Tal-mistħija

Il-kwantità ta’ nies li kien hemm jiċċelebraw ma Joseph Muscat fin-Naxxar, Ħaż-Żebbuġ u r-Raħal Ġdid illum, juru li għad hawn bosta li għadhom ma fehmux il-gravità tas-sitwazzjoni li fiha jinsab il-pajjiż illum. Bosta minnhom, jekk tistaqsihom, bla ebda dubju jgħidulek li Joseph ma missux irreżenja. Miskin. Jaħassra. X’għamel?

Joseph irreżenja, però għadu hemm, għalissa.

Irreżenja biex jerfa’ r-responsabbiltà politika għas-sitwazzjoni kurrenti li żviluppata mill-investgazzjonijiet fuq il-qtil ta’ Daphne Caruana Galizia. Qed jirreżenja ukoll minħabba ta’ madwaru li ma kellux il-kuraġġ li jkeċċihom, meta żbaljaw bil-kbir kif jidher mid-dokumentazzjoni kollha konnessa mal-Panama Papers.

Bil-mod kif qed jitkellem Joseph Muscat fil-lokalitajiet fejn qed imur qed iwassal messaġġ ħażin. Qed jgħid li ma għamel xejn ħażin. (Matul il-gimgħa kien qalilna li qed jerfa’ fuq spallejh dak li għamel ħaddiehor.)

Fil-fatt l-affarijiet huma kompletament bil-maqlub: tant mexa ħażin li l-imġieba tiegħu kontinwament qed twassal il-messaġġ li xejn m’hu xejn. Għal Joseph u għal dawk li iddemostraw illum, huma l-ġurnalisti li żbaljaw meta jirrappurtaw u jikkummentaw dwar il-ħmieġ. Għax Joseph ma għamel xejn ħażin.

Kieku Joseph Muscat ħa passi meta kellu jeħodhom, u keċċa lil Keith Schembri u lil Konrad Mizzi, hekk kif ħarġu l-istejjer, probabbilment li s-sitwazzjoni illum hi ferm differenti.

Tal-mistħija.

Ċertament Joseph u l-Partit Laburista m’għandhomx x’jiċċelebraw. Kien ikun iktar addattat kieku mar jinħeba.

Malta deserves better

Reading through the reports on the testimony of Melvin Theuma – who turned state evidence in the criminal investigation on Daphne Caruana Galzia’s assassination – all of us feel shocked and betrayed.

We are shocked by the ruthlessness displayed and we feel betrayed by Joseph Muscat, who put his faith in a bunch of criminals. Malta certainly deserves better – much better, in fact.

As names of various individuals and their actions were being mentioned in the magistrate’s hall, one lingering question is whether these individuals were aware of how their specific action fitted into the general jigsaw puzzle. In addition, what did the boss know about what was going on around him? Was he kept in the dark by his underlings, or was he given discreet briefings?

As yet there is no answer:suspicions are just suspicions. They will, however, linger on until interrogation marks are resolved. In time, we may get to know more, especially when all the rats have fled the sinking ship.

This nation will not rest until all is known, because our trust has been betrayed.

The facts as to who commissioned the assassination and who carried it out are becoming clearer. It is also being established without a shadow of a doubt that the interrogation rooms at Police Headquarters would have more from the functions of a sieve that the secure place one would expect them to be.

In his testimony, Melvin Theuma shocked quite a few people when he stated that he was aware of the planned police raid at the Marsa potato shed days before it was actually carried out. In fact, he stated that he was instructed by the master-mind to alert those who carried out the assassination to this important matter. He was even aware when Vincent Muscat – il-Koħħu – started spilling the beans.

I find it hard to believe that the police tried to sabotage their own investigations. There were others who may have had an interest in sabotaging these investigations from the sidelines. Most probably they are still around, with a visible silhouette that inconclusively indicates their identity.

Likewise, what is the purpose of tapping phones if the person under observation is alerted? Yorgen Fenech specifically stated in the witness box on Thursday that he was alerted by Keith Schembri to the fact that his electronic communications were being monitored.

