Notes from a Panama company
I caught sight of a Department of Information photograph as I began to write this column, showing Konrad Mizzi, Minister Within the Office of the Prime Minister, prominent in a row of Maltese cabinet ministers, with European Commission President JeanClaud
www.daphnecaruanagalizia.com Just look at them. They have no money to pay for cancer treatment for patients who are forced to beg off Marie Louise Coleiro and her fund-raising activities. They sign off on the use of expired medicines to treat patients in the hospital’s intensive therapy unit. They make life hell for those who are genuinely dependent on social welfare.
They scrimp and save where money needs to be spent – and then they put hundreds if not thousands of their cronies and familiars on the state payroll, spend millions on direct orders and contracts for their mates, and now they fly off to Brussels en masse, the entire cabinet with their multiple entourages and coteries of hangers-on, personal assistants and communications coordinators (which one has Konrad Mizzi taken with him?) and run up another lorry-load of massive bills for the rest of us to pay.
Why are they there? Ah yes, they told us: “for various meetings”. Various meetings – what, all at once? With different people? What an extraordinary coincidence.
To the mind of an old-hand communicator like me, it looks like nothing more or less than a deliberately conceived pictorial statement, a tactic devised by one of the handsomely-paid strategists they’ve put on the payroll in the Court of Joseph the First.
By having the entire cabinet photographed together, including Konrad ‘Panama’ Mizzi, with Joseph Muscat and JeanClaude Juncker, they’re sending out a visual message. That message is: “You say Konrad Mizzi is corrupt and that his Panama affairs are shocking and totally unacceptable in a European context. But here he is, with the European Commission President, with our Prime Minister, and with all the ministers ranged up beside him. We have European approval and the rest of you had better shut up and XYZ off.”
This is nothing more than a pre-emptive strike before Konrad Mizzi is “invited” to answer the questions of the European Parliament’s Panama Papers inquiry committee, which he will probably refuse to do.
It is another deliberate tactic to undermine the authority of the European Parliament, just as the Council’s decision to install that legacy of a Mintoffian past, Leo Brincat, in the European Court of Auditors despite the decision of the European Parliament.
With this government, you’ve got to deconstruct everything that’s done and said.
And right there, quite frankly, you have the perfect example of the Establishment protecting its own.
To make matters worse, Juncker – who is facing a storm of criticism of his own – heaped praise on the most corrupt government Malta has had since 1987. “It is no surprise that Malta is very prepared for the upcoming EU Council Presidency,” he said. But how would he know?
What I hear, practically from the horse’s mouth, is the very opposite: that the situation is a mess, with the left hand not knowing what the right is doing, with a mass of totally unsuitable temporary policy officers hired for the duration (one of them being, for example, Yana Mintoff’s son, who was doubtless hired for his phenomenal policy attributes), and that the organisation and liaison are a farce.
“Malta is a serious country,” Juncker said, “and down to earth. It is a small country with great ambitions.”
Yes, and with a cabinet minister, a prime minister’s chief of staff and possibly also a prime minister who gave instructions, before the cabinet had even been sworn in in March 2013, for the incorporation of secret companies in Panama sheltered by trusts in New Zealand. Totally serious, wouldn’t you say?
Aside from the fact that Juncker is a notoriously heavy drinker, the government of his own country, Luxembourg, was the first to be involved in a scandal based on documentation leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists: Lux Leaks.
So, it’s no wonder there’s a fellow feeling between them.
They’re a great set to be talking about financial services in the European Union.
The sleazy Juncker – I really can’t stand men who drink heavily and work the room loving everybody up regardless has probably been single-handedly most responsible for the lousy reputation the European Commission has among certain Brexit campaigners in the United Kingdom.
His face and name were all over the shop in the referendum campaign, and this is exactly the kind of thing that drives people away: the sight of Juncker loving up a corrupt cabinet minister like Konrad Mizzi and fawning all over the prime minister who protects him because he probably has a Panama outfit of his own.
Juncker actually said: “I like Prime Minister Muscat. I won’t say that I love him. Well, maybe I do love Prime Minister Muscat.”
Yes, and that’s why you let him sell passports to the European Union’s Schengen Zone and allow him to commit what should be the extraordinary faux-pas of forcing you to be photographed with one of his ministers who is at the centre of a significant scandal, with his name splashed all over the international media.
Have another drink, Juncker, and don’t get too excited about your corrupt pals from Malta – because the last thing we need now in this island is the growth of anti-EU sentiment fuelled by the sight of you saying how much you love our highly suspect prime minister and his Panama-hat favourite minister.