The Malta Independent 28 June 2022, Tuesday

OPINION: Jason Azzopardi – anything but an honourable exit!

Mark Said Wednesday, 11 May 2022, 13:09 Last update: about 3 months ago

Dear Jason, I recall that time when you were still a budding lawyer and you and I had more than one occasion where we crossed swords in various halls of our courts of justice. As a legal professional and colleague, I had, and still have, a lot of admiration and great respect for your legal knowledge, skill and expertise.

Then came the time when you started toying with politics and embarked on your political adventure. In 1998 you were elected for the first time to Parliament. You were then elected for another four consecutive times. Throughout those years you put in quite a remarkable effort, even though your political career was not bereft of a few controversies and serious allegations. You were continuously branded as a vocal anti-corruption politician but this greatly contrasted with the sudden and unexpected revelation that your stay at the Tel Aviv Hilton hotel breached the parliamentary code of ethics because you failed to reject or later declare the gift arranged by funds from Tumas Group. Perhaps luckily for you, or unfortunately, depending on how one looks at it, the Standards Commissioner was, according to law, unable to investigate it. Those in the opposite political camp, and also a few from within your own ex-party, chose to elect you as a champion of double standards.

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I recall the time when the Nationalist Party opted for Adrian Delia as its new leader who, however, was never ever really given any chance to prove himself politically, what with the spate of corruption allegations and other alleged illicit activities that, to date, do not seem to have been proven or substantiated. It was then that you, as one of the prime ‘blue heroes’, made it a point and your quest to oust him by any possible means, a target eventually achieved, only to be replaced by Bernard Grech as the front runner of the ‘establishment’. That was a critical period for the nationalist party which initiated a series of internal earthquakes, the consequences of which are still felt to this day.

Many a time you bemoaned attacks on you and lies spread about you from near and far. Only, you seemed to have forgotten that even you did ferociously attack a number of your counterparts as well as fellow politicians within your own party, and you did spread completely false lies about them. Not to also mention a few grave incidents when you somehow trod on dangerous and unethical grounds in unjustly and cowardly attacking the judiciary through inappropriate channels. I recall the many times that you boasted of belonging to and forming part and parcel of the force of righteousness. Looking back at your achievements I seriously doubt whether ‘righteousness’ has managed to retain its proper and dictionary meaning.

You finally failed to get elected and rightly decided to retire from politics and go back to practising your prestigious and highly respected legal profession. Had you stopped there, you would have done the right decision and left it up to us and history to judge and analyse your legacy in the realm of national politics. But, no, you somehow went a step further and managed to mess up things by undoing the little good you might have done in your political heydays. You choose to resign from the nationalist party for your own reasons. Again, had you stopped there one would have ostensibly respected such a decision and your personal reasons therefor. But, no, it was clearly a calculated prelude to what was to follow in your pre-planned scheme to outdo who, in your eyes, was deemed the enemy within.

Rightly or wrongly, there were public attributes that you, with others, contributed to having the nationalist party’s policy proposals, manifesto, leadership and candidate selections regularly accompanied by internal conflicts, as revealed by the media or by the party actors’ own public behaviour. Those deep divisions and rampant factionalism have today come near to becoming existentially detrimental to the life of this once glorious political party. You somehow helped to bring in a season for nationalists to turn on themselves, resulting in attacks and accusations that would be considered excessive by the characters in the 2004 American teen comedy film Mean Girls. Then, out of the blues and totally unexpected, you decided to drop a bombshell on Bernard Grech. Once more, you brazenly came out into the open, claiming Bernard Grech was promised a donation by relatives of Yorgen Fenech to support a presidential pardon bid. A claim that was immediately totally rebutted and, in spite of being afforded an opportunity and ample time to substantiate your callous claim, you simply opted out without even having the decency to retract what you could not prove.

Dear Jason, you seem that you could not accept or did not notice that your expiry date as a seasoned politician had come and gone and that the nationalist electorate was getting fed up or did not want any more of your questionable political tactics within your own party, in parliament and with respect to your political adversaries. In an uncalculated move, you went on the warpath against Grech, causing more reputational harm to yourself than to his. Such a move must be described as it is, completely unwarranted, a blow below the belt, savouring of sour grapes, aimed at trying to make others sink with you to the lowest political heights, and utterly not becoming of you.

You are today again a private citizen going about his private business and personal life. To that effect, we really and honestly wish you well. Yet you had a golden opportunity to exit the political scene and end your political adventure in an honourable way, as Mario Galea, Comodini Cachia, Claudio Grech, Schiavone and others before you had done. Instead, you went out in any manner, except an honourable one. In the months to come people and opinionists will continue to judge your political past and the legacy you have left behind you and will remember you for that.

Pity, though. 


Dr Mark Said is an advocate

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