Leo Brincat: loyalties and lip service

epa04912519 Maltese Minister for Sustainable Development, the Environment and CLimate change Leo Brincat arrives for an EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting at the conference center in Luxembourg, 04 September 2015. EU Foreign Ministers gather in Luxembourg to discuss on the ongoing refugees and migrant crises. EPA/JULIEN WARNAND

When Leo Brincat gave evidence before the EU Parliamentary Committee on Budgetary Control last week he was, as anticipated, quizzed on his position regarding the Panama Papers.

Leo Brincat made himself crystal clear by stating that he would have submitted his resignation – or else suspended himself from office until such time as matters would have been clarified – had he been himself involved.

He volunteered the information that there had been a point at which he had considered resigning from Ministerial office due to the manner in which the Panama Papers scandal was handled in Malta. He added that, eventually, however, his considerations did not materialise and he did not resign as he had no desire to be a “hero for a day and end up in the (political) wilderness” thereafter.

Then came the fundamental issue: what about his vote against the motion of No Confidence in Minister Konrad Mizzi which was discussed by Malta’s House of Representatives? He emphasised that he could not vote in favour of the No Confidence motion as he was bound by the party’s Parliamentary Whip! It was a basic standard of local politics, based on the Westminister model, he emphasised.

At this point Leo Brincat made it clear to the EU Parliament’s Budgetary Control Committee that he had made a very important and fundamental choice: he preferred loyalty to the party whip to loyalty to his principles: those same principles which he has been harping on for ages. When push came to shove, solidarity with Konrad Mizzi took priority over good governance. This is what irked a substantial number of MEPs and prompted them not to recommend the  approval of Leo Brincat as a member of the European Court of Auditors. Leo’s declaration means only one thing: that his statements on good governance are only lip service to which there is no real commitment.

From this point onwards, the issue became one of principle, stated Slovenian Green MEP Igor Šoltes, Vice Chairman of the EU Parliamentary Committee on Budgetary Control and rapporteur on the European Court of Auditors, when interviewed by the local media. How is it possible to expect appointment to the European Court of Auditors and simultaneously give a nod of approval to Konrad Mizzi? Leo’s reluctance to distance himself from Konrad’s misbehaviour was his undoing.

Leo Brincat was considered as being technically qualified for the post of member of the European Court of Auditors but his public behaviour relative to the Panama Papers left much to be desired: it rendered him ethically unqualified.

Most of the information on Malta and the Panama Papers scandal is freely available online. In this day and age, MEPs and their staff, like anyone else, can easily look up all the information they need in an instant. They do not need any prodding by David Casa, Roberta Metsola, Therese Commodini Cachia or anyone else!

The facts are damning enough. Leo Brincat, unfortunately, came across as an ambivalent person who speaks in favour of good governance yet through his vote simultaneously gives support to its negation. Konrad Mizzi’s behaviour,, sanctioned in parliament by the vote of Leo Brincat and his colleagues on the government benches, signifies that the Parliamentary Labour Party in Malta does not care about good governance. Leo Brincat’s failure is quite representative of the Labour Parliamentary group’s behaviour in Malta, as they have all contributed to this mess – the effects of which are yet to come.

In fairness, I must also point out that the press had, at a point in time picked up information about a rowdy Labour Party Parliamentary Group meeting during which Leo Brincat and a number of other MPs (including a number of Ministers ) had argued for Konrad Mizzi’s resignation or removal. It is indeed unfortunate that Joseph Muscat did not feel sufficiently pressured to remove Konrad Mizzi from Cabinet, as that meeting was only followed up with cosmetic changes in Konrad Mizzi’s Cabinet responsibilities.

It is useless to try and shift the blame onto Joseph Muscat and his cronies. While Joseph Muscat is ultimately responsible, this does not exonerate Leo Brincat and each individual member of the Labour Party Parliamentary group; each one of them too must shoulder responsibilities for  failure to act in removing Konrad Mizzi from public office.

At the end of the day there is just one lesson: loyalty to your conscience is not up for bartering.

Leo Brincat u l-morsa tal-iskandlu tal-Panama

Leo Brincat 050916

Bħal diversi minnkom segwejt lill-Leo Brincat jiġi eżaminat mill-Kumitat Parlamentari tal-Parlament Ewropew dwar il-Kontroll tal-Budget qabel ma jinħatar bħala membru tal-Qorti Ewropeja tal-Awdituri.

Leo qal li Konrad Mizzi messu irriżenja. Qal ukoll li hu ħassu f’morsa u kien qed jikkunsidra li jirriżenja fil-ġranet ta’ qabel il-mozzjoni ta’ sfiduċja.

Dan fakkarni li f’dawk il-ġranet kien hawn diversi rapporti dwar diversi membri tal-Kabinett li tkellmu b’ċerta qawwa waqt il-laqgħat tal-Grupp Parlamentari Laburista u lkoll insistew li Konrad Mizzi kellu jirriżenja.

Issa li m’għadux membru tal-Kabinett Leo stqarr fil-pubbliku dak li kien magħruf li qal wara l-bibien magħluqa.

