The Malta Independent 19 June 2021, Saturday

‘When Robert Abela can’t control an institution, he attacks it’ – Bernard Grech

Jake Aquilina Sunday, 9 May 2021, 12:48 Last update: about 2 months ago

The Prime Minister and his deputies are attacking institutions which he knows he has no control over, Opposition leader Bernard Grech said in an interview on Sunday.

The PL has been consistently criticizing the Standards Commissioner’s office in the past few weeks, with PL whip Glenn Bedingfield leading the charge with various accusations. This was most notably done after Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister Carmelo Abela was judged to have breached ethics when using public funds to publish an advert by the Standards Commissioner. The report, however, was not adopted by the standards committee.

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Robert Abela is afraid, not of George Hyzler, but of the Standards Commissioner’s office. They are not comfortable; neither him, nor his deputies. So, they are continuously attacking that institution. It is clear now that Robert Abela is continuity of what was happening before; where they can’t control, they break it. When they had commissioners who they could control, they kept them,” Grech said.

“Robert Abela doesn’t want him to continue releasing the reports. Where he can control, he is happy, where he doesn’t, he attacks… I want the Standards Commissioner to continue doing his work on all politicians, including me and my deputies,” Grech remarked.

Asked about the PN’s status, especially in light of the recent survey which showed a nose-dive in trust both in PN and in Grech himself, the Opposition leader said that the survey is a “photo” of that particular time. “We were moving forward, something in big steps, sometimes in small steps,” he said.

“I recognise that this time we have made a step backwards. What I want is honest politics. Today’s survey shows that people are not happy with what happened this week. When we move forward, we recognise it, but we also recognise when we move backwards,” he remarked.

Regarding the recent online altercation between PN MPs Adrian Delia and Jason Azzopardi, which resulted in a statement by both claiming that it has been resolved, the Opposition leader reiterated that he “will not tolerate this nonsense” again.

“I will take the necessary steps next time ... this for sure damaged the party for the survey. The people want a tightly-knit party,” he said. “At the eleventh hour, I didn’t take the decision because there was an agreement between them both.”

Regarding the recent hacking of PN data, the Opposition leader said that nothing new has emerged. “I was determined not to discuss and negotiate with them. The deadline has passed and nothing new has happened. There is a magisterial inquiry going,” he said.

Regarding the Covid-19 situation, Grech said that the government needs to make sure that all the sacrifices the country has made should not be lost due to variants, so the country should remain vigilant.

“It is good we are incentivising students to come, but our students cannot physically go to schools. It is good to invest, but we shouldn’t ignore other realities. The PM should see that these students need to physically go to schools,” he said. 

The PN leader also voiced his concern regarding the status of education in this country.

You need to invest in teachers. You have to ask: What are their conditions of work? Are the wages good? Is the burden too big? These are easy questions to answer, as we can see that that it is not attractive as a career right now,” he observed.

The Opposition leader also said that the PN will take sports seriously and reiterated that they will dedicate a ministry for it.

“More than 2 months ago, I declared that we will have a minister for sports. We need to have funds that will be allocated for that ministry only. Even Arts, I want it to be an integral part of the education,” he said.

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