Exactly who do Karmenu Vella and Johnny Dalli think they’re fooling?

Published: February 8, 2011 at 1:32pm

Karmenu Vella would like to protest that the only smuggling he ever did was budgy-smuggling in his golden years of speedos.

They rang into Bondiplus last night to point out that they were not prosecuted for smuggling but for taking their yachts straight to Mellieha when they entered Maltese waters, and mooring them overnight at the Tunny Net without informing port control (“it-turretta”).

They’re claiming that this was an oversight, that they didn’t know you had to inform port control.

What rubbish. These were yacht-owners. It is inconceivable that they didn’t know the law – that it was illegal to make straight for any harbour when entering Maltese waters without first informing port control so that your vessel could be searched by customs officers.

It is inconceivable, too, that these two yacht-owners didn’t know it was illegal to moor overnight in sundry bays, and that you were obliged to return your boat to its registered official berth by sundown.

Even I knew that in 1983, and I was 18 and didn’t have a boat. Implementation of this particular law was so harsh that patrol boats would do the rounds to check the bays, not that their job was onerous because in those days the only people who had boats were bazuzli and cabinet ministers.

Vella and Dalli made much of the fact that they were only prosecuted for breaking the law on informing port control of their movements, that they were not prosecuted for smuggling.

That’s it: they were not prosecuted for smuggling, so they can’t say that they weren’t found guilty of smuggling, which isn’t the same thing at all.

What police inspector in 1983 would have been insane enough to insist with his superiors on prosecuting a cabinet minister and a government MP for smuggling, even if he wanted to do so in the first place?

Prosecuting them for not informing port control was a compromise, a mere sop to the general anger when In-Nazzjon broke the news of the scandal. For yes, it was a scandal. I remember everyone talking about it furiously.

The fact remains that Johnny Dalli and Karmenu Vella put in straight to Ghadira from Sicily, moored off the Tunny Net and were seen – by people who rang In-Nazzjon – unloading crates and boxes, taking some of them into the Tunny Net and loading others into waiting taxis and other cars.

Karmenu Vella rang Bondiplus last night to insist that it was he who ‘reported it’ to the police. He must think that everyone is as dumb as those people who sat and listened to his Mintoffian, patronising speech at the Labour general conference last weekend. Yes, right – he rang the police and said “I want to report myself for breaking the law. Please prosecute me.”

Don’t make me laugh.

The fact is that when In-Nazzjon reported on what Karmenu Vella and Johnny Dalli had done, the police summoned the editor and tried to make him reveal his source.

The police wanted to know who had seen Johnny Dalli and Karmenu Vella unloading that stuff and told the newspaper.

Now perhaps while he’s about it, Karmenu Vella would like to clear up that little matter of a log-book, kept by the people who ‘sold’ colour televisions, of those who should be allowed to buy one and which minister (or other potentate) had ‘recommended’ them. There is a rather interesting list under the heading ‘Recommended by Karmenu Vella’.

42 Comments Comment

  1. Interested Bystander says:

    Truly, is there anything more nauseating than a crooked politician?

  2. Paul Bonnici says:

    I expected Lou Bondi to wipe the floor with Toni Abela. Although Toni Abela did not give credible replies.

    Toni Abela seemed very articulate though lacking substance, I can understand why the electorate would vote Labour in the next election. Labour are very good at manipulating the public opinion of the working class.

    I dread seeing this lot in power, yet Malta needs a change of government.

    • Maria says:

      You are saying that you dread to see this lot in power, yet Malta needs a change of government.

      This statement sends shivers down my spine.

      Do you mean to say that just for the sake of a change you and others are happy with whatever that change might happen to be, just as long as it is change – that you are prepared to vote in a party that are so well known for their undemocratic way of governing a country?

      Are we going to vote or a party who governed the country when they had no right to do so?

      I would be more than happy to vote once again for that party that respects what teh electorate wants, who knows what freedom of speech, freedom of choice means. That party had always been the PN, and it is that party that will once again in 2 years time wiill get my vote.

      Malta and the Maltese people deserve to have a party in opposition who knwos how to behave when in opposition and that throughout the years in opposition learns how to move out of that situation.

