Il-President George Vella u l-ittra ta’ riżenja ta’ Joseph Muscat

The Shift News qed jirrappurtaw li talbu r-rilaxx tal-ittra ta’ riżenja li Joseph Muscat, dakinnhar Prim Ministru, għadda lill-President tar-Repubblika. It-talba saret taħt il-Freedom of Information Act.

Il-President tar-Repubblika ċaħad it-talba u spjega għaliex kien qed jagħmel hekk. It-tweġiba tiegħu hi inkwetanti iktar miċ-ċaħda innifisha.

The Shift News qed jgħidu li t-tweġiba li waslet għandhom mingħand il-President tar-Repubblika kienet tgħid li mhux ġustifikat il-pubblikazzjoni tal-ittra ta’ riżenja għax kieku dan kellu jsir il-ħsara li issir tiżboq bil-bosta il-benefiċċju tal-pubblikazzjoni tal-informazzjoni.

Issa jiena naħseb li ħadd, għajr min kitibha u min irċieviha, ma jaf x’fiha l-ittra. Imma t-tweġiba tal-President tar-Repubblika tagħti lil wieħed x’jifhem li l-ittra fiha spjegazzjoni dettaljata dwar x’wassal għar-riżenja li tmur lil hinn minn dak li nafu diġa.

Jiena għandi kull rispett lejn il-President tar-Repubblika imma naħseb li hu żbaljat. Hu fl-interess pubbliku li l-ittra tkun ippubblikata bla dewmien. Mhux kompitu tal-President tar-Repubblika li jiċċensura informazzjoni ta’ importanza politika.

Investigating Konrad’s MTA contract

It is known that Johann Buttigieg, former Chief Executive at the Planning Authority, was squeezed out of his post by Minister Ian Borg. Johann Buttigieg, however, found an ally in Konrad Mizzi, then Minister for Tourism, who facilitated his employment as the new Chief Executive of the Malta Tourism Authority.

By the time Johann Buttigieg had taken up his new post at the Malta Tourism Authority, Konrad Mizzi had already resigned as Minister. Although Konrad Mizzi had announced his resignation after a Cabinet meeting on the 26 November 2019 it is not clear if he had volunteered to step down or if he had been forced to go. He was reported as having said: “I felt it my duty – in the context of current political circumstances – to resign in loyalty to the people, the Labour Party and the Prime Minister.”

It would be reasonable to assume that Johann Buttigieg returned the favour from Konrad Mizzi when, on 9th December, he signed the contract appointing Konrad Mizzi as a consultant to the Authority – as one of his first decisions as CEO! However, this would not necessarily be a correct assumption. In fact, elsewhere in the press it has been opined that the decision to engage Konrad Mizzi as consultant was taken by Joseph Muscat himself, because after Konrad Mizzi’s resignation he was directly responsible for the Tourism Ministry.

As Chief Executive of the Malta Tourism Authority, Johann Buttigieg must shoulder substantial responsibility although it is most probable that he was acting on the instructions of Joseph Muscat. He should by now be aware that illegitimate (and unethical) superior orders can – and should be – ignored.

After Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli announced the rescinding of Konrad Mizzi’s contract she was asked to explain the reasons which justified such a revocation. She was very brief in her reply, saying that there were legal and ethical reasons that justified such a course of action. She was reluctant to state more in order to avoid prejudicing any legal action, should this result.

It is very interesting to note that the Honourable Minister has justified the revocation of the contract on ethical grounds. She is, of course, correct, although she chose not to point fingers. The point at issue then is who acted unethically?

I suggest that there are four persons who acted unethically in this specific case.

Irrespective of what they say, former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and his sidekick Konrad Mizzi resigned in disgrace for a number of reasons, including being the cause of reputational damage to the country through their involvement and/or failure to act on the Panama Papers debacle, as well as a direct result of the role of the Office of the Prime Minister in Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder: a role, the details of which are still emerging.

Joseph Muscat and Konrad Mizzi are at the top of the list of those who acted unethically as they set in motion the revolving recruitment mechanism as a result of which Konrad Mizzi was parachuted straight into the organisation for which he, as Minister, was politically responsible just two weeks earlier. This is unacceptable in any country that has a minimum degree of adherence to good governance: normally there would be a cooling-off period of some two to three years before such appointments are even considered.

