The Malta Independent 30 May 2020, Saturday

The government betrayed the electorate - PD leader Godfrey Farrugia

Kevin Schembri Orland Monday, 29 April 2019, 09:54 Last update: about 2 years ago

PD Leader Godfrey was a surprise addition to the list of MEP candidates, saying that his party’s candidates will make a difference in the next EU elections. During an interview with Kevin Schembri Orland, he said that the lack of a political heavyweight among the PD candidates was a possible factor which led the party executive to ask for his nomination. During the interview, he speaks about abortion, migration, corruption and what he believes the next set of MEPs’ priorities should be.

The government has betrayed the Maltese electorate, PD Leader Godfrey Farrugia told the Malta Independent in an interview, while also saying that the Labour Party should blame itself for the international scenario Malta currently finds itself in.

Farrugia was a recent surprise addition to the MEP election race, having thrown his hat into the ring as the fourth candidate for his party.

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During the interview, he spoke about good governance, corruption, and also about his party’s view on abortion, while slamming the government over the state of Malta’s international reputation caused by countless scandals.

While stressing that the PD is in favour of human life from conception till natural death, he  highlighted a legal issue affecting doctors when it comes to saving a mother’s life over that of the unborn child which he believes needs to be dealt with. He also spoke about women going abroad for abortions, and “offered a medical way forward. There are a number of medical indications that assist the decision of a medical team to undergo a pre-term delivery. If on the basis of such a medical decision, patients who wish to abort because they do not want to remain pregnant are also listed as one of these medical indications by a legal provision, then we will be offering a tangible medical solution. This means that at a viable gestational age, delivery is induced, thus giving a chance to a pre-term baby through state adoption and the mother to live her life.”

Asked how he thinks the PD will fair in these elections, he said that he puts his trust in the electorate to make the right decision, and that he hopes to achieve a vote which reflects that enough voters have developed “the courage to ditch a corrupt establishment and put their trust in fresh new faces, or old faces who had the courage to stand up for what they always stood for.”

“We have a government that has betrayed the electorate and I believe that the PD is a political instrument which people can use to re-establish, nurture and sustain a healthy democracy not only in Malta, but also as representatives of the Maltese at EU level.”

Your candidacy was quite a surprise. Why did you choose contest the upcoming MEP elections?

It is a moment of truth and hope. I cherish EU values which are the building blocks of peace, prosperity and progress. The party has always stood for a representative democracy where the rule of law is guaranteed, where there is social justice, good governance, equality and effective and truly independent institutions. I think that the European Union will be the right niche to further develop the PD’s views within ALDE. We are a good team of four candidates. We have presented a robust team who can make a difference in the forthcoming MEP elections. We all have out niche topics and come from different careers and political experiences. The four candidates, as representatives of PD, I would say will make the difference in the next MEP elections.

Was the lack of a political heavyweight on the PD’s nomination list factor in as part of the reason your name was thrown into the hat?

Yes, I would say that the executive who asked me to contest factored in that too.

If a party doesn’t have four candidates, then the colour of the party cannot be on the ballot sheet, is that right?

Yes. These are the disadvantages that political parties of our size face.

How do you think, realistically, the PD will fair given the surveys? What are your realistic expectations for the party?

I will leave that up to the electorate to decide. I fully trust the electorate to make the right decision. I hope to achieve a vote which reflects that enough voters have developed the courage to ditch a corrupt establishment and put their trust either in fresh new faces or old faces who had the courage to stand up for what they always stood for.

We have a government that has betrayed the electorate and I believe that the PD is a political instrument which people can use to re-establish, nurture and sustain a healthy democracy not only in Malta, but also as representatives of the Maltese at EU level.

I believe that each vote for the PD will be a triumph in confirming that there is a seed of change, and that we are fracturing tribal mentality. I hope that the vote on 25 May will show that the seed of change has been sown and is taking root. Every vote for PD is ours.

What would you personally consider to be a victory for the PD? Would it be growing the number of votes from the last elections or do you have a set number of votes in mind?

A victory would be considered if we increase our percentages, there is no doubt with that. A bigger victory would be if we manage to elect an MEP candidate within ALDE, which is a growing platform in the EU community. That will give us a voice in Europe, apart from the voice we have locally. Obviously that will strengthen the PD’s political voice in Malta.

What do you personally want to achieve in this election, are there particular topics you want to push for public debate on?

Yes. In my political career and my profession I have always stood for the dignity and respect of the people, irrespective of race or gender. I have always been a guardian of environmental sustainability. My approach to politics has always been one which was moderate with a human centric approach. I have also always stood for social justice. I will remain myself wherever I am. I was that way when I was minister, PL whip, now in Opposition and will remain so if elected to the EU. I think that I have carried these distinguishing traits throughout my political career and I will continue to endeavour to do my best in these fields.