      Let us not forget that it was the PN who gave us the dignity to hold our heads up high, to be proud of who we are.

      • Angus Black says:

        “I dread seeing this lot in power, yet Malta needs a change of government”

        A most contradictory statement, if I ever read one.

        Voting out the PN and welcoming the ‘dreadful’ LP to give them a chance to ruin the country (again), for the sake of change?

        You have two years to rethink your reasoning.

      • Reluctant Voter says:

        Sadly this administration slipped up too many times, has blatantly ignored the wishes of the people and continued to spoil the environment.

        Government agencies such as the ADT and MEPA are ridiculed by the people.

        Malta has failed to keep up with development in Europe, we have the worst roads, the dirtiest environment, the rudest people and we are far behind all Europe in social development.

        This administration is not fit for purpose and does not deserve our vote. I don’t for one moment believe that the PL is fit to govern, but I may be wrong and I am prepared to gamble. We know the PN is not fit but there is a shadow of doubt about the PL.
        The PN would do well to publicise the real profiles of these people. And not only for the benefit of PN voters: they must reach PL and floating voters too.

        The PN would do well to publicise the real profiles of these people. And not only for the benefit of PN voters: they must reach PL and floating voters too.

        [Daphne – What made you change your mind in the last five days? This is the comment you posted on this blog on the 3rd of the month: “The PN would do well to publicise the real profiles of these people. And not only for the benefit of PN voters: they must reach PL and floating voters too.” And on 27 January, you posted this: “You’d expext the party who wants to lead the country for five years to have a reasonable command of English, especially when the language is used generally in our education system. Imagine the embarrassment when European focus falls on us and our media when it’s Malta’s turn to preside over the EU. The Labour media pulls its own party down.”]

      • Reluctant Voter says:

        You are right, Daphne, it is exactly how I’ve been feeling, not just these last five days but the last couple of years.

        I am exasperated both by this administration and the opposition for very much the reasons to which you yourself often refer.

        So while I’ve lost hope in this administration for the reasons mentioned above, and I am old enough to remember the excesses of the old PL, I sometimes hope that despite its appearance, the PL might still be able to deliver this time.

      • snoopy says:

        @Reluctant Voter

        The past is a mirror of the future.

        You have lost hope but then are ready to take the biggest gamble of your (and your children’s) life by “hoping” that “despite its appearance, the PL might still be able to deliver this time”

        This is akin to that woman who has been beaten up by her partner but accepts to get married to the same person, hoping that he will change!


      • Reluctant Voter says:


        It’s not as unbelievable as it sounds. Joseph Muscat promised a ‘new’ party implying that the future will not necessarily reflect the past.

        Given the performance of the present administration, I felt that he deserved a chance – he couldn’t have done much worse than this lot.

        It’s only lately that the likes of Joe Grima and the old guard reared up their head and appear to at least want to be dictating PL policy henceforth. This is a new development and will need to be considered in the light of their past.

        Let’s see where the two parties are heading in the next couple of years.

    • Reporter says:

      The truth is that Paul Bonnici is right.

      The current ruling class (ie., a PN clique) has left many out in the lurch. I am sure there are many Labourites or Labour-sympathisers who are not particularly enamoured of the bunch of idiots currently running the Labour Party, but on the other hand cannot wait to gasp a fresh breath of air.

      The PN has won in ’87, ’92, ’98, and ’03 because it attracted disgruntled Labourites.

      (In ’08 the PN won not because of deflections from the PL, but because Labourities did not vote, because of Alfred Sant.)

      This coming election the PN will not be able to repeat the results of ’08 because there is (as yet) not enough animosity within Labour ranks against Muscat. It is also possible that the levels of anti-Muscat sentiment will never match those of the anti-Sant sentiment.

      If the PN wants to win the ’13 elections, it has to do what it did in ’87, ’92, ’98, and ’03 – attract disgruntled Labourites.

      With the closed shop mentality of certain top people, this is not being achieved. Instead, they think they can repeat the ’08 result. This will not happen. The Muscat element necessarily means that the ’08 strategy will fail.

      The PN has to open its doors to disgruntled Labourites.

