The Malta Independent 26 June 2022, Sunday

Anglu’s gaffe ... or worse

Noel Grima Sunday, 15 May 2022, 08:56 Last update: about 2 months ago

The newly-inaugurated parliamentary legislature got off to the usual ritual start last Saturday with a Mass at St John’s and an augmented fashion show of hats and dresses now that we have the Gender mechanism.

I have yet to find another parliament which opens its secular work with a religious ceremony, though I am ready to concede that the British inauguration of the parliament year with all that trapping of soldiers and courtiers is no less colourful.

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Our leaders still have to acknowledge that Malta is no longer the Catholic country it once was, has become a multi-cultural country and its citizens come from different faiths and no faith as well.

Anyway, as soon as the new parliament got down to business, Ukrainian president Zelensky, as he has been doing with other countries, called in a video conference.

Then, as we all know, we had the Anglu moment, or rather gaffe. All Speaker Anglu Farrugia had to say was a generic introduction of sorts but, no, he had to put his foot in it.

He spoke of a “conflict” but to his interlocutor that was like waving a red flag to a bull. No, Zelensky shot back, we don’t have a conflict, we have a war.

This “conflict” mention could have been a slip of the tongue, but with all explanations in the world, it was the wrong thing to say, and an offensive one at that. It was Russia which invaded Ukraine, not the other way around. Russia is the aggressor, Ukraine the victim.

This is a cardinal point that is emphasised by Ukraine and the free world in all their declarations. It is Russia which double speaks of the invasion as anything but. Anglu’s use of the word conflict is right along this line.

But then Anglu is not new to verbal acrobatics like this. Soon after he was chosen by the new Joseph Muscat administration as Speaker of the House of Representatives in 2013, Farrugia went to Azerbaijan on the first of many visits to observe elections there. He always spoke positively of them, ignoring alleged electoral fraud and gross human rights violations.

In sharp contrast with the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, he described the presidential elections as “fair, democratic and transparent” notwithstanding widespread allegations of irregularities.

This 2013 visit (there would be others following) coincidentally came just a few days before the Electrogas consortium, which includes the Azerbaijan state-owned Socar Trading, won a bid to construct and operate a LNG power station in Delimara.

Then PN leader Simon Busuttil later asked whether any Maltese politician had benefited from a secret $2.8 billion slush fund which the Azeri elite had used to bribe European politicians as part of what was called “caviar diplomacy”.

According to a report, Azeri oligarchs consider Malta to be “one of its provinces”.

Whatever, I have been struck by the number of Putin acolytes we have around us, judging by the sheer number of pro-Russia comments in the Maltese blog sphere. It’s not just anti-Americanism or anti-EU only, which would have been understandable and an expression of opinion. If only these persons found themselves in the situation of millions in Ukraine, living a normal life one day and running away from bombs the next....

 

The ramifications of the rot at BoV

There is simply no space to discuss what’s going wrong at Malta’s biggest bank, Bank of Valletta, on one page of a newspaper. Maybe a book would do.

The immediate cause of the current concern stems from the recent decision by an Italian court on what has been called the Deiulemar case where the bank has recently announced it has “settled” a massive claim of €363 million for €182 million.

I point out the longer and detailed explanations of this case, its genesis and outcome by Arnold Cassola and Paul Bonello. This case, bank chairman Gordon Cordina said, posed an existential threat to the bank.

Meanwhile, as Jeremy Cassar Torregiani never tires of reminding us, the bank’s genesis and conception is still far from solved, regardless of the different governments that have followed each other.

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