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”.

Malta Independent - - DAPHNE ON SUNDAY -


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.

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