Busuttil pledges alternative to Labour’s ‘dishonesty and institutionalized corruption’

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil says PN must be alternative to Labour's lack of transparency and dishonest politics

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil
Opposition leader Simon Busuttil
PN deputy leader for party affairs Beppe Fenech Adami
PN deputy leader for party affairs Beppe Fenech Adami

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil has flagged the climate of dishonesty inside the Labour government, in a speech to party faithful at the PN’s Independence celebrations in Valletta.

Busuttil accused Labour of peddling “dishonest politics” well before their election to power, and after, and of institutionalizing corruption just two years and a half into the legislature.

“You realize the value of honesty when you finally lose it. And it’s because of Labour’s dishonesty that today we are talking about honesty… Their dishonesty started well before they were elected… and maybe this was something that voters could not see, which is why the blame falls squarely on those that fooled us.”

He lampooned Labour’s ‘Malta Taghna Lkoll’ slogan: “It was a lie. From ‘Malta for all’ it has become ‘Malta for us only’.”

Busuttil attacked Prime Minister Joseph Muscat for keeping parliamentary secretary Michael Falzon in government after revelations of irregular expropriations of public land became the subject of two inquiries.

“I would have sacked him on the spot,” Busuttil said to the public’s applause.

“This is not a government that shoulders its political responsibility as Labour promised.”

Busuttil also said that as prime minister he would publish all public contracts, in a reference to the government’s agreement with Jordanian firm Sadeen to take land at Zonqor for the construction of a private university.

“It is not true that this is a transparent government when it refuses to publish contracts that deal with taxpayers’ money… where is the transparency in giving a bank guarantee [to ElectroGas] behind people’s backs?

“If something is being paid for with your tax money, you are by rights entitled to know what this contract entails.”

He also touched upon the forced resignation from Mater Dei Hospital of surgeon and Nationalist MP Albert Fenech as an example that put paid to Muscat’s claims that his government would not punish those who do not agree with Labour.

“This level of dishonesty requires an alternative from the PN – and this means clean politics, transparency, of giving a chance to everybody, that treats people in a mature way… because we have to do what is right by people, and this is the PN’s key – to do what is right, because only so can justice prevail.”

Other speakers

Busuttil’s speech followed an intervention from various professionals, amongst them lawyer Errol Cutajar, who touched upon the theme of honesty in politics.

“Honesty is one of the fundamentals of any profession… it’s a principle applied to any sector, and not just politics.

“Without trust, one cannot carry out their duty to lead the country on behalf of voters. In politics, one must act in the interest of their cause… not for ulterior motives.”

Cutajar warned his audience that under Labour, honesty in politics was being eroded, citing as examples the way jobs were being meted out to select individuals close to the government, and the expropriation of public land carried out to the benefit of a few individuals.

Manuel Caleja, a former Labour voter, said he had been denied assistance by his local MP and minister after an injury left him jobless. "I used to be a Labourite... now I swear loyalty to you, Dr Simon Busuttil."

6PM chief executive Ivan Bartolo, who chairs the PN’s policy forum on the economy, paid tribute to Simon Busuttil:

“A business survey I read about rated honesty and integrity as the essential qualities of a business leader. And that’s what Simon Busuttil reminds me of: honesty and integrity. Busuttil is the reason I am getting closer to politics… Busuttil stood up to be counted [to run for PN leader] when he could have still been Malta’s most voted MEP [in Brussels].”

Bartolo said Busuttil was right to warn voters ahead of the 2013 that Malta was “heading straight into a wall” with Labour in power. “I think he was right. I just don’t know when… people I speak to when I’m abroad ask me ‘what happened to that country whose people were always investing’. Maybe I’m not that intelligent, but I still cannot fathom how this government was elected with a 36,000-vote majority.”

The academic Maria Attard, who is chairing the PN’s policy forum on environmental and agriculture, spoke of the lack of a holistic, long-term vision in environment.

“The way planning policies are being interpreted need a rethink,” Attard said, who complained on the way the environment was being sidelined in favour of the construction industry.

“It’s affecting the common and our quality of life… good governance requires a policy that tackles both rural and the urban environment. Big projects, ODZ development, and the way permits are issued all have an impact on us, not just economical, but on both the natural and urban environment.”


More in National