The Malta Independent 10 April 2020, Friday

‘Malta's democracy on life support', Simon Busuttil says in final parliamentary speech

Kevin Schembri Orland Tuesday, 18 February 2020, 19:37 Last update: about 3 months ago

Former Opposition Leader and PN MP Simon Busuttil delivered his final speech in Parliament and submitted his letter of resignation to the Speaker of the House, which will take effect at the end of the month.

PN MP Simon Busuttil is stepping down as an MP in order to take up a top job in the European People's Party, the post of Secretary General, on the 1st of March.

He dedicated his final Parliamentary speech to assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, to "this woman, daughter, mother, sister, journalist and above all else, this martyr of democracy, martyr of freedom of speech and freedom of expression. They killed her to cover up corruption."

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He said that he wishes that Parliament would honour her by naming a hall after her, as the European Parliament had done just a month after her murder.

He said that from his new position as Secretary General of the European People's Party (EPP) he will strive for the country to rebuild Malta's reputation, and for Europe to keep its eyes open on what the Maltese government is doing on the fight against corruption, and on the case of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Busuttil said that from the moment Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed, "We have not been living in a true democracy. Our democracy is in a coma, on life support."

He disagreed with Prime Minister Robert Abela, that the country is back to a state of normality.

Busuttil stressed that the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia was a fatal blow to democracy, but was not the only blow over the past seven years.

Democracy is meant to rest atop three pillars, he said, the government, Parliament and the courts. There is also the fourth pillar, Busuttil added, the press. "They chipped away at them, and they are giving way."

On the first pillar - the government - he said that it is "corrupt from the top till the bottom."

Referring to the police Traffic Section scandal, he said "If Konrad (Mizzi) and Keith (Schembri) opened a company in Panama, the Police wouldn't open an account in Malta? How can we arraign the police in court if Mizzi and Schembri who opened secret companies are still out."

He argued that it is pointless for Prime Minister Abela to say that Malta returned to normal if they are still sheltering these people.

He asked whether it is normal for Schembri to be named in court in the way he was,  for Joseph Muscat to have known about the allegations regarding Yorgen Fenech and still invite him to a birthday party, among other things.

"If cancer is not removed, it will take over and kill you."

He spoke about the Pope's visit to Malta. He quoted what the Pope had said about corruption: "Corruption is something that enters into us. It is like sugar: it is sweet, we like it, it's easy, but then, it ends badly. With so much easy sugar we end up diabetic, and so does our country. Every time we accept a bribe and put it in our pocket, we destroy our heart, we destroy our personality and we destroy our homeland. What you steal through corruption remains in the heart of the many men and women who have been harmed by your example of corruption. It remains in the lack of the good you should have done and did not do. It remains in sick and hungry children, because the money that was for them, through your corruption, you kept for yourself."

Turning to the second pillar - Parliament - he said that it is not performing its function, that of scrutinising the government, as one would expect from a Parliament in a democratic country. He said that the majority of PL MPs are in Cabinet while the rest are in positions of trust. "How could you expect them to come here and put pressure on the government?"

He said that only two chose not to be bought, Marlene and Godfrey Farrugia. He said that if Parliament is not strengthened, democracy will continue to weaken. In order for Parliament to strengthen, MPs must begin to be paid a decent salary, he said.

Turning to the third pillar - the courts - he said that the court is not delivering justice where it is most needed, like on corruption."

He mentioned an Appeals judge refusing to launch an inquiry into the Panama Papers. It was overturned by another judge, he said. Busuttil added that the same judge also refused to launch an inquiry into the VGH hospitals contract.

He mentioned a judge being mentioned by the "mafia who killed Daphne Caruana Galizia, and then it is as though nothing happened."

He said he went to a Magistrate over Adrian Hillman and Keith Schembri. "Three years past and nothing happened."

He said that the government has destroyed the independence of the judiciary. "Not all are bad in the court, and the majority are honest and competent. But why must it depend on who you get in order for there to be justice?"

He said that without justice, "we cannot have unity."

Turning to the fourth pillar, the media, he said that when Daphne was killed to cover up for corruption, the independence of the media was killed.

He said that PBS is government propaganda. Speaking about party media, he said that he knows what it means for ONE to attack him every day, resulting in half the country believing him to be a monster.

"They try to buy the few independent media left ... And what about the social media, a jungle of insults and hatred that is doing irreparable damage to our social fabric."

He said that if the pillars are giving way, then it is "no surprise that our democracy is in the state it is in. No Prime Minister, We are not a normal country, we are in an unprecedented crisis in our country's history."

He spoke of a few of his personal memories during his time in the Maltese Parliament, including when they raised the "I do not have a secret company in Panama posters," when he came into Parliament for the first time, when he cut up the VGH contract that was redacted in Parliament, and when fake cash was thrown in Parliament last year, among others.

He said that the past seven years were not easy for him, and spoke about how sad it was for him to see the country divided on corruption. "Instead of the government admitting wrong, they turned the cannons on those who fought against corruption."

"I was attacked from everywhere, in Parliament, on Super One, insulted on the street, on Facebook, on social media. Why did you divide the country over corruption?"

He appealed to the people not to allow political parties abuse of their loyalty. "If the party is proved to be corrupt don't continue clapping for them. Political parties are not football clubs. A party must work for your respect."

He said that he was pleased when he saw what he believed in eventually win. He was also pleased that civil society was born in the country.

He thanked those who voted for him, and said that it was a privilege. He thanked all those people who worked with him, the MPs and his family.

"Together we have lit a small light of hope that our country can again become a true democracy."

"Let us finish what we started, to again become a true democracy as we deserve." He said it will not be easy, but those who never give up, will reach their goal.

 

 


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