This is the background which compelled a helpless Cabinet to demand an answer as to why Keith Schembri, the former Chief of Staff at the Office of the Prime Minister, was not properly investigated. A proper interrogation of Mr Schembri would undoubtedly lead to results if it can be done without Joseph Muscat breathing down the necks of the police force. This is an important reason why Joseph Muscat should resign with immediate effect: to ensure that it is not in any way possible for him to protect his friend Keith Schembri.

Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries should, however, be aware that they have directly contributed to the development of this crisis, both individually as well as collectively as the Cabinet, because they failed to take decisive action regarding the publication of the Panama Papers. Their failure to act at that point in time was a clear signal that anything goes.

The law should apply to everyone. This, however, is not the case because so far Keith Schembri has been lurking in the shadows for far too long. In a national address last Tuesday, President George Vella implored us to be rational and not emotional in this very difficult time. Malta deserves better. It is what we should strive for.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday : 8 December 2019

Il-Mafja fl-uffiċċju tal-Prim Ministru

 

Mix-xhieda ta’ Melvin Theuma, li nstemgħet dal-għodu, joħorġu ħafna ismijiet ta’ peruni li kienu fil-Berġa ta’ Kastilja.

Mhux biss Keith imma issa ukoll Sandro Craus u “Kenneth” mis-servizz tas-sigurtà li kien assenjat ma Keith Schembri.

Il-miljuni qieshom żerriegħa tal-ħarrub.

Jidher li l-Mafja li qatlet lil Daphne għandha assoċjazzjoni mill-qrib mal-Berġa ta’ Kastilja. Ftit ftit il-provi qed iqarrbu lejn dak li ħafna ilhom jissuspettaw. Imma biex ikollna l-istampa kollha rridu nisimgħu l-provi kollha.

L-istituzzjonijiet qed jaħdmu, qalilna Owen Bonnici

Wara l-laqgħa tal-Kabinett tal-Ħamis fil-għaxija, li baqgħet għaddejja sa sbieħ il-Gimgħa, żewġ Ministri tkellmu dwar dak li kien għaddej.

Il-Ministri kienu imnixxfa jisimgħu lill-Avukat Ġenerali u lill-Kummissarju tal-Pulizija jispjegaw dak li kien għaddej. “We were shocked” qalu lill-gazzetti.

Il-Ministri ma setgħux jifhmu kif u għaliex Keith Schembri nħeles mill-arrest, u dan wara li semgħu rapport dettaljat. Il-Ministri talbu iktar spjegazzjonijiet. Imma mir-rabja kbira li tidher fir-rapporti ma jidhirx li kienu sodisfatti mill-ispjegazzjonijiet li nagħtaw.

Imbagħad jiġi Owen Bonnici jgħid li l-istituzzjonijiet qed jaħdmu!

Reflections on a turbulent week

As things stand, at this point in time Yorgen Fenech may end up carrying the can on his own. So far, apparently, none of the co-conspirators indicated in the information making the rounds will be joining him in the next stage of the investigation into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Many people are flabbergasted that Keith Schembri was released by the police without any indication as to whether or not he would be further investigated. Undoubtedly, at some point, the police would be required to explain in Court why they arrived at such a conclusion. In particular, as emphasised by the Caruana Galizia family statement to the press on Friday, at least two witnesses and multiple pieces of physical evidence implicate Schembri’s involvement without there being any need for a Yorgen Fenech pardon.

The police have a lot of explaining to do, even within the context of the revelations of the recordings by Melvin Theuma who has turned state evidence.

The declarations by Yorgen Fenech that there were continuous leaks from the ongoing police investigation that ended exclusively in the hands of Keith Schembri is cause for serious concern because, if proved correct, it would signify outside and inappropriate influence on the investigative responsibilities of the police. This undermines the whole investigative process.

The web of illicit ties between politics and business and the associated corruption is at the centre of this investigation into the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia. It goes back to just a few days after the Labour government, led by Joseph Muscat, was voted into office in March 2013.

This web links the Labour government – led by Muscat – to the principal actors in this week’s drama. We do remember that this developed through the setting up of secret Panama companies with the specific intent of receiving tainted money from projects then on the drawing board.

17Black, the Dubai offshore company owned by Yorgen Fenech, was later set up for the purpose. The sum of €150,000 per month, equivalent to €5,000 per day, was mentioned in emails that saw the light of day as part of the Panama Papers.

