The scandal that has rocked the European Union involving several members of the European Parliament and a Vice-President reminded me about an evening gathering, back in the late sixties at the house of a Labour politician whom I had befriended. I was visiting Malta from abroad on vacation and I got a phone call from him and he invited me for a party. I graciously accepted and turned up and I was introduced to several people most of whom as I expected were of the same political persuasion as my friend.
All of a sudden the atmosphere changed. A very important guest arrived. He was an Ambassador, of which country I will not mention. As the evening wore on, he got too tipsy and he was being asked a lot of questions which I felt were rather indiscreet, not by my friend, I emphasize. Equally so, his answers led me to feel about how indiscreet his answers and innuendos were, given his status as a diplomat.
The irony was that at the end of the evening, as I didn’t drive at the time, the Ambassador offered me a lift back to my parents’ house. He was well passed being conversational but his driver was sober. A few months later I read in the papers that an Ambassador to Malta had been recalled back home. No official reason was given but the rumour mill indicated indiscretion with members of the Opposition.
The temptations for politicians of all shapes and colour with people of influence must be very alluring. What starts as an innocent relationship may lead eventually to rather complicated situations because as the saying goes not all that glitters is gold. There are people who are always on the look out to take advantage of any situation that comes their way without weighing the implications of particular friendships. Journalists must find themselves in awkward situations when they smell a story that might be of some public interest.
The scandal that is enfolding in Brussels involves third countries who have a vested interest in influencing legislation by the European Parliament and when these third countries have their own ways of doing politics which generally consist of favours of many colours, the danger should become apparent to any politician who is in politics to serve and not to be served or to get rich quickly on the way .
Roberta Metsola stood taller than ever when a few days ago she addressed the European Parliament. She spoke of her anger and her sorrow. Two human sentiments that sometimes disappear when the politics of business as usual (xejn m’hu xejn} is adopted by people in power. We all remember Joseph Muscat on that famous morning when anger showed and tears flowed as he gave us a truncated version of the results of the inquiry into Egrant which he himself had set up with parameters also set by himself. But anger and sorrow were absent when so many scandals enfolded during his terms of office which ended up in his dismissal by his own colleagues.
Metsola interpreted the situation in Brussels as a challenge to democracy. Corruption is the arch enemy of democracy. She mentioned that malign actors aligned to third countries with autocrats at their helms were using NGOs, trade unions, assistants and MPEs to stifle the procedures of the European Parliament. She claimed that their malicious plans had failed due to the vigilance of EU officials and local investigating authorities.
Metsola took action as far as she could. And she removed the Vice-President from office with the approval of Parliament, a sign of courage and steadfastness. The pleas to Joseph Muscat to remove Konrad Mizzi from office had fallen on deaf ears during the early months of his administration and instead he defiantly gave him health as his ministry to give him a carte blanche to sign what had to signed as the public hospitals were traded behind the back of even his colleagues.
“There will be no impunity” proclaimed Metsola. Everything relevant will be made available to the forces of law and order and she herself has lent her assistance to them.
“Nothing will remain hidden” Metsola promised. And she followed her promise by holding an inquiry into whether the EP’s systems are resistant enough to interference from anywhere or by anyone.
“There will be no business as usual” insisted Metsola. The reforms which need to happen will bring tp Brussels a new modus operandi with third countries and the way they interact with the EP, its confines and its buildings. Transparency in dealing with “foreign” actors will need the collaboration of every stake holder.
And to those who are allured by the sight of a money bag, she had a stark message: “You will be caught.” As in fact has happened allegedly.
What an agenda! Metsola will be judged by her performance in the coming months and by what she stood for in her address to the European Parliament.
Lessons should be learned here. We still have people in Malta who are being protected by the State using procrastination to let people off through prescription of alleged committed crimes and technical errors. No debates for the sole purpose of alienating the people should stop those who are firm believers in accountability, transparency and meritocracy in carrying on fighting for justice.
All politicians should take heed. Gifts are accepted at a cost. And not only gifts. Large amounts of money that are given by various Ministries to specific NGOs and other bodies including dare I say Church entities have strings attached to them. Don’t be fooled. Once you are caught in the trap of being deferential not only your independence is lost but you will find that you sold your soul too.
Source : Newsbook