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At last, something Joseph and Simon can agree on

Constitutional reform is back on the menu

With what seems to have become a daily deluge of claims and counterclaims, rumours, gossip and comments, and the increasingly fractious relationship between Muscat and Busuttil, it’s nice to report that the leaders of the two largest political parties have finally agreed on something.

Way back, when the premiership was merely a life challenge in Muscat’s eye, the then Leader of the Opposition called for the creation of a Second Republic.

At the time many people were confounded and puzzled. And indeed many reacted in pretty much the same way as Gary Coleman often did in the sitcom Diff'rent Strokes: ‘Whatchu talkin’ about Joey?”

That question got even louder when, just a couple of weeks after he achieved his lifetime’s ambition, Muscat appointed Franco Debono with the specific aim of ‘prepar(ing) the terms of reference for a constitutional convention”.

That, needless to say, didn’t happen. Indeed what did happen was the sound of an even larger chorus declaring, ‘Say what?’

Amongst those were some of Muscat’s buddies such as Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici who said, “There is no reason to create a Second Republic if it means destroying the foundations of the First Republic”. He was particularly irked by the suggestion that the neutrality clause should be changed. Yes, that old bugbear.

Then there was Alfred Sant who said “I do not believe we need to bring about radical changes in the Constitution”, although he did call for a temporary provision mandating female quotas in Parliament and public bodies.

So Muscat must be quite smug to find out that his opposite number is now also calling for radical changes. Yesterday (Sunday) Busuttil promised a “radical renewal” of the Constitution.

He added: “I pledge that a PN government would commence a consultation process to renew the constitution to ensure that there are fool-proof ...independent structures led by persons of integrity”

And that is precisely the problem at hand.

Ironically it was the former prime minister Alfred Sant who pinpointed the problem some time ago: “I believe the Constitution is as good as it is managed. I think it has not been managed in good faith.”

After yesterday’s report in The Sunday Times of Malta concerning the lack of action taken by the Attorney General and the Police Commissioner on the issue of ‘kickbacks’, after the resignation of the previous commissioner and the head of the FIAU for what increasingly looks like a reaction to that resignation, one must ask the question: are there any good men (or women) left out there?

To be honest we do not need a Second Republic, or a consultation exercise. What we need is for politicians to be stripped of their power to dictate who will be the chairperson or director of this or that board.

And we need those appointed to remember that they are responsible not to those who placed them there, but to the Maltese people who are paying for them to do the job they were appointed to do.

Four years ago Muscat’s battle cry was ‘meritocracy’ and ‘transparency,’ and we know where those ideas ended up.

Busuttil is now calling for independent structures led by persons of integrity. If he gets elected there will be a lot of us who will keep him to his word.

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