      Otherwise, level-headed Labourites (and they do exist, no matter what everybody will say) will have no real option but to vote for the current bunch of morons who lead Labour. Not because they respect them, but because it will be their only chance of moving on in this shitty country of ours where only political patronage can get you anywhere.

      If the PN wants to win, it has to bloody well change the psychological infrastructure of the country, it has to introduce emancipation from cronyism, nepotism, and friends of friends social interactions. It has level-headedly to attract level-headed Labourites.

      Instead, what are level-headed Nationalists doing? They are befriending Labourites, so that when the ship sinks they’ll have friends who will rescue them and salvage their possessions. This means they are leaving the PN’s future in the hands of fanatics or myopic satraps who will ruin the chances of a PN victory.

      The PN will not pass an examination of conscience, it will have to say MEA CULPA.

    • Paul Bonnici says:

      I think that anyone with his head screwed on properly will have no choice but to vote PN, since there is no alternative.

      I would not vote for a party for the sake of change irrespective of whether to the better or worse. I think better stick with the devil you know!

      Human rights have not improved much in Malta under the PN, the police force seems to be still controlled or influenced by some Mintoff thugs.

  3. La Redoute says:

    If Karmenu Vella didn’t know that they were meant to report to port control before putting into Ghadira bay, why did he call the police?

    • Rover says:

      Because he is lying. You don’t believe him, I don’t believe him and nobody else believes him.

      Corruption was endemic in the 70s and 80s and he was in the thick of it. The only difference is that some of them kept a low profile while this second-rate politician is the new oracle planning our future up to 2018.

      His credentials? As I recall he was the Minister for Industry during whose tenure we had the Pijunieri, Izra u Rabbi, Kappar, fabbrika tal-elf that closed before it even produced anything (imagine Chinese obsolete machinery). He was one of the biggest failures of the Mintoff years when unemployment was rife.

      He did nothing and produced nothing. He was implicated in contraband and his driver was implicated in a submachine gun attack on a political party club.

      Those of us who were around in the 70s and 80s have red mist descending right now when they see this corrupt lot making a comeback.

  4. mark says:

    Army helicopters used to “raid” boats that were not moored by sun set…… maybe “il-Guy” forgot about this.

  5. mario lanza says:

    KARMENU Vella is an inspiration to young politicians – he works hard, he makes audiences laugh, perseverance and self discipline by even ‘ reporting himself ‘ are all the things you need – when you have no talent.

  6. mark v says:

    I listened to Karmenu Vella and others speaking during PL conference during Bondi+, boasting about and feeling nostalgia for the 70s.

    To my regret I understand that the only thing Alfred Sant did well by trying to build a new image for Labour distancing the party from those troublesome days has gone down the drain. So Labour is still the same of those days and they are not ashamed to confirm and boast about it. What a shame.

  7. Matt says:

    Incredible. A corrupt minister caught red-handed and yet he is not even embarrassed. Why are the media not informing the young generation about what he is?

    No doubt in my mind that the old Labour guard is on the rise. Won’t be surprised, if they win the next election they will try to pull Malta out of the EU. There isn’t a single pro-EU membership person among them – certainly not the shadow foreign minister.

    Anti- EU sentiments are ingrained in them. Freedom of speech will be muzzled again. They don’t understand that, either.

    God help us.

  8. carlos says:

    They have unearthed these skeletons with their filthy past, undermining their own chances of winning the next election. The aggressive way they all spoke at their General Conference is enough to scare sensible persons from voting Labour .

    • Antoine Vella says:

      They are unearthing so many skeletons that the Labour HQ is starting to look like the cellar of Casa Lanfreducci. FAA please note.

  9. Antoine Vella says:

    We’ll never know what was in those cases so we have to use our imagination. Were they smuggling consumer goods to sell on the black market, for example?

    Were they running guns? Labour thugs were always well-armed with revolvers, shotguns and submachine guns and they had to get them from somewhere.

    What about drugs? Or a bit of everything?

    I’m not making any insinuations, of course and there is no proof that Karmenu Vella trafficked drugs or supplied firearms to his henchmen.

