The Malta Independent 16 May 2022, Monday

TMID Editorial: Apology is not enough

Wednesday, 11 May 2022, 09:45 Last update: about 5 days ago

Director of the Academy of Malta's Disciplined Forces John Charles Ellul issued an apology on Monday for a statement he made on Facebook.

Ellul’s original comment that caused quite an uproar had read: "Is it possible that there aren't any eggs and tomatoes left to pelt the PN with as they are leaving Parliament? This is really a case of where are the Labourites."

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This comment is coming from a man who leads the training and professional development programmes for members of the Disciplined Forces. These are people who should be taught to treat all members of the public in the same way, as equals. If their teacher has this kind of opinion about one part of our society, then he is not fit for the job.

John Charles Ellul is also the brother of Parliamentary Secretary Andy Ellul.

His comment saw quite some backlash, with NGO Repubblika writing to the Home Affairs Ministry, asking the minister to "take steps" against Ellul.

The ministry then said that “Ellul has already been requested to delete his Facebook post and issue an apology. It is very clear that such comments will not be tolerated.”

Ellul subsequently did just that. “I apologise for a post I uploaded here earlier,” Ellul wrote. "I am sorry if I gave the impression that we do not need to be respectful and tolerant towards each other despite not agreeing on everything. Once again, I apologise,” he also said.

But is this enough? Should we allow people in such high and important positions to just apologise and everything go back to normal? What effect would that have on the next person who makes such a comment, knowing that the one before him was just made to apologise?

Ellul should not be allowed to retain his position. If this may be seen as being too tough, at least he should be suspended with a wage cut, to serve as a deterrent to others. An apology is not enough. It is only by taking drastic action that lessons will be learnt.

One also points out that the ministry ‘requested’ that he delete the post and apologise. Was Ellul spoken to before he made the apology and if he was, then is he really sorry for the post, or is it a case of him having just done so because he was told to?

What is sure is that this country needs to find a way to end partisan hatred, and asking someone in such a post to apologise with no other repercussions after making such a statement will not help the situation.

Why are we so obsessed with hating someone from a political party and idolising those from the party we support? We should base our judgement on politicians on their actions and on the policies they are pushing for. This country sees too much blue and red. Political rhetoric that the country has moved away from such feelings is nonsense, tribal politics is still very much present in Malta, and we need to really work on solving this issue. Just making someone apologise will not help reach this goal.

 

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