Like the dawn of every new year, a new parliamentary term is the excuse to start afresh and forget about the past. The government members are behaving like re-invented virgins beyond reproach, even beyond the inconvenience of recollection. Tough luck. Here are outstanding issues hanging over from the last parliamentary term, some even from the term before it, in no particular order. Call it the stream of conscience if not a stream of consciousness.

What happened to the magistrate’s order to prosecute Karl Cini because of his lies to the Egrant inquiry? Why has the key witness to the corruption revealed by the Panama Papers not been charged when it has already been established that he has lied when testifying on the circumstances of the allocation of Panama companies to someone together with Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi?

Why have there been no prosecutions against Mizzi and Schembri after their companies’ links with companies owned by Yorgen Fenech and Chen Cheng’s mother-in-law in Dubai and Hong Kong were exposed?

After the conclusion of the Pilatus Bank inquiry, why were charges only issued against a middle manager at the bank and not against the bank’s owner,  Ali Sadr Hashemi Nejad, the directors of the bank and the senior managers? Why are the perpetrators of the well-documented crimes at the bank still allowed to roam?

Why has there been no action on the corrupt privatisation of three hospitals to VGH? Why has Joseph Muscat faced no consequence when he was exposed for receiving dodgy payments from the VGH direct to bank accounts in his name?

What happened to the government’s commitment to implement the recommendations of the Daphne Caruana Galizia inquiry? What happened to the reforms to strengthen the criminal justice system? What happened to the proposed anti-mafia law and new laws criminalising abuse of power and obstruction of justice?

Whatever happened to the process of professionalising the prosecution service and migrating all prosecutions away from the police department? Reports of court proceedings demonstrate emphatically that our prosecution service does not have the capacity, the resources and the skills to prosecute financial crime.

What happened to our commitment to the FATF and Moneyval that we would get serious about that? And why do the police continue to wait for the conclusion of magisterial inquiries before even looking at a financial crime and then simply show up in court to dump containers full of paperwork they barely understand?

Where is the long-promised reform of criminal procedure to remove Edwardian bureaucracy and reduce the multiple redundancy of hearing the same evidence half a dozen times over as many years, even in highly sensitive cases?

What happened to the proposed anti-mafia law and new laws criminalising abuse of power and obstruction of justice?- Manuel Delia

Speaking of the Daphne inquiry recommendations, whatever happened to the committee that was meant to report on how to implement the recommended reforms to protect media freedom and enhance the safety of journalists? Have they concluded their work? Why is the process of ensuring democratic transparency so bloody secretive?

Talking of reforms. Whatever happened to the revisions proposed by the Venice Commission in 2018 to reform parliament and to empower it to properly oversee government conduct rather than simply rubber-stamp it?

Why did we invite international election observers over in 2017 when, in 2022, we still haven’t started implementing the reforms they proposed five years ago, including better civil society oversight to balance somewhat the shared interests of political parties in closing eyes to undemocratic and corrupt practices?  Incidentally, why haven’t the police acted on any of the multiple and publicly known cases of egregious breaches of the electoral law by candidates unlawfully treating their constituents on election’s eve?

Whatever happened to reforms proposed in 2018 by the Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO) to fight corruption in public service?

Incidentally, whatever happened to the long-promised Constitutional Convention to have a national debate on institutional reforms and democratisation? Is COVID still the president’s excuse for not convening?

Whatever happened to the inquiry into Alexander Dalli’s brutal running of the civil prisons like a deadly Soviet gulag? Is Ian Abdilla still collecting ‘half pay’ for the years he appeared to be obstructing justice? Has Silvio Valletta been made to answer for his alleged intimate links with criminals he was supposed to arrest? Has Lawrence Cutajar answered for allegedly tipping off the middleman in Daphne’s murder to warn him investigators were getting close? Whatever happened to the idea that the police department would be freed of partisan control?

How many witnesses are needed to speak out before Chris Cardona and Carmelo Abela are charged with complicity in the violent 2010 HSBC heist? How many witnesses must speak up before Cardona is charged with plotting to kill Daphne?

Is no one being held responsible for the Montenegro windfarm swindle at the public’s expense? Speaking of scams with Fenech at the heart, will Heatchliff Farrugia and Joe Cuschieri face no consequence over serious suspicions of colluding with ‘Yorgen Mr Casinos’ Fenech when they were supposed to be regulating his business?

And how about Johann Buttigieg negotiating a job for himself with Yorgen ‘Mr Skyscrapers’ Fenech while Mr Skyscrapers negotiated building permits with him? Speaking of Fenech Skyscrapers, will Michael Farrugia never have to answer for changing building heights laws the day Fenech asked him to do it?

Will Rosianne Cutajar’s tax dodge be forgotten? How about that other man in Justyne Caruana’s life, Daniel Bogdanovic’s public contracts? Will action be taken on those?

Will we forget about Robert Abela’s alleged business connections with the boss of an extortionist criminal gang? Will the prime minister never be asked to explain his wealth? Will we continue to live without an Unexplained Wealth Orders law just so people who have it can continue to get away with it?

The news is that the past isn’t over.

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us