Everyone needs a holiday and the days around August 15 are a traditional break for all those that can afford having one. Yet here I am writing this and here you are reading it. Where’s Robert Abela?

I did a quick survey of newspapers and found that the last time the prime minister was anywhere in the presence of the media actually saying something was 63 days ago. On June 9, he spoke at George Vella’s ‘state of the nation’ conference. He wasn’t announcing some poli­cy initiative. He was recalling the fact that Labour pro­mised in its election mani­festo that it would strike minor drug convictions off personal conduct sheets.

Since then, he has had two mute photo ops. He flew to Spain for an informal dinner on the fringes of a NATO summit on June 15. And he shook hands a couple of times with the Croatian presi­dent who was on a state visit to Malta on July 11.

On July 21, he gave a phone ‘interview’ to a ‘reporter’ on the Labour Party’s radio station. That hardly counts as a public appearance. It’s as controlled as they come.

This is not an extended holi­day. Abela has gone underground.

It’s not like there aren’t things the country needs some serious leadership for. We are in the midst of an inflation explosion. For just-add-water millionaires like him, the impact might be limited to a raised eyebrow after the help comes back from grocery shopping.

For working people and their families, we are rolling into an affordability crisis. More people struggle to make ends meet. Hopping on the property ladder for new families is becoming ever less realistic. Our quality of life is relying ever more on gross inequalities and the exploitation of minorities to the point of undeclared slavery.

In the meantime, just in these 63 days, it would have been reassuring to have a prime minister to have been less interested in his ability to travel independently on his boat and more interested in people’s ability to travel in and out of the country while the national airline collapses.

Many, rightly, pity Air Malta’s decades of suffering under chronic political interference but if the funereal eulogy in its honour is to be honest, Konrad Mizzi’s last bout of necrophiliac violation will be remembered as the last straw. Abela wasn’t there when its back was broken.

Speaking of the ability of non-yacht owners to travel in and out of the island, Abela had nothing to say about his government’s efforts – are there any? – to mitigate the impact of a harmonised hike of tax on aviation fuel.

During those 63 days of near complete absence from the public scene, Abela’s predecessor, Joseph Muscat, was in the news nearly every day

Abela had nothing to say and was nowhere to be seen when President George Vella trampled on the constitution and on his government’s law approved near unanimously by Parliament.

It is true that we don’t need our prime minis­ters on our news bulletins every day. You’d think, however, they’d be around for a constitutional crisis.

You’d think Abela would be around to give us the government’s response to an OSCE report that his government, his party and his country violated international democratic norms before and during the last general election.

You’d think he’d say something after the Council of Europe reminded him there are recommendations to democratise Malta’s parliament that have been outstanding since 2018.

You’d think the prime minister would make an appearance to respond to a court decision that makes a plea with the political community, of which he is the most prominent representative, to stop trampling on freedom of expression.

You might hope Abela would have something to say in response to a European Commission report that charges Malta with taking too long to probe and act on corruption. You might have hoped the prime minister might have had something to say in response to an independent report that found his ministers misused public funds to buy out adverts in a Labour Party publication glorifying his second year as PM.

Abela wasn’t around to ans­wer questions about any of that.

He didn’t even send a representative on his behalf when Standards Commissioner George Hyzler launch­ed re­commendations on new transparency standards. Which should be no surprise because he is so opaque that he still hasn’t given account of himself for meeting Charles ‘iċ-Ċaqnu’ Polidano in an unrecorded meeting days after the tycoon was arrested over a corruption scandal.

He is so opaque, his government still refuses to publish its own report on the Montenegro windfarm scandal.

He is so opaque that he still hasn’t honoured his commitment to publish within 10 days a media freedom report he’s had for 62 days.

During those 63 days of near complete absence from the public scene in the polity Abela is the chief executive of, his predecessor in the job, Joseph Muscat, was in the news nearly every day.

Muscat completed a hostile take-over of football’s top tier, creating a power base for himself. He mobilised his old Labour Party network and took them on tour of the festa circuit informally campaigning for his wife, reviving his political dynasty until his heirs come of age.

He ordered a street protest to intimidate a criminal process against one of his allies. The fact that turned out to be a dud is no indicator of future performance.

While Abela went into hiding, Muscat held court, tightening his grip on a country he still considers his territory to do with as he pleases.

If you’re like me and you often slap yourself with the frustration of a hollow opposition, inaudible, irrelevant, self-absorbed and self-harming, here’s worse news. The government, the ruling party, the country is run by a ghost who has gone on a very long holiday and no national anguish and no personal pain felt so far seems to have been enough cause for him to come back and be seen.

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