Jobs for the (unfit for purpose) boys
Perhaps this makes sense in some kind of alternative universe: newspapers have reported the Prime Minister as saying that he would “consider pulling the plug on negotiations between Alitalia and Air Malta if the deal is not favourable to Air Malta”.
He said this at a meeting with representatives of the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association. Joseph Muscat has a gift for this kind of thing: stating the obvious and making it seem as though he has said something special and extraordinary. I mean, for heaven’s sake, shouldn’t people be focusing here? If a Prime Minister says something like that, he should be dissed for it, not have it reported as though it is something remarkable. Of course you wouldn’t conclude a deal if the terms aren’t favourable to you. Nobody would do that unless they are wrong in the head or have been hoodwinked somehow. When deals like this are concluded, it’s always because it’s the best deal possible for both parties. Otherwise, the deal just falls through. Alitalia’s bosses have said already that they are not interested in spending a single cent on acquiring Air Malta; Alitalia itself is heavily in debt.
The Prime Minister said what he did in response to the hotel association president, who protested that the national airline has got to carry on playing its crucial role in Malta’s tourism economy. Yet if it is sold, the interest of any other airline which buys it, or buys a majority stake in it, will not be Malta’s tourism economy (why should an airline owner be bothered about that?) but the bottom-line and its other airline, with which Air Malta will have to dovetail.
Toni Abela, who until last February was the Labour Party’s deputy leader – he was persuaded to make way, ill-fatedly, for Konrad ‘Panama’ Mizzi – was rejected for a position at the European Court of Auditors mainly because of his self-declared involvement in covering up cocaine-dealing in the bar kitchens of a Labour Party club. He could not claim that this was a false accusation against him, because the only reason we know about it is that somebody – presumably using a smartphone – recorded him saying as much himself.
Now it seems that somebody who did something so bad – protecting individuals who committed such a ghastly crime, for the sole purpose of not exposing a party club, and thereby the reputation of the party itself, to public opprobrium, is going to be put in a position where he sits in judgement over others and decides on their crimes. His strange attitude towards the law – that it’s all right not to report a crime if your political friends are involved – is negatively matched only by his lack of integrity.
Malta has had, over the last few years, a terrible track record with magistrates and judges. Two judges, one of them the Chief Justice, have gone to prison for accepting bribes to reduce, in the Court of Appeal, the prison term of one of the island’s most evil cocaine-dealers, who himself later died of a heart attack as he was forced to watch his 20year-old son tortured to death by fellow criminals. Then there was Lino Farrugia Sacco, the sleazy judge who hung on to his position while his political friend Prime Minister Muscat used delaying tactics to hold up a parliamentary vote on his impeachment. And there was Judge Raymond Pace, who hanged himself at home when he discovered he was under investigation by the police for taking bribes and accepting favours from criminals. There was Magistrate Carol Peralta, who stepped down prematurely while he was under investigation by the Commission for the Administration of Justice, after years of disgraceful and offensive behaviour. And there remains Magistrate Consuelo Herrera, who had a longstanding relationship with a (married) senior police officer, was reprimanded for it and for laxness in consorting with politicians, by the Commission for the Administration of Justice, and who carries on as she has always done, entertaining people in the media and politicians of the governing party, the only difference being that she no longer posts photographs of her partying on Facebook.
Of course, we also now have Caroline Farrugia, the Speaker’s daughter, who was appointed to the bench as a further favour to her father, who had already received a crony appointment to a Constitutional role in return for his silence about the infamous ‘fourth floor’ at the Labour Party headquarters, and the businessmen he saw coming and going there. By all reports, Ms Farrugia is not the brightest bulb in the chandelier – let’s face it, how could she be? – and she has next to no experience in litigation. It’s dreadful enough that appointments to the bench are considered jobs for the boys, but that the boys (and girls) thus appointed should also be the dregs and so clearly unfit for purpose and lacking in integrity just makes it all so much worse.