This week began with a summit at Burmarrad on Monday evening between Joseph Muscat and his Chief of Staff on the eve of Keith Schembri’s four-day questioning at Police Headquarters. Through selected leaks we have learnt of Mafia style communication between Keith Schembri and Yorgen Fenech in the interrogation rooms using a medical doctor as an intermediary: Schembri implored Yorgen Fenech not to reveal anything on him and, in return, he promised his help. This plea apparently misfired as, according to the leaks, Fenech built up his case describing Keith Schembri as the master-mind behind the assassination. The interrogators were apparently not impressed because, for the time being, Schembri was sent back home.

One of the reasons why this investigation has been dragging on for far too long is that, most probably, those who planned and commissioned the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia had the ability to cover their tracks, at times with the assistance of access to classified information.

As this saga seems to be drawing to an end, it is imperative that we draw from it the appropriate lessons.

published on The Malta Independent on Sunday: 1 December 2019

Is-Summit ta’ Burmarrad

Il-bieraħ sa tard fil-għaxija kien hemm summit f’Burmarrad bejn Joseph Muscat u Keith Schembri.

X’ġie diskuss?

Mill-aħbarijiet ta’ dalgħodu ħarġet ir-risposta li Keith Schembri dal-għodu kellu appuntament id-Depot tal-Pulizija. Wara l-avvenimenti ta’ dawn l-aħħar ġranet hu ovvju li l-Kasco għandu ħafna xi jwieġeb.

Meta wieħed iqis li l-ġimgħa l-oħra Joseph Muscat qal li jaf ħafna u ilu 24 xahar jistenna biex jgħid dak li jaf ma tantx jitwemmen meta dalgħodu ġie ikkwotat jgħid li m’għandux idea dwar xiex inġabar Keith.

Il-vot ta’ fiduċja tal-bieraħ ma jiswa’ għalxejn.

Nistennew u naraw min imiss wara Keith Schembri.

Iktar ma jgħaddi ħin iktar qed isir ċar għal kulħadd li jiem Joseph Muscat huma magħduda.

Riżenji meħtieġa wara l-arrest ta’ Yurgen Fenech

L-arrest ta’ Yurgen Fenech kmieni dal-għodu fuq il-yacht tiegħu barra Portomaso jiftaħ il-bibien beraħ għal ħafna affarijiet.

L-ewwel nett, għal min isegwi, isem Yurgen Fenech ilu iċċirkula fil-widnejn bħala dak il-businessman prominenti li rreferiet għalih it-Times xi ġimgħat ilu bħala l-allegat mandanti, s’issa mhux magħruf, fil-kaz tal-assassinju ta’ Daphne Caruana Galizia.

It-tieni, l-fatt li minkejja dan Yurgen Fenech kien għadu hawn, jiġri mas-saqajn, kien ifisser li hu kien konvint li ma hu ser jiġri xejn. Bħalma kont naf jiena u ħafna oħrajn b’dak li kien qed jingħad dwaru, bla dubju kienu jafu ukoll dawk li għandhom il-poter li jaġixxu, u ma aġixxewx qabel f’dawn l-aħħar siegħat, meta ma kellhomx iktar għazla.

It-tielet, Yurgen Fenech il-businessman ifisser ukoll il-kumpanija 17 Black u l-allegazzjonijiet kollha li għandhom x’jaqsmu magħha. Fosthom, issemmew repetutament l-ismijiet ta’ Konrad Mizzi u Keith Schembri fil-kuntest ta’ emails b’referenza għal ħlasijiet sostanzjali.

Xi affarijiet huma magħrufa diġa imma inevitabilment għad jaraw id-dawl tax-xemx affarijiet oħra ukoll.

Fid-dawl ta’ dan kollu nifhem iktar għaliex il-bieraħ, quddiem il-kamera tat-TV, Joseph Muscat deher qiesu ras maqtugħa. Bħalu, u forsi agħar minnu dehru xi Ministri.

Fid-dawl ta’ dan kollu hu inevitabbli li Konrad Mizzi u Keith Schembri jkunu l-ewwel tnejn li jirreżenjaw, inkella għandhom jitkeċċew immedjatament.

