between a tsunami of change and the inertia of power

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Five years later, after a bomb allegedly made by a crime syndicate on the orders of one of Malta’s most powerful businessmen took out one of Malta’s most vocal, controversial and more prolific, most of his pets are behind bars or have been expelled from power.

Former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat was forced to resign following the arrest of millionaire Yorgen Fenech, the main benefactor of the energy policy that switched Malta to LNG as well as a close aide to the personal chief of staff of Muscat, Keith Schembri, now facing money laundering and trading influencing charges. Former energy minister Konrad Mizzi was kicked out of government, party and parliament before discovering God as his savior (as he claimed in a recent Facebook post). Chris Cardona, former deputy leader of the PL and immortalized in Caruana Galizia’s blog as a brothel regular, is no longer a deputy.

Pilatus Bank, a private bank for Azerbaijani millionaires also used by Schembri and his trusted accountant Brian Tonna (whose Nexia BT also folded) has been closed – albeit for reasons not directly related to his claims but due to a charge of violation of sanctions in the United States against its owner (since acquitted).

Subsequent media investigations also revealed that Yorgen Fenech was the owner of the mysterious 17 Black, the Dubai company linked to Mizzi and Schembri’s own offshore companies in Panama.

Former police commissioner Lawrence Cutajar lost his job, now suspected of even leaking information in connection with the Caruana Galizia murder investigation to Edwin Brincat ‘il-Ġojja’, a confidant of the middleman of the Melvin Theuma murder.

Even the Nationalist Party eventually had to oust Adrian Delia – hated by Caruana Galizia and his Nationalist Party “loyalists” and the party establishment – ​​before the PN leader could even complete a legislative term, but at the cost of lingering resentment of his supporters.

By Maltese standards, this has indeed been a political tsunami.

The Political Legacy of an Assassination

Yet while so much has changed, so much has remained the same.

Labour’s enduring majority appeared even stronger in the 2022 election, despite no major signs of contrition for state complicity in the conditions that led to the assassination.

Muscat’s resignation also failed to raise awareness within the Labor Party about the Muscat era. And though she was murdered by powerful interests with little affinity with the PL’s working-class roots, Daphne remains a reviled figure for party diehards, who resent the virulent tone of her anti-Labour missives and the cachet of his bourgeois pedigree.

Robert Abela immediately shut down the flower-cleaning shenanigans at Daphne’s shrine across from the courthouse, a ridiculous act that disrespected the wishes of those who commemorated her legacy and her death. But he was unwilling, or unable, to turn a new leaf by giving some kind of official recognition to a journalist who paid the ultimate price. In short, he was too weak to deliver that historic speech that may rise above a residue of justified resentment toward Daphne as a mere gossip-monger, but recognizes her role in exposing a cabal that actively subverted institutions.

And even the Nationalist Party remains divided between elements that revere her as a heroine and those that blame her for character assassinations and the bashing of public figures who have failed to live up to her expectations of what is expected of her. a nationalist politician, for the downturn in the party’s fortunes.

Because ironically, the legacy of Caruana Galizia was even more devastating for the PN than for Labour, his assassination making the political survival of Adrian Delia at the head of the PN unsustainable. Because how could he maintain the unity of the party after the assassination of the one he describes as inconsistent (“biċċa blogger”) who became a martyr?

Nor did his death contribute to the creation of a cross-party movement for justice against corruption, with that space largely occupied by groups perceived as inherently hostile to Labour. The closest to that was the December 2019 protest movement – ​​which included voices from the Maltese left like Graffitti, but which did not survive Muscat’s dismissal.

From iconoclast to canonized saint

Ironically, the iconoclastic journalist and blogger, who excelled in crushing inflated egos, became a saint. The hagiography was understandable in the first months after his death, but sometimes it becomes a disservice to the memory of a true historical actor who got his hands dirty, in his fierce battles against pet hates – some were insignificant mortals whose only sin was some form of association with Labor – but also some of the most powerful people on the island.

Ultimately, Labor supporters must recognize that Daphne was murdered not for her dastardly inconsequential Labor disguises, but for her pursuit of the big money interests that nearly hijacked the country. This awareness can only be made if Abela has the courage to state it. But it could happen sooner if her admirers also recognize some of her pitfalls.

For while his death impoverished journalism, depriving it of a relentless force of nature, no one has yet dared to follow in his footsteps when it comes to personal exposes on extramarital affairs or marital issues. personal health that many found distasteful. Even here there is a risk of going from one extreme to the other, simply because in some cases, although painful, such revelations can have consequences.

And overlooked by some of her more conservative admirers, is Daphne’s social liberalism and pro-choice views. These aspects of Caruana Galizia tend to be forgotten.

The things that haven’t changed

The biggest disappointment five years after his assassination, and nearly three years after the arrest of Yorgen Fenech, is the slow pace of institutional change, especially in reforms aimed at establishing a firewall between political power and big business business.

That brothers Degiorgio and Vince Muscat were jailed after pleading guilty to carrying out the assassination of Caruana Galizia, as well as the upcoming prosecution of the Maksar gang, are welcome developments.

But ultimately, the picture that emerges from the assassination plot and the various Panamagate fallout is one of an incestuous relationship between big business, organized crime, and politicians. Despite constant reminders from international bodies such as the OSCE, Malta still lacks a national prosecutor’s office responsible for combating corruption. In addition, a code of conduct introducing a transparency register where all meetings between lobbyists and ministers are recorded, as proposed by the standards commissioner, continues to gather dust, as do a number of anti-corruption and anti-corruption laws. -mafia proposed by the opposition.

And while the government has partly heeded the public inquiry by proposing media reforms that constitutionally recognize journalism as a pillar of democracy, even such a positive step has been marred by a lack of consultation and by inadequate provisions on the State’s obligation to provide information. Fortunately on the eve of the sad anniversary, Abela backtracked by submitting the bills for public consultation.

And finally, five years later, despite the ongoing trial of the hitmen and the indictment of Yorgen Fenech, no light has been shed on the alleged cover-up and the possible role of Keith Schembri and Joseph Muscat in it- this. While the Egrant investigation found no evidence that the Muscats owned the Panamanian secret society as claimed by Caruana Galizia, no further attempt was made to establish for whom this secret society was created.

As time passes and the investigations drag on, the risk of collective amnesia sets in, relegating the memory of Daphne Caruana Galizia to a footnote in history.

And that’s why it’s so important, even for people who deeply disagree with his antics, to remember his role in exposing a dark chapter in Maltese history.

Because although she wasn’t always a hero in life, she surely was in death.

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