[WATCH] ‘Cheese a stubborn one: Marlene won’t take back ‘gbejna’ barb

Democratic Party MP Marlene Farrugia refuses to withdraw her 'cheesy' comment but Leader of the House Chris Fearne says government will not insist on action against the fiery MP

Gbejna vs Froga: Malta Speaker's ruling on 'insult'
Gbejna vs Froga: Malta Speaker's ruling on 'insult'
Marlene Farrugia has refused to withdraw her 'insult'
Marlene Farrugia has refused to withdraw her 'insult'

Democratic Party MP Marlene Farrugia has again refused to take back her description of Agriculture Parliamentary Secretary Clint Camilleri as a gbejna (cheeselet) despite being asked to do so again by Speaker Anglu Farrugia.

The Speaker ruled on Tuesday that Farrugia's comment was not befitting of parliamentary language and asked her to withdraw the word and replace it with something else. She refused to do so.

Watch Tuesday's quasi-comical exchanges in Parliament that ensued after the Speaker gave his ruling on the gbejna comment.

The matter was raised again on Wednesday by the Speaker since the non-abidance of a ruling amounted to misconduct. The Speaker requested the Leader of the House, Deputy Prime Minister Chris Fearne, to announce his position on the issue.

Fearne, however, said that after consulting with Camilleri, it had been decided that, in the interest of “maturity”, the matter would stop there, and no further action would be taken against Marlene Farrugia.

“We recognise the importance of the Speaker’s ruling, but the government is going to be mature, and we ask for this affair to end here,” Fearne said.

Camilleri confirmed the Deputy Prime Minister’s position, reiterating that he had been concerned because Farrugia’s comment seemed to have been directed towards all Gozitans.

To this, Farrugia replied that the gbejna comment had nothing to do with the fact that Camilleri was Gozitan. "In Bubaqra [a hamlet in Zurrieq] we make cheeselets as good as yours," Farrugia said.

She went on to point out that those who used stronger language than hers were awarded the country's highest honour. “Those who say 'nigi ghalik u nifqak' are given the Gih ir-Repubblika... But when it comes to those who refer to someone as a 'gbejna' because they didn’t open their mouth regarding the Bulebel extension…,” she said, before having her microphone cut off abruptly by the Speaker, who threatened to expel her from the House if she did not stay quiet.

Farrugia's reference to was directed towards former PL MP Joe Debono Grech, who had used the disparaging language against her during a heated parliamentary sitting in 2015.

Former PN leader Simon Busuttil, adding to Farrugia’s remarks, said that when he, as Opposition leader, had previously been insulted in Parliament, the Speaker had done nothing.

“You are wrong. In that case I will give you a reference to all my rulings,” the Speaker replied.

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