Warajhom hemm oħrajn. Imma pass pass.

Il-Korruzzjoni m’għandhiex kulur

Id-dibattitu dwar il-korruzzjoni fil-gżejjer Maltin ma jispiċċa qatt. Il-korruzzjoni m’għandhiex kulur u tiddependi ħafna fuq kultura ta’ klijenteliżmu u fuq istituzzjonijiet dgħajfa jew imdgħajfa. Sfortunatament, ma teżisti l-ebda rieda politika biex dan ikun indirizzat.

Ma tidher l-ebda azzjoni ċara u konkreta li tikkorrispondi mad-diskors pubbliku u ma jaqta’ xejn dwar tolleranza żero għall-korruzzjoni.

Ir-resistenza tal-Ministri Edward Scicluna, Konrad Mizzi u Chris Cardona biex tinfetaħ inkjesta kriminali minn maġistrat dwar l-allegazzjonijiet tal-kompliċità kriminali tagħhom in konnessjoni mal-ftehim tal-Vitals Global Healthcare dwar l-isptarijiet ma tinftiehemx. Prim Ministru b’tolleranza żero għall-korruzzjoni kien jitlob l-inkjesta hu stess. Inkella kien ikun minn ta’ quddiem biex jappoġġja t-talba li saret.

Kieku l-Partit Laburista kellu tolleranza żero għall-korruzzjoni ilu li bagħat lil Konrad Mizzi u lil Keith Schembri jixxejru. Il-fatt li l-mexxej Laburista Joseph Muscat ma aġixxiex b’dan il-mod ifisser li hu dispost li jagħlaq għajnejh għall-irregolaritajiet li jagħmlu ta’ madwaru. F’dawn iċ-ċirkustanzi, Partit Laburista b’tolleranza żero għall-korruzzjoni kien jiġbed widnejn il-mexxej tiegħu u jwissieh li jiemu magħduda jekk ma jibdilx triqtu. Il-fatt li l-Partit Laburista ma għamel xejn minn dan ifisser ħaġa waħda: li korruzzjoni hi tollerata.

Ikun għaqli jekk niftakru illi fl-istadji inizzjali tal-iskandlu magħruf bħala Panama Papers diversi membri tal-Grupp Parlamentari tal-Partit Laburista irreaġixxew għal dan kollu bil-bibien magħluqa.

F’April u Mejju tal-2016 kienet ħarġet l-istorja li mhux il-Partit Laburista kollu hu illuppjata dwar allegazzjonijiet ta’ korruzzjoni. Id-dibattitu intern, kif irrappurtat fil-medja, kien imqanqal, imma ma wassal għall-ebda azzjoni konkreta.

Il-Partit Nazzjonalista, għalkemm fl-Opposizzjoni, ma jistax ikun alternattiva għal dan għax minkejja li l-kritika tiegħu hi korretta mhuwiex kredibbli.

Il-Partit Nazzjonalista eleġġa mexxej li ftit li xejn jispira fiduċja fost il-pubbliku. Primarjament dan hu minħabba l-informazzjoni li toħroġ minn rapporti investigattivi dwaru ppubblikati minn Daphne Caruana Galizia, informazzjoni li turi kif diversi drabi ma aġixxiex b’mod korrett. Il-politku ma’ għandux il-possibilità li jagħżel meta jixgħel is-switch tal-imġieba etika. L-imġieba tal-politiku meta ma jkunx taħt il-lenti tal-opinjoni pubblika hi l-iktar indikattiva dwar x’isarraf. Il-kaz ta’ klijenti tal-uffiċju legali ta’ Adrian Delia li bbenefikaw minn dħul minn briedel f’Londra huwa eżempju prattiku ta’ dan. Meta l-informazzjoni kienet ippubblikata Delia fetaħ libell imma wara mhux biss irtirah imma ma ħa l-ebda passi alternattivi biex jisganċa ruħu minn dak li ntqal bl-iswed fuq l-abjad dwaru.

