In other circumstances, we would have said it was clear the prime minister was abroad. Now, we are not so sure. The fact remains we had some testy moments in Parliament this week. There was the querelle between Jason Azzopardi and Owen Bonnici with the latter claiming breach of privilege and with the former refusing to retract. That will surely have a sequel, maybe in the Committee of Privileges. For Parliament still has privileges and it has also a committee to stand guard over these privileges. Then we had the ongoing struggle to come to terms and find out more about the contracts with VGH and the future of no less than three hospitals in Malta and Gozo. We had the unseemly spectacle of opposite sides tussling whether the issue should be
discussed and examined at the Public Accounts Committee or in the Health Committee. Then we had the tussle between the Opposition and Minister Evarist Bartolo over the scheme involving the GWU which has hived off 500 from the unemployed register and whether the union was making a tidy profit for its efforts. Once again, Minister Bartolo was quite testy when asked in Parliament.
Mr Bartolo also had an issue on the side, so far not really aired in Parliament, but which can have incandescent consequences – about who decides how Maltese must be written. As could be seen by those who follow what goes on in Parliament, tempers were quite high. And not one of these afore-mentioned issues has been resolved. On the contrary they are still, we may say, just this side of boiling point.
It is also clear that with a year and a half to go for the next election, and with Malta being so politicised, tempers risk getting out of hand. With Malta (and not just the prime minister or his government) enjoying the presidency of the European Union, we cannot afford to have such spectacles in Parliament or elsewhere.
So far it has been, at most, a matter of shouting, maybe infringing the parliamentary protocol and making all sorts of charges. But one never really knows with our Mediterranean character.
Politics must go on, because politics is the lifeline of the country. But the country expects better behaviour all around from its betters. Fortunately too the Christmas recess is around the corner and maybe it will help bring the tempers down a bit.