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MALTATODAY 19 January 2020

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maltatoday | SUNDAY • 19 JANUARY 2020 1 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 19 JANUARY 2020 ARTS • TV • WHAT'S ON "When I was around five, my mom brought me to our local sports centre and asked me which sport I wanted to do. I wanted to learn how to do a split, so I picked rhythmic g ymnastics" Q&A Vladyslava Kravchenko Literature Omar Seguna Film The Nightingale CLASSIFIEDS & COMMERCIALS PHOTO: ANDREW LARGE SUNDAY • 19 JANUARY 2020 • ISSUE 1055 • PUBLISHED EVERY WEDNESDAY AND SUNDAY €1.95 maltatoday CELEBRATING 20 YEARS OF BOLD JOURNALISM WWW.MALTATODAY.COM.MT/20YEARS maltatoday | SUNDAY • 19 JANUARY 2020 COMMENT What are we skinning? Our new Prime Minister's past as a bodybuilder in the 90s. Why are we skinning it? Honestly? Because it's the kind of 'human angle' to a politician that is now literally at the top of the Maltese pyramid which is manna from heaven for us. Okay yes, so it's kinda funny and kinda novel. But why does it deserve our attention? Oh, but there's a 'serious' side to the equation too. Being a bodybuilder implies a certain degree of discipline and focus, but that discipline can also dovetail into obsession, and the focus can easily be perceived as simple vanity. But bodybuilding is also a specific subculture, so you shouldn't make sweeping statements before immersing yourself in it. You're right, actually. But the fact remains that optically, this all comes at a very key time for Malta… How do you mean? Well, for one thing, certain international headlines have already used Abela's bodybuilding past as a lead… Yes, I chuckled when I read that our new Prime Minister is, first and foremost, 'A bodybuilding millionaire lawyer'... Yeah, and maybe that doesn't exactly help our current pariah status in the EU and worldwide, where such an easily-caricatured figure takes the reins of a recent government legacy steeped in (occasionally bloody) controversy… But surely, some pro- business fat cat would be an even worse option? Oh yes. Paradoxically for a sport which evokes strength and superhero physiques, Abela's bodybuilding past also disarms him somewhat. You're right… it makes me think that, at the end of the day, here's someone who at one point was obsessively dedicated to something that wasn't politics and/or money. Granted, competitive ping-pong may have made the anti-vanity crusaders happy, but that would also place him on a dullness scale that verges on the creepy. You just can't win, can you? Apparently, you can. Do say: "It remains to be seen how Prime Minister Robert Abela's tenure will pan out, and whether he can successfully restore a sense of sobriety to the nation in the wake of an unprecedented political crisis, as well as his own 'dynastic' heritage as the son of a former President. But his past as a bodybuilder is a quirky detail that reveals either the workings of a healthy and disciplined mind, or one that is preoccupied with personal vanity. We shall see how and whether this tendency translates into the political sphere." Don't say: "Wasn't it Plato who said that all kings should be bodybuilders, and all bodybuilders be kings?" No 18. Robert Abela: Bodybuilder JOSANNE CASSAR It does not take much effort to do the right thing, after all PAGE 6 "Now is a very good time to get together and try to learn from past mistakes. Because it is the entire country – without pointing fingers at any individuals – that needs to learn" EDITORIAL Abela: A good start, but only a start PAGE 2 INTERVIEW Marie Louise Coleiro Preca PGS 8-9 The Skinny Malta, shrunk down Hunky-dory... Rob switches brain for brawn in new job Let the kids face the music PGS 12-13 Not one newspaper, but many newspapers! MaltaToday extends its comment pages in the all- new MT2 and MT3 sections Cabinet refresh 12-15 SAVIOUR BALZAN MINISTERS read from the usu- al playbook when they put out a sign of public solidarity and sup- port for Joseph Muscat's decision to only leave towards mid-Janu- ary. Yet deep down, many of the Cabinet ministers who gathered in Castille in November to de- liberate on a pardon for Yorgen Fenech, the alleged mastermind in the Caruana Galizia assassina- tion, today say they are shocked that Muscat did not leave at once. As the relief of a new Labour ad- ministration gives way to clearer minds, one senior minister who opened up to me on the events of the last months said: "Muscat should have resigned that night… it was his only option." They now speak of his farewell speech to Labour voters as a mo- ment where their anger caved in to the emotion of the moment, and turned into pity at the fate of the Muscat administration. "We were not enthusiastic about the whole show and the hug- ging. Most of us felt used and de- ceived," the same minister said. Yet few of Muscat's disillu- sioned ministers could muster enough force to convince the PM to bow out immediately during the stormy Cabinet meeting that took place in late November, and instead played along with the for- mer PM's decision to see out the year and make way for a leader- ship election. Cabinet ministers speak of last days under Muscat and the Schembri spell he fell under 'We felt used and deceived' Agent takes French sting vid to court Lawyer: 'Full video shows I did not boast of inf luencing IIP passport decisions' MATTHEW VELLA THE immigration lawyer secret- ly recorded in a French TV sting and portrayed as boasting of his political connections, has won a French court order to obtain the full, unedited recording from the producers of M6's Enquete Exclusive. Jean-Philippe Chetcuti, whose firm's two licences to sell the lucrative Maltese cit- izenship programme to the global elite were suspended in the aftermath of the broadcast in September 2019, has now submitted the full recording to an inquiring magistrate. PAGES 2-3 PAGE 4 Over and out: Muscat is a puzzle to his former ministers PHOTO JAMES BIANCHI

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