“Many a time one is cognisant of one’s qualities and, once these reverberate with others, a certain momentum builds up.” This was the utterly deluded OPM Minister Carmelo Abela glorifying himself in his own article ‘What politics is made of’.

Translation: “I often think of how frigging brilliant I am and, once those around me realise how amazing I am, I confirm my own sheer brilliance.” The man has not a shred of insight.

“There was always an urge in me to help through my strengths.” The whole article was packed with such cringeworthy, mortifying self-praise. “I also felt that if I had certain strengths, I shouldn’t leave them unused.”

The minister was on another self-promotion crusade, this time to commemorate his 25 years in parliament. “With my closest aides, we recently revisited the highlights of those years.”

Those highlights? “The most striking door-to-door meetings, interventions on pieces of legislation I debated in parliament, missions abroad…”

The coup de grace was one audacious claim: “I always had very clear ethical principles – integrity and honesty.”

Abela has repeatedly abused his power, lied through his teeth and acted vindictively.

Public employees from his ministry were instructed to build a large wooden veranda at his residence. Abela claimed: “I don’t know who built the verandah at my house.”

He refused to allow his comments to be recorded. “How could you not know who built the verandah in your house,” journalists challenged him. “I have to check as I don’t know who did the work,” Abela replied but suggested they might have been on vacation leave.

He later issued a statement. He didn’t deny public workers had done the work. But insisted he hadn’t given them instructions to install the veranda during working hours. He claimed he paid “the amount requested” but provided no receipts of having paid those workers. “Those receipts are in my possession but whether I publish them or not only I will decide” was his rude response.

There was no development permit authorising the veranda construction. Repeated questions to the Planning Authority went unanswered. This wasn’t a one-off. The Sunday Times of Malta knew of other occasions where government employees were asked by the minister and his wife to perform other jobs at his private residence during working hours.

When Abela was asked about the violent robbery at HSBC headquarters, he insisted that he didn’t testify in the case. But he was notified by Mr Justice Giovanni Grixti that the police had requested access to the testimony he had given about the case in 2011.

The police opened an investigation into his involvement in the case based on claims by the Degiorgio brothers that a sitting minister was involved in the crime and was promised €300,000.

Abela had testified, behind closed doors at his request, about his use of bank equipment generating access cards to the vaults, cards used in the heist. After being reminded of his testimony, he was asked: “Have you remembered since?” “No, I’m sorry, I cannot remember giving evidence and I don’t remember what I testified,” he replied.

On Monday, May 17, the police called in Abela for questioning about the case. Abela claimed he had gone to the police of his own volition. He contradicted himself in the very same interview stating, “The police sent (for me) to pose their questions.” The journalists repeatedly asked: “Were you questioned under caution?”

Carmelo Abela has repeatedly abused his power, lied through his teeth and acted vindictively- Kevin Cassar

Repeatedly, he evaded the question: “I am not being investigated”.

Exasperated, one journalist shouted: “Yes or no?” Abela again dodged: “I have made it clear, I am not being investigated.”

Two days later, Abela was hauled back in for questioning. He left police headquarters at 2.30pm. In a humiliating climbdown, he was forced to admit: “From my own verifications, it has emerged that I had testified in court years ago.” And he hadn’t simply decided to go to police headquarters himself.

It wasn’t Abela’s honesty that led to accusations he misled parliament and breached article 4.6 of the ethics code.

Abela proposed as high commissioner to Ghana a man with business links to a fugitive million-euro fraudster wanted by the police. Abela knew this. Trade Malta CEO Anton Buttigieg had told the minister about the proposed commissioner’s links to the fugitive on July 19, 2017.

Abela saw and participated in an e-mail trail dated July 18, 2017, detailing the business association and providing links to newspaper articles about the fugitive.

Yet, Abela claimed he did not know about it. He failed to inform the parliamentary committee.

He claimed: “I no longer recalled the detailed content of the e-mail” and “no information ever reached me to indicate that proposed commissioner was in business with a person subject to criminal proceedings”.

Unsurprisingly, the investigation concluded that “the minister did not seem credible in his claim he was unaware of the links between the two”.

When Standards Commissioner George Hyzler found him guilty of breaching articles 4.9, 4.10, 5.3 and 7.4 of the ethics code, by spending taxpayers’ money on self-promotion, Labour’s MPs on the standards committee voted against adopting the report. Speaker Anġlu Farrugia abstained, letting Abela away scot free.

Only hours after becoming foreign minister, Abela vindictively recalled Andrew Caruana Galizia from his New Delhi posting, ordering him “to come back within two weeks”. The high commissioner strongly objected to the recall but Abela ignored him. Abela was asked whether his orders came from Castille. Again, he could not remember.

Under oath, he was asked again: “Was there pressure from Castille?” “I don’t see the relevance of the question,” Abela retorted.

In a normal country, Abela would not be a minister. He would be prosecuted and probably jailed for perjury, abuse of power or worse. Instead, he plans to inflict his “strengths” on the nation: “I wish to take it on as another springboard for more months and years of service.”

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