Vigil for Truth and Justice

I was invited to deliver a speech at The Vigil for Truth and Justice organised by Repubblika, Occupy Justice Malta and Manuel Delia on the 16th February 2020. Below is the full text of my speech.

Fellow activists.

When I was asked to deliver a speech here this evening, I started thinking: what message could I pass on to you that has not been passed on to you already? What is there that needs to be said that has not been said already?

Then it struck me that a good message to bring to you is one that we can never have enough of, especially when the odds seem heavily stacked against us. One of hope. One of encouragement.

If we look around us, it may well seem that we are in a hopeless and dire situation.

Till a few weeks ago, we had a prime minister – Joseph Muscat – who was awarded the title of The 2019 MAN OF THE YEAR IN ORGANIZED CRIME AND CORRUPTION by OCCRP.

For context, OCCRP is the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. It’s a non-profit media organization that connects 45 non-profit investigative centres and scores of journalists in 34 countries across four continents to turn the tables on corruption and abuse of power happening at the expense of the people.

OCCRP must certainly have been spoilt for choice when choosing the winner of the award. Yet it chose Joseph Muscat.

What are we faced with today?

The 2019 MAN OF THE YEAR IN ORGANIZED CRIME AND CORRUPTION’s chosen one appointed as prime minister.

The 2019 MAN OF THE YEAR IN ORGANIZED CRIME AND CORRUPTION’s cabinet of ministers still in power. A cabinet that oversaw the transformation of Malta into a melting pot of corruption, criminality and treason of the highest order.

An assassinated journalist. Daphne Caruana Galizia. A case still far from resolved. Justice deliberately delayed. Justice deliberately denied.

A prime minister – Joseph Muscat – who received gifts from, and who consorted with, the alleged mastermind behind Daphne’s assassination.

The prime minister’s chief of staff – Keith Schembri – being investigated for complicity in the assassination, as well as a whole litany of other offences, and who consorted with the alleged mastermind behind Daphne’s assassination.

A deputy police commissioner, a governor on the board of the FIAU, Malta’s watchdog for economic crime – Silvio Valletta –  who allegedly leaked information about the investigation to, and who consorted with, the alleged mastermind behind Daphne’s assassination.

Institutions systematically captured, paralysed, emasculated.

But take courage friends. The situation may look bleak, hopeless.

But it is not. Far from it.

At the height of the Second World War, Churchill visited his old school Harrow, where he delivered a speech. The situation looked dire then too. The Germans had 4 times as many war planes as the British had, at a time when victory in war was becoming more and more dependent on air superiority.

Here’s what he told his audience:

never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never, -in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

It is true that we still have a long and difficult way ahead of us, but let us also not forget what we have achieved.

We have made civil society a national force to be reckoned with.

We have been instrumental in forcing the resignation of Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.

We have been instrumental in forcing the resignation of his chief of staff and chief of schemes, Keith Schembri.

And they called us erbat iqtates. Amazing what erbat iqtates can do, no?

Going forward, here are two things we need to focus our energies on:

  1. Firstly, ensure that every story that our journalists expose or have exposed, are investigated. Every story that is not investigated increases the impunity in this country. Every story that is not investigated continues to dismantle law and order and the rule of law in this country. Every story that is not investigated puts our brave journalists increasingly at risk.
  2. Secondly, mobilise people. Democracy is being wiped out, slowly, surely. Our friends may not all be realising this, or its ramifications and the impact that it is having and that it will have on their lives. Remember. Democracy does not go out with a bang. An Armageddon. It goes out in tiny, sometimes imperceptible steps. Till one fine day it’s gone.

Don’t accept arguments like I’m not interested in politics. People confuse politics with petty partisanship. Politics is about the air we breathe, the education our children receive, the law and order in our streets, the justice in our courts….pretty much everything around us.

We have but one goal. Victory. Victory for justice, for rule of law, for democracy. Victory against corruption, crime and impunity. Victory whatever the cost may be.

We will be relentless, uncompromising, unyielding. We will go on to the end. We will not falter. We will never give up. We will never surrender. We will prevail.

