Busuttil delivers final speech as PN leader, claims party won ‘moral’ victory
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.
Outgoing Nationalist Party leader Simon Busuttil bids farewell after his final speech as party leader. His successor is being elected today
Photo: Michael Camilleri