We are left with a nursery of photogenic, over-promoted infants to run this forsaken country

Robert Abela’s claim that he was zealously doing his duty when he told the taxman to hound Bernard Grech for late taxes on the eve of the PN’s leadership election is hollow. And untruthful.

The standard line for prime ministers faced with allegations of somebody else’s wrongdoing is that law enforcement institutions act independently of the prime minister. “Go to the police” is the go-to parry. This was not about principled law enforcement. It was about using the state’s institutions to manipulate an internal ballot in his rival party. It’s an autocratic act that is scandalous and unacceptable in a democracy.

And it is deeply ironic given that the prime minister has a lot of explaining to do with respect to his own blinding wealth. Where did it come from? Was it all accounted for? Was it properly taxed?

It should surprise no one that Yorgen Fenech does not want to stay in prison. On one thing he’s right. The wait between being charged for murder and conviction or acquittal is unacceptably long.

With all the presumption of innocence in the world, I struggle to sympathise with him. It is the languishing expectation of the victim’s family and all those genuinely desirous of justice that is on my mind.

I do sympathise with the accused’s right to a fair hearing, without prejudice to the opinions formed outside the court. But Fenech is taking no chances. His lawyers were caught trying to bribe a reporter for this newspaper. Did he manage to reach others? Some of us stand accused of hurting the presumption of Fenech’s innocence. Who would be responsible for a miscarriage of justice that wrongfully acquits him?

The European Court of Justice’s advocate-general was unimpressed with Repubblika’s argument that the power prime ministers enjoyed up to this year to choose judges at their unqualified discretion prejudiced the independence of the judicial branch.

Simplifying grossly here: just because prime ministers had that power, the advocate thought, it did not necessarily mean they would abuse it.

Granted. Fact is they did. Scratch that. Joseph Muscat did.

The advocate-general remained unimpressed. Even if the manner of their appointment was not great, Malta protects the independence of judges after their appointment. They are truly independent once they put on their robes. Perhaps. But once the prime minister has stuffed the bench with loyalists, it is loyalists the rest of us will be stuck with.

Let’s see what the court makes of all this later this year.

Rosianne Cutajar’s office promised a national policy and action plan to fight racism and xenophobia. So far she’s been too busy explaining to the police lavish gifts she got from Yorgen Fenech to focus on the job she’s paid for.

Admittedly, she earns in a year as a minister what she made in a day as a real estate agent. For Yorgen Fenech.

It can’t be easy to be an anti-racism czarina for this government. The notion of integration is anathema.

Over the Christmas season people who have lived here, paid tax and insurance for years and helped make this country what it is – the good bits, anyway – were forced to chase documents in despair just to prove they are entitled not to be separated from their families.

We have that sort of fun at foreigners’ expense when the sea is too rough to imprison migrants indefinitely on bobbing offshore jails. First item on Cutajar’s anti-racism plan should be to send Robert Abela to a re-education programme run by migrants. Yeah, right.

It can’t be easy being Joseph Muscat. Or Konrad Mizzi. Or Keith Schembri. Or Chris Cardona. Sure, they put on a brave face and an air of aloofness. But no one can rise above their fate. I have not suddenly become a wide-eyed optimist. I don’t see any of them facing anything like the proper extent of consequences for their deeds.

But few are left thinking sincerely they are innocent victims of lying Nationalists. Living in fear at home may be luxury in comparison with citizenship of the benevolent dictatorship run by their former crony Alexander Dalli. But it’s not fun, either.

Every word must be weighed carefully because it can be used against them. Every trip abroad must be calculated against extradition treaties.

Muscat openly admitted hiring agents to check whether his name is in sealed indictments in any US federal court. Imagine having to do that every time your kids insist on a Christmas trip to Orlando.

With the greedy crooks out of government and with dinosaurs like Edward Scicluna and Evarist Bartolo retired in fact or in practice, we’re left with a nursery of photogenic, over-promoted infants to run this forsaken country. Rosianne Cutajar has already had an honourable mention.

Consider Clint Camilleri who months ago launched an 800-metre road that is still unfinished and called out an entire neighbourhood to hand them a cheque he could have mailed with a pandemic-free postage stamp. Silvio Schembri, glorious veteran of online battles with pubescent critics, tries to forget all the smoke he exhaled over passport-holding androids paid in blockchain- operated currencies, while washing his constituents’ cars in the village square for their conventional euro coins.

Julia Farrugia Portelli and Owen Bonnici have been parked in political limbo, a cold hell reserved for perpetrators of the viral disaster they inflicted on the country.

Byron Camilleri’s pride is safely guarded while he justifies prisoners dying in the custody of his warder as a fact of life. Alex Muscat hasn’t found a way yet of hiding the identity of passport-buying crooks without the rest of us realising.

The best of the lot is Robert Abela. Quite.

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