Editorial | Taking stock of a sordid affair

Politicians must win back trust even if this means cutting loose those among them who are immoral and corrupt

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It is shocking that a former chief of staff in the Office of the Prime Minister has been charged with money laundering, fraud, forgery and corruption.

It is shocking that the right-hand man to Joseph Muscat, his accountants and business partners are facing a raft of serious charges.

It is shocking because it links crime to the highest office of government and this can have serious repercussions on the country’s reputation.

Equally shocking are allegations being made that a former minister and a sitting minister could have been involved in serious crimes, including the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

From an economic perspective, these events only add to the woes and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The wheels of justice must be allowed to take their course but on a political level the government cannot continue as if nothing has happened.

Prime Minister Robert Abela has the duty to take stock of the situation, which is nothing short of a sordid affair that risks destroying the trust people should have in the political class.

This is not any other crisis. It is a crisis that hits hard at the core of democracy. It is a crisis that is cascading now because of inaction over the past few years and the implications must not be understated.

Abela has to be credited for implementing certain reforms not least the appointment of a police commissioner, who has adopted a no-nonsense approach.

But the Prime Minister must ensure that the country’s institutions get all the support they need to function independently and efficiently.

He must also make it amply clear that his government will not tolerate wrongdoing and will act transparently.

The Prime Minister must ensure that all members of his Cabinet are upright individuals.

But the crisis at hand requires a serious introspection and discussion that goes beyond the need for institutional and legal reforms.

This is a crisis of morality that requires a thorough evaluation of the links between politics and business; politics and people of dubious characters.

And this exercise has to be done by all those in the political class who society trusts to take the best decisions on its behalf.

The Opposition must reign in the temptation to rub its hands in glee. The impact of this malaise threatens all politicians.

But there is also the need for operators in the business community to stop and think about the need to be upright in all their dealings.

This is especially so for those in the financial services sector, which will carry the brunt of the fallout from the ongoing money laundering cases.

Accountants, auditors, lawyers, notaries and other professionals must not be willing participants in the misdeeds of criminals.

What is happening is a very hard pill to swallow. The pandemic is tough enough on its own to overcome let alone when the political system is cast under a dark shadow.

When people lose hope in their leaders and lack of trust creeps in, the scene is set for the corrupt to find fertile ground to flourish.

Politicians must win back trust even if this means cutting loose those among them who are immoral and corrupt.

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