Għamlu tajjeb il-Membri Parlamentari Ewropej li insistew għal tweġibiet dwar l-iskandlu tal-Panama. L-istorja ċertament ma tieqafx hawn għax fil-ġimgħat li ġejjin trid tibda l-inkjesta fid-dettall dwar l-istess skandlu. Għad irridu naraw kif din l-inkjesta ser tiżviluppa u b’mod partikolari kif ser iġibu ruħhom dawk il-Maltin li ser ikunu mitlubin jidhru quddiem il-kumitat parlamentari tal-Parlament Ewropew li ser imexxi l-inkjesta.

Min ħaseb li l-istorja raqdet sejjer żmerċ. Għad irridu nisimgħu ħafna iktar. U min żbalja għad irid iħallas. Jekk mhux illum ikollu jħallas għada.

Id-dikjarazzjoni ta’ Leo Brincat illum għandha sinifikat simboliku. Seta kellha sinifikat ħafna ikbar kieku kellu l-kuraġġ tal-konvinzjonijiet tiegħu.

Snippets from the EGP Manifesto: (5) Lobbyists, fraud and corruption

EU.lobbying 

The EU needs a stronger anti-corruption policy and more effective instruments against organized crime to strengthen democracy and the rule of law, and also to strengthen the European economy.

Corrupt behaviour by EU officials or parliamentarians in their relations with lobbyists must be met with very strong reactions. Big business still influences the Commission too much. Almost 80% of all stakeholders appointed by the Commission represent corporate interests, despite a commitment to change.

Greens also fight to tackle the problem of “revolving doors” where top bureaucrats and politicians in European institutions join private organizations which they were previously responsible for regulating. We want to safeguard democracy from corruption by introducing robust regulation and transparency for the financing of political parties, candidates and election campaigns. We want to provide the Court of Justice of the EU and the European Court of Auditors with stronger tools to control the way in which EU resources are spent and to act against corruption both within the EU institutions and in the case of serious problems within the member states.

(EGP 2014 Manifesto section entitled  : Fight Fraud and Corruption)

Gonzi jaħseb fit-tul !

Veru li Lawrence Gonzi jaħseb fit-tul.

Fl-2004 meta Josef Bonnci irreżenja minn Membru Parlamentari biex ħa l-ħatra fil-Qorti tal-Awdituri tal-Unjoni Ewropeja ġie co-opted floku t-Tabib Pjiskjatra Joe Cassar.

Min qatt ħaseb daqshekk bil-quddiem dwar x’kien ser ikolllhom bżonn l-Onorevoli Membri Parlamentari.

Issa f’mossa oħra li tħares fil-bogħod ser jippreżenta bħala kandidat fuq Tas-Sliema lill-kardjoloġista Albert Fenech. Jidher li li l-politika ftit tinteressah b’tali mod li jekk jitla’ fil-Parlament ser jagħti kontribut daqs numru ta’ tobba oħra Onorevoli li rari ħafna jersqu lejn il-Parlament.

Jidher imma li anke fil-Parlament jista’ jkun hemm bżonn tas-servizzi professjonali tiegħu meta jkun magħruf x’inhi l-qagħda reali tal-finanzi tal-pajjiż.

Kif intqal fi blog oħra “il-profs Fenech se jkollna bżonnu fil-Parlament, għax ħafna qlub mhux se jkunu jifilħu iżjed, x’ħin inkunu nafu f’liema stat huma l-finanzi tal-pajjiż.”

Ara vera Gonzi jaħseb fit-tul. L-ewwel psikjatra u issa kardjoloġista!

Louis Galea should ensure fair electoral reform

Louis Galea should ensure fair electoral reform. Speaking about parliament’s select committee on electoral law reform, Alternattiva Demokratika – The Green Party said that it is disappointed at the fact that in one and a half years the only thing the select committee seems to have agreed upon with regards to the reform on the electoral system is to widen the threshold for expenditure by candidates at elections. Michael Briguglio, AD Chairperson, asked:’Is this being done to ensure that PN and PL candidates who broke the law by exceeding expenditure limits, could come off scot free? We augur that Louis Galea will not be remembered for chairing a select committee that only managed to cover up for such candidates. We strongly urge Louis Galea to ensure that before he leaves for the Court of Auditors, the electoral law is changed so that the number of votes are reflected proportionately for all political parties as regards the number of seats, and not only for PL and PN, as the situation scandalously is at the moment’. In the meantime, a delegation of Alternattiva Demokratika – The Green Party, comprising Michael Briguglio, Ralph Cassar, Arnold Cassola and Carmel Cacopardo met Louis Galea last week to discuss issues relating to the select committee (electoral reform, regulating political party financing and broadcasting) as well as Dr Galea’s nomination to the EU Court of Auditors. As regards the reform of the electoral system Alternattiva Demokratika – The Green Party is proposing a double threshold, with a district quota of 16.6% that would allow an individual to be elected on her/his own steam, and a national quota with a threshold of 2 quotas for a party to be represented in parliament. This system is similar to that of highly developed democracies such as Germany. ‘AD is proposing a fair balance between democratic representation of voters and functional governance. We are for true proportional representation for all citizens, where each and every vote counts the same. Unlike PN and PL which work as a duopoly that excludes others from the electoral process, AD is putting forward responsible proposals’, added Briguglio AD’s proposals can be read at:

http://www.alternattiva.org.mt/filebank/documents/sistemaelettorali.PDF