Joseph Muscat has tweeted his wishes for Christmas.

The disgraced soon to be former prime minister of Malta behaves like a dying regime that stubbornly refuses to understand what is going on around it. Joseph Muscat is not alone. Even as Malta’s president used his Christmas message to express his sadness and regret at the ending of 2019, Robert Abela, who seeks to be prime minister, dismissed even the idea that Malta is undergoing a crisis of any description.

Denial is not new. It started immediately Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed. It was incredible then and continues to be incredible now that we know so much more.

Joseph Muscat is not a czar. He cannot settle this by quitting the palace and moving to his dacha. The real change happens when truth is no longer being denied. This is the real fight: that we bring to everyone’s understanding how bad things got.

The prime minister accepting a watch that costs as much as a small apartment as a gift from a contractor should be shocking. But when that prime minister has been covering up a murder allegedly ordered by that contractor the gesture of an illegal, undeclared bribe becomes mere context.

Joseph Muscat and his team have destroyed any respect anyone – especially their supporters – can ever have for people in public life. They have destroyed the respect our country can ever have for itself.

There’s no punishment in our laws for doing that. There is nothing that Joseph Muscat and his team can ever be made to do that will settle that part of their huge debt to society.

But there’s something we can do. We can promise to go out there and secure the understanding of the entire nation of the extent of this crime. We can return Joseph Muscat’s Christmas greetings with a promise to campaign right up to the minute that the country comes to terms with what he’s done.

This is not idealism. It is a practical ambition because it is necessary for the country to grasp the extent of the rot that we have beneath our feet before we can get on our knees to start replacing it. The only alternative is to follow Robert Abela’s lead and live like the czar convincing ourselves nothing is wrong, no change is necessary, until the simple reality of fate overwhelms us.

Joseph Muscat’s guys seem to think they have fulfilled their obligations to their children. They have stashed enough gifts and bribes to provide for their materialistic needs for decades to come. That will prove as hollow as discarded wrapping paper strewn around the Christmas tree after lunch.

The obligations to our children are a bit more lasting than that. We are obliged to pass on a free and just society in which they can grow and be the best they can be. Most will be fine without wristwatches that cost more to insure than what many live on. For most, the good life will not include frequent trips to glitzy banks in Dubai or entertaining the silicon that stuffs the skins of wives and daughters of oriental tyrants.

For most it will be enough to know that they will be allowed to grow in their country if they work hard without having to pay tribute to a party or to a clan of crooks. And to know that in hard times the state will intervene to protect them.

Most people want their government small enough not to have to think about it all the time. But not so small that it is unable to protect the environment they have to live in, to ensure education and health for all, and to prop up those among us who fall on hard times.

Our children do not need a prime minister that intrudes on their Christmas morning with their undesired, sarcastic greeting. They need a prime minister that does the job he’s paid to do.

For as long as we have prime ministers who do not think there’s any reason to be less than happy this Christmas, our children will be denied the future they deserve.

We won’t have that. And we’ll protest and protest again until our leaders understand this or make way for someone who does.