‘I never said LNG tanker was dangerous’ – Ann Fenech

PN executive president Ann Fenech says she will have no problem with LNG tanker if impact studies can prove its safety • Salvu Mallia warns that Labour has become 'a religion with Joseph Muscat as its god' in fiery TV debate with Glenn Bedingfield   


PN executive president and maritime law expert Ann Fenech denied that the LNG tanker that will be berthed in Marsaxlokk Bay will be dangerous.

In a brief phonecall with Saviour Balzan during the TV programme Xtra, Fenech said that she would have no problem with the tanker if the safety reports, emergency plans and maritime impact assessment indicate that its risk is lower than acceptable.

“I am not speaking politically here, but as a person who has been working in this sector for the past 30 years,” she insisted.

Balzan had called Fenech during the programme – a debate between former TV presenter Salvu Mallia and blogger and OPM aide Glenn Bedingfield – after the latter said that her law firm Fenech & Fenech was the residential agent of two LNG tankers.

“If she thinks that LNG tankers are so dangerous, then why would she agree to be held responsible for them?” Bedingfield questioned.

Mallia, a prospective PN candidate, said that the potential danger posed by the LNG tanker has been “exaggerated” by politicians.

“What I find dangerous about the tanker is the secrecy that has shrouded this entire project. I am concerned that there might be a gas scandal, just as there was an oil scandal under the previous administration.”

‘Labour has become a religion, with Muscat as its god’ – Mallia

During the fiery debate, Mallia delivered a scathing criticism on the state of the Labour Party, warning it has “become a religion with Joseph Muscat as its god”.

He added that Labour is no longer a socialist party but has rather become “fascist”.

“The Labour Party has become a religion, complete with its own saviour and god in Joseph Muscat, a man like the rest of us,” he said. “Labour’s rhetoric often focuses on how Muscat is a strong leader, and how Simon Busuttil is weak. Yet I don’t believe in that type of strength; instead I believe that true strength lies in the strength of one’s arguments.”

Mallia, who announced his intention to contest the upcoming election on a PN ticket last month after his popular TV show Madwarna was axed from PBS, was frequently baited by Bedingfield to condemn Nationalist politicians who have been accused of corruption.

He was also asked by Saviour Balzan what had led him to change his stance since last March, when he had warned that “you cannot change a party from within because it will end up swallowing you up”.

The former TV presenter responded by saying that he will not shy away from criticising anyone, and that he had indeed voted for Labour in 2013 after growing frustrated at the Nationalist Party.

“I only carry one flag, the Maltese flag, and only follow one leader, my own conscience,” he said. “I decided to contest the election with the PN because I don’t feel that there exists any other alternative party that can make a difference. However, I made it clear to the PN when they approached me that I will remain Salvu Mallia whether they like it or not…and they do like it.”

He said that his main agenda, if elected to Parliament, will be to try and change a prevalent attitude of hatred towards the other side within local politics.

“I didn’t choose to get into politics because I hate Labour, but because I love my country.”

Salvu Mallia and Glenn Bedingfield locked horns on Thursday night's edition of Xtra
Salvu Mallia and Glenn Bedingfield locked horns on Thursday night's edition of Xtra

‘My blog is much tamer than Caruana Galizia’s’ – Bedingfield

Glenn Bedingfield rubbished Saviour Balzan’s suggestions that there was anything wrong in the fact that he authors a blog targeting Labour critics, while at the same time working in the Office of the Prime Minister.

“I don’t see it as a problem; nobody would have said anything had I started a blog that attacked Labour. Look at Norman Vella – he is a public sector employee and he has his own blog and radio and TV programmes. Look at Pierre Portelli, an editor of a newspaper that describes itself as independent [The Malta Independent]. Why can they say and write what they want but I cannot?”

He also insisted that his blog uses far tamer language than Caruana Galizia’s, noting that she has in the past referred to “us” [Labour supporters] as idiots, psychopaths, and imbeciles. He also referred to her recent blogpost that law commissioner Franco Debono “should be taken out and shot”.

MediaToday managing editor Saviour Balzan hosting Xtra on TVM
MediaToday managing editor Saviour Balzan hosting Xtra on TVM

Here, Mallia noted that Bedingfield had called him a liar, to which the OPM aide retorted that he [Mallia] was all talk and that he has yet to bring proof of the government’s corruption.

During the programme, Bedingfield – who will contest the next election under the PL ticket - said that he would have resigned pending investigations into the Panama Papers had he been minister Konrad Mizzi.

However, he said that the Prime Minister will not shy away from taking action against Mizzi if an ongoing tax audit reveals that he did anything untoward.

He also appeared dismissive to concerns that Labour’s perceived closeness to the developer lobby is damaging the environment.

“Everything has an impact on the environment…construction is an industry that is doing well, just as the economy in general is doing well,” he responded. “Besides, we shouldn’t look at the environment solely from the point of view of construction. This Labour government has done a lot for the environment, such as closing down the Marsa power station and shifting the country’s energy production from oil to gas. Perhaps it should wave its environmental flag more often, because it has done a lot to safeguard the environment that isn’t immediately visible.”