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Who is the real Joseph Muscat?

The pre-Christmas bombshell that rocked the Labour Party by the sudden dismissal of Anġlu Farrugia as party deputy leader for parliamentary affairs by Joseph Muscat raised a lot of issues. The electorate has every right to seek clarification about them before they decide which way to vote in the March 9 election.

We need political leaders who mean no when they say no and not may be
- Salvu Felice Pace

I am one of those columnists who have been a fierce critic of Farrugia mainly because of his uncertain past as a police officer of the Labour Government of the 1970s and 1980s. Once, after writing in this paper, I had a phone call by one of Farrugia’s canvassers who asked me to meet him as he wanted to correct my image of Farrugia. We never met but I had asked him to use his democratic right to reply to me. He never did. Farrugia should have been dismissed years ago and not so late in the day when the election campaign is about to begin.

But, then, why only Farrugia? Why not those who, when they served in a Labour Government acted like the three monkeys who saw no evil, heard no evil and did no evil? These individuals are still treasured and, presumably, trusted by Muscat and are probably lined up to become ministers should Labour win the election.

It is no wonder that Labour’s critics like myself saw in Muscat’s act of Farrugia’s summary dismissal a good excuse for repositioning the Labour leadership in the wake of Simon Busuttil’s election as deputy leader of the Nationalist Party.

But things are not all that clear. Muscat himself clouded the waters by almost begging Farrugia to stand as Labour candidate at the next election. The reasoning is totally illogical. So a deputy leader is dismissed because, so we are told, he attributed political motives to a court sentence given by a magistrate but the same person is welcome as a member of Parliament in a governing PL. There is no doubt in my mind that Muscat’s invitation to Farrugia is simply a poor way of preventing too much blood letting in the PL so close to an election.

Political leaders who aim to lead the country should be made of sterner stuff.

Muscat has proved to be both enigmatic and inconsistent in this instance as he, indeed, has been in the case of Mr Justice Lino Farrugia Sacco. All his statements about this affair can be summed up in assuring the public that he and the Labour Opposition will abide by whatever is suggested by the Commission for the Administration of Justice.

Muscat wants us to believe that he is not aware that this same commission had, years ago, unequivocally censured this judge for involving himself in the Malta Olympics Committee against all ethical considerations.

What had kept Muscat for years from taking the initiative and call a spade a spade rather than involve himself in inconsistent posturing? Political expediency? The electorate has a right to know.

Of course, I am biased and I had never hid my Nationalist pedigree to all readers here and elsewhere. So I can say that I am not surprised that Muscat is found ducking and diving when faced with sudden real political problems.

He did so in his past when he worked hard to prevent Malta from joining the European Union and he did the same when he claimed that the Partnership had won the EU referendum. More recently, he even had suggested to Lawrence Gonzi that Malta should have followed the Cyprus economic model to overcome the troubles that surround us. We all know where Cypus is today and where we are.

Muscat is still playing at politics. How can he expect Labour spokesmen to engage sensibly in public dialogue when they are not allowed to argue in favour of Labour’s upcoming policies which he insists to keep under wraps for fear of being torn apart by their opponents? Muscat himself is giving the electorate the impression that he has no confidence in his own policies.

We need political leaders who mean no when they say no and not may be.

The Farrugia and Farrugia Sacco affairs have revealed to the electorate that Muscat was found wanting at all crucial moments of national import. He lacks clarity and decisiveness. Not Prime Ministerial material.

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