The Malta Independent 23 April 2024, Tuesday
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Former minister says PL needs internal structure to monitor political integrity

Wednesday, 13 September 2023, 07:40 Last update: about 8 months ago

Former minister Evarist Bartolo said that it was wrong that the Labour Party, in 2008, removed its Vigilance and Discipline Board, adding that the party needs an internal structure to monitor the integrity of its politicians.

Writing on Facebook, Bartolo asked whether the party is doing the right thing in bringing up stories about abuse of social services that took place under Nationalist governments.

“With the information that is being revealed on how social services were being received by people who were not entitled to them, is it wise that the Labour Party thinks that the best thing to do in these circumstances is to issue a statement to say that such abuses took place under PN governments?”

There are people who made use of the PL to abuse of people who needed social assistance and arranged for them to receive this help “on condition” that one year of such benefits, €5,400, are given to the middleman.

As a political party that was set up to help the needy and introduce more social services, the PL should not leave cases of abuse solely in the hands of the police. The duty of the police is to take steps not only against the small fry who benefited from the abuse but also against the middlemen who involved them in the scheme and “those higher up”.

In 2008, the PL had removed its Board of Vigilance and Discipline “to modernise itself”. The board, Bartolo wrote, had had the support of Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici and Alfred Sant. It had been set up after the 1987 election to take steps against political corruption which, together with violence, had been among the reasons why the PL lost the support of the people’s majority in 1981 and 1987, the former minister said.

With all its defects, the board had held the PL to regenerate itself and rid itself of the behaviour that caused it so much damage. Not everyone agreed with the dissolution of the board, and “I was among those who for the last 15 years talked and wrote that it was a mistake to remove the board as this move sent the message that it had been a hindrance and that as from now anything goes.”

For saying so we were considered “antiquated and dinosaurs” that did not understand that the time for such boards had passed.

“Having served as secretary to the board I will be the first to say that I agree that it should have been transformed into a better and more effective structure,” Bartolo wrote.

Instead, it was killed, rather than changed and improved. Bartolo said that decency in politics is not something temporary, but it seems that what is more important today is “impressive digital theatrical props and attractive music” which are used to deflect attention away from the real motive of politics, which is to work to improve people’s lives.

“Is there no hope that the PL restores a structure whose duties will be to see that those involved in politics behave themselves with integrity and decency?” he asked.

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