I saw this yesterday when the Speaker got his lawyer Ian Refalo to write on his behalf because he couldn’t bring himself to write to Matthew Caruana Galizia.
This letter should be immortalised as perhaps the final nail in the coffin of our Parliamentary democracy. The list of reasons for this is very long, the following just enough reasons I can bring myself to quote without falling into such despair that silence becomes preferable, as it has been for the last 24 hours since I first saw it and, even I, could not speak:
- Anġlu Farrugia thinks it’s beneath his dignity to reply to a letter from a citizen of the country that elects the Parliament he presides. He gets a lawyer, external to the civil service assigned to him and under his authority, to do so for him as if he wasn’t the highest official in one of the three branches of government of the country, but the semi-literate owner of a village butcher responding to a complaint about blood letting on the pavement. Anġlu Farrugia’s behaviour is royal, rather than Parliamentary, and I don’t mean that in the dignified benevolent Scandinavian king who goes to the grocery store on his bike; I mean it in the l’état c’est moi, off with their heads, let them eat cake sense. Imagine that, having a democracy, having a Parliament, having a Speaker of the Parliament elected to speak on behalf of all our representatives but being, quite literally, prevented from speaking to the Speaker.
- Anġlu Farrugia thinks it’s beneath his dignity to even receive a letter from a citizen of the country. ‘Don’t write to me, I don’t know where you’ve been.’ Caligula would have blushed to try this. Our Speaker gets his lawyer to quote “proper parliamentary procedure” to tell Matthew Caruana Galizia he must avert his eyes in the presence of His Fetid Exaltedness. All letters must be sent to the Clerk of the House instead. What proper parliamentary procedure? This piece of grotesque bullshit does not exist in the Maltese parliament. I doubt it exists in any Parliament anywhere that has abolished burning at the stake as an appropriate penalty for farting in the general direction of the king, or the Speaker. And I hate to say it – well, not so much – but Ian Refalo must be the most expensive worthless piece of shit since a Byzantine emperor convinced barbarians the city’s sewers were sought after real estate.
- Anġlu Farrugia gets his lawyer to patronise a citizen referring to laws and court decisions without quoting them or bother to argue their relevance to the matter being discussed. It must be the way either Farrugia or Refalo or both spoke to their mothers when they wanted to justify breaking curfew assuming their mothers would have been unable to look up the law or the court case they were citing. The laws he refers to are irrelevant and the court case he refers to is the grotesque embarrassment that records in history that Matthew Caruana Galizia was entirely correct about Anġlu Farrugia trying and failing to sue Daphne Caruana Galizia for telling the story of when the Speaker (then police inspector) wrongfully arrested the journalist (then a young protester).
- This quote is the last bite of the zombie: “May I assure you that in the best interest of democracy and the democratic Government of Malta the Speaker (will not resign)”. For fuck’s sake. Our Speaker, openly, and unashamedly says it his job to protect “the interest of the Government”. It. Bloody. Isn’t. Idiot. Has nobody told Anġlu Farrugia he’s not a government minister? Hasn’t his lawyer Ian Refalo – whose grasp of basic constitutional principles would sound tyrannical in the shared latrine of Rameses II’s battle camp – told Anġlu Farrugia that the Speaker’s job is to protect the interest of Parliament, not the Government, and the two are not the same thing?
Read Lawrence Gonzi’s post on this subject and remember he is not just a former prime minister. He is a former Speaker in office for many years. And it would be the fact that he is a former Speaker (rather than a former party leader or prime minister) that would have forced him to intervene, something he does too rarely and with remarkable reluctance.
Or alternatively watch this clip recently from the British House of Commons and see how a Speaker is supposed to behave, not to defend the interest of the government but to keep it in check to defend instead the interest of citizens.
Remember where this started. Anġlu Farrugia got instructions from the committee of standards in public life to give a stern warning to Rosianne Cutajar after she was found to have accepted cash gifts from Yorgen Fenech and then spoke on his behalf in Parliament. Among other things. He voted for those instructions for crying out loud. In place of a reprimand, Anġlu Farrugia got the Clerk of the House to send Rosianne Cutajar an illegible information briefing, what must in the world Farrugia and Cutajar inhabit amount to a flirtation.
Anġlu Farrugia would not dare send a reprimand worthy of that description to the MP caught taking cash from, speaking in Parliament in defence of, and for the sake of completion allegedly secretly shagging, a man the state charged with killing a journalist. But he sends a stern reprimand shutting down the dead journalist’s mourning son. Because that makes sense.
Please, take me away from here since no one seems willing or able to stop Anġlu Farrugia protecting the interest of the Government, not just against Matthew Caruana Galizia, but against every citizen who might ever presume to write him a letter and ask him to do his job. Against you.
Incidentally, that’s an idea. Defy “proper Parliamentary procedure” and write a letter to the Speaker telling him what you think about this. Maybe just print this out and send it to him in an envelope. His address is [email protected] or L-Ispeaker, Il-Parlament ta’ Malta, Il-Belt Valletta. Take a snap of your letter before sending it to him and send me a copy. Let’s show this guy who’s boss.