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A return to the ‘golden years’

The award of a government contract to the General Workers’ Union, from which it will profit to the detriment of workers, is a stark wake-up call that this country may be reliving the times of Labour’s ‘golden years’ of the 1970s and 1980s.

The same can be said about Keith Schembri’s likely benefit from the Crane Currency future establishment in Malta. This is a scandal only talked about for a week or so, as it was superseded by other scandalous events in the days that followed.

The chief of staff’s enterprise will be luring a multi-million investment to Malta from which he will be pocketing his commission on the machinery as the local agent and then another regular fee from the servicing contracts. This is the Prime Minister’s right-hand man we are talking about. He facilitated a deal on behalf of our country from which he will be profiting. This is not on, unheard of in any democratic country. But for Muscat this is a non-issue. Hogwash, he would say.

You have to be stuck in the 1970s and 1980s ‘golden years’ not to see anything wrong with this. So when our Prime Minister put on the innocent political virgin face we all realised there was indeed something very wrong.

What should a decent Prime Minister do in such cases?

Fire his chief of staff? Maybe.

But if that did not happen when the chief of staff was embroiled in at least two terribly serious incidents involving his companies hiding assets in BVI and opening a secret company in Panama to deposit commissions just days after the election, then how on earth can the Prime Minister fire him now?

This has indeed been the hallmark of Muscat’s premiership.

Like in the 1970s and 1980s corruption is becoming institutionalised

When faced with the secret companies’ scandal he chose to defend his chief of staff by saying that Schembri had been in business and was a successful businessman prior to him entering Castille and almost implied that Schembri’s secret companies are none of our business even though they were set up after the general election .

He did the same with Konrad Mizzi and in the process tarnished Malta’s reputation for years to come. This is so wrong.

We have recently learnt that the secret companies were set up two days after the signing of a 30-year contract for the running of State hospitals with Vitals, the company whose owners we do not know. Is this not a smoking gun?

Still pending is also the issue of the medical visas racket, embroiled in which is Neville Gafa, a Health Ministry official, who is a personal friend of the Prime Minister, Schembri and Mizzi.

Gafa has been accused of abusively receiving thousands of euros from the issuing of medical visas. He is still on the public payroll and still works under Muscat’s nose in Castille. No charges were ever pressed.

The refusal by the government to publish the contracts of the new power station and of the sale of the BWSC plant is yet another smoking gun. Like every other big contract the protagonists are Mizzi and Schembri, the holders of secret companies in Panama.

How can we not scream foul?

Like in the 1970s and 1980s corruption is becoming institutionalised. If the Prime Minster does not see anything wrong in his two most trusted persons’ modus operandi then this country has a problem. When the Prime Minister joins Mizzi and Schembri in secret overseas missions like he did in Azerbaijan to meet one of the most corrupt leaders in the world without being accompanied by civil servants we can only conclude that Malta’s problem are not Mizzi and Schembri. Muscat is.

We have entered into a vicious circle of corruption and the sooner we snap out of it the better for our country and for our children. The ‘anything goes’ attitude needs to stop now. With his inaction and endorsement of Mizzi and Schembri our Prime Minister is shaming our beloved country.

The labour governments of the 1970s and the 1980s are indeed still lauded by some Labour diehards as the golden years. Hindsight and history show us that there were much better alternatives to those years.

In the 1980s Malta needed a leader to clean up the mess left behind Labour’s 16 years of government. The untested and inexperienced Eddie Fenech Adami was the alternative then.

This country is today in desperate need of a new leader to clean up Muscat’s political mess which he managed to create in less than four years. The untested and inexperienced Simon Busuttil is the alternative now.

Hermann Schiavone is a PN candidate and political analyst.

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