There he goes again. Former Nationalist Party leader Simon Busuttil was back in court the other day asking, yet again, for an investigation of Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi and the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, Keith Schembri, over the leaked Panama Papers. In a 77-page application he called for an investigation into the allegations arising from the documents.
It sounds like an old story but actually it is not. The Panama Papers emerged three years ago and Dr Mizzi and Mr Schembri are still there today.
Dr Busuttil argues that the country’s institutions have flagrantly and consistently failed to act against the two over their secretive offshore structures. That failure is a scar on the country. At the last election, Dr Busuttil suffered a stunning loss but that did not mean he was wrong in his quest for justice to prevail.
The Panama Papers are still there and no one has put them right.
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat can claim ‘stunning’ economic success under his reign but he is still flanked by the two men with Panama accounts. No electoral success can undo what has happened.
That Dr Busuttil trudges on, ostensibly alone, is a feather in his cap. But why does it have to be him? He has withdrawn from the leadership but clearly not what he stood for. And what he stood for was what the Nationalist Party stood for.
Electoral failure does not undo the Panama Papers, Dr Mizzi and Mr Schembri are still there and that continues to look and sound wrong.
Why Dr Busuttil’s successor, Adrian Delia, did not to take up the cudgels is perplexing. That must have let some people down.
Admittedly, Dr Busuttil’s political platform, including his position on the Panama Papers, did not swing the vote. Dr Delia appears to be more pragmatic, though sometimes he does not sound Nationalist. He campaigns on the housing problems, the choppy waters in the agriculture sector, the problems caused by increased immigration...
He apparently failed to make inroads with the Daphne Caruana Galizia crowd that meets each month to remember her in Valletta. They are a determined, courageous and uncompromising crowd, some evidently hard-core Nationalists. Which is why the party under its present leadership comes across as weak. It appears fractured and without a unifying factor, which Dr Delia should be.
So Dr Busuttil goes to court alone to ask for what is right and just. The country was shocked, although maybe not surprised, when the Panama Papers emerged. By the time the election came along, people had forgotten about the Panama Papers or, worse, chose to ignore and accept. Now Dr Busuttil takes his plea for an inquiry to court alone because he lost in 2017. And there lies the problem of the PN and, above all, for Dr Delia.
Presumably, the new PN leader thinks that Dr Busuttil’s antics, and political platform, do not work. One can easily find fault with the delivery of the message, maybe with the language used, but what Dr Busuttil stood for, especially on the Panama Papers, was right. The government did nothing. That was wrong and still is.
Dr Delia must consider how better it would have been had he stood in front of the court instead of, or at least alongside, Dr Busuttil.
This is a Times of Malta print editorial
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