It emerged yesterday in Parliament that Joseph Muscat is allowed to use a diplomatic passport and “other protocol facilities … as part of his severance package”.
There’s no suggestion this privilege has a time limit. It appears that Joseph Muscat has been appointed diplomat for life merely because, for 7 years, at one point, he worked as prime minister.
Let’s examine what that will mean in about 30 or so years just for a moment. Do you remember when Dom Mintoff became ill and would be seen in the street barely dressed haranguing people with his walking stick? This is not mockery of Dom Mintoff. God knows I could be next. Even mad and filthy Dom Mintoff was former prime minister. But a diplomatic passport does not denote a status in the past. It denotes a status in the present.
We do not give jobs and statuses for life here because this is a republic, not a monarchy, and in a republic every job is temporary. Imagine flailing walking stick Dom Mintoff holding a document from the Maltese state attesting that he represents it on the world stage.
Imagine Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici, leading the geriatric, moderately deranged, ultra-conservative anti-EU campaign, as he did in the years up to 2003, while holding an official document that designates him a representative of the Maltese state.
In truth you don’t need to wait for Joseph Muscat to lurch to fringe far-right politics or for his grip on his intellectual faculties, such as they are, to flounder before you realise that he has no place holding a diplomatic passport.
When Joseph Muscat asked to hold on to his blue passport his imagination may have been restricted to a free Diner’s Club card to let him go through fast lanes at passport control without having to pay extra. He may even have thought that a blue passport might help him avoid the scrutiny of law enforcement agencies in other countries imagining he might enjoy some practical or even legal immunity. If he thought that he’s more stupid than he looks. A diplomatic passport is actually a bit of a red flag for law enforcement agencies looking for cross-border crooks and financial criminals. Not to mention a diplomatic passport that carries the ugly mug of a Most Corrupt Politician of the World laureate.
Whatever Joseph Muscat may have imagined the utility of a life time diplomatic passport might be worth to him, he is not using it to serve the public’s interest. He does not work for the Maltese state and he does not work on diplomatic missions for the Maltese authorities. He uses that passport to travel for and with his clients to negotiate and profit from his shady deals, including, the record shows, in the form of cash payments from Vitals whom a court found to have defrauded the Maltese state.
Even now that a judgement has been handed down that says Vitals, and Steward after them, defrauded the Maltese state, Joseph Muscat continues to hold Stewards’ brief against the Maltese government saying in an interview that “the truth” on the hospitals scandal would only be known now that Steward have appealed that court judgement. Incidentally, he announced the appeal even before Steward did, which suggests that at the very least he’s part of it.
That raises two objections to Joseph Muscat holding a diplomatic passport. The first is wholly representative of his conduct in public life. An asset of the state is placed at the service of his private interest and the interests of his clients. A public good is harnessed to benefit private profit, firstly his and secondly of those around him.
This is just how he ran the country. His diplomatic passport is a surviving residue of his capture of the Maltese state which he kidnapped and sold for ransom money.
The second objection is more immediate. It would appear that Joseph Muscat holds a document that says he is a representative of the Maltese state while he is almost certainly acting against the interests of that state. With Steward he is very much taking sides against the family as it were.
Robert Abela reminds us when we express renewed shock at the fact that Joseph Muscat has not yet been served with criminal charges that we must let institutions do their work. But by allowing Joseph Muscat to hold a diplomatic passport, by keeping him under the formal protection of the Maltese state, by appointing Muscat as his envoy even as Muscat undermines him and his government, Robert Abela gives shelter to Joseph Muscat.
A pension, a cash payment, even a car or two, a chauffeur, a personal assistant, and a prime area office could be – though they ought not to be – part of a severance package paid to a disgraced former prime minister. In a contract they may be designated as rights of sorts. But being a representative of the Maltese republic, being an envoy, being eligible to the courtesies every country expects out of every other country to extend to their formal representatives, is nobody’s right.
Also, we expect that other countries do not expect us to extend protocol and diplomatic privileges to people who come here to make money for themselves. Those other countries have a right to expect the same from us.
No one is entitled to those courtesies and those privileges. Those courtesies are extended to the republic which from time-to-time hires officials that are accountable to the Maltese voting public and who are hired and fired at the people’s will. A diplomatic-passport-for-life is as illogical as letting Joseph Muscat live in Girgenti Palace or retire in Villa Francia at the expense of the state just because he was a prime minister once and was given the keys to the buildings. He was supposed to surrender those keys when the Maltese public told him to fuck right off.
To take a page out of Robert Musumeci’s book the people have spoken and they have thronged the streets until Joseph Muscat was seen to leave the office he hijacked. The public expected that he left his diplomatic passport behind when he did that.
The public expects Robert Abela to cancel Joseph Muscat’s diplomatic passport or this country will remain in the eyes of the world what Joseph Muscat has elected to make it: a country run by crooks and represented by crooks … who skip the line at passport control.