The Malta Independent 21 January 2021, Thursday

Seriously, Mr Speaker?

Peter Agius Wednesday, 13 January 2021, 07:38 Last update: about 7 days ago

As you will have heard, this week Speaker Anglu Farrugia ruled that Parliament cannot probe former PM Muscat because he is no longer an MP. Seriously? This from the Government who made so much fanfare about extending statute of limitations to all politicians’ wrongdoings?

The case relates to then Prime Minister Muscat’s decision to award an 80,000 euro contract to Konrad Mizzi just after Mizzi’s dismissal from cabinet. The decision is but one in a series putting to shame good governance and promoting the pursuit of personal gain over public good. But contrary to many other such breaches, this one is well documented with .gov emails and memos and hence open to public scrutiny. This one is not drawn from ‘indirect’ pointers in off-limit jurisdictions like the Montenegro scandal, the Egrant affair and many others pointing to one clear direction contested by the culprits.

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The scrutiny of that Muscat decision by the ethics committee was hence of a fundamental value for our democracy. Mind you, I am the first to sing up to a fresh page in the political agenda on these islands, going beyond the discussion on good governance, to focus on the concrete matters to advance the prosperity of sectors of our population. A sustainable lifestyle where the natural environment is our host, not our enemy; a coordinated strategy to upskill our workforce and prepare our youths for thousands of new jobs in AI, robotics and the internet of things; and the proper market support for our primary industries, those who feed us – these are the areas which inspire me as a political entrepreneur and which, I am sure, would motivate an entire generation to engage in a political discussion focused on deliverables rather than on politician’s misdemeanours.

And yet, for as long as politicians think they can get away from consequences by switching off the limelight, we will continue being bogged down with the politics of their choice, focused on their acts and misdeeds, rather than on the county’s choices that need to be discussed. For that is the drill in Malta at present, the main public discussion circles around the politician’s misdeeds and the opposing politician’s accusations. At times, there is more political substance in the broadcasts of Adrian Zammit tal-Marsa than in some of our headlines. 

There is another matter of long-term consequence in the honourable Speaker’s decision to let Muscat ride free. By turning down the opportunity of the House of Representatives to scrutinise his actions, the Speaker condemns Parliament to a chartered path to irrelevance.

Voluntarily or otherwise, the decision to render Parliament toothless is totally in sync with the government’s treatment of the house on many other fronts. Let’s just take one glaring example. Right now the country is struggling with a pandemic putting thousands of livelihoods in peril and ending the lives of over two hundred of our loved ones – very few challenges can be said to merit more public scrutiny and decision by our elected in national Parliament. Did you notice any discussion on the country’s strategy to fight the pandemic? Did we have a debate on the schools’ opening? Did we discuss the order and the modus operandi of deploying the vaccine? No. None of that. That is left to Facebook chats. Then please help me with this... Why exactly are we electing MPs?

Certainly, rendering Parliament irrelevant on the main political decisions of our time is not a mere accident. It is rather the engineered outcome of a pyramidal system. Not a ponzi scheme but equally characterised by deception through propaganda. Not a pharaoh’s court but with an uncontested pharaoh deciding all without the need to consult parliaments, professionals or public. He carries it alone for he knows all, and then once he resigns, we face the brunt with no questions asked. Seriously, Mr Speaker?

 

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Peter Agius, MEP candidate and EU expert

 

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