The Malta Independent 20 November 2017, Monday

The de Marco controversy

Simon Mercieca Monday, 20 March 2017, 07:45 Last update: about 9 months ago

I read with great interest The Malta Independent‘s editorial on Thursday, which stated that the antagonism toward Muscat is fragmented and a fragmented Opposition can never defeat a united government. Such an analysis is absolutely correct. The editorial sought to analyse the reasons why the Opposition is fragmented. The points raised are all relevant and pertinent. The Opposition is bitter. A series of wrong choices and decisions have been taken over these past years where honest individuals were sidelined because they had the guts to speak the truth. On the other hand, sleazy individuals continue to reign supreme at Tal-Pieta’.

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I also concur with the analysis that Dr.Simon Busuttil and a number of his MPs, such as Jason Azzopardi, should stop hounding the small fry out of sheer bitterness because it switched to Labour. The Opposition should concentrate on proffering a sincere apology to the electorate for its pastmistakes and recent blunders. But I doubt if, in the circumstances, an apology is enough. The last political remarks of Dr.Busuttil show that he is all out to defend the misdemeanors of his top brass lieutenants.

The controversy that has engulfed Dr Mario de Marco proves my point. Until de Marco’s dealing with the DB Group became a public knowledge, themedia was always hitting out solelyat Dr. Simon Busuttil or Dr Beppe Fenech Adami, and Dr de Marco was never under scrutiny. In fact, for very strange reasons, the media only hits at one of the two deputy leaders of the two main parties, that is, Beppe Fenech Adamiand Chris Cardona but rarely, if ever, holds Mario de Marco and Louis Grech to account.

Even now, as these dealings became public, the media appears to be more interestedat lessening what are known as collateral damages that these stories may cause to de Marco’s image, rather than hitting at the fact that a deputy leader of a party was secretly engaging with one of the most controversial ministers of Muscat’s Government.He or members of his firm were dealing with an individual about government property, who, at the end of the day,this individual is not even the person, recognized by law, to negotiate government’s property.

I havestated this in the past and I will state it again in this blog: I have no personal agenda against Dr. Mario de Marco. I know that he has been through a difficult patch, which he himself mentions as having been the cause that preventedhim fromparticipating more actively in politics. Yet, strange to say, his indisposition did not prevent him from giving advice to the BD Group on how to acquire public land from the current Government!

Anyone knowing our history could never remotely imagine politicians, of the calibre of Nerik Mizzi or Eddie Fenech Adami – both lawyers - going into consultancy ‘business’with private companies after they were elected at the helm of the party.  Can anyone pictur NerikMizzi going for secrets talks with the colonial administration, or letting anyone in his party doing so, on behalf of a sleazy businessman? I would like toremind readers that when Eddie Fenech Adami became Leader of the Nationalist Party, he closed his office and passed on all his pending court cases to another colleague, Doctor Pullicino. FenechAdami wanted to dedicate himself to the nation and he won.

It follows that having a Deputy Leader going into this consultancy type of private business is definitely damaging to the Opposition’s cause. One cannot expectpeople to go out and protest against a corrupt Government and a supposedly corrupt ministerwhen, simultaneously, a leading member of the Opposition is allegedly holding secret meetings in the same office of that same supposedly corrupt minister in Castile. The impression that is being given is that money comes before the interest of the nation.

What perturbs me most is that the media is not holding certain politicians to scrutiny or accountability. Only the minnows aremercilessly criticized. The Alternattiva Demokratika  demanded Toni Bezzina’s resignation from Parliament and Din l-Art Ħelwa issued a strong communication against Bezzina for applying to develop a villa in ODZ. However, both Alternattiva and Din l-Art Ħelwa have remained silent with regard to Dr Mario de Marco.

In Dr. de Marco’s case, there has been conflicting news regarding the interpretation of the facts between the Deputy Leader and the Leader of the Nationalist Party regarding the latter’sinvolvement with the DB group. There has also been conflicting news about whether de Marco went in person to Castile or not. Dr de Marco told Norman Vella in the programme Mhux għax jimpurtantithat he never went to Castile to discuss in person the affairs of the DB Group. He confirmed this once again on Net TV on Friday. But Dr. Konrad Mizzi stated the contrary and reported that Dr Mario de Marco did go to Castile and, in the ministerial office of Konrad Mizzi, discussed matters concerning the DB Group with Alex Sciberras, a private lawyer who happens to be the son of retired Judge Philip Sciberras.

At least, this is a piece of news that both are agreeing on: negotiation took place in Mizzi’s office and the person who carried the dealings on behalf of the government, was a private lawyer, who is not recognized by our laws to carry negotiations on public property on behalf of the government.In a normal European democracy, this would have been hot news. For sure, de Marco would have lost his office as deputy leader of the party irrespective whether it was he or any member of his office who carried out such type of business. Instead, Simon Busuttil is now defending this whole political imbroglio. In the process, Busuttil is losing his credibility about his pledge to re-introduce honesty in politics.

As a lawyer and a former Government minister, de Marco should know that Government property should never be discussed with private consultants, even if, the consultants are appointed by Government. At Law the person authorized to discuss government property is the Commissioner of Lands. In my view, it is a very serious failing that a Deputy Leader of a Party or members of his firm are involved indealing with individuals who are not responsible for Government’s property regardingthe transfer of its land into private hands. The matter becomes more serious when the media discovers that this is another dodgy business concerning Government property. Am I right to conclude that the transfer of this property was taking place behind the back of the Commissioner of Lands?

It is also unfair that the independent media questioned Keith Schembri’s and Konrad Mizzi’s connections,yet no one raised an eyebrow that Silvio Debono, who was being represented by de Marco, has his name in the Panama Papers. Therefore, Dr Mario de Marco happens to be a friend to the most illustrious names that were revealed to have a secret trust. He is not only friend to Konrad Mizzi and Silvio Debono but to Pierre Sladden, Adrian Hillman and Keith Schembri. I can now add with conviction, that he is also a friend of Brian Tonna. I can be accused of conspiracy theories, but beyond a doubt the Maltese nation deserves better from its elected politicians.

The founder of Modern Politics and political parties, Giuseppe Mazzini had said it loud and clear. Political victory cannot be achieved without personal sacrifices. It is a pity that the top brass of the Nationalist Party prefer lining their pockets instead of doing sacrifices for the public good.

 

 

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