The Malta Independent 21 October 2019, Monday

Guy Fawkes?

Simon Mercieca Friday, 22 April 2016, 11:52 Last update: about 4 years ago

Corvus oculum corvi non eruit is an old Latin proverb, which describes the behaviour of some of our current Maltese politicians. The proverb can be translated as "a crow will not pull out the eye of another crow". What we have witnessed in the past weeks, and are continuing to witness, are politicians sticking their neck out for colleagues who have been caught out in dishonourable conduct. When the Romans used to hear how senators defended each other from accusations of corruption or from widespread and legitimate criticism, the common people used to console themselves with this expression which the closest in English would be "honour amongst thieves". It was this type of honour that the Maltese Nation witnessed during the Parliamentary debate on the vote of no-confidence against Government. Each side expressed total solidarity towards their fellow MPs who were caught in the wrong. And each side sought to accuse the other of being corrupt.

A friend of mine has sent me a message and told me that, after having watched the debate in Parliament, he has started to admire Guy (Guido) Fawkes. Fawkes was accused of conspiring to blow up Westminster Palace (England’s Parliament) in 1605.

Rightly so, those who do not follow our parliamentary system may question or feel frustrated about the way our politicians behave in Parliament. Yet, in agreement or not, after this vote, the Opposition cannot continue debating the Panama Papers. In my previous article, I insisted that to do so would be tantamount to showing contempt towards the highest institution in the land after the vote is taken. Like the Law Courts, Parliament cannot continue regurgitating the same motions under a different guise.

But there are more pertinent reasons for which any further discussion would be frivolous. Muscat has already made it clear that he is not going to give a free vote to his MPs on the motion against Konrad Mizzi. After winning in this round, Muscat is more than confident that his MPs will dance to his tune. This situation already pushes Marlene Farrugia’s motion into a corner and, as I have already argued, the motion against Mizzi should have been presented first before the one presented. Secondly, it falls on the shoulders of Marlene Farrugia’s partner to make sure that all Labour MPs toe the party line. Perhaps, this explains why Labour is not in a hurry to debate this motion. At the same time, by playing for time, Labour can continue to thump the latest revelationsabout Mario de Marco. It is no coincidence that Labour is organizing daily press conferenceson this issue, and more often than not, Deborah Schembri is being asked to lead the press conference. When Schembri was still within the Nationalist Party fold she belonged to de Marco’s liberal group.

More important, the Opposition needs to come to terms with what had been revealed about Mario de Marco. No doubt the Opposition fears that this may be the tip of an iceberg. Directly or indirectly de Marco’s name is now destined to emerge each time that Government ends up with its back to the wall.

De Marco has already been caught on the wrong foot. His version of the facts is far from convincing. Stating that he had taken years to pay the contractor because the contractor has not finished the works does not make sense in the real world. Normally, contractors request partial-payments when work is on-going and this is demanded to cover expenses of materials and labour. With such a story looming in the background, it is going to be very difficult for the Opposition to make a strong case against Mizzi during the vote of no-confidence against the latter.

For the Opposition to make a case it must have Mario de Marco resigning from his post as deputy leader. In so doing, de Marco would be admitting his political responsibility. He would have no other option but to follow Joe Cassar's example and resign from Parliament, even if both main political parties are now attempting to prevent a repeat performance.It should be remembered that when Michael Falzon resigned as Parliamentary Secretary, he kept his seat in Parliament. The Opposition has since stopped pressing for his resignation from Parliament and the media too has kept silent.

Concurrently, we are experiencing a new political phenomenon. After his resignation, Godfrey Farrugia succeeded to make a triumphant comeback. Now Opposition newspapers are stating that the real motive behind his removal at the time was linked to the fact that he was not ready to kowtow to Castile with regard to how certain tenders were to be awarded. Therefore, Farrugia was removed from the Health Ministry so that these tenders could be dealt with by the more amenable Konrad Mizzi. I’m not surprised that Marlene Farrugia has accused Mizzi in Parliament that his only interest in health is in procuring tenders!

For those interested to know more about how tenders are being allocated by the Ministry of Konrad Mizzi, I suggest that they watch Exodus, this evening's programme on F-Living. This programme starts at 8.30 p.m and is conducted by Ivan Grech Mintoff who will be revealing some interesting stories. Citizens are now starting to break the code of omerta’ behind the tendering process and are more than ready to spill the beans. 

The Latin proverb “auribus teneo lupum” or "holding a wolf by the ears" well becomes the predicament in which the two main parties find themselves. This proverb is a line from the work Phormio (c.161 BC) by the Roman dramatist Terence. In English, the equivalent would be "holding a tiger by the tail." Both expressions are used to describe an unsustainable situation. Both Party Leaders know that the stakes are high. Both Leaders know that doing nothing and doing something are equally risky. Thus, they prefer to take Augustus’ advice of Fentina lente or make haste slowly, and therefore they are seeking to thread carefully. But the country requires quick and drastic action. For this reason, I wish to reiterate that should the Opposition fail to act, the destiny of the party is written on the wall.


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