The Malta Independent 17 October 2018, Wednesday

Undermining our institutions to support a fabricated lie

Owen Bonnici Friday, 10 August 2018, 09:07 Last update: about 3 months ago

The Nationalist Party and its now-dwindling supporters cannot get it. I really cannot get to the bottom of which part they cannot understand. I am referring to the now infamous Egrant episode – the most complex and completely fabricated lie in our political history.

I will not delve again in the Magistrate’s 1,500-page inquiry report, the result of the input of 477 witnesses, international experts and investigations overseas. However, one has to comment about recent statements.

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Karol Aquilina, member of the Opposition, in the past days came out strongly against Magistrate Bugeja’s report, saying, “We should not take the inquiry as if it’s a truth from the Bible … in a civilised country the inquiry would be re-opened in the spirit of truth and justice”.

In a civilised country, this statement would not even be uttered.

The Nationalist Party is playing a dangerous game, undermining all of our country’s institutions, whenever the latter publish statements or in this case this inquiry, which is not to their liking. This dangerous attitude has been going for ages. Aquilina chorused what his ex-leader Simon Busuttil stated a few days back. Instead of admitting their own guilt in fabricating a lie to gain political advantage and take over the government, doubts are being shed on Bugeja’s inquiry.

Undermining Malta’s institutions locally, but also abroad, through the international media and in the European Parliament, has serious repercussions. In the Opposition’s line of fire are the Law Courts, the Attorney General’s Office, the Police Corps and also financial institutions and authorities. Their autonomy secures their smooth running, without any interference from the Government of the day, or anyone else. Their reputation is of the utmost importance, not only for the well-being of the country, but also for rule of law to prevail.

Statements like the one above simply interfere in these autonomous authorities’ work. Attacking the institutions, damaging their reputation, ridiculing them should definitely not be on anyone’s cards. Doing this to support a fabricated lie is beyond comprehension.

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And we're in! As from last Wednesday, Malta is the 22nd member of the European Public Prosecutor's Office, which will be operational by end 2020.

As I said in my immediate tweet, when the European Commission made this public, we are determined in our resolve to fight fraud and crime against the financial interests of the European Union.

I had presented the letter to European Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Věra Jourová, at the beginning of June, by which Malta notified its intention to participate in the EPPO. I recall that it was a cordial meeting with a fruitful and positive discussion.

Malta recognises that the establishment of the EPPO is a major development for safeguarding the economic interests of the European Union and ensures that union funds are employed for the achievement of the social and economic purposes for which they are intended. The Government of Malta is confident that further coordination between the work of the EPPO, EUROPOL, Eurojust, the European Judicial Network and other community institutions and agencies will ensure progression to a higher level of police and judicial cooperation in Europe to the benefit of justice, peace and security.

The EPPO’s exclusive task is to investigate and prosecute crimes affecting the EU budget and, where relevant, bring them to judgement in the member states’ courts.

I am proud that we are acting as best possible and implementing measures, not only to better our country but also in coordinating our efforts with our EU partners to the benefit of the same EU.

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Only last Friday Fitch Ratings affirmed its previous credit rating upgrade to A+ and confirmed our economic predictions for the next year.

This is the result of this Government’s commitment to implement its studied policies, which it immediately started after being elected in Government in 2013. As a result, most of the economic sectors are witnessing growth. On the forefront, Malta today can boast that unemployment is at an all time low. The National Statistics Office’s recently published statistics showed that in the first three months of the current year National Debt decreased by €200m compared with the same months last year.

Our country is making tangible progress in all sectors. However, we should not rely only on statistics, on facts, on figures. Ask anyone a simple question: “Are you better off today, compared to six, seven years back?” An honest citizen will respond in the affirmative.

The Labour Government will continue on this positive path, knowing that more wealth can be produced, which will be eventually shared by all, but understandably the priority will be given to those who are in need.

Echoing the Prime Minister’s statement, during the event announcing a €35m expansion agreement signed between the Government and SR Technics, which will see the recruitment of 510 new employees working in a specialised aviation sector, the growth we are seeing in most economic sectors requires even better management by the government. The number of jobless persons is at an all time low, and this requires the government to be even more responsive to the current strong economic climate. There are issues which emanate from such a strong economy and I agree with the Prime Minister when he said that the Cabinet of Ministers are fully aware of such challenges.

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When I read the article the first time, I found myself saying, “Owen, you have definitely misunderstood!” When I painstakingly read it for the second time, I was literally aghast. How can someone in his right frame of mind justify, in any way or another, bullying, let alone state that it is part of growing up! It is not.

The statement, part of an article marred with political bias, was written by journalist and ex(?)-Nationalist Party Leader’s companion, in response to the spouse of the Prime Minister’s brilliant interview last week. During the interview, Ms Michelle Muscat recounted her family’s ordeal during the Egrant fabricated lie.

No one should be subject to bullying. Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behaviour and all parties; those bullied and those who bully others may have serious, lasting problems.

I concur with the Children’s Commissioner when she cautioned that bullying and harassment could never be justified. They simply cannot.

 

 

 

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