Muscat and Mizzi tried to cash in on the fact that, the rules governing the ethical behaviour of holders of political office are still in their infancy. Dr George Hyzler, recently appointed by Parliament as the first Commissioner for Standards in Public Life, is still in the initial phase of his term and has yet to draft some of the appropriate rules.

The same applies to Chairman of the Malta Tourism Authority and Chief Executive Johann Buttigieg, who should not have allowed Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and his sidekick Konrad Mizzi to bully them into submission. The recruitment of Mizzi was kept secret as long as was possible due to the fact that, knowledge of its existence would undoubtedly have created further turmoil within the Labour Party, then in the process of electing a successor to the disgraced Joseph Muscat.

Where do we go from here? In my view those acting unethically should shoulder their responsibilities. I have thus requested the Commissioner for Standards in Public Life to investigate the role of Joseph Muscat, Konrad Mizzi, Gavin Gulia and Johann Buttigieg in the matter and consequently to recommend the necessary action required.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday – 2 February 2020

Riżenja f’waqtha ta’ Justyne

Ir-riżenja ta’ Justyne Caruana minn Ministru kienet f’waqtha. Għamlet sewwa li irriżenjat. Fiċ-ċirkustanzi kif żviluppaw kienet l-unika triq onorevoli li setgħet tieħu. Għamel sewwa l-Prim Ministru li aċċetta din ir-riżenja mill-ewwel.

Dan hu l-mod normali li jaġixxu l-politiċi f’pajjiż normali. Huwa tajjeb li qed nibdew noqorbu lejn in-normalità.

Nifhem perfettament l-ispjega li tat Justyne li ma kelliex x’taqsam xejn ma dak li ġara. Imma li tgħid li ma kienet taf b’xejn hu daqsxejn diffiċli li titwemmen.

Il-gravità ta’ dak li ġara hi l-familjarità żejda li uffiċjal ewlieni tal-Korp tal-Pulizija kellu ma persuna taħt suspett, irrispettivament jekk kienx jaf bis-suspett jew le. Anke f’dan il-każ diffiċli li jitwemmen Silvio Valletta, żewġ Justyne, meta qal li ma kienx jaf li Yorgen Fenech kien taħt suspett, jew bil-linġwaġġ il-ġdid tal-Pulizja, persuna ta’ interess.

B’dawn il-ħbieberiji, wieħed jista’ jifhem iktar għaliex il-Pulizija mhux dejjem jaslu biex isolvu l-kazijiet, inkella jdumu biex jaslu. Huwa l-Korp kollu tal-Pulizija li jiġi kompromess b’dawn il-ħbiberiji. Anke min jimxi sewwa.

Il-problema hi waħda: min jaf x’hemm iżjed li għad ma nafux bih!

Meta wieħed iqis li Silvio Valletta kien wieħed mill-aħjar ufficjali tal-Korp tal-Pulizija, nitkexkex biss naħseb x’jistgħu jagħmlu l-oħrajn.

Wara d-deċiżjoni tal-Qala: għalfejn stenbħu issa?

Alfred Sant qal li c-Chairman tal-Kummissjoni għall-Kontroll tal-Iżvilupp għandha tirreżenja. Sewwa qal u naqbel miegħu. Inżid ngħid li jmissha ilha li warrbet jew twarrbet.

Jason Micallef u Cyrus Engerer qalulna li kull min ivvota favur l-applikazzjoni tal-Qala għandu jirreżenja! Sewwa qalu: imma għax ma semmewx lil Clayton Bartolo b’ismu: il-Membru Parlamentari tal-Labour fil-Bord tal-Awtorità tal-Ippjanar li ivvota favur u li kontinwament jipprova jistaħba wara subgħajh biex jiġġustifika l-vot tiegħu favur? Ghal Clayton mhux l-ewwel darba li qiegħed taħt il-lenti!

X’inhu jiġri biex issa dawn ukoll qed jitkellmu favur riżenja ta’ min ikun ħa sehem f’deċiżjoni stupida? In-nies hemm barra ilhom jgħiduha din, għal diversi membri tal-Bord tal-Awtorità tal-Ippjanar!

Il-ħniżrijijet li nħabbtu wiċċna magħhom fl-Awtorità tal-Ippjanar huma bosta iktar u ikbar mill-kaz tal-Qala. Imma dwar dawn ftit ikun hemm min jiftaħ ħalqu.

Marthese Portelli qalet li ma tridx ikollha x’taqsam iktar mal-Awtorità tal-Ippjanar, issa!