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.

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.

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.

The highest price

Disgraced and discredited Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has repeatedly told us that he has paid “the highest price possible”.

I am not sure what he means by that. To my knowledge, he hasn’t paid a price for his actions (and lack of action) – yet.

He can never pay the “highest price possible”. So far only one person has paid a price, and it will always remain the “highest price possible” – a life senselessly and savagely snuffed out.

As Prime Minister, he had the duty to protect Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Instead he and his minions dehumanised and demonised her, making her fair game for violent elements within the Labour Party and for criminals.

The alleged mastermind (or one of the masterminds) of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination – Yorgen Fenech – was an intimate friend of Muscat.

Muscat even invited Fenech to an intimate, wild birthday party he held at Girgenti which was so exclusive that not even the ministers in his cabinet were invited. The two were that close.

Fenech also gifted Muscat with wines costing thousands of euros as well as a Bvlgari watch costing some €17,000. The two were that intimate.

The other person allegedly highly involved in the assassination calls Muscat his best friend. Keith Schembri was Muscat’s closest collaborator, his chief of staff. He was certainly involved in the corruption that ultimately led to Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination. And Muscat could have stopped that corruption years ago; he knew all about it.

So if Muscat is trying to elicit sympathy or playing the empathy card by playing the martyr, he can go stuff himself. He could have prevented Daphne Caruana Galizia’s death.

Instead he now has her blood on his hands. That will be his legacy, along with the title of “2019 MAN OF THE YEAR IN ORGANIZED CRIME AND CORRUPTION”.

Use selective honesty and generosity to disarm your victim

One sincere and honest move will cover over dozens of dishonest ones. Open-hearted gestures of honesty and generosity bring down the guard of even the most suspicious people. Once your selective honesty opens a hole in their armor, you can deceive and manipulate them at will.

The 48 laws of power

Prime Minister of Malta Joseph Muscat must have studied Robert Greene’s book “The 48 Laws of Power” to a T. He follows most of the “laws” laid out in the book to the letter. He is the con man par excellence.

Take for example the disgraced and discredited Prime Minister announcing the donation of €15,000 to charity drive “LIstrina“.

A charity drive that should be unnecessary given Malta’s unprecedented immense economic success thanks to his leadership (according to him).

A €15,000 donation is equivalent to a mere 3 days of payments from Yorgen Fenech, the alleged mastermind (or one of the masterminds) behind Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination to Keith Schembri via their secret companies.

A €15,000 donation is equivalent to a mere 3 days of payments from Yorgen Fenech, the alleged mastermind (or one of the masterminds) behind Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination to Konrad Mizzi via their secret companies.

A €15,000 donation is less than the cost of one of the Bvulgari watches gifted by Yorgen Fenech to Joseph Muscat.

Who knows, Muscat might top up the donation with money gained through the sale of passports to crooks.

The patron of the charity event is Dr George Vella, the president of Malta, who sponsored Joseph Muscat’s bid for the post of leader of the Malta Labour Party back in 2008.

Professor Kevin Aquilina and former chief justice Dr Vincent de Gaetano have not held back any punches in chastising Vella for refusing to do his duty and remove Muscat from office.

But in spite of all his attempts at reputation laundering, Muscat will go down in history as the “2019 MAN OF THE YEAR IN ORGANIZED CRIME AND CORRUPTION”  – (OCCRP The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project).

fb_img_15774899276971546515273222082745.jpg

Shame on anyone who supports the “2019 MAN OF THE YEAR IN ORGANIZED CRIME AND CORRUPTION“.

Shame on anyone who is not outraged by the “2019 MAN OF THE YEAR IN ORGANIZED CRIME AND CORRUPTION“‘s having turned Malta into a den of thieves, a heaven and a haven for crooks.

 

 

Ma’ min rajtek xebbahtek

Disgraced, discredited Prime Minister Joseph Muscat keeps rather unusual company. His close friends are not the type of friends you’d expect a Prime Minister to have. Neither are they the type of friends any Prime Minister should have.

