The Malta Independent 16 December 2017, Saturday

The most valuable lessons aren’t taught, they’re experienced

Gejtu Vella Tuesday, 21 November 2017, 08:17 Last update: about 24 days ago

The following is an excerpt from the resignation letter penned by Priti Patel, former UK International Development Secretary addressed to Theresa May, UK prime minister "As you know from our discussions I accept that in meeting with organisations and politicians during a private holiday in Israel my actions fell below the high standards that are expected of a secretary of state. While my actions were meant with the best of intentions, my actions also fell below the standards of transparency and openness that I have promoted and advocated." "I offer a fulsome apology to you and to the government for what has happened and offer my resignation."

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In her reply Theresa May, prime minister made one point very clear which I would like to share with you. "As you know, the UK and Israel are close allies and it is right that we should work closely together."But that must be done formally and through official channels. That is why, when we met on Monday, I was glad to accept your apology and welcomed your clarification about your trip to Israel over the summer."Now that further details have come to light, it is right that you have decided to resign and adhere to the high standards of transparency and openness that you have advocated."

These are some of the ethical standards which local politicians should emulate and these are the minimum criteria which should be sought by the electorate from our politicians.  Politicians should ensure that when travelling on government business they are accompanied with top civil servants.The local politicians who have travelled to Azerbaijan on government business should take the cue and shoulder their responsibility.  It is called transparency and accountability. 

This brings me to a BBC news item which was reported extensively on Sunday morning. Mr RobertMugabe, 93, has largely been confined to his house since the army took over on Wednesday after he fired his deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa.Mr Mnangagwa's dismissal made Mr Mugabe's wife Grace front runner to become next president. This manoeuvre, a blatant case of nepotism, triggered tens of thousands of Zimbabweans to take to the streets to show their disapproval. Malta is farfrom Zimbabwe both geographically and in the way the rule of law is conducted but notwithstanding great caution should be taken when it comes to the application of the rule of law locally.  A vibrant democracy needs a wide spectrum of voices and none of the voices should or allowed to be silenced even when these voices are not music.

Turning to the local context in the days preceding last Tuesday’s debate at the European Parliament and the vote which was taken on Wednesday, in which the EP unequivocally called on thelocal authorities to investigate thoroughly the alleged Panama Papers scandal and other related matters the Labour Party strived to persuade the local community that the three PN MEPs were out to harm Malta’s reputation. This assertion does not hold water.The vote was a clear signal to the local authorities -466 MEPs voted in favour, 49 against while 167 abstained.

If there is someone to shoulder the blame for this negative vote against Malta it is this administration which time and again has failed to take appropriate action to curb the serious alleged cases of corruption which have surfaced.

There is no need to make any extraordinary effort to stoke a fire in the local political context. There is always a social, an economic, a financial, or an environmental issue simmering on the back burnerwaiting for its turn to be drawn onto the front burner. From time to time we are accustomed to and experience a flare-up in the local political scenario which divides the electorate into two major blocks. Blinded by partisan politics, the national and the common good are relegated to a lower place in the priority list at our own peril.  Although, I must add that a rather high portion from the electorate is becoming disenchanted with at times theatrical acts of some politicians. This is a serious trend and must be adequately addressed. 

If not addressed the consequences may impinge directly and/or indirectly on the economic performance which to a large extent is supported by the business community. In this regard I fail to grasp thereason/s which this administration is following when it comes to deal with alleged cases of corruption. Why this administration is putting the common good and the rule of law into jeopardy is very hard to comprehend. While Malta has obtained various international positive economic performance results the one which Malta obtained from the EU Parliament should not be shelved.

Every endeavour should be made by government to limit the negative effects of last Wednesday’s vote.If necessary heads should roll; after all it was already suggested by the PL, MEPs head of the delegation.    

 

gvella@melita.com

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