When change is cosmetic its failure is inevitable. The Trojan Bob has finally been revealed, with quasi-Former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat weaselling back into the warm embrace of the central government just four months after resigning amid a historic political crisis.
Muscat stepped down in disgrace after his office was linked to the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. His right-hand man and former Chief of Staff Keith Schembri remains under investigation.
The former Prime Minister is also facing his own serious questions. He has been name-dropped as ‘Ix-Xih’ in middleman Melvin Theuma’s secret recordings of main suspect Yorgen Fenech. Meanwhile, his close relationship with Fenech, which included several high-priced gifts, is yet to be fully explained.
Abela had promised serious action and investigation in the wake the political crisis, even regularly conceding that grave mistakes were made during the previous administration. His closeness to Muscat raises questions as to whether he can ensure a fair investigation.
Muscat isn’t even the only remnant of the previous administration clawing their way back into the fold.
Neville Gafa, who was made to pack his bags in January after years of mysterious dealings and a central role in the medical visa scandal, is now helping orchestrate a dubious and controversial government-backed pushback of asylum seekers.
What sort of message does it send to the many who were calling for radical change to Malta’s good governance?
Yes, Muscat does have proven economic prowess, leading Malta through a seven-year economic boom. However, this came at an enormous cost.
We raped our environment and architectural heritage. We sold our hospitals, public land, and power stations. We even sold our nationality. Our global reputation ruined and the threat of being blacklisted looms large.
Is this the world we want to return to in a post-COVID-19 Malta?
Some of these issues existed long before Muscat, but it was his ‘change’ platform that turned out to be a lie.
Muscat is still an MP, as is former Minister Konrad Mizzi, so his presence can easily be brushed away. But isn’t that more reason to justify calls to see them both booted out of parliament, at least pending the many investigations and inquiries currently underway.
His position at the table is not even necessary. Muscat may be intelligent, but a long list of Labour Party policies have shown there are many capable people within its ranks that can lead us out of any incoming crisis.
Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne has led Malta admirably through the COVID-19 pandemic, steering clear of petty partisanship in favour of the common good.
Finance Minister Edward Scicluna receives glowing praise both on a local and EU front. Meanwhile, newly-appointed Bank of Valletta Chairman Gordon Cordina is considered by many to be one of the best economic minds in the country and plays an active role government policy.
The list is far too long to run through in this opinion piece, as I’m sure many Labour Party members will agree.
All of this begs the question of whether Muscat’s reappearance gives some indication that not all might be rosy within the Abela camp.
Abela’s first four months have been a baptism of fire. His short-lived tenure has overseen a major police scandal, a shocking fatality in the construction industry, the hospitals deal potentially imploding, and the COVID-19 pandemic (of which its effects are yet to be fully realised). He is yet to address any of these grave concerns and has passed on the issues to committees.
Meanwhile, the severe issues raised throughout recent protests remain, with investigations and court cases still underway.
Abela is only four months into his tenure, so is yet to convince the entire electorate and the cabinet of his ability to lead. Turning to his controversial yet powerful predecessor so soon after the leadership election also risks undermining his own leadership.
How can people start rebuilding faith in authorities when the same faces who eroded that trust are being welcomed back like prodigal sons?
This is not the Malta people want. We thought we finally did away with it in 2013 after decades of Nationalist Party misconduct.
The nation is yearning for long-lasting change, like administration after administration has promised. Sacrificing that in favour of economic advice or political points is not the way forward.