For example Yorgen Fenech, the alleged mastermind (or one of the masterminds) behind Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination.

The intimacy between Fenech and Muscat was such that Fenech felt moved to gift Muscat an expensive Bvlgari watch in 2014 costing €20,000 at the time. And it was not the only gift the businessman gave the Prime Minister throughout the years Lovin Malta reported.

UPDATE: The Times has revealed what some of these gifts were this morning. You can read more here.

A Prime Minister should never accept such a gift, under any circumstance or for any reason.

There can only be one reason why a businessman would give a Prime Minister such a gift. There can only be one reason why a Prime Minister would accept such a gift.

For example Ali Sadr Hasheminejad, the Iranian owner and chairman of the now defunct Pilatus Bank who faces a life sentence in jail in the United States for various charges.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, his wife Michelle and OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri travelled to Venice together in 2015 to attend his very exclusive wedding. Lovin Malta revealed that Yorgen Fenech was also invited and travelled with them. They stayed at the Roccoforte Hotel in Florence – at the expense of Ali Sadr.

A Prime Minister should never accept such a gift, under any circumstance or for any reason.

We have a saying in Maltese – “Ma’ min rajtek xebbahtek”. A loose translation would be that birds of a feather flock together. So if a Prime Minister counts a number of crooks as his closest friends, the probability is that he is a crook too.

 

 

 

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.

The Labour Party is heading for Groundhog Day

In the movie Groundhog Day (1993), Phil, a self-centred weatherman, is dispatched to the town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to cover the annual 2 February celebrations, which revolve around a groundhog supposedly foreseeing the exact date of the arrival of spring. Phil makes no secret of his contempt for the assignment, the small town, and the “hicks” who live there.

“This is one occasion where television really fails to capture the true excitement of a large squirrel predicting the weather,”

Phil

He is later shocked when he wakes up the next morning and realises that he is reliving the same day, 2 February, over and over again. He remains in a time loop, the 2 February rebooted each day at 6am, until Phil figures out how to break the cycle. The secret, it transpires, lies within him.

There’s a leadership contest in the Labour Party, with two contenders, but none of them have what it takes. If the Labour Party does not elect a leader with integrity and competence, it will be like Groundhog Day for the party, the nation and the country.

If the leader that is elected does not possess both these qualities, there is no way on earth that he or she can clean up the mess that Joseph Muscat will be leaving behind. If it can be cleaned up at all, as the price will come heavy politically and economically, and it will have to be paid to the last cent. The bills are already coming in hard and fast.

And there are some messes which can never be cleaned up. No one can bring Daphne Caruana Galzia back to life.

A person of integrity does not compromise. Integrity is like virginity, you either have it or you don’t. It implies strong values and principles, it implies sticking to them whatever the cost, it implies that you act in accordance with your words. You cannot promise a clean sweep of the corruption and crime that has taken over our island, but not stand up to corruption and crime.

Like Joseph Muscat, Chris Fearne and Robert Abela surely must have figured out why Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi would be receiving 5,000 euros daily when the Panama Papers came out. Especially when the media revealed that the person who would be paying them 5,000 euros a day was Yorgen Fenech, a director in the Electrogas villainous project.

Yet both Fearne and Abela closed an eye. They closed two eyes. They closed their ears. They said nothing. They did nothing.

They even entertain the possibility of Muscat’s remaining an MP, and asking for his advice once they are elected.

His advice on what exactly?

On how to capture institutions?

On how to organise a constitutional crisis?

On how to break down the Rule of Law and let impunity reign supreme throughout the country?

On how to destroy Malta’s reputation globally, irreparably harming it economically and politically?

A true leader would stand tall, and fight to have Muscat evicted from the party yesterday. Instead, Chris Fearne and Robert Abela jockey for a photo with him.

Is there no man or woman with a pair in the Labour Party who will stand for leader? Is there no man or woman of integrity in the Labour party who will stand for leader?

If not, it’s going to be like Groundhog Day for the Labour Party, even under the new leader. If not, it’s going to be like Groundhog Day for the nation and for the country.