Joseph Muscat has a flair for turning politics into theatrics. He entertains voters like an award-winning actor woos his audience. He met every allegation of corruption and abuse of power that was made against his administration with rehearsed theatrics that played on the voters’ ‘us and them’ sentiment and instilled in them a hateful need to protect the actor.

Muscat has always played the part of the victim. Even when he wielded the strongest political power on the island, he spoke of himself as such. Why were allegations of corruption being made about public contracts? Because the “others” were jealous of his achievements and of the money he was making “for the country”. Why were allegations of corruption being made in relation to Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri? Because the “others” were jealous of his most prized friends.     

He is now suspected of having taken part in criminal activity. Now it is not Daphne Caruana Galizia who is the enemy but the magistrate, the police and journalists from this newspaper. In the same way that he had turned his devotees against Daphne, he has again embarked on a crusade of hatred, labelling the court, police and journalists as his enemies. According to Muscat, these three are out to embarrass him. The theatrics he used on voters before he is now using to launch an attack on them.

He is spiteful towards a journalist who exposed Muscat’s payments from Accutor possibly in relation to Vitals. He is spiteful towards the police who executed the search. He is spiteful towards the magistrate who ordered it. How dare they touch the man who has given Malta so much by putting Labour in power. He once brought his voters to tears by getting them to think that his enemies wanted to send him to prison. He is now using the same tactic to make us sympathise with two teenagers whose mobiles were seized by the police.

The reality is that the search showed the conglomerate of corrupt politicians, businessmen and criminals – which Muscat mastered from Castille – that their master is not untouchable. This irks Muscat and many others who have so far enjoyed the protection of the Labour Party even under Robert Abela.

The search should have taken place years ago. Just as so many searches, arrests, arraignments and prosecutions of the corrupt are long overdue, so was this one. But the fact that it has taken place is important.

When a suspect opens his door and gives you a file, you do not expect to find any incriminating evidence in it. Despite this, the search on Muscat’s house rekindles a cautious hope. There are a few who are not afraid of doing their job, even if those who occupied their office before them failed to do theirs.

The justice system’s knock on Muscat’s door and journalists’ exposure of information in the public interest is a first step towards addressing the usurpation of power that Muscat and his clan engineered. 

That Abela was a member of Muscat’s clan could not have been made more obvious by Abela himself when he adopted Muscat’s narrative on the raid. Yet Abela went beyond that. He threatened the justice system and warned it to stay in its place. Meanwhile, his television station saw it fit to threaten the two journalists who dared to take Abela to task over his words.

Abela continues to project his own fake image. He has painfully tried to convince us that under his watch the institutions are working. He has been insisting that the courts, the police and journalists are free from threats and control. Then he gives them a clear message: keep your place.

Abela has been insisting that the courts, the police and journalists are free. Then he gives them a clear message: keep your place

The search at Muscat’s house has also exposed Abela. He was publicly called to choose between Muscat and Malta’s interest. He clearly chose Muscat over Malta. In doing so, he might have thought it would quiet the dissent in his own party. He took the risk of making questions on when he knew of the planned search even more important by arrogantly snapping at the journalists who raised them.

The search does not put to rest doubts on whether the police really work independently of political direction, or whether the courts are efficient and effective in their inquiries, or whether journalists are truly free from threats. Hardly anyone would expect the search to yield incriminating evidence.

But it was a reminder that there are those who are willing to continue doing their job and that no Abela or Muscat can stop their search for the truth and for justice.

Therese Comodini Cachia is PN spokesperson on human rights, good governance and rule of law.

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