See this report by La Repubblica on the Russian oligarchs that can now travel and move their money freely in Europe by pretending to be Maltese.
The world’s interest into Malta’s way of doing things the last few years is not going to go away. We can no longer speak of the risk to Malta’s reputation. Malta is now the Tijuana of first world money laundering.
Over the present weekend Joseph Muscat was all over BBC America smirking his inconsequential retort that the rest of the world envies us. For an audience who just heard its President say he’s, like, a stable genius, this pre-adolescence logic will sound oddly familiar.
You may remember a set of Malta-made bumper stickers that were all the ħamallu rage in the early 1990s. “Iġrili għax umbrajtek”, “Baby think twice”, that sort of thing. The classic one was “Stuff your jealousy”. It would normally be brandished on some Ford Escort mk1 the owner of which one is less likely to envy if he suffered the miseries of Job.
The official line the Maltese government appears to have adopted in its generic response to the criticism it receives from the rest of the world is the school-yard retort that they must be “envious of our success”.
The poverty of thinking is entirely in character. What is more glaring is the poor tactical and strategic thinking. We are used to Joseph Muscat’s intellectual shallowness being contrasted by his cleverness, his cheap charm and his street-wise wiliness. We are used to him resorting to his craftiness if not his intellect, and winning.
But the artful dodge only works in its own context. Within our own village scale his tu quoque retorts, his whataboutism, his straw men, his sleight of hand continues to dazzle and awe. For the rest of the world his methods are clownish and childish and impress no one. He is just not that good.
Jack Dawkins may be a skilled pick-pocket but his skills are useless if he tries to rob a bank.
Apart from the smirking and the non sequiturs, Joseph Muscat’s classic method of managing critics is ignoring them and wait until they lose interest. He correctly expects people to get tired of asking him to fire Konrad Mizzi when they could be applauding the restoration of a fountain.
But he will be realising now, this method is not going to work now the rest of the world has seen what he’s up to. The reporting in the world press that started three months ago shows no sign of abating.
It’s come to the point where we need to look beyond Joseph Muscat’s interest in all this. There’s a higher, national interest. For as long as he and his policies front our country, our descent into pariah status will remain in free-fall.
The world is having a conversation about us. We need to join it.