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Watch: 'I've never seen a politician say "I'm sorry" ' - Justice Minister

Owen Bonnici defends Konrad Mizzi

Video: Rai 3

Did Elton John have politicians in mind when he sang the song Sorry seems to be the hardest word?  

Justice Minister Owen Bonnici would seem to think so, telling an Italian journalist working for Rai 3 that "I have never seen a politician say 'I'm sorry'". 

Dr Bonnici made the claim as he defended his Cabinet colleague and Minister Without Portfolio Konrad Mizzi in a TV segment about the Panama Papers aired as part of Rai 3 show 'Report' last night.

Konrad Mizzi apologised last May, in the course of a debate on a motion of no confidence in him. Photo: Darrin Zammit LupiKonrad Mizzi apologised last May, in the course of a debate on a motion of no confidence in him. Photo: Darrin Zammit Lupi

Speaking in Italian and with a hint of a smile crossing his face, the Justice Minister said that "Konrad Mizzi apologised to the public, which is a rare thing," before going on to say that he had never seen a politician apologise. He insisted that "nobody had done anything illegal" in the Panama Papers affair.  

A cursory Google search suggests ministerial apologies are not as rare as Dr Bonnici believes them to be. 

The search terms "minister apologises" throw up 621,000 results - including an apology Dr Bonnici himself made to the Times of Malta back in June 2015.

US presidential candidate Donald Trump - not known for his contrition - issued an apology just last week. Photo: ReutersUS presidential candidate Donald Trump - not known for his contrition - issued an apology just last week. Photo: Reuters

Modifying the search terms to "minister sorry" brings up a whopping 58.6 million results - almost four times as many as the 10.4 million search results Google finds for the terms "minister resigns". 

This year alone, political apologies have been issued by, among others: 

  • Donald Trump for his "vulgar" comments about women

  • Bangladesh's Information Minister for claiming lawmakers were involved in corruption
  • Canada's Prime Minister on behalf of the Canadian government for a racist incident that happened over 100 years ago 
  • The Czech Republic's Finance Minister for denying the existence of a WWII concentration camp for Roma

Although ministers seem to be far more inclined to apologise than to step aside, ministerial resignations have happened for all sorts of reasons. Among the ministers who have stepped aside this year, one finds: 

  • Japan's Economy Minister resigned in January after admitting to having taken funds from a construction company executive
  • Lithuania's Health Minister resigned in February after she admitted that she had bribed a doctor a number of years ago
  • Belgium's Transport Minister resigned in April following claims that she lied about an EU report
  • Iceland's Prime Minister stepped aside in April after being embroiled in the Panama Papers. Spain's Industry Minister resigned that same month for similar reasons
  • The Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan resigned in May after he was accused of interfering in a $100m road building tender
  • Kosovo's Environment Minister resigned in June after his name was mentioned in a medical bribery scandal
  • Brazil's Tourism Minister resigned in June after being accused of taking bribes
  • A Swedish minister resigned in August after being caught drink-driving 
  • Egypt's Supply Minister called it quits in August after being implicated in a scandal related to fraudulent wheat supplies
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