Mus­cat: between words and fic­tion

Barely three weeks af­ter Joseph Mus­cat was elected and sworn in as Prime Min­is­ter, he was re­ported in the lo­cal me­dia to have pledged “to hold out the hand of friend­ship to the Na­tion­al­ist Party.”

Malta Independent - - COMMENT - Al­fred Man­gion

He was fur­ther re­ported to have stated that, “Govern­ment will not treat the Op­po­si­tion as ir­rel­e­vant, de­spite the elec­toral dif­fer­ence.” “In line with democ­racy, those with a man­date to gov­ern must re­spect the Op­po­si­tion while putting one­self to the scru­tiny of the pub­lic and his op­po­nents. This govern­ment be­lieves that ev­ery­one has some­thing to con­trib­ute in a Malta for all,” Mus­cat was fur­ther re­ported as declar­ing.

Mus­cat’s pledge at the begin­ning of the leg­is­la­ture to hold out the hand of friend­ship was wel­come in­deed. Also wel­come was his dec­la­ra­tion that, “in line with democ­racy, his govern­ment would be putting it­self to the scru­tiny of the pub­lic and the Op­po­si­tion.” Mus­cat’s pledges made one as­sume that his Govern­ment would be mov­ing in the right di­rec­tion in the in­ter­est of all thus re­ally and truly mak­ing Malta be­long to all of us (Malta tagħna lkoll) as promised. No­body could have imag­ined, at the time that two of his clos­est col­leagues had al­ready started open­ing se­cret com­pa­nies in Panama.

Two months ago, af­ter al­most four years from his orig­i­nal pledge, and af­ter what we have been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing since the elec­tion, Mus­cat reaf­firmed his ap­peal for unity and his orig­i­nal of­fer ex­tend­ing the hand of friend­ship. This lat­est ap­peal for unity and once again of­fer­ing the hand of friend­ship af­ter all the happenings of the last four years is, putting it mildly, unbelievable. It shows and con­firms Mus­cat’s hypocrisy.

How can Mus­cat be cred­i­ble when Si­mon Busut­til, Leader of the Op­po­si­tion, claimed that Mus­cat has never re­quested to meet him per­son­ally? We are aware of the many oc­ca­sions Mus­cat at­tacks, in­sults or tries to ridicule the Leader of the Op­po­si­tion and Na­tion­al­ist MPs - as much as we are aware of how many times Mus­cat re­fused to at­tend tele­vised face-to-face de­bates with the Leader of the Op­po­si­tion. The hand of friend­ship can­not be of­fered when Govern­ment mem­bers and cer­tain “per­sons of trust”, on var­i­ous oc­ca­sions, use threat­en­ing lan­guage di­rected at the Op­po­si­tion and at who­ever shows dis­agree­ment with the Labour Govern­ment.

Af­ter the ex­pe­ri­ence of the last four years one won­ders how Mus­cat can be taken se­ri­ously when, at the start of the leg­is­la­ture, he pledged that “in line with democ­racy, those with a man­date to gov­ern must re­spect the Op­po­si­tion while putting them­selves to the scru­tiny of the pub­lic and his op­po­nents.”

I wish some­one would en­lighten me as to how many times Mus­cat and his Govern­ment re­spected the Op­po­si­tion or how his Govern­ment is “putting it­self to the scru­tiny of the pub­lic and the Op­po­si­tion” when Mus­cat’s Labour Govern­ment is syn­ony­mous with lack of ac­count­abil­ity and lack of trans­parency which, in some cases, are lead­ing to scan­dals some­times smelling of cor­rup­tion.

Peo­ple of good char­ac­ter keep their prom­ises and their com­mit­ments. The good char­ac­ter of a per­son is shown not by the prom­ises and com­mit­ments made but by the prom­ises and com­mit­ments that the per­son keeps. Labour never changes, nei­ther with the pas­sage of time nor un­der dif­fer­ent lead­ers.

Vote Labour, get Labour

Back in his­tory, some thirty years ago, former Labour leader Dom Mintoff told and ex­ces­sively ex­cited his sup­port­ers that, “if this is not enough, we will give arms to all our sup­port­ers.” Those were the days of threats and un­con­trolled phys­i­cal vi­o­lence. Since 2013, Mus­cat’s Labour is mov­ing the clock back and re­mind­ing us of the black days even though not in­clud­ing phys­i­cal vi­o­lence. Some are us­ing words of pay­back or re­venge which con­firm that Mus­cat’s Labour still em­braces the men­tal­ity of the seven­ties and the eight­ies. Labour does not change. Once you vote Labour, you get Labour, who­ever its leader is.

