) and stalking Daphne Caruana Galizia the day before her assassination. He is also chummy with Libyan warlords, and the post he occupies in the prime minister’s office seems to be one of the most carefully guarded state secrets.

The Police Commissioner does not seem to think that Neville Gafa should be investigated.

Nexia BT partners Brian Tonna and Karl Cini helped Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi set up secret companies designed to hide illicit payments and gains. They enabled criminality and corruption. They should be facing disciplinary actions from the accountancy boards as well as intense scrutiny and investigation by law enforcement agencies But this is not happening. What is happening is that the government awards them millions of euros of direct orders every year.

The Police Commissioner does not seem to think that Brian Tonna and Karl Cini should be investigated.

For the United Nations (UN), the rule of law is

a principle of governance in which all persons, institutions and entities, public and private, including the State itself, are accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced and independently adjudicated, and which are consistent with international human rights norms and standards. It requires measures to ensure adherence to the principles of supremacy of the law, equality before the law, accountability to the law, fairness in the application of the law, separation of powers, participation in decision-making, legal certainty, avoidance of arbitrariness, and procedural and legal transparency.

For Malta rule of law is non existent as it has been replaced by its antithesis, impunity, and will remain so as long as there are people who are above the law.

Drain the swamp!

This evening disgraced Prime Minister Joseph Muscat announced his resignation (or more accurately his dismissal) in six weeks’ time on national TV.

He then proceeded to give a State of the Union address brimming with triumphalism.

Nothing of what he said had any bearing on the issue which is tearing Malta apart, the mother of all corruption scandals in Malta, which culminated in the barbaric assassination of a journalist, Daphne Caruana Galizia. And in which Keith Schembri, his best friend and chief of staff – till a few days ago – is being implicated by one of the alleged masterminds behind the assassination, as well as by a doctor who acted as a carrier pigeon between Schembri and the alleged mastermind.

That’s what needs to be done, Muscat said, referring to his resignation. But that’s not what needs to be done. What needs to be done is that he tenders his resignation effective tomorrow morning. Not in six weeks’ time.

He cannot remain in office, continuing to meddle in the investigation into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia in which Schembri may be involved, potentially obstructing justice to protect his friend.

Muscat has overseen Malta’s transformation into a haven and a heaven for criminals and money launderers. His tenure has been characterised by an unprecedented, incessant stream of corruption scandals.

He has allowed corruption to infiltrate and permeate his office and indeed the whole country. Under his watch, corruption has become the order of the day, and impunity has been normalised.

And Muscat has blood on his hands, because had he acted to stem and address the corruption going on in his office, the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia would not have occurred.

Joseph Muscat needs to go now.

Not in six weeks time.