“Get out of the way, moron”
It was the government’s misfortune (though not as bad as that of the five people who died) that French intelligence operations based out of Malta were revealed by a deus ex machina in the form of a terrible plane crash.
Joseph Muscat has the rottenest luck with these bolts out of the blue that reveal secrets he thought he had thoroughly concealed from the press and the public. Did he and his cronies ever allow for the possibility that Mossack Fonseca’s cast-iron-security server on the other side of the world would be hacked? Ah, but it was.
Secrets and lies, secrets and lies – you never know what might happen to uncover them if your luck runs out. The worst of the matter is that our Prime Minister, not content with concealing French intelligence operations from his electorate (these things are by their nature concealed, so we have to forgive him for that) has continued to lie, inexplicably, even in the face of firm statements from the French government. Once the relevant French offices have spoken, there is no need for Muscat to carry on trying to cover for them, or so he thinks. He repeats that the people on board that plane were French customs officials, but the French Douane (customs department) denied that immediately at official level. And the French Ministry of Defence has unequivocally claimed the dead as its own, plus two private pilots from the flight company.
So why is Muscat still lying or covering up? Given that the French government has said, without being forced to do so, that three of the dead were defence intelligence officials, and given that the French Douane has said that they were not customs officials, all our Prime Minister has to do is refer those who ask to the official French statements. Instead he says that they were customs officials and makes himself look like a fool by explaining, “They were customs officials, because that’s what they told us.”
Does he think that makes the situation look better? It makes it look worse. If the Prime Minister is not lying himself, then the only possible alternative interpretation is that he was lied to by the French government, which makes him look utterly ridiculous and calls into open question his ‘special relationship’ with Francois Hollande.
When the Prime Minister emerged from parliament two nights ago, after speaking about the Budget while hiking his trousers up repeatedly (at one point, they sank so low that his shirt-tails were hanging out conspicuously), he was confronted by Mario Frendo, the piquant journalist in the employ of the Nationalist Party. “Do you know who owns the third Panama company, Egrant Inc?” Frendo asked him. “Simon Busuttil asked you that question in parliament.”
Muscat’s response was a very un-prime ministerial “Ħeqq, jien naf, hux” as he lunged towards his car and dived into the safety of its leather interior.
That was bad enough. But what followed was worse. Raymond Barbara, government director of corporate services for energy and energy projects (he works beneath Konrad Mizzi, who is Not The Energy Minister), pushed his way past Frendo as he got into the car, saying to him: “Get out of the way, moron.”
That this sort of thing is happening again in Malta is just unbelievable to those of us who thought that standards of behaviour had come up. The worst part of it is that Maltese people in general are so un-attuned to what constitutes horrifically bad and inappropriate behaviour that they don’t understand what the implications are when something like this happens. If it’s something they themselves might have said and done, then it follows, in their mind, that there’s nothing wrong with a government director saying and doing the same thing.
In societies far more advanced than ours, had a government director (for energy), accompanying the prime minister in his official car, told a journalist “Get out of the way, moron,” chaos would have ensued and it would have been all over the newspaper front pages and the headlines in the television news. That government director would have been crucified and forced to resign. But then, do you know what? No government director would have said something like to a journalist, ever.
Four years in, it’s only getting worse. The best we can hope for, at this stage, is that at the next general election, the electorate will go out in force to say to Muscat and his cronies, “Get out of the way, morons.”
The Malta Independent Thursday 27 October 2016