‘A principal candidate in an oligarchy’
Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando claimed that there were at least 10 other government MPs who wished to vote with the opposition on the motion calling for Richard Cachia Caruana’s resignation from Malta’s Permanent Representative in the European Commission. He declared his intention of voting for the motion while calling on the Prime Minister not to call for a vote of confidence because he would support the government until the end of the legislature as was his duty as an elected representative.
Mr Pullicino Orlando said he enjoyed good relations with Mr Cachia Caruana and coordinated with him as chairman of the Malta Council for Science and Technology. It was not true that he had personal difficulties with him. The motion claimed that a public official had shown disrespect for democratic norms as stipulated in the Constitution. Parliament and a free press had to be respected.
Mr Cachia Caruana would surely be considered as a main candidate in an oligarchy. He had a lot of influence with many people including journalists and opinion makers. His acolytes included Lou Bondi’, Andrew Borg Cardona, Fr Joe Borg, Ivan Camilleri and Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Mr Cachia Caruana did not see eye to eye with certain journalists like former The Times deputy editor Roger Mifsud, who on May 13 had written that Mr Cachia Caruana was an unscrupulous bully and in a particular case had reported him to the then Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami.
Dr Pullicino Orlando declared that these acolytes had been used to attack people who did not bow to Mr Cachia Caruana’s whims. Those who were attacked included Guido de Marco, John Dalli, Jesmond Mugliett, Louis Galea, Ninu Zammit, Jean Pierre Farrugia, Michael Frendo and Robert Arrigo.
This total disrespect for democracy prompted Martin Scicluna, defence adviser to the Prime Minister, to declare to a newspaper that “ministers and parliamentary secretaries were treated with utter disdain by him and his remark on ‘bicca deputat’ (a mere MP) with regards to Franco Debono rings true”.
Dr Pullicino Orlando said that there were at least 10 government MPs who felt that Mr Cachia Caruana had on a regular basis used his personal influence to try to remove MPs from their office. This was utter disdain to democracy. He said that he had been used as a sacrificial lamb before the 2008 general election on allegations made by the then Leader of the Opposition Alfred Sant in this regard. He added that Carm Mifsud Bonnici had been used to consolidate the core Nationalist vote while he had been used as a puppet by Mr Cachia Caruana on the unjust allegations.
He had accepted to do his utmost so that the issue would not damage the PN. He had accepted to let Mr Cachia Caruan lead him on the matter in facing Dr Sant with the result that the electorate was swayed in favour of the PN. Dr Pullicino Orlando said that it was a vile act after the election that Mr Cachia Caruana started campaigning for his removal from Parliament. He used the media to call for his resignation and had even lied to the Prime Minister about him.
Ms Caruana Galizia refused to form part of this campaign and had defended him (JPO). She had declared that it was serious business when a political party brought its machinery to bear on an MP to resign. She told him that Mr Cachia Caruana had instigated her to join the clique calling for his resignation.
Dr Pullicino Orlando said that the Nationalist Party had been weakened and had lost genuine and effective militants. He did not doubt that the WikiLeaks cable was true. The Prime Minister himself, in giving evidence before the Foreign and European Affairs Committee, did not deny the cable. It was clear that RCC preferred to negotiate and offer support to Turkey’s bid to join the EU disregarding Parliament.
WikiLeaks reported that Mr Cachia Caruana had met Turkey’s EU ambassador offering him support while Turkey expressed its availability in helping Malta find a solution on the PfP issue.
Mr Cachia Caruana knew he was acting wrongly and had connived with foreign countries as the cable had revealed. He advocated the apporach that Malta had never withdrawn from the security agreement with the PfP. He had even hoped that this action could be taken before Turkey’s decision on EU accession.
Dr Pullicino Orlando declared that on the Turkish issue, Mr Cachia Caruana had acted against the European Popular Party’s policy and against the wishes of the Maltese majority. No discussion had been made within the PN parliamentary group and Parliament. However, he committed Malta’s support to Turkey for accession because he had negotiated with Turkey for Malta’s re entry in the PfP.
It was obvious for those who respected democracy that Malta had terminated the PfP agreement as expressed in the electoral mandate given in 1996. This meant that the government could not re activate the agreement without parliamentary approval.
In his introduction, Mr Pullicino Orlando declared that he was not going to comment on Franco Debono’s attitude. When Dr Debono tried to raise a point of order, Dr Pullicino Orlando told Dr Debono not to be rude and to learn how to behave with others.
Dr Pullicino Orlando agreed with Dr Zammit Dimech that the situation that led to Minister Carm Mifsud Bonnici’s resignation could have been avoided if the Debono motion had been debated in Parliament before the opposition’s motion.