Busut­til de­liv­ers fi­nal speech as PN leader, claims party won ‘moral’ vic­tory

Malta Independent - - FRONT PAGE - He­lena Grech

Out­go­ing leader of the Na­tion­al­ist Party Si­mon Busut­til de­liv­ered his fi­nal speech as party leader last night, thank­ing all those who stood to be counted in the fight against cor­rup­tion.

In his con­clud­ing re­marks dur­ing the ex­tra­or­di­nary con­fer­ence, Busut­til stressed that while the party had suf­fered a mas­sive loss at the bal­lot box on 3 June, he is con­vinced it won the moral vic­tory by choos­ing the dif­fi­cult road of tak­ing a stand against cor­rup­tion.

Prime Min­is­ter Mus­cat came un­der fire once again by Busut­til for “re­sist­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion, and re­sist­ing the truth com­ing out in court”.

This is with ref­er­ence to a case filed in court by Busut­til for a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion to be launched over the Panama Pa­pers scan­dal, which was ac­cepted by the courts. Lawyers rep­re­sent­ing the PL had vo­cif­er­ously pe­ti­tioned and ob­jected to this.

Panama Pa­pers sur­rounds the scan­dal where it was found that Min­is­ter Kon­rad Mizzi and the PM’s chief of staff Keith Schem­bri had se­cret com­pany’s in Panama shel­tered by trusts in New Zealand.

A year af­ter, blog­ger Daphne Caru­ana Gal­izia rocked Malta af­ter claim­ing that the PM’s wife is the ul­ti­mate ben­e­fi­cial owner of the elu­sive third Panama com­pany Egrant Inc, to which mul­ti­ple court cases have been found with the con­clu­sions re­main­ing a mys­tery for now.

Mus­cat cat­e­gor­i­cally and un­equiv­o­cally re­jected the claims.

“They bought thou­sands of votes, thou­sands of jobs were given, peo­ple were re­ceiv­ing cheques and they did not even know why. No won­der we lost the elec­tion.

“They hi­jacked our in­sti­tu­tions, and weak­ened our po­lice and At­tor­ney Gen­eral. We may have lost the elec­tion but we had the moral vic­tory, be­cause we chose the right track.”

Turn­ing to the last mass meet­ing be­fore the gen­eral elec­tion at Fosos square in Flo­ri­ana, its big­gest rally of the cam­paign, he said that all those who took part did so for hon­esty’s sake.

He ap­pealed for the public to start think­ing about the com­mon good, rather than the cul­ture that has taken hold of only think­ing about in­di­vid­ual ben­e­fits.

In his in­tro­duc­tory re­marks, Busut­til said:

“It is im­por­tant to take the cue and know when to stop and make space for others. I feel that af­ter the last gen­eral elec­tion re­sult, this mo­ment has come for me. I be­lieve that it is bet­ter to recog­nise this mo­ment with­out some­body mak­ing the choice for you.

“I did not take this de­ci­sion be­cause I have given up, I did this be­cause I be­lieve in po­lit­i­cal ac­count­abil­ity and re­spon­si­bil­ity. I prac­tice what I preach. Through this move, I am giv­ing a mes­sage to our politi­cians and to PL politi­cians, that we should lead by ex­am­ple.

“If I say some­thing, I need to be cred­i­ble. From Mon­day, I will be start­ing a new role, but I will not leave the party and I will not give up my seat. I will con­tinue to give you a voice.”

He spoke of for­mer prime min­is­ters Ed­die Fenech Adami and Lawrence Gonzi for be­ing in­spi­ra­tions.

Mak­ing ref­er­ence to numer­ous re­marks that Busut­til’s style of pol­i­tics is a Euro­pean one, he said that this makes him proud be­cause such a style val­ues trans­parency, high stan­dards and good gov­er­nance.

Turn­ing to his ar­guably big­gest suc­cess, bring­ing fi­nan­cial sta­bil­ity to the party as the ex­ec­u­tive has claimed, Busut­til said that de­spite los­ing the elec­tion the party con­tin­ues, it man­aged to fund an elec­tion, kept up pay­ing in­ter­est pay­ments and kept up salary pay­ments.

Busut­til en­thu­si­as­ti­cally said that he will do his best to help the new leader, who­ever it may be, and pro­vide a use­ful han­dover of the party’s state of af­fairs.

Onto the lead­er­ship elec­tion, which has been par­tic­u­larly gru­elling, he cau­tioned for the new lead­ers to unite the party and make it stronger than ever be­fore.

Busut­til made ref­er­ence to the speak­ers pre­ced­ing him, who hap­pened to be new mem­bers of the party, say­ing that he is proud to have brought such bright can­di­dates on board, in par­tic­u­lar Michael Briguglio.

Prior to Busut­til’s ad­dress, a fea­ture was played out­lin­ing his suc­cesses as Op­po­si­tion leader, mainly hav­ing to do with re­cov­er­ing the party’s fi­nan­cially pre­car­i­ous po­si­tion and be­ing a sym­bol against cor­rup­tion.

The fea­ture spoke of his great per­sonal sac­ri­fice through his fight against cor­rup­tion.

Photo: Michael Camil­leri

Out­go­ing Na­tion­al­ist Party leader Si­mon Busut­til bids farewell af­ter his fi­nal speech as party leader. His suc­ces­sor is be­ing elected to­day

Photo: Michael Camil­leri

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