Some people are concerned that if the PD were to grow, then perhaps its image as a clean party might change. How do you propose that the party stay away from potential corruption and favouritism as it grows?

We are the underdogs in this election, there is no doubt about that. More than anything else one has to take care to ensure that the party’s vision is always kept in view. We also have our code of ethics which we strictly abide by. As any party grows, there needs to be more scrutiny and vigilance. We are a group of democrats and liberals. Our major asset is our diversity, which makes us an open party and provides us with our vision for an open society which we very much believe in. Truly I do not envisage this as a difficulty but as a continuing challenge. We have faced numerous challenges since 2016. We are a young party and in a short period of time we are now facing our second election. We are used to being timely and prudent in our actions.

 

Malta has come under fire by international institutions over many issues since the Panama Papers were released. The PL has long tried to pin the blame on PN MPs and MEPs for working against Malta. Where do you stand on this?

It is a fact that Malta’s reputation in the eyes of the international community has suffered a lot. We have lost our credibility and consistency. Obviously Malta needs to work hard on this. We had a number of incidents that have worsened our reputation. The murder of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, the saga of Pilatus Bank, Satabank, the issues of Electrogas, Egrant, 17 Black, the suspicions regarding Nexia BT, Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi... all these things add up collectively to show that we have very weak institutions and that we need to revamp them.

We need to redefine our constitution so that it will be on par with those in Europe. More than anything else we must have a truly transparent and accountable government. I find it very hard to see how the PL will change in this field. Obviously we need to follow what we as EU members have to abide by within the EU, and we obviously need to speak about what is right and what is fair. I will champion Malta, but that does not mean that I would not speak about what is wrong within a political system which needs fixing as after all that is my duty.

The PL is trying to blame the PN for this saying they are working against Malta. Do you think that the situation Malta is in...

It should blame itself as the scenario which evolved was one which was designed by this government. Whether it was on tuna smuggling or any of the other situations I spoke about above, it is government’s nonchalant attitude not to have the appropriate and most effective direction to solve certain issues or administer justice as it should be that is to blame. Truly the fault lies within the government itself. The government’s actions are reflecting badly on Malta’s image. It is the government that we should deplore while we still embrace Malta.

 

What should the priorities for the next set of MEPs be?

We will launch our PD manifesto tomorrow. I believe there are four cardinal points. First and foremost we must speak about migration and we must have a coherant and collective migration process.

The environment should also top the EU’s agenda, more so when it comes to climate change, ocean health and sustainable growth. These are issues all MEPs should truly delve into.

Then there is the economy which must remain competitive, but also ethical. It must also be in contact with the social contract and be based on social responsibility. The economy should be one based on knowledge, and with knowledge comes innovation. So innovation in an economy is part and parcel of the term of office for the next set of MEPs.

Obviously we must have democratic institutions within the EU which are accessible and accountable. I would certainly like for the EU to take a stronger global stage and be more able to act within the world scenario.

What is your party’s stance on abortion?

We are in favour of a dignified life from conception to death. PD is pro-life in not only defending the unborn but also pro-life after birth, in giving every child and mother the chance to live in dignity and surrounded by love and care. PD is against abortion but is also against subordination of women.

 

Are there opposing views on abortion within the party? If yes would you make them tow the party line on this issue?

PD believes in freedom of conscience and gives the space to its members and representatives to pursue their own beliefs and more on such a sensitive subject. PD’s direction is clear, we are against abortion but in favour of creating societies where pregnancies are not used to subordinate women and where women with unwanted pregnancy live their life without having to resort to killing their offspring.

On a personal note and as a family doctor, it is a fact that a number of women seek to abort abroad. In parliament I have spoken in clear terms and offered a medical way forward. There are a number of medical indications that assist the decision of a medical team to undergo a pre-term delivery. If on the basis of such a medical decision, patients who wish to abort because they do not want to remain pregnant, are also listed as one of these medical indications by a legal provision, than we will be offering a tangible medical solution. This means that at a viable gestational age, delivery is induced, thus giving a chance to a pre-term baby through state adoption and the mother to live her life. It is a measure that protects the dignity and life of everyone, and is intended to decrease the number of Maltese women who seek abortions abroad.

On another note I observe that our abortion law criminalizes abortion in all cases. From a medical perspective there is a rare case when doctors have to decide to terminate a pregnancy as the life of a the mother is in danger, and pregnancy cannot be maintained. Such situations expose doctors legally, if the mother’s life is saved and that of the unborn child is not. This calls for a re-visting of the law.

 

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