“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.

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

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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

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