The Times of Malta yesterday carried extracts of a draft report drawn up by the Council of Europe on the rule of law in Malta. The report speaks of a culture of impunity and protection to people in power who commit wrong. 

It speaks of dysfunctional authorities and the lack of basic checks and balances in our system of governance. It talks of a high concentration of power in the hands of a Prime Minister, and how the Prime Minister is using this power not to advance the democratic credentials of our country but rather to undermine them.

Joseph Muscat, in 2013, promised a culture of political accountability. He delivered the very opposite. In every major scandal that emerged he employed the classic tactics of bad crisis management: deny, create diversions and blame everyone else except himself and those around him. 

The Council of Europe report mentions how Muscat is protecting Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri, despite reports by the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit pointing to potential serious criminal activity by his closest aides. This was not the only case of Muscat defending the indefensible. 

He defended Pilatus Bank and its owner but his defence collapsed when Ali Sadr Hashemi Nejad was detained and charged by the US authorities. No one was held accountable for licensing Pilatus Bank and for allowing it to breach banking regulations. 

Just like no one was held accountable for the deal that gave away three State hospitals for the price of a coffee, a deal that was designed to fail. And fail it did. 

Vitals, a company that was formed days before signing the contract, a company with no experience in the health sector made millions of euros because the government allowed it to sell on its contracts.

 The new power station deal was shady and certainly not beneficial to the Maltese taxpayer. This was the conclusion reached by the Auditor General after evaluating in great detail the deal. 

Did anyone from government accept responsibility for the Auditor General’s conclusions? Of course not. 

The report speaks of limited progress in the investigation that is underway to identify who ordered the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia. The death of a journalist in Slovakia led to the resignation of the entire government. That is how things happen in normal democratic countries as the police investigation in Slovakia charged a prominent businessman with the murder. 

The conclusion of the draft Council of Europe report is that what is happening in Malta is neither normal nor democratic. 

So much so that the failure of Maltese institutions is putting at risk the integrity of European institutions. 

We have a chance not to change the government but to change its attitude

On this basis, the report advocates that action be taken against Malta. This is not the first report that reached this conclusion. 

The Moneyval report will be debated in a few weeks’ time. If it is approved, Malta will be blacklisted with serious repercussions for our economy and businesses.  

This is the Malta we live in today. 

There are those of us who everyday fight to address this sorry state-of-affairs. 

We do it because it is our duty. We do it because we want to live in a normal country where state institutions function without fear or favour. We are standing up against this government because we want to live in a truly democratic country. 

The PN is doing everything within its powers to challenge government in Parliament, in court and in the media. We are using the limited resources we have against a party in government that has infinite resources. 

Joseph Muscat and his ministers think that they are untouchable, undoubtedly due to the big margin they obtained in the past elections. If we want to change this country then we need to take that level of trust away. Simple as that. 

This is the only language that Muscat and his ministers can understand. 

Which is why the elections on Saturday are exponentially more important than meets the eye. We have an opportunity to send a clear message to this government that this is not what the country signed up for when it elected this government. 

We have a chance not to change the government but to change its attitude. 

Abstaining translates into support for this government and will inevitably lead to more cover-ups, more impunity and more corruption. 

I urge all those who have the country’s interest at heart to do their duty on Saturday. That one minute spent in a voting booth can help determine the direction that our country will take in the months and years to come. It is not an election to simply choose our representatives for local government and for the European Parliament but an election to determine whether we are truly representative of what it means to be European. 

The Nationalist Party has a team of candidates that have only the country’s and your interest at heart. 

Together we can build a better Malta.

Adrian Delia is leader of the Opposition and the Nationalist Party.

This is a Times of Malta print opinion piece


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