“I entered politics as a gentleman and want to leave as a gentleman,” Manuel Mallia declared in his parliamentary farewell speech. Mallia never learned that self-praise is no praise at all.

His speech was pure self-glorification. He emphasised that he was “leaving in good conscience, having acted honestly and without corruption”. He always acted in good faith and his 2014 sacking from minister was a mistake, Mallia insisted.

Before exiting parliament, Mallia had one piece of advice for his peers.

It was not to stand up for truth and justice. Or against corruption. Mallia called for better remuneration for MPs and ministers.

Mallia’s morbid obsession with money is notorious. The wealthiest of all MPs, he declared revenue of over €150,000 per annum in rent alone and over €2 million in bank deposits in 2018.

Yet, the chief medical officer had to obtain a garnishee order for €3,657 in outstanding bills for his wife’s delivery of twin boys. Mallia’s partner was not a Maltese citizen and was not entitled to free treatment. 

The CMO had been chasing Mallia’s partner for the money since 2008. Seven years later, the court ordered her to pay what for Mallia was petty cash.

Mallia vowed it would not happen again – having to cough up, that is. While he was home affairs minister, his Rumanian wife obtained fast-track Maltese citizenship.

When a freedom of information request was made for her naturalisation application, her sponsor’s name was redacted.

Mallia was accused of abuse of power. He denied involvement. But Identity Malta refused to release supporting documentation revealing who approved her application.

Despite his huge wealth, Mallia never missed an opportunity for self-enrichment. In 2018, he was appointed person of trust earning €56,000 per annum for “part-time legal advice” to the prime minister.

The principal permanent secretary concealed Mallia’s contract. It was impossible to know what perks Mallia enjoyed or how many hours he worked.

Concurrently, Mallia was receiving a €20,000 honorarium as an MP and another honorarium as Occupational Health and Safety Authority chairman.

Mallia’s financial situation raised eyebrows from the start. In 2013, he failed to declare his previous year’s earnings. The experienced lawyer’s excuse was that he “was told” that since he was not an MP the previous year he did not have to include that year’s income. Far worse, the minister declared €500,000 cash at home.

When Mallia was challenged about it he claimed he had “disposed of some property”. Searches conducted in the public registry showed no sale of property for €500,000 by Mallia. The last property he sold was two years before.

Even if he had sold property, did he accept half a million euro in cash? That alone stinks of money laundering. The last person caught with €500,000 was Aldo Cutajar, brother of Principal Permanent Secretary Mario Cutajar. Aldo is charged with money laundering, suspected of making his illicit gains from Maltese visas.

Before him it was Melvin Theuma, murder middleman, who had that much cash at home. Theuma has a presidential pardon but his family is charged with money laundering.

Unlike Cutajar and Theuma’s family, Mallia was not investigated and charged with money laundering. How could he, when he had appointed his own cousin, Ray Zammit, as police commissioner?

The man who at the Council of Europe staunchly opposed Caruana Galizia’s assassination inquiry now represents our interests- Kevin Cassar

Zammit did not last long as commissioner. He was sacked by Joseph Muscat after acting with “gross negligence”.

When Mallia’s driver, Paul Shehan, fired shots directly at Stephen Morrison Smith’s car, a cover-up was orchestrated. Morrison Smith’s Opel was moved before a magistrate arrived and the minister’s government plates were removed from the ministerial car. 

Mallia was sacked too. He had fallen short in his duties as minister. Mallia falsely claimed that his driver had fired “warning shots” in the air. Mallia failed to correct his version. He persisted in his lie even when he knew the truth.

Mallia also claimed he didn’t know Shehan before the man became his driver. But he knew Shehan well.

As minister, Mallia appointed Brigadier Maurice Calleja to head a commission on injustices in the army. Calleja was forced to resign in 1993 when his daughter admitted to receiving a kilo of cocaine from her brother, Meinrad, in their father’s residence.

When Meinrad was convicted and sentenced to 15 years jail for the crime, Mallia was his defence lawyer. When he was tried for conspiracy to murder Richard Cachia Caruana, Mallia defended him. 

Mallia abusively ordered the promotion of four AFM officers within days of taking office. He not only did not consult Armed Forces Commander Brigadier Martin Xuereb; he didn’t even inform him. Xuereb found out from a government gazette notice.

One of those promoted, Jeffrey Curmi, received several promotions in quick succession and replaced Xuereb as commander of the armed forces.

When army officers, unjustly passed over for promotion, complained, Mallia obstructed the ombudsman, refusing to provide information or documentation. The ombudsman was compelled to file a judicial protest.

When the court ruled that Mallia must collaborate with the ombudsman, the ministry appealed. Finally, in 2016, the court of appeal confirmed that the ombudsman had the authority to investigate.

Only last month, the ombudsman concluded that Mallia’s promotions were “outright illegal, irregular, improper and discriminatory” and that Curmi was “an insurmountable obstacle” for his investigation.

Within weeks of Mallia’s condemnation for “outright illegalities and injustice”, Prime Minister Robert Abela made him UK high commissioner. Days after Malta’s grey listing, Abela appointed a man with €500,000 cash at home as our country’s representative in Britain.

The man who at the Council of Europe staunchly opposed Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination inquiry now represents our interests. As the international spotlight shines painfully on Malta, is this the best Abela has to offer?

Following his farewell speech, Anġlu Farrugia lauded Mallia for “proving his integrity”. However, Speaker Farrugia had also found Aliyev’s highly irregular, ballot-box stuffing election to have been “fair, democratic and transparent”.

Abela and Farrugia must be the only two people convinced by Mallia’s self-eulogy.

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