L-istess għandu jingħad dwar ix-xhieda ġuramentata tad-Deputat Nazzjonalista Claudio Grech dwar l-iskandlu taż-żejt liema xhieda ngħatat quddiem il-Kumitat Parlamentari għall-Kontijiet Pubbliċi. Dakinnhar Grech qal li ma kienx jiftakar jekk qatt iltaqa’ ma’ George Farrugia, il-moħħ wara l-iskandlu u li wara ngħata l-maħfra biex jikxef kollox. Il-Kap tal-PN ta’ dakinnhar, Simon Busuttil, bl-ebda mod ma rreaġixxa għal din l-imġieba. Ma ttieħdu l-ebda passi kontra Claudio Grech mill-PN f’dan il-kaz li bosta jqisuh bħala li pprova jevita li jikxef informazzjoni ta’ relevanza għal għarfien aħjar ta’ fatti tal-iskandlu.

Fid-dawl ta’ nuqqas ta’ kredibilità, meta l-Opposizzjoni Parlamentari (kif kostitwita illum) titkellem, l-impatt ta’ dak li tgħid bi kritika tal-Gvern ftit hu effetttiv.

Dan nistgħu narawh ukoll fid-dawl ta’ każi ta’ governanza ħażina li jikkomunikaw messaġġ wieħed: il-PL u l-PN huma pezza waħda. Eżempju ċar ta’ dan hu l-kaz tal-involviment ta’ Mario Demarco fin-negozjati kuntrattwali tad-dB fil-kwalità tiegħu ta’ konsulent legali tal-Grupp dB, meta fl-istess ħin kien Viċi Kap tal-Opposizzjoni u kelliemi għall-Finanzi. Għalkemm Mario Demarco għamel apoloġija pubblika dwar dan meta l-qiegħa kienet saħnet, il-ħsara li seħħet kienet sostanzjali. Il-messaġġ ċar li ġie kkomunikat dakinnhar kien li l-aħjar elementi tal-Opposizzjoni Parlamentari ma kinux kapaċi jiddistingwu bejn l-obbligi pubbliċi u l-interessi privati tagħhom.

Ikun opportun ukoll li niftakru fid-diversi rapporti tal-Awditur Ġenerali dwar abbuż minn propjetà pubblika meta din kienet responsabbiltà politika tad-deputat Jason Azzopardi. Il-PN fl-ebda ħin ma esiġa li Azzopardi jerfa’ r-responsabbiltà politika għall-frejjeġ li ħalla warajh.

Il-governanza ħażina u l-korruzzjoni huma kuġini. Waħda twassal għall-oħra. Xi minn daqqiet hemm min jitfixkel waħda mal-oħra.

Alternattiva Demokratika dejjem kienet ċara. Dejjem kellna tolleranza żero kemm għall-korruzzjoni kif ukoll għall-governanza ħażina. Sfortunatament, la l-PN u l-anqas il-PL ma jistgħu jgħidu l-istess.

ippubblikat fuq Illum : Il-Ħadd 17 ta’ Novembru 2019

 

 

 

Corruption is colour-blind

The debate on local corruption is never-ending. Corruption is colour-blind and is heavily dependent upon a clientelist culture, as well as on the existence of weak or weakened institutions. In addition, unfortunately, there is currently no political will to address either.

The never-ending public utterances on zero-tolerance to corruption are not matched with clear-cut action.

The resistance by Cabinet Ministers Edward Scicluna, Konrad Mizzi and Chris Cardona to the initiation of a magisterial criminal inquiry into the allegation concerning their criminal complicity in the Vitals Global Healthcare Hospitals deal is mind-boggling. A Prime Minister with a zero-tolerance to corruption would have requested the inquiry himself. Alternatively, he should have been the first to support the NGO-requested investigation.

A Labour Party which has a zero-tolerance to corruption would have sent Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri packing ages ago. The fact that Labour leader Joseph Muscat did not so act signifies that he is willing to turn a Nelson eye to his colleagues’ misdemeanours. In these circumstances a corruption zero-tolerant Labour Party would have given notice to its leader that his days are numbered if he does not change his ways. The fact that the Labour Party did not so act gives one clear message: it is corruption-tolerant.

It would be pertinent to point out that, in the initial stages of the Panama Papers debate, various members of the Labour Party Parliamentary group reacted behind closed doors. Way back in April and May of 2016, leaks in the media had indicated that not all of the Labour Party is anesthetised in its reactions to allegations of corruption. The internal debate, as then reported, was fierce, but it did not lead to concrete action.

