Many people in Malta are familiar with Pieter Omtzigt as the Dutch MP who had serious concerns over the state of the rule of law and who clashed with Joseph Muscat.
As a memory refresher, Omtzigt had led the Council of Europe’s drive in calling for a public inquiry into the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
His brash and no-holds-barred approach, which flagged serious concerns over the murder investigation and the “total impunity” enjoyed by Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi over the Panama Papers affair, saw him clash with then Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.
Concerned by events in Malta.
Who runs the investigation: PM Muscat?
Who determines whether Theuma’s evidence justifies a pardon: the PM?
Why was Theuma’s evidence worth a pardon one day, only for the PM then to say it was not needed for Fenech’s arrest?
— Pieter Omtzigt (@PieterOmtzigt) November 22, 2019
When Omtzigt published his final report and called for a public inquiry, the Maltese government issued a damning indictment.
“The report in fact represents the very biased views of a small fraction of Maltese Opposition politicians who appear to have kept close to the Rapporteur and who have formed alliances with various vested interest groups who, for one reason or another, have an interest in damaging Malta’s reputation and in isolating Malta from Europe,” the government said.
Nevertheless, Omtzigt’s demands were eventually met and a public inquiry into Caruana Galizia’s murder was eventually held, the first public inquiry to take place in Malta in 20 years.
And although many of the inquiry’s recommendations have yet to be actually implemented, Omtzigt’s actions may have added a new weapon to the arsenal of Maltese justice fighters.
In her successful campaign for a public inquiry into the death of her son Jean-Paul Sofia, Isabelle Bonnici was certainly buoyed by the knowledge that such transparent forms of justice are possible.
Since completing his mission in Malta, Omtzigt has been extremely busy in the Netherlands.
In 2021, he wrote a detailed manifesto with radical centrist ideas for the Christian Democratic Appeal party which he was part of at the time.
However, he ended up leaving the party after helping expose a childcare benefit scandal that brought down the government of which the CDA was a part.
A few months ago, Omtzigt set up a new political party called New Social Contract (NSA), largely based on the ideas in his manifesto.
And with the Dutch general election a few days away, opinion polls have Omtzigt’s NSA neck and neck at the top with more established parties.
Whether Omtzigt becomes the next Dutch Prime Minister or not, his rapid rise has been nothing short of stunning. And while the Netherlands’ multi-party electoral system is incomparable to Malta’s, Omtzigt’s willingness to take matters into his own hands may offer a few lessons to Maltese people who are disillusioned with the state of affairs.
Cover photo: Pietr Omtzigt (left) with Maltese Prime Minister Robert Abela
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