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Nationalists come down hard on Labour minister’s ‘shameful past’
Labour international secretary’s ‘lessons on democracy’ raise PN’s ire.
8 August 2012, 12:00am
His comments, appearing in an opinion piece penned for The Times, attracted the opprobrium of the PN which said it needed no lessons in democracy from a former minister whose Labour government spent five years in power without a democratic majority.
Sceberras Trigona served as foreign minister in the Mintoff government that was elected in 1981 on a majority of seats, but not on a majority of votes, a constitutional anomaly that was later rectified partially in 1986.
In its reaction, the PN said Sceberras Trigona was a cabinet member of a government that governed Malta "with an iron fist", and accused him of thrashing the hopes of thousands of young men and women, when in power.
"The Nationalist Party does not take lessons in democracy from someone who, when in power, staunchly defended Labour's dictatorial style of governing and was the reason for thousands of people losing their jobs," the party said.
It also attacked the former foreign minister for giving Malta a bad name in diplomatic circles, and for seeking "intimate friendships with dictatorial regimes" - amongst them Libya and other communist countries, during the 1980s.
"The Nationalist Party does not take lessons in democracy from someone who wined and dined with autocratic leaders, whilst millions of people were starving and living in miserable conditions."
The PN also highlighted the fact that the former minister had negotiated a secret pact with communist North Korea for the delivery of armaments and the training of Maltese special mobile unit police.
"Sceberras Trigona should have called it a day ages ago - a political dinosaur of the worst type. Instead, he writes an article in The Times - the paper his party in government burned to the ground - and calls the Nationalist government 'undemocratic'," the PN said in its statement.
PN information director Frank Psaila took the opportunity to latch on to the party's ongoing campaign to suggest a Labour re-election would mean returning to a "shameful past" where people like Sceberras Trigona "called the shots and dictated the way we live."
In his opinion piece, Sceberras Trigona said the additional four seats the PN government had gained by winning a relative majority by 1,500 votes, had now been lost after MP Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando had broken away from the party and taken up an independent seat.
"Without a relative majority of votes those compensatory four extra seats are no longer due to the government. Retaining those extra four seats without any justification whatsoever is grossly unfair and manifestly unwarranted. Malta's government has now become blatantly unrepresentative and undemocratic," Sceberras Trigona wrote.
"Malta now has an undemocratic government. It arrogantly defies the very first article of the Constitution which stipulates that 'Malta is a democratic republic'."
The former minister also argues that had five MPs broken off to form their own party, their votes would no longer be the ruling government party's. "MPs' votes appear as their very own here and no longer their party's. Would it also be right and proper, for the sake of governmental stability, to give the government an extra seat if one Nationalist MP crossed the floor?"
Sceberras Trigona defended the constitutional legality of the Labour's government's rule between 1981-1987, saying the PN never contested the government's constitutional right to govern before the Constitutional Court.
"The PL has committed itself to hold a wide-ranging Constitutional Convention if elected. This issue of undue compensation is essentially the stuff that the Constitutional Convention should also be considering in depth. Many are those who expect that Convention to launch the right proposals for appropriate constitutional amendments in this regard too."
Graduated in anthropology, Matthew Vella joined MaltaToday in 2002. He has been ed...