The Nationalist Party, although in opposition, is no alternative to all this, as its criticism, though correct, is not credible.

The Nationalist Party has elected a leader who does not inspire much confidence in the public, primarily as a result of the investigative reports published by Daphne Caruana Galizia which unearthed information that illustrated the various instances in which he acted unethically. Holders of political office have no choice as to when to switch on to an ethical behaviour mode. Their behaviour when they were not under the glaring spotlight of public opinion is most indicative of their ethical worth. A case in point is Adrian Delia’s legal representation of clients benefitting from earnings from London-based brothels in respect of which published information he instituted legal action that he later withdrew. Subsequently he took no action which disproves anything that was published about this brothel business.

Likewise, no action was taken in respect of the sworn testimony of senior PN Member of Parliament Claudio Grech when giving witness in front of the Public Accounts Committee in its inquiry on the oil scandal. Grech had then stated that he did not recollect if he had ever met George Farrugia, the prime mover in the oil scandal, who was eventually pardoned to reveal all. The then PN leader, Simon Busuttil, had not reacted to this behaviour and no action whatsoever was initiated against Claudio Grech by the PN in what most consider a case of avoiding spilling information of relevance.

In view of its lack of credibility, whenever the Parliamentary Opposition – as presently constituted- speaks up, the impact of what has been revealed about Government’s dubious practices is severely diluted.

This could be viewed also with reference to serious issues of bad governance which communicate one clear message: they are cut from the same cloth. A case in point is Mario Demarco’s involvement in the dB contract negotiations as legal advisor to the dB Group, at a time when he was Deputy Leader of the Opposition and its spokesperson on Finance. Though Mario Demarco issued a public apology when the matter made headlines, the damage done was substantial. The clear message conveyed was that the better elements of the Parliamentary Opposition are incapable of drawing a line between their public duties and their private interests.

We may also deem it fit to remember the various reports issued by the Auditor-General on the mis-management of government property. At the time, this was the political responsibility of the Hon Jason Azzopardi but at no time was he asked by his party to shoulder political responsibility for the mess that he left behind.

Bad governance and corruption are cousins; one leads to the other and at times one is easily mistaken for the other.

At Alternattiva Demokratika we have always been clear: we are zero-tolerant in respect of both corruption and bad governance. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the PN and the PL.

published on The Malta Independent on Sunday: 17 November 2019

Keith Schembri: mhux waħdu

Nhar it-Tnejn, Keith Schembri rtira kawża ta’ libell kontra Simon Busuttil. Kawża li infetħet għax Simon Busuttil qal li Keith Schembri hu korrott.

Il-konsegwenza loġika u ovvja issa hi li Keith Schembri mhux jiddejjaq li hu jkun deskritt li hu korrott. Naħseb li ma hemm l-ebda mod ieħor kif tħares lejn il-materja. Iddur kemm iddur b’argumenti legali, din hi l-unika konklużjoni li tagħmel sens. Miskin, beża’ li jinkrimina ruħu.

Din min naħa l-oħra twassal għal konsiderazzjoni waħda bażika: il-Prim Ministru Joseph Muscat ma għamel xejn wara dan kollu. Allura ifisser li anke Joseph Muscat mhux jiddejjaq li ċ-Chief of Staff tal-uffiċċju tiegħu ma baqax jinsisti għas-sodisfazzjon mingħand min iddeskrivieh li hu korrott.

F’kull pajjiż iċċivilizzat Keith Schembri kien jitneħħa immedjatament mill-karigi pubbliċi kollha li jokkupa. Ovvjament dan mhux ser iseħħ. Għax Keith Schembri mhux waħdu.

Il-Partit Laburista baqa’ sieket: ħasra għax naf ħafna Laburisti li xejn ma jaqblu ma dan.

Min ma jiġġilidx kontra l-korruzzjoni hu korrott huwa ukoll. Dan qatt ma kien ċar daqs illum.

Anke l-Partit Laburista irid jerfa’ l-piz li ser ikollu jġorr minħabba s-skiet tiegħu.