Joseph Muscat, dalgħodu qal li d-deċiżjoni hi waħda insensittivà! X’tippretendi jekk għandna Bord li għala biebu mis-sensittività ambjentali? Dawn huma l-konsegwenzi, għax bħal dejjem, li tiżra’ taħsad!

Il-problema għandha egħruq fil-fond u uħud minnhom iwasslu sar-raba’ sular. Id-dmugħ tal-kukkudrilli issa ftit li xejn ser isolvi.

Din id-deċiżjoni hi l-konsegwenza loġika ta’ snin tal-inkompetenza grassa. L-ewwel kellna lill-bidilli ta’ George Pullicino u issa għandna lil dawn! L-unika differenza hi fl-ismijiet.

Il-kaz ta’ Karmenu Abela u l-Istandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika

Karmenu Abela baħbuħ. Mhux politiku li jimbuttak. Anke meta ma taqbilx miegħu. Kelli diversi opportunitajiet li iddiskutejt xi punti miegħu. Dejjem sibtu raġjonevoli.

L-istorja tas-Sunday Times dwaru ippubblikata l-bieraħ għal uħud ma tfisser xejn. Tant ilna nitkellmu fuq il-Bank Pilatus, Keith Schembri u Konrad Mizzi, u Egrant u 17 Black. Bla dubju affarijiet ħafna iktar serji minn struttura temporanja tal-injam fuq il-bejt tad-dar ta’ Karmenu Abela l-Ministru, madwar tlett snin ilu.

Jekk ħadd ma rreżenja fuq affarijiet serjissimi hawn xi ħadd li jaħseb li Karmenu Abela ser jirreżenja fuq erba’ biċċiet injam?

Sfortunatament l-opinjoni pubblika saret immuni għal dawn l-affarijiet. Qiesu ma ġara xejn. Għax jekk qiesu ma ġara xejn għal 17Black, il-Bank Pilatus, Egrant, Mizzi u Schembri kif nistgħu nistennew li dan l-inċident jirreġistra fil-moħħ tan-nies bħala materja projibita li dwarha hu ġustifikat li jkun hemm riżenja?

Meta Karmenu Abela aċċetta li jsirlu dan ix-xogħol id-dar għamel ġudizzju żbaljat (bad judgement), anke jekk ħallas l-ispejjes tal-injam, anke jekk ix-xogħol sar is-Sibt, jiġifieri mhux waqt il-ħin tax-xogħol. Għax hu mistenni li Ministru tal-Gvern iġib ruħu sewwa u ma jagħtix il-messaġġ żbaljat li l-impjegati tal-Ministeru qegħdin hemm biex iservu lilu personalment.

Mhux ta’ b’xejn li l-Kummissarju dwar l-Istandards fil-Ħajja Pubblika għadu ma nħatarx wara snin ta’ tejatrin.

Standards? Xi Standards? Morna l-baħar.

The professor who messed things up

Victor Axiaq

 

Professor Victor Axiaq, Chairman of the Environment and Resources Authority, is not at fault for being absent at a Planning Authority public meeting on the 4 August which discussed the Mrieħel and Sliema high-rise applications. By now everyone is aware that he had just been discharged from hospital and was instructed to rest for 15 days.

There were various officers of the Environment and Resources Authority present for the 4 August public meeting, yet instead of entrusting one of them with presenting the environment’s case on the Sliema high-rise, Professor Axiaq preferred to entrust Dr Timothy Gambin with a memorandum which Gambin opted to keep to himself.

There were various environmentalists, Sliema Local Councillors and civil society activists present for the public hearing. Those of us who were present for the public hearing presented the environment case and managed to convince six out of 13 Planning Authority members to vote against the proposed high-rise at TownSquare Sliema. Support for the environment case from a representative of the Environment and Resources Authority during the public hearing would have been most welcome. It could also have had a determining impact.  Yet it was not forthcoming notwithstanding the presence of a number of the Environment and Resources Authority employees at the public hearing.

The split of MEPA into two separate and distinct authorities, we were irresponsibly told by Government representatives some months ago, would ensure that the environmental issues would be more easily defended when considering land use planning applications. Yet prior to the split, an official of The Environment Protection Directorate would have addressed the public hearing. On the 4 August none were invited. The only person who was briefed to speak (Dr Timothy Gambin) opted instead to ignore his brief and instead openly supported the development proposal for a high-rise at TownSquare.

