The Malta Independent 5 December 2021, Sunday

Since when do Speakers silence individuals with a legal letter? – former PM Gonzi

Thursday, 25 November 2021, 15:44 Last update: about 9 days ago

Former Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi has harshly criticised Speaker Anglu Farrugia for the way the latter treated Matthew Caruana Galizia, who called for Farrugia’s resignation.

In a post on Facebook, Gonzi said that “Caruana Galizia is right in what he wrote to the Speaker. We have ridiculed the Commissioner for Public Standards and today it is clear that words on ‘standards’ are nothing but hot air without substance”.

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Gonzi, himself a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, was reacting to a letter Farrugia sent Caruana Galizia, who had called for Farrugia’s resignation over the fact that he had simply asked the Clerk to send a letter to Cutajar to inform her that the committee had decided to reprimand her, meaning that the former PS was not actually reprimanded, let alone sanctioned. The issue revolves around a decision by the Standards Committee to adopt a report which had found Cutajar in breach of ethics over her role in a failed property deal involving Yorgen Fenech.

"Since when the Speaker of Malta's Parliament - who, when he speaks, does so on behalf of the government and opposition - reply to citizens who complain with him by trying to silence them with a legal letter," Gonzi charged.

Gonzi referred to a speech he delivered last week on the occasion of Parliament's 100th anniversary, an event that was presided by Farrugia.

Gonzi said that in his speech, he said that Parliament's main duty is to defend the rule of law. He paid tribute to Daphne Caruana Galizia because what she did in her professional life was a warning about the danger that rule of law in Malta was collapsing. It should be Parliament's duty to see that the rule of law is protected and that all that is wrong is condemned.

If Parliament closes its eyes to what is happening around it, and looks the other way when a journalist is assasinated, when people die in prison, when migrants are abandoned in the middle of the sea, and when a worker is abandoned on a pavement, and when a man is killed simply because he is a migrant then it is inevitable that we ask: what is this institution (Parliament) worth if it does not care?, Gonzi wrote.

The elected representatives can strengthen or demolish the institution with their actions. It is the people who make up the institution, not the other way round. And since Parliament is open to elected representatives then it is politicians who make up the institution, not the other way round, Gonzi said.

He added that the Constitution says that the Cabinet has the general control of the government and is collectively responsible towards Parliament. Before making appeals to amend the Constitution, it would be better to respect what the Constitution states. "And I will not hold back from criticising whoever undermines this verification process with all imaginable words, action or manoeuvres" to create confusion rather than give an account of one's behaviour.

The government's accountability and transparency, and the efficacy of parliament are intiminately linked with the country's reputation on the international stage, and are fundamental towards the development of a strong economy built on seriousness, competence, integrity and honesty.

 

 

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