Watch this video from Net News. Clyde Puli uses his TV platform to reiterate the remarks he gave The Malta Independent. He explains the process of selecting candidates and criticises a ‘section of the media’, which the reporter specifies as Times of Malta, for deceiving its readers.

It was not just Times of Malta who picked up an issue with what Clyde Puli had said in his The Malta Independent interview on the subject. I had done so as well.

As I stated in an earlier post, any political party is perfectly entitled in my opinion to choose its own method of selecting candidates. But if, as Clyde Puli said in his interview with The Malta Independent, ‘good governance’ remains a core value of the party, then compliance with its own rules is imperative.

As things stand the PN is supposed to have an organ set up by statute to select candidates before ultimate approval by the Executive Committee. As Clyde Puli rightly explained (and The Malta Independent inaccurately reported him) the committee to select candidates is not constituted. Clyde Puli did not dissolve the committee. It went out of business when the 2017 election was called and the list of candidates for that election was completed and was never constituted again.

The statute provides for the members of the selection committee to be appointed by the Executive Committee. This has not happened.

In the meantime Clyde Puli announced that candidates have been selected by him for approval of the Executive Committee. He told The Malta Independent that “jonqos biss il-formalizzazzjoni ta’ dan il-proċess” which in this Net TV statement he clarified is passing the names through the Administrative and Executive Committees of the Party.

No mention of the Candidates Selection Committee.

You may think this is esoteric detail and an internal matter for the PN. And in many way it is. Except that with all the talk about the democratic choice of the current leadership, the party’s rules only allow the General Council of the party to change the party’s rules.

So the first issue we have here is a disregard for rules and poor governance.

But it got worse. Clyde Puli could have fudged his way out of this and said that when he said “jonqos biss il-formalizzazzjoni ta’ dan il-proċess” he also meant a review of the selection committee he was rushing to appoint. He could have gotten away with a minor blunder.

Instead he turned the guns on the journalists who reported this and said they were ‘deceiving’ (“qarrieqa”). He then proceeded to turn his trolls onto Ivan Camilleri of Times of Malta and on me, the charge led by his former driver. We were accused of misreporting Clyde Puli and actually lying about what he said.

No we weren’t. It’s all there on video. Twice.

It would be dangerous if discrediting journalists to cover up errors becomes a norm. All political parties, not just the ones in government, have a duty to respect free speech and the power to help suppress it.