Professor Victor Axiaq, as Chairman of the Environment and Resources Authority, missed the opportunity to contribute to convince the majority of members of the Planning Authority due to his two basic mistakes. He entrusted his memorandum to another Planning Authority member (Dr Timothy Gambin) who had opposing views and hence had no interest in communicating Professor Axiaq’s memorandum on TownSquare to the Planning Authority. Professor Axiaq also failed to engage with his own staff at the Environment and Resources Authority as none of those present for the public hearing uttered a single word in support of the case against the high-rise proposal. The person sitting on the chair next to me, for example, preferred to communicate continuously with his laptop correcting with track changes some report he was working on. I have no idea why he even bothered to be present for the public hearing.

Unfortunately, Professor Axiaq, as chairman of the Environment and Resources Authority, messed up the first opportunity at which the input of the authority he leads could have made a substantial difference in the actual decision taken. It would have been much better if a proper decision was taken on the 4 August instead of subsequently considering whether to present an appeal, as this will be an uphill struggle as anyone with experience in these matters can confirm.  This could only have happened if Professor Axiaq had acted appropriately, which he unfortunately did not.

Next Wednesday, the Sliema Local Council will be convened for an extraordinary session in order to discuss the planning appeal relative to the TownSquare high-rise development permit. Environmental NGOs will also be meeting presently to plot the way forward and consider whether they too will appeal the decision.

Even the Environment and Resources Authority will be shortly considering whether to appeal. In view of the way in which Professor Axiaq handled the whole issue, the Sliema Local Council and the environmental NGOs would do well if they do not place any trust in the Authority led by Professor Victor Axiaq. They will avoid ending up in another mess.

After creating this mess, there is only one option left for Professor Victor Axiaq in my opinion. He should immediately resign from his post as chairman of the Environment and Resources Authority. The sooner he resigns the better.

published in The Malta Independent on Sunday – 14 August 2016

Prim Ministru li rriżenja minħabba fixkun inbid ………… jiswa’ A$3,000

1959 Penfolds Grange

 

Hawn taħt qed nirriproduċi artiklu dwar ir-riżenja tal-Prim Ministru ta’ New South Wales Barry O’Farrell minħabba flixkun inbid. Jiswa A$3,000! Il-kaz ġara sentejn ilu, f’April 2014.

Din ir-riżenja giet deskritta bħala : the sign of a political culture that has become allergic to even the whiff of corruption. Kull kumment ieħor tiegħi ikun żejjed.

Australian premier’s resignation a sign of less, not more, corruption

Il-karrotti tal-leader

carrots

 

Il-Grupp Parlamentari Laburista qiegħed f’posizzjoni diffiċli. Il-parti l-kbira tal-membri tal-grupp huma persuni ta’ serjetà u integrità. Mhux biss dawk li issemmew mill-gazzetti bħala li kienu fuq quddiem fl-insistenza li Konrad Mizzi u Keith Schembri l-Kasco  iwarrbu jew jitwarrbu. Naf b’diversi oħrajn li huma ta’ l-istess fehma.

Imma hemm problema. Anzi tnejn.

Għalkemm ma tissemmiex, dejjem hemm il-biża’ mill-elementi vjolenti li għandhom interess fl-istatus quo inkella li qegħdin hemm fid-dell jistennew li jkunu mikrija. Elementi li ilhom ma jidhru imma li f’ċirkustanzi bħal dawn għandhom ħabta jitfaċċaw.

Joseph Muscat investa fil-Membri Parlamentari Laburisti tal-backbench biex ikollhom biex jgħaddu ż-żmien u dan billi assigura ruħu li kollha (jew kważi) għandhom xi jmaxtru. Dan bir-riżultat li fis-siegħa tal-prova l-karrotti tal-leader jassumu sinifikat kbir.

Dawn huma l-problemi li għandu quddiemu l-Grupp Parlamentari Laburista. Huma problemi li jieħdu ż-żmien biex jissolvew, sakemm iktar Membri Parlamentari jirrealizzaw li l-lealtà tagħom m’għandiex tkun lejn il-leader jew lejn il-karrotti tiegħu imma favur is-serjetà, favur it-tmexxija nadifa, favur it-trasparenza u favur il-kontabilità.

Is-serjetà fil-politika titlob ħaġa waħda: li min żbalja jħallas billi jwarrab jew jitwarrab.

