Chaos in the House

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

What we wit­nessed in Par­lia­ment on Wed­nes­day evening was shock­ing on many counts.

The sit­ting turned out to be one of the row­di­est and rud­est we have seen in years, with MPs be­hav­ing more like bul­lies than dig­ni­fied rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the peo­ple. The com­mo­tion was sparked by com­ments made by former Op­po­si­tion leader Si­mon Busut­til, who again said he be­lieves, along with “many thou­sands,” that Egrant was owned by Prime Min­is­ter Joseph Mus­cat. This time round, he went one step fur­ther and ac­tu­ally ac­cused the prime min­is­ter of tam­per­ing with ev­i­dence.

He was, in part, get­ting re­venge for the pre­vi­ous day, when a red-faced Mus­cat ac­cused him of be­ing a liar, fraud­ster and forger. Many were shocked when Busut­til said on Tues­day that he still be­lieves the prime min­is­ter to be the owner of Egrant. When we learned that Busut­til would speak dur­ing ad­journ­ment time on Wed­nes­day, we did not think that he would ac­tu­ally take things fur­ther.

What Busut­til is say­ing jars heavily with what his leader stated when the Egrant con­clu­sions came out – that the PN has full faith in the in­quir­ing mag­is­trate and that he re­spects the con­clu­sions of the in­quiry. It is al­most cer­tain that Busut­til’s par­lia­men­tary

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speech was not sanc­tioned by the party lead­er­ship.

The former leader is re­peat­ing his pre­vi­ous mis­take – that of lev­el­ing wild claims against the prime min­is­ter with­out be­ing able to back them up with ev­i­dence. While parts of his ar­gu­ment might make sense, the fact re­mains that the in­quiry did not find any proof that the elu­sive Panama com­pany be­longed to Joseph and Michelle Mus­cat. With­out proof, claims re­main just that – claims.

The Egrant in­quiry con­clu­sions were a great em­bar­rass­ment for Busut­til and the Na­tion­al­ist Party in gen­eral, and harp­ing on about the sub­ject will only make Busut­til look like a stub­born politi­cian who re­fuses to ac­cept the re­sult of a pro­tracted in­quiry headed by a re­spected mag­is­trate.

When Busut­til first made the claim on Tues­day, Adrian Delia, sit­ting a few feet away, looked be­wil­dered and em­bar­rassed. He de­fended Busut­til – he sim­ply did not have any other choice.

Delia was not in the cham­ber when Busut­til spoke again on Wed­nes­day – in fact most MPs were ab­sent – but a Na­tion­al­ist MP who is close to the Delia clan, Her­mann Schi­avone, came out on Face­book to dis­tance the party from Busut­til’s claims. What hap­pened in Par­lia­ment on Wed­nes­day fur­ther ex­posed the huge rift within the Na­tion­al­ist Party. Now let us turn to the tense at­mos­phere that has gripped the House over the past cou­ple of days. MPs who spoke to this news­pa­per said that they had never ex­pe­ri­enced this level of ag­gres­sion in Par­lia­ment. One MP noted that, on Tues­day, a po­lice of­fi­cer had to be sta­tioned out­side the cham­ber at one point. The sit­u­a­tion on Wed­nes­day was even worse. Gov­ern­ment MPs used shame­ful tac­tics to stop Busut­til from speak­ing, rais­ing points of or­der ev­ery cou­ple of min­utes and hurl­ing in­sults from across the room. At one point, gov­ern­ment MP Glenn Bed­ing­field was sent out for swear­ing. He later jus­ti­fied his ac­tion by say­ing that Busut­til had “made him lose it.”

One might not agree with what Busut­til was say­ing, and the former leader did make some very se­ri­ous ac­cu­sa­tions against the prime min­is­ter, but MPs should be al­lowed to ex­press them­selves and face the con­se­quences later. The rules are there for this rea­son, and not to be used and bent to serve as a muz­zle.

The funny thing is that, ear­lier in the day, the Labour Party had, in a press con­fer­ence, re­ferred to Busut­til as “ir­rel­e­vant.” One wonders, then, why such a co­or­di­nated ef­fort would be mounted to keep an ‘ir­rel­e­vant’ MP from speak­ing.

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