    I’m just saying that unless Karmenu Vella comes clean about the incident, people are going to reach their own conclusions and, to paraphrase the Mepa auditor, we can exclude nothing.

    • John(mhux Bundy) says:

      Video players kienu , ix-xniegha kienet li kellhom ghagin.

      Ghal min ma’ jafx ,kien kwazi impossibbli li jkollok video recorder/player.

      Kienu ghamlu xi amnestija biex jiddikjarawhom u irregistraw xi 14,000.

  10. Daphne

    Vera tal- biza.

    Min ibazwar naqra minn hemm u min ibazwar naqra minn ghawn, u miskin il- miskin.

    Id- dizonesta’ professjonali qisu hadd ma jista ghalija. Ghawn hafna sharks ta l-ilma qieghed.

  11. Jo says:

    How can anybody in his/her right mind say they will vote Labour just because we need a change?

    Our misfortune is that there is no alternative to the PN.

    This does not mean that I’m anti PN- far from it- but I really wish we could change the government while having our mind at rest that things will progress normally.

    But this can’t happen with the present opposition party. After all, as a child I lived through many changes in government – at that time elections were held every three years and life went on normally after each election.

    It was only when Mintoff became PM that all this changed. And oh, lest I forget, a very great thank you to all the Nationalist governments that made Malta what it is today.

  12. Angus Black says:

    “Vella and Dalli made much of the fact that they were only prosecuted for breaking the law on informing port control of their movements, that they were not prosecuted for smuggling”.

    They may have been absolutely right on this one. They did not have to avoid Customs because in those days all they had to do is to slip a fiver or two to the Customs officer and they would have been cleared in five seconds flat.

    [Daphne – Customs officers would have waved them through, Angus. And that’s why they probably thought they majtezwel not bother. You didn’t search a cabinet minister.]

    Twice in those awful years I was asked for a fiver and two fivers respectively “rather than having to search your luggage”. And that was at the airport in broad daylight, let alone at night in a poorly lit harbour.

    Yet there are clowns who swallow all the garbage coming from the backward thinking Labour Party.

  13. TROY says:

    Karm, int u siehbek Johnnie tal ‘Fisherman’s Rest’ mhux darba wahda biss ghamiltuh dan il-vjagg min Sqallija ghal Ghadira. Din id-darba msemmija kontu sfurtunati ghax gabukhom fuq In-Nazzjon.

    Dawn tan-Nazzjon kullimkien iridu jdefsu dembhom ma jahmlux lil min jghamel daqxejn ‘money on the side’.

    Pero int u siehbek xorta dawwartu kollox kif qablilkhom ghax nghiduha kif ini – min kien se jazzarda jindahlilkhom!

    Il-moll tat-Tunny Net kien il-port ta’ Johnnie Dalli (tal-Lady Jo ) – hawn kienu jiltaqghu id-deliverymen.

    O’ zmien helu, kemm kelna Power.

  14. Riya says:

    Do you think that the Customs people did not know what they were doing? It was public knowledge. Imma min se jazzarda jkellimhom?

  15. dery says:

    “It is inconceivable that they didn’t know the law – that it was illegal to make straight for any harbour when entering Maltese waters without first informing port control so that your vessel could be searched by customs officers.”

    I am quite ignorant about these things however some months ago, I noticed at Xlendi, a yacht that just parked itself in the middle of the bay and one of the men on board got into a little boat and then landed with a bag. He walked away and I couldn’t help wondering what he was doing. I got chatting with one of the fisherman who had also seen what I had seen and he just have me a knowing smile when I asked about controls as to what was brought to shore.

    [Daphne – I don’t know whether you’d noticed, dery, but now that we are in the European Union there are no longer any customs controls. Just as you can walk through when you get off a plane, so you can take a boat to Sicily (or any other port in the EU) and back like you’re taking a bus in your own country. And just as you are free to walk off a plane with a bag so you are free to walk off a boat with a bag. Oh, and the law has changed. Now you can overnight in a boat anywhere round the island and it’s nobody’s business but yours.]

    • dery says:

      Hmm right. But when I leave any airport in Europe to come to Malta my bags are checked.