Dan ma jgħoddx biss għal Konrad u Keith il-Kasco. Issa jgħodd ukoll għal Joseph Muscat. Għax id-difiża tiegħu ta’ Konrad u Keith il-Kasco qed tifni lill-pajjiż. U l-ħsara jista’ jkollha konsegwenzi kbar li jieħdu snin kbar biex jittaffew.

Il-Grupp Parlamentari Laburista ………..beda jistenbaħ

 muscat_j_signing_election_1st_billboard

Kienet aħbar tajba fl-Independent il-bieraħ li l-laqgħa tal-Grupp Parlamentari Laburista kienet waħda imqanqla. Issemmew diversi ismijiet li insistew għar-riżenja tal-Ministru Konrad Mizzi. Issemmew l-ismijiet ta’ tlett Ministri li qablu li Konrad Mizzi għandu jirriżenja. [Varist Bartolo, Louis Grech u Leo Brincat – dal-għodu l-Malta Today semmew ukoll lil George Vella]

Bla dubju hemm oħrajn li s’issa għad ma kellhomx il-kuraġġ li jsemmgħu leħinhom. Fil-Parlament il-bieraħ beda jiċċaqlaq ukoll Edward Scicluna l-Ministru tal-Finanzi.

Konrad (u miegħu Keith Mizzi) żbalja li mar il-Panama, anke jekk il-kumpanija tiegħu ma laħqitx bdiet topera. Il-fatt biss li mar hemm hu ġustifikazzjoni biex jirriżenja.

Hi issue ta’ imġieba ħażina ta’ Konrad (u Keith).

Qegħdin nitkellmu dwar responsabbiltà politika li Konrad (u Keith) għandu jerfa’ talli fetaħ il-kumpanija fil-Panama.

Fl-aħħar, huwa ta’ inkuraġġiment li anke fil-Grupp Parlamentari Laburista hemm min jaħsibha b’dan il-mod. Fl-aħħar fil-Grupp Parlamentari tal-Partit Laburista hemm min stenbaħ u beda jaħseb b’moħħu. Avolja daqsxejn tard.

Il-ħsara li saret lill-pajjiż hi issa irreparabbli.

 

L-intenzjonijiet tajba ta’ Konrad

timesonline 080316

Konrad Mizzi, l-bieraħ waqt Timestalk għamel pass żgħir il-quddiem: aċċetta li d-deċiżjoni tiegħu (anke jekk fuq parir tal-konsulenti Nexia BT) li jiftaħ kumpanija fil-Panama kienet deċiżjoni ħażina. An error of judgement.

Din id-deċiżjoni ħażina imma, ma tistax tħares lejha b’mod iżolat. Trid inevitabilment taraha f’kuntest iktar wiesgħa li jinkludi taħdidiet dwar negożju mal-iktar Gvern korrott tad-dinja (l-Azerbaijan) minn delegazzjoni tal-Gvern Malti magħmula biss minn politiċi u l-assistenti tagħhom maħtura fuq bażi ta’ fiduċja (position of trust).

Huwa minħabba dan li l-eżistenza tal-kumpaniji ta’ Konrad Mizzi u Keith Schembri qanqlu r-reazzjoni li żviluppat f’dawn il-ġimgħatejn.

Konrad isostni li għamel kollox b’intenzjoni tajba. Imma sfortunatament, anke kieku dan kien minnu, l-ammissjoni ta’ deċiżjoni żbaljat (error of judgement) tfisser li Konrad ma għarafx il-konsegwenzi gravi ta’ din id-deċiżjoni.

Din id-deċiżjoni effettwat il-kredibilità tiegħu, għax diffiċli biex temmen dak li qed jgħid. Għandha effett ukoll fuq il-kredibilità tal-Gvern li tiegħu Konrad hu Ministru ewlieni.

Huwa għalhekk li jiena għidt li l-unika triq li kellu Konrad kienet li minn jeddu jirriżenja. Dan ikun pass kemm fl-interess ta’ Konrad innifsu kif ukoll fl-interess tal-Gvern stess.

Huwa fuq passi bħal dan li tinbena t-tmexxija tajba (good governance). Għax jekk il-politiku mhux kapaċi jerfa’ l-konsegwenzi tad-deċizjonijiet tiegħu, ikun inutli li joqgħod jlablab dwar good governance.