‘Not one single case of bad governance’ | Mark Anthony Sammut

The PN is not perfect, but our heart is in the right place, our motivations are sincere: we stand on the side of justice and the common good. We want to eradicate the Mafia... we want Malta to be fair and just

Prime Minister Robert Abela (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)
Prime Minister Robert Abela (Photo: James Bianchi/MaltaToday)

‘Not one single episode of bad governance’

So claimed Robert Abela last month. That he managed to do so with a straight face comes as no surprise. Labour have become experts at making the most superlative claims which turn out to be the opposite of reality.

“The best in Europe”, they claimed, just before they led us to being greylisted.

“The only citizenship scheme approved by the European Commission”, they claimed, just before the Commission opened infringement proceedings against Malta for its abusive sale of passports.

“Deċiżjonijiet” (decisions), they claim on billboards, while we are being led by the most indecisive and insecure Prime Minister ever.

“Għaqda” (unity), they also claim, while their former leader threatens the current one, Chris Fearne and Ian Borg cross swords about the Marsaskala Marina, Miriam Dalli balks at her leader’s attempt to humiliate her in her district, and Glenn Bedingfield and Desmond Zammit Marmara try to sort out whether “brainless idiots” have really taken over the Labour Party.

In the meantime, the institutional crisis which hit our country as we discovered how organised crime has taken hold of every nook and cranny of our political and regulatory systems, still shows no signs of abating.

The slippery slope of bad governance and abuse of power was evident as soon as Labour got elected. A slippery slope which has led a whole generation to simply lose trust in politics.

The Nationalist Party realised this from the very first start, and one of the first policy documents it published whilst in Opposition was entitled Restoring Trust in Politics, launched six years ago under the leadership of Simon Busuttil.

Two years ago, under the leadership of Adrian Delia, another policy document was published, entitled Reform and Renewal – Good Governance for a Strong Democracy. This built on the former, and included further proposals to improve our country’s governance structure.

Some of these proposals were very bold and audacious, and included: making Parliament full-time, disallowing MPs from being appointed to Boards and their relatives from being employed without a public call; appointing chairpersons of Constitutional Authorities by a two-thirds majority; state-financing of political parties and possibly prohibiting private donations; ensuring an independent and balanced public broadcasting service; strengthening the National Audit Office and the Ombudsman; limiting the appointment of persons of trusts solely to limited numbers within private Ministerial secretariats (as was the case pre-2013); and appointing an inquiring Magistrate to investigate corruption allegations on his own initiative.

Some of these proposals ended up being recommended by the Public Inquiry into Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination, which highlighted the systematic failures of our institutions and recommended solutions to improve this state of affairs.

After six months of government inactivity following the publication of the public inquiry’s recommendations, Bernard Grech took the initiative to oversee the drafting of twelve anti-corruption and anti-Mafia Bills which would have implemented these recommendations, and which are based on similar laws already in place in other advanced democracies.

These included limiting government’s power of incumbency during an election campaign, the special inquiring Magistrate, criminalising obstruction of justice and omission of duty, unexplained wealth orders, criminalising association with the mafia and organised crime, and better protection for journalists.

Unfortunately, Robert “not a single episode of bad governance” Abela shot them all down. The Mafia got worried, and so did its full-time Monday-to-Sunday lawyer.

In the meantime, he leads a government which includes a Minister who appropriated items of national heritage to adorn his private pool, a former Parliamentary Secretary who splashed public funds on her boyfriend, a Minister who was found guilty of breaching fundamental human rights hundreds of times, a Minister who gave a phantom job to his colleague’s girlfriend, a Minister who gifted millions in the one-night Film Awards to the company which provides logistics and lighting for Labour’s campaign events, a whole Parliamentary group which fails to act on the millions being wasted on the Vitals/Steward corrupt deal, a Minister who missed an alleged murderer so much he used to text him daily, a Parliamentary Committee Chairperson who accepted large cash gifts from an alleged murderer, a Minister who was an accomplice to an armed robbery in which more than 65 shots were fired at our police officers, and a Deputy Prime Minister who gave a €13,500-a-month contract to his campaign manager, a contract to her daughter, a contract to his own daughter and another contract to his son.

All these led by a Prime Minister who used to rake in €920 daily from government direct orders.

Robert Abela is right on one thing. This is not a single episode of bad governance. It is a nine-season series of bad governance which is damaging our country, ruining our reputation, losing us foreign investment, creating an unfair and unjust society, sucking dry our coffers and holding us back from properly investing in our health, our infrastructure, and our environment.

It is a series that only you can bring an end to, with your vote.

Good governance is not just a buzz-word, or a set of ideas. Good governance is a way of life and a style of leadership. It is not implemented solely by policies and laws, but by the example set by our leaders.

The Nationalist Party is not perfect, but our heart is in the right place and our motivations are sincere. We stand on the side of justice and of the common good. We want to eradicate the Mafia and its hold on our institutions. We want Malta to be fair and just. We want the opportunities we create to be open for everyone according to their merit.

That is our commitment to you, and that is what we, together with Bernard Grech, are ready to deliver.