The shadow minister for justice and it-tifel ta’ Lorry Sant
Last Wednesday, Anglu Farrugia – former inspector in Lorry Pullicino’s force force and shadow minister for justice – rushed down to Police Headquarters and shot the Labour Party in the foot.
You may have wondered why Super One isn’t saying anything about il-kaz skandaluz ta’ korruzzjoni fahhxija fil-Freeport. Well, it’s because Farrugia isn’t the brightest bulb in Labour’s chandelier – and that’s saying something. He didn’t bother to check out the voting preference of the person in question, having assumed that anybody who has links with the Freeport must vote PN.
But as Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando revealed last Saturday, that’s not the case at all. You can be two of Sant’s shadow ministers and have links to the Freeport. You can rent flats to the Freeport for years in the name of a company, then get your wife to sign the back of the rent-cheques and cash them at the bank instead of putting them through the company account. You can do this even during the 22 months when you are sitting in Sant’s cabinet.
Bir-rispett kollu…ghaliex le? Then you can quickly make a spontaneous declaration to the Commissioner of Inland Revenue, put your affairs in order, and allow Sant to say at a press conference that as far as he’s concerned, you’ve done nothing wrong.
Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he? Back in 1992, when he was already leader of the Labour Party, I was working as associate editor at The Malta Independent. A hot story came in: the Labour Party leader was the anonymous Malta correspondent of The Economist Intelligence Unit, and he wasn’t declaring his earnings from that source for income tax. We checked it out, found it was true, and ran the piece with comments from a leading tax consultant. Sant is sympathetic to his shadow ministers and their Freeport flats because he’s been in their position. If he were to chastise them, they would say, ‘You’re a fine one to talk, aren’t you?’
But back to Anglu and the scandal that backfired
Anglu Farrugia told the Commissioner of Police that he knows of six people who were asked to pay between €2,700 and €2,400 to get a job at the Freeport. The former police inspector revealed with relish that he even knew the name of the person taking the backhanders: Simon Spiteri.
Now this is what I mean when I say that Farrugia isn’t the brightest bulb in the chandelier. Spiteri’s nickname is ‘it-tifel ta’ Lorry Sant’. What does that tell you about him? There, you see – even you could work it out, and I mean his political party of choice, rather than his supposed parentage.
Spiteri already has a record with the police on similar charges. A few weeks before Farrugia huffed down to his former place of work to file his report, Michael ‘Opus Dei’ Axiaq of the Nationalist Party had filed a similar report about Spiteri, involving other people whose money he had taken.
I don’t wish to repeat that bit about Farrugia’s brightness, but it should have been obvious to him that (1) Spiteri’s nickname says a lot about his voting tendencies and (2) he wasn’t taking the money in return for giving jobs at the Freeport, but taking the money and running. After I sat and mulled over this one a little – how on earth does Farrugia imagine that the Freeport human resources division relies on thugs taking money for its recruitment? –something clicked. Of course Farrugia believes this kind of thing happens, because that’s the way it happened in his day under Labour. He probably thinks that it’s still par for the course.
Farrugia wasn’t the only one who thought he had scooped a scandal
A few weeks back, Labour MP Karl Chircop and shadow tourism minister Evarist Bartolo spoke about cases they knew of in which people were asked to pay money to get a job at the Freeport. They flung their accusations around – Sant taught them well – but refused to give the Commissioner of Police any further details when he asked to have them. There was an embarrassing scene on television with, if I remember rightly, Karl Chircop, in which the interviewer pressed him to explain why he refused to tell the Commissioner of Police who was taking money from people and telling them he could get them a job at the Freeport.
Ah, now we know why he wouldn’t tell. Unlike Anglu Farrugia, he knows the significance of the nickname ‘it-tifel ta’ Lorry Sant’. I can’t imagine that a news clip which begins ‘Simon Spiteri, maghruf bhala t-tifel ta’ Lorry Sant, huwa akkuzat li ha flus minghand in-nies….’ would serve any possible electoral purpose for the Labour Party.
Some people will believe anything
With the Labour administration of 1971 to 1987, corruption was so rampant that there are still people around who think they can bribe their way to whatever they want or need. But really, how disengaged from reality do you have to be to hand money over to somebody who claims to be a Freeport go-between, and who promises to get you a job in return?
I suppose you have to be somebody like Anglu Farrugia. The gist of his police report wasn’t that there was a swindler about, taking money off people by making false promises. No, the gist of his report was that a certain individual was taking money in return for Freeport jobs.
Some minister of justice he’ll make.