Edwin Vassallo: No MP should have to go through my experience

The outspoken MP stressed that parliament should be democratic and should allow all MPs to speak out on the basis of what they believed

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Yannick Pace
2 October 2017, 9:09pm
Edwin Vassallo said  on Monday that he did not wish for anyone to go through the same experience he had gone through when he voted against the marriage equality bill
Edwin Vassallo said on Monday that he did not wish for anyone to go through the same experience he had gone through when he voted against the marriage equality bill
Outspoken Nationalist MP Edwin Vassallo has said that one could only celebrate a country’s democracy if people were allowed to disagree with one another.

Speaking in parliament for the first time since he controversially defied the Opposition whip by voting against the Equality in Marriage bill last July, Vassallo said that he did not wish for others to pass through the same experience, simply because they wished to defend that which they believed in.

Vassallo, who was the only member of parliament to vote against the law, expressed his satisfaction at the fact that new PN leader Adrian Delia had spoken in favour of granting MPs a free-vote.

“I am satisfied that lately, even the new PN leader Adrian Delia, has taken the issue of the free vote seriously and is today speaking about it and challenging the government on the matter,” he said.

Vassallo emphasised his belief, that all MPs, like citizens, should never be prevented from expressing their beliefs.  

The Mosta MP took issue with the comments made by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat after he met with Delia last week, where he said that he would not grant a free-vote to MPs on issues that were in the Labour Party’s manifesto.

He said that he could not accept Muscat’s reasoning because “the Labour Party’s manifesto, specifically pledge 44,” on expansion to existing IVF legislation was too “generic”.

“[It] speaks about everything and almost excludes nothing and includes everything,” said Vassallo. “I say it is politically dishonest for a Prime Minister to force his colleagues to vote and set aside any moral obligations on possible amendments to the IVF law, simply because you have made a pledge.”

The pledge Vassallo was referring to states that “after a number of families were able to experience the birth of their children, over the past four years, through the free IVF service that we introduced, we will continue to broaden and extend this service, by strengthening laws if necessary, so that it reflects the best technological advances, and for it to allow more couples to benefit from this opportunity.”

Vassallo stressed that, in his view, there was no basis upon which the Prime Minister could expect “every MP to vote in favour of every amendment to the IVF law which is tabled in parliament”. 

“I declare that the political statement made by the Prime Minister is dishonest, because in this way we can’t, under the promise of amendments, morally justify the issues of life and death of an embryo,” he said, insisting that these were “serious issues”.  

Vassallo said one could only celebrate the country’s democracy when others were allowed to vote and to express a different opinion.

“The fact that they have promised amendments to reflect the best advances in technology should never morally oblige an MP to vote in favour of every amendment to IVF law,” he insisted.

Ultimately, he said, democracy needed to be worked at, while appealing to the Speaker of the House that there is true parliamentary democracy and not just a perception of democracy.

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Yannick joined MaltaToday as a journalist in 2016. His main areas of interest are politics...