      Do you mean to tell me that anyone can bring in a boatload of heroin and not be checked? I don’t know why I’m asking really – the market is saturated in Malta!

      [Daphne – Your bags aren’t checked for smuggling, dery. They’re checked for weapons. An X-ray machine isn’t there to detect heroin, and sniffer dogs are used only in exceptional circumstances. The police (not customs) raid and search boats only when they have good reason to suspect that drugs are being smuggled. It is not routine – the same situation as with airports.]

  16. Joseph Borg says:

    I regret to say that I have to agree with reporter. Nowadays some departments are splintered and run by individuals and not by the minister.

    Chairpersons and directors are selected on the basis of having friends around.

    Also in the name of free speech almost each and every member of parliament on the government side wants to be the prime minister. This happened with the Australian Labour Party, if I am not wrong three elections ago, all the members wanted to be the leaders and the result was that Labour lost dismally.

  17. eros says:

    One of the prized jobs you could get in the early 80s was a Customs official, especially at the airport, and such jobs were reserved for the well connected ones.

    And do you know why? Because it was an open opportunity to skin people with the Minister’s blessing.

    Once, coming from London, I had hidden in my suitcase a small hand-held electronic game (shame of shame!) and when the customs official – who looked like a proper Gestapo – noticed it, he made a loud fuss, terrifying my wife, denigrating me as if I had a dozen machine guns, and then calmly asked me for Lm25 while informing me (blatantly in front of two other officials) that he would give me a receipt for Lm5, “u ghandek xorti li ma tfajtekx gewwa”.

    Oh, I so look forward to such exciting times again – forward to the past.

    • ta'sapienza says:

      I remember those days only too well.

      How anybody could even consider voting for these tossers is mind-boggling.

      Progressivi, my arse.

  18. Mark Vella says:

    What you say is so true that even Toni Abela himself did not object to the facts as initially presented by Lou (see clip on Di-Ve / time – 45mins). At no point did he attempt to clear Karmenu Vella’s name but instead went on the counter-attack by talking about David Agius et al.

    It was only after the intermission and the phone calls that Toni changed his stance and even then, you could easily see his discomfort since I’m sure he knows that there’s more to the story than a simple court case about the violation of mooring restrictions (time – 58mins).

    Remember that Toni Abela, apart from being a lawyer, was also the party president in 1983, when this case came to light.

    As an aside, Karmenu Vella seems to be in the habit of making disparaging comments when it comes to the privatisation of public /parastatal entities by the current incumbent. Wasn’t this also the strategy of the Alfred Sant government, of which Karmenu Vella was a cabinet minister? In case his memory does not serve him well, here’s an excerpt from an interview with Alfred Sant (http://www.alfredsant.org/pages/dassingle.asp?id=239) –

    “When Labour came to government in 1996, there were no plans at all by the previous administration, to privatise the then Telemalta corporation. We initiated that from scratch, in the same way that we liberalized, if that is the word, the gaming industry where there had been a monopoly.”

    • Min Weber says:

      Are you sure Toni Abela was party president in 1983? I think he was party president after Alfred Sant, that is 1987 or 88, and then resigned (alongside Wenzu Mintoff) in the early 90s.

      In 1983 somebody else was President of the Labour Party. Dennis Sammut perhaps?

      [Daphne – No, Alfred Sant was president of the Labour Party back then. I know because he was married to my husband’s first cousin at the time, and when we married in 1985 we had to, against our wishes given the horror of the times, invite the president of the Labour Party by default. Fortunately, he wife came alone.]

      • Min Weber says:

        The wikipedia entry on Toni Abela is extremely chaotic. (No surprise there.)

        In that incredible chaos there is a beacon of even more intractable chaos:

        “He currently holds the greatest political comeback within a party in Maltese political history, being expelled from a party and later becoming deputy leader of the same party within 20 years.”

        (There is also written he was President of the Labour Party from 1980 to 1989. How can that be when Sant was President from ’84 to ’88? Were there two Presidents?!)

  19. red nose says:

    Has the new Labour line-up thought yet of preparing rooms at St.Vincent de Paule?

  20. Min Weber says:

    Look at what Mr Saviour Balzan wrote about Karmenu Vella:


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