In re­cent months, some Labour ex­po­nents re­minded us of a bat­tle cry used by former Labour leader Al­fred Sant; an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. It was men­tioned when Toni Abela’s nom­i­na­tion for mem­ber of the European Court of Au­di­tors was re­fused by the European Par­lia­men­tary Com­mit­tee. Ronnie Pellegrini, Chief of Staff of the Min­is­ter for So­cial Dia­logue, Con­sumer Af­fairs and Civil Lib­er­ties in a com­ment on the so­cial me­dia re­fer­ring to the Na­tion­al­ist Party, wrote, “There is no other way for th­ese peo­ple: an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”.

Af­ter the vote against Leo Brin­cat in the European Par­lia­ment, Al­fred Grixti, Chief Ex­ec­u­tive of the Foun­da­tion for So­cial Wel­fare Ser­vices, who like Pellegrini is paid from tax­pay­ers’ money, wrote that for the Na­tion­al­ists “the time of reck­on­ing will come” and “if nec­es­sary, with you we will use an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”.

It was then the turn of Al­fred Sant, former Labour leader and now Mem­ber of the European Par­lia­ment. In an ar­ti­cle about the Panama Pa­pers’ scan­dal and the neg­a­tive vote against Leo Brin­cat as a re­sult of the scan­dal, Sant wrote, “this in­vites retaliation of the type of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”. He prob­a­bly con­ve­niently for­got that in April last year, with­out minc­ing words, he de­clared that Kon­rad Mizzi should re­sign in the na­tional in­ter­est be­cause of his in­volve­ment in the Panama Pa­pers’ scan­dal.

Snakes, axes and more

The phrase “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” will not how­ever make us for­get Justyne Caru­ana’s ref­er­ence to the Na­tion­al­ists as “those are against us, those are snakes”. We will also not for­get the in­ci­dent in Par­lia­ment when Joe De­bono Grech threat­ened ex-Labour Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment and now in­de­pen­dent MP Mar­lene Far­ru­gia “I will come for you and break you” (Niġi għa­lik u nifqgħek).

The use of provoca­tive lan­guage by some Labour ex­po­nents has no lim­its. In April last year Labour Deputy Leader and Min­is­ter Chris Car­dona, ad­dress­ing a Labour Gen­eral Con­fer­ence, in­sti­gated, “If you hit us with a dag­ger, we will hit you with an axe.” More re­cently, Min­is­ter Evarist Bar­tolo, speak­ing about a case of al­leged cor­rup­tion by one of his can­vassers in his Min­istry, de­clared; “For every hit that I re­ceive, I will hit twice”.

Words of retaliation or pay­back di­rected at the Na­tion­al­ist Party and oth­ers are highly con­demnable and a dis­grace on who ut­ters them and on Labour. Mus­cat’s prom­ise prior to the elec­tion that the time of us and them will be over and his of­fer of the hand of friend­ship af­ter the elec­tion are mean­ing­less and hyp­o­crit­i­cal.

In­cite­ment and provo­ca­tion

Vi­o­lence is not only the phys­i­cal at­tacks which many of us wit­nessed in the seven­ties and the eight­ies un­der Labour – the mob rule was also con­demned by Joseph Mus­cat him­self in an ar­ti­cle in The Malta In­de­pen­dent of Septem­ber 1998.

There are many forms of vi­o­lence and th­ese in­clude words of in­cite­ment and provo­ca­tion which are ut­tered or writ­ten. Some Labour ex­po­nents, es­pe­cially Glenn Bed­ing­field, a per­son of trust in the Of­fice of the Prime Min­is­ter paid from our taxes, also use the so­cial me­dia to show hos­til­ity. They at­tack Na­tion­al­ist Party ex­po­nents, par­tic­u­larly the Party leader Si­mon Busut­til, and who­ever does not agree with Labour or shows dis­agree­ment with some Labour Govern­ment ac­tions, in­clud­ing the Arch­bishop and the free press. Even my­self and my writ­ings on this news­pa­per have not been spared of Bed­ing­field’s at­tacks.

Such words and writ­ings can pro­voke and in­di­rectly en­cour­age phys­i­cal vi­o­lence which, God for­bid, should raise its head once again. Th­ese words and writ­ings be­lie Joseph Mus­cat’s prom­ise prior to the elec­tion that the time of red and blue will be over and his ap­peal, af­ter the elec­tion, for unity and his of­fer­ing the hand of friend­ship. Since Joseph Mus­cat does not stop them, he would be seem­ingly en­cour­ag­ing or sup­port­ing them.

In line with democ­racy ....

Mus­cat should re­mem­ber his dec­la­ra­tion of 5 April 2013: “In line with democ­racy, those with a man­date to gov­ern must re­spect the Op­po­si­tion while putting one­self to the scru­tiny of the pub­lic and his op­po­nents. This govern­ment be­lieves that ev­ery­one has some­thing to con­trib­ute in a Malta for all”.

Mus­cat him­self de­fined that this is what democ­racy is about. The con­trary, would there­fore be un­demo­cratic; and this, ac­cord­ing to Mus­cat’s pro­nounce­ment of what is in line with democ­racy.

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