It’s now been going on since 2013. Daphne Caruana Galizia had first spotted it in the Presidential fun run of 2013 after the important of The North Face brand advertised the fact they were ‘advising’ Michelle Muscat on sportswear.
At the presidential fun run of this year Joseph Muscat again dodged the charity t-shirt and put on The North Faced apparel like a sponsored tennis player on a mission.
As with all those unanswered questions, we have never been told definitively whether the person of the prime minister we elect is retailed for advertising. The prime minister’s income while in office (and for years after he leaves) is not his personal matter. It is a matter of public interest.
In the context of everything else that goes on, product placement feels trivial now. How can you worry about whether the prime minister is personally rewarded for wearing and blaring a brand of clothes, when a gang in Castille sets up secret bank accounts in tax havens?
Writing in 2013 Daphne Caruana Galizia was just following her intuitive revulsion at the “u ija mhux xorta” religion that had people excuse the prime minister for the relatively minor infraction (alleged, though never denied) of allowing his body to be sold to a tagħna lkoll clothes importer. That same religion had people excuse the prime minister for renting his own car to the government cashing its value several times over as well.
And as we started finding the thicker end of that wedge the scandals grew bigger but the shock did not, numbed as we are by the habit of a weekly scandal.
We cannot allow this to go on unquestioned and unchallenged. Even as we ask about Egrant, about SOCAR, about shady passport sales and hoards of other horror stories, we cannot afford to compromise with any degree of impropriety in public service.
So once again, the futile questions that must be asked and have been asked since 2013. Is the prime minister being paid to wear The North Face? Has he paid for the clothes he is wearing? Are The North Face importers compensating him for his preference of their brand including with payments made to him, his family or his party?