The Malta Independent 18 November 2018, Sunday

House pays tribute to Lawrence Gonzi

Malta Independent Tuesday, 14 May 2013, 20:34 Last update: about 5 years ago

 

The House of Representative this evening paid tribute to Lawrence Gonzi, following his 25-year career in parliament in which he served as Speaker, Prime Minister and most recently as leader of the Opposition.

In his speech Dr Gonzi said that he will only announce his decision whether to stay on as an MP, after the new PN leadership and party administration are installed by the beginning of next month.

However judging by his comments in an interview published last month by the Malta Independent on Sunday, it is more than likely that Dr Gonzi will be resigning before the summer recess.

 

Prime Minister lauds his former political rival

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said that Dr Gonzi stands along his predecessors who led the country forward since Independence.

He said that Dr Gonzi’s contribution in the political field is unquestionable. He said that the possibility of Dr Gonzi remaining an MP would be more than welcome as this would bode well since  “his contribution is very valid”.

Dr Muscat said that Dr Gonzi’s term as Speaker and chairman of the National Council for Persons with Disability (KNPD) stand out in his career, as he managed to create great awareness about the rights of persons with disability.

The prime minister also lauded his former political rival for his work in the creation of permanent parliamentary committees in the mid-nineties. He added that time is ripe to overhaul these committees “that were set up in completely difference circumstances”.

Dr Muscat recounted how his first months as an MP in the previous legislature were rather challenging, also due to “Dr Gonzi’s well known oratory skills”. He concluded his speech saying that he looks forward to collaborate with Dr Busuttil who succeeded Dr Gonzi as PN leader.

 

A good leader must not succumb to populism - Gonzi

Former Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi thanked the House for all the generous remarks in his regard and said that it was a privilege to serve in the three most important roles in democracy.

He said that he feels bound to serve the Maltese “who stand out for the manner in which they were able to create wealth in a country with very limited resources at hand”.

The former prime minister said that the Maltese have huge potential and history shows that they have always risen to the occasion.  He said that parliament needs to be given greater respect.

Dr Gonzi thanked the prime minister for his respect, and conveyed his best wishes to Dr Muscat . He said that the role of head of government warrants the courage to take difficult and unpopular decisions and making the right arguments to defend the country’s interest. Dr Gonzi said that strong leaders have to defend their beliefs and not succumb to populism. He said that the opposition will always place society’s interest above any other consideration.

The former prime minister also referred to his spell as KNPD President, saying that emphasis should be on one’s capabilities rather than one’s disabilities.

In his concluding remarks, he turned to his successor at the helm of the PN acknowledging that he has a daunting task ahead. Dr Gonzi said that he has not decided yet on his future, and will only announce his decision once the PN will have its new leadership and administration installed.

Dr Gonzi’s final remarks were addressed to the Speaker, saying that during his term as President of the House he learned that one should only be concerned when he receives too much praise by either side as most of the time the right decision is not the most popular but rather the most difficult to take.

 

A true statesman who paid a hefty price to defend the country’s interest - Opposition leader

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil said that the House is paying tribute to Dr Gonzi after more than 25 years of service to the country. Dr Busuttil remarked that after the sterling work done by Eddie Fenech Adami, Lawrence Gonzi led the country through the delicate first years of EU membership as a true statesman.

This was the time when crucial reforms were carried out as well as the adoption of the Euro and the entry into force of the Schengen agreement. The opposition leader said that it would be a mistake to underestimate these achievements.

Dr Busuttil recounted how the European Commission also noted Malta’s swift progress in the EU, in contrast with other countries such as Lithuania who failed to reach the required criteria for the adoption of the Euro.

Other reforms cited by Dr Busuttil, were the privatisation of the shipyards and the pensions reform. “Unfortunately Dr Gonzi had to pay a hefty price for his unpopular but necessary decisions”, said Dr Busuttil.

Other ‘achievements’ lauded by his successor at the helm of the PN, were in the fields of healthcare and education.  Dr Busuttil said that successive PN governments led by Dr Gonzi resulted in a country in much better shape. He said that Dr Gonzi’s legacy will last over the next seven years as he managed to secure the €1.2 billion deal from the EU last February.

The Opposition leader also lauded Dr Gonzi for his role during the Libyan civil war “when he was not afraid to take courageous decisions and take the side of the Libyan people against Gaddafi’s regime”. He added that Dr Gonzi is also highly regarded by EU leaders who worked by his side during his nine years as prime minister.

Speaker Anglu Farrugia was the first to heap praise on Dr Gonzi remarking that “disagreements are the hallmark of democracy”. He added that some of Dr Gonzi’s 69 rulings have set the benchmarks in parliamentary democracy.

Meanwhile the House continued with the debate in reply to the President’s speech which marked parliament’s opening on April 6.

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