This was the week when we realised that the new normal was going to be the old normal after all.

Firstly, it started with the prime minister’s raucous ramble on One on Sunday. He was on first gear defensive mode, explaining to us why he “had to bring in” the migrants who had been left for more than a month out at sea crowded on tourist boats.

You see, he had had this grand plan for these migrants after he pulled them out of the Maltese waters – to leave them ad infinitum on the Captain Morgan boats.

The plan hit two birds with one stone: a) it sent out the narrative to the EU that he’s one to flex his muscles and b) it allowed him to help his chum Michael Zammit Tabona, the dunce ambassador who insulted Germany but also the co-owner of Captain Morgan, to pocket the tidy little sum of €12,000 a day for the inconvenience of lending his boats. 

In his One tirade, Robert Abela went on to give us minute details of the angst and anger of the 400 migrants stuck on the four floating prisons.

However, the little detail of 100 people on each boat, sharing one toilet, with no showers, and no news except to stay on a rocking boat for days on end, slipped his mind. Instead he told us how his hand was forced and he had to call the boats in because the Maltese crew was being threatened. His tone was: ‘How dare they protest, when we’ve been so kind to them’, which turned petulant when he started playing the blame-the-EU game. “The EU was aware of all this, but it washed its hands,” he whined.

The EU, i.e., fellow prime ministers of all the other member states, had told him that they would only help if he abided by the human rights rules and brought the migrants to shore. As you can imagine no one really takes kindly to a new prime minister of a tiny island bullying and blackmailing with buoyant bastilles.

You can just imagine the other prime ministers rolling their eyes and whispering: “Do you think that this one, like the one before him, tells his wife that we’re giving him a standing ovation?”

Abela’s plan failed on all fronts. Malta’s man in Brussels, Daniel Azzopardi, a newbie on the block, had to be axed because presumably he couldn’t explain, let alone plug, his boss’s rationale. Malta’s reputation on the EU round table, already in tatters since the Panama Papers and the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, is clearly sinking by the seconds.

Maybe the Office of Joseph Muscat is advising the Office of the Prime Minister that there’s nothing like showing off a bit of muscle against the barrani. Or maybe Abela has zero empathy in his gym-pumped veins. But even if that were so, he cannot, as a prime minister, talk ballyhoo like one of those insipid Patrijotti men.

The job of a prime minister is to be steeped in values, to protect the citizens he represents, to uphold human rights, to fight the corrupt and to help the vulnerable.

Malta’s reputation on the EU round table is clearly sinking by the seconds- Kristina Chetcuti

In the context of the global #blacklivesmatter, last Sunday’s prime-ministerial speech should have been on the national TV not One and it should have been about our Cisse Lassana  – who like George Floyd was killed simply because of the colour of his skin by men in uniform. It should have been anything but racist rabble rousing.

When he replaced the disgraced Muscat, Abela had the opportunity to break free, to start afresh, and give Malta a new sense of direction after the abyss that we’ve sunk in these last four years. Instead, time after time, he is opting to pander for votes.

Which begs the question: why is he behaving as if he’s going to lose the next election and is desperate to clutch at all straws?

Surely, like the rest of us (except, perhaps, Adrian Delia) he’s seen the polls and surely, he realises that this is his chance to stand out as the prime minister that the country needs right now and to work with integrity for the common good.

Which means he can afford to clean up the scarlet blood stains on the walls behind him. Starting by sacking his party deputy, Chris Cardona, who has last week been mentioned as allegedly being part of the Caruana Galizia assassination; he can afford to drastically sever ties with the fenkata-loving Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar who is also allegedly involved; and he can ensure that Keith Schembri, Muscat’s best friend and chief of staff, whose alleged criminal involvement in the assassination keeps being reinforced with each court hearing, is seriously interrogated – by Europol if need be. 

If Abela is going to adopt Schembri’s system of scheming, plotting, pitting people against each other, blackmailing and threatening that will only result in sucking the blood out of this island of ours – and which will only mean that the future new normal will be… a Mafia one.

Surely our children deserve better than that?
Twitter: @krischetcuti

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