The Malta Independent 24 January 2022, Monday

Grech does not exclude Opposition boycott of Parliament in protest against Speaker

Saturday, 4 December 2021, 12:00 Last update: about 3 months ago

Opposition Leader Bernard Grech said Saturday that he does not exclude that the Opposition would boycott Parliament in protest at the way in which the Speaker acts as a gatekeeper for the government.

He was being interviewed by Andrew Azzopardi on 103 Malta’s Heart.

Grech said he believes in other ways and the Opposition wants to continue sending its message across, but when pressed about the matter he said he does not exclude anything, including a boycott.

He was referring to the Speaker’s ‘inaction’ in the case of Labour MP Rosianne Cutajar, who has been found in breach of ethics in a case involving Yorgen Fenech and a failed property deal. Grech said the ethics committee has adopted a report by Standards Commissioner George Hyzler, but the Speaker only sent Cutajar a letter of caution.

He accused the government of trying to undermine Hyzler, saying this is why the Opposition has proposed changing the law to strengthen his office.

Grech insisted that the institutions are hijacked by the government. “Just look at what happened in Parliament this week. The Speaker should be there to defend the country and the constitution, not the government.”

He compared Malta’s Parliament to the UK House of Commons, where the Speaker rises above partisan politics and “even told the Prime Minister to sit down.”

Grech also revealed that, in January of this year, the government asked Opposition to take part in a road show to help it avoid the grey listing. He said the Opposition has often offered to help, but the government only accepts this when it is convenient.

“The government refuses to copperate, including on the nomination of a new Ombudsman. The current Ombudsman asked us to step down and we discussed names, but the PM leaked what we had talked about in a private conversation, because that is the level politics have descended into.”

Grech said that, unlike the Prime Minister, he refrains from commenting on sensitive matters of national importance, but the PM places the partisan agenda first.

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