Against my better judgement, and health, last Friday I joined most of Malta and watched the political debate between the Prime Minister and Joseph Muscat.
It took me a while to write this, not only because I needed a few hours to recover from the coma I inadvertently fell into, but also because the one good rebuttal that caught my attention involved an elusive Brazilian company that took me a while to identify.
Whilst I'm in principle against electing politicians for their debating skills, I have to admit that I hold great admiration for people who can think on their feet and come up with good timely responses even during a heated conversation and when under pressure.
Let's face it, not many of us are capable of this, in fact most of us end up thinking of the perfect answer to an uncomfortable confrontation hours if not days later, then we spend days on end rehearsing our perfect response in front of a mirror, wishing we had thought of it during our heated conversation. Surely you've done this at one point or another in your life.
But when it comes to politicians, especially a Prime Minister and his potential successor, good and timely retorts is the least you expect. Unfortunately we didn't get that many on Friday, except for the one I mention above. For the sake of those who were wise enough not to waste their time watching the so called debate, here's a brief explanation of what happened.
In his opening statement, the PM mentioned a new international company that was about to set up shop in Malta. Joseph Muscat retorted by saying that during another debate the PM had announced that an aviation Brazilian company was meant to set up shop in Malta but that to date there was no sign of this company. The PM answered back saying that the Leader of the Opposition was misinformed because the Brazilian company had in fact relocated its headquarters from Brazil to Malta.
Now the thing is this - whilst the PM managed to make Joseph Muscat look stupid at the very beginning of a long debate, he conveniently (or perhaps not) failed to mention the name of the company that he was referring to. He also failed to specify the sector it was involved in and led the audience to believe it was in fact an aviation company. At this point, Joseph Muscat didn't push him for this information, making the 'leader' look even more unprepared and out of his league.
Now, just a couple of days later the issue is still shrouded in mystery, or so the Government would like it to be, but just a quick search on the internet, and some poking around has led me to, lo and behold, a Brazilian construction company that relocated to Malta in June. Now of course I could be wrong about this, but how many Brazilian companies do you think we have or ever had here ? I think I'll take my chances.
In my opinion the company is none other than Oderbrecht Solutions Malta – a huge Consturction Brazilian company which relocated to Malta after the Libyan crisis.
Now, with a name like Oderbrecht, I initially did give the PM the benefit of the doubt of having sincerely forgotten its name during the debate, but having learnt that the company never quite took off and is actually closing down and relocating again, I doubt this was this case.
Of course these are things that happen and no Government or anyone else has full control over such happenings. They do, and should however, have control over the messages they disseminate.
Bottom line – Joseph Muscat should have known about this situation before challenging the Prime Minister with a half-baked retort.
If the Prime Minister knew about all this then he should have just let Joseph Muscat win one, if he didn't, well then, he should have!
As Mahatma Gandhi once said "Honest disagreement is often a good sign of progress" but I'm not sure that's what I'd say happened during last Friday's debate. Do you?