Opposition leader Simon Busuttil this afternoon called on the prime minister to dismiss minister Konrad Mizzi and his own chief of staff Keith Schembri and said that any government contract which they had handled should be investigated.

Dr Busuttil made his call during a protest against corruption held in Valletta.

Dr Busuttil also said he had made the fight against corruption his new priority after having seen Malta join the EU and he was calling on all people of good will to join in the fight. 

The protest, which drew thousands of people, was called after minister Konrad Mizzi and the chief of staff at the Office of the Prime Minister, Keith Schembri, were found to have set up secret companies in Panama and trusts in New Zealand.

As the protest started, people shouted 'Shame on you, shame on you' and 'korruzzjoni le'.

The protest moved from Castille Square down Merchants' Street, St John Square to Republic Street, where an address was being delivered by Simon Busuttil.

Dr Busuttil said he was not speaking as a party leader, but he was giving a voice to the people who were angered and disgusted by what they were witnessing.

This was not a protest by Nationalists against Labourites but a protest by the people against corruption.

"Our colours are not blue or red, but white and red of the Maltese flag," he said to applause.

What taxpayers demanded and expected from the government was good, clean governance. They wanted to live in a normal, democratic, European country. What they were witnessing were matters which were not normal and were unacceptable in a democratic, European country.

Three years ago, Dr Muscat was elected with a large majority, giving him the opportunity to make true his promise of making Malta the best in Europe. But he had lost this opportunity.

Malta was instead in a crisis of corruption and the crowd had risen to protest.

It was not normal in a democratic country that a minister's driver opened fire; that a man after meeting the prime minister was able to open a petrol station that was previously denied a permit; that a bankrupt company, the Cafe Premier, was given €4 million by the prime minister after a meeting was held before the election.

Nor was it acceptable that the government expropriated half a property for €3.5m million.

It was not normal to have bribery for residence permits, or visas. It was not normal for a parliamentary secretary to take a permit by devious methods or for somebody to be given a large tract in Zonqor just by meeting the prime minister.

It was not normal for the Justice Minister to nominate two magistrates in breach of constitutional requirements.

It was not normal that the left and right arms of the prime minister - his deputy leader and his chief of staff - after the general election opened a secret company in Panama.

Did anyone believe Konrad Mizzi that he had only €92 in his Panama account? (crowd chants shame on you).

What the people were asking was: why was the prime minister defending these people. What interest did he have? To defend the indefensible was unacceptable.

Had he been prime minister in such a situation where those closest to him set up a company in Panama after the election, he would have dismissed them immediately, Dr Busuttil said.

Why was the prime minister waiting for to dismiss Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri? This reflected a crisis of leadership and a crisis of morality. If Dr Muscat did not remove Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri, the people would remove him.

Clearly, Labour's only road map had been how to abuse of power for their personal gain.  "Every limit had been exceeded. Enough is enough, no more corruption," Dr Busuttil said.

He said it was the people who were paying for government corruption with wages which had not risen. Many workers and pensions could not make ends meet. 

Konrad Mizzi had set up a company in Panama while people who did not pay their electricity bill had their power cut off; cancer patients had to beg for medicines and people in social housing saw increased rents.

Keith Schembri had set up a company in Panama while the people continued to pay the highest prices in Europe for fuel.

It was those who committed corruption who should pay for it, not the ordinary people.

Dr Busuttil said he expected the police, the Commissioner of Inland Revenue, and the Financial Intelligence Unit to investigate Dr Mizzi and Mr Schembri .

Every contract which these two men handled should be investigated including the sale of Enemalta, the sale of the BWSC plant, the building of the new power station, the oil procurement contracts, hedging with Socar, and the privatisation of St Luke's and Gozo hospital.

We want to turn the race to the bottom to a race for the top

The people expected justice  and if it was not provided it would be a PN government which would deliver it.

Dr Busuttil said those present for the protest also wanted new hope for honest, clean politics.  

He was clear, he would not tolerate any corruption and he had acted even in cases which did not compare to this scandal. Therefore he was promising to work to clean up local politics once and for all. EU membership had been his first priority. Now his priority was to clean up politics.

"We want to turn the race to the bottom to a race for the top," he said. 

He called for all to join in the fight against corruption. "This is a fight we can all win together, Nationalists and Labourites," he said. The PN was ready to link up with anyone who wished to fight corruption. Labour MPs should dissociate themselves from corruption.

This was another moment in time when the country was calling and the people would respond.

"We will be there for all the people with a single message, that our actions will be honest, clean and built on the truth, because truth always prevails," Dr Busuttil concluded, using a PN slogan used in previous electoral campaign.

The protest ended with the singing of the national anthem, with many making V signs. 

Marlene Farrugia with Simon Busuttil.Marlene Farrugia with Simon Busuttil.


Those present for the protest include independent MP Marlene Farrugia. She told reporters that the people wanted the clean governance which the prime minister had promised before the general election.

Panama hats sold briskly before the protest started and came in handy because of the bright sun.

Those attending the protest are carrying Maltese flags and an assortment of placards, including one showing a picture of the prime minister, Dr Mizzi and Mr Schembri with the words 'shame on you' and others denouncing corruption. 


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