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A leader must lead by example

Opposition leader Adrian Delia said on Sunday the police were free to ask him any questions they wanted about allegations of suspected money laundering in connection with a London prostitution ring. He insisted he had only been acting as a lawyer, he never broke the law and he never laundered money whether for himself or for others.

He was speaking after The Sunday Times of Malta reported that the police were investigating the allegations on the basis of a report by the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit handed over last March.

Dr Delia said when contacted he was not aware of the investigation. Well, now he knows and political correctness should have made him at least suspend himself from the leadership – if not from all political activity – until the investigation was concluded. More so when he himself and the party he heads have, rightly, been insisting that Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi and the Prime Minister’s top aide, Keith Schembri, should step down in view of the serious allegations they face.

It also bears pointing out that when the conclusions of the Egrant magisterial inquiry were published last July, Dr Delia asked his predecessor, Simon Busuttil, to suspend himself from the PN parliamentary group in view of the declarations he had made when he was party leader. As many would recall, it had been alleged by slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia that Egrant, a Panama-registered company, belonged to the Prime Minister’s wife. They had denied the allegation and the inquiring magistrate found no proof linking them to Egrant.

One might argue that Dr Delia was acting on the conclusions of an inquiry while, in his case, the police are still investigating. Indeed, but in the Soho claims, the suspicions raised by the FIAU involve him directly. The shadow is cast on him, on the party he heads and the Opposition he leads, an Opposition, it must be pointed out, that nowadays is made up of MPs from two parties: the PN and the Democratic Party.

The PD is, of course, not happy with the situation. Indeed, its leader, Godfrey Farrugia, and fellow MP Marlene Farrugia have written to Dr Delia asking him to immediately suspend himself from his constitutional role of leader of the Opposition.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat finds himself in a quandary, a catch-22 situation. The stand he opted to adopt over the past months in retaining Dr Mizzi and Mr Schembri and continuously saying he preferred to await the outcome of inquiries in their regard leaves him with little elbow room with regard to the uncomfortable situation Dr Delia now finds himself in.

As it happens, both large political parties are in a fix. They cannot point fingers at each other because they both must look in the mirror first. Where is accountability? What about good governance? Whither standards in public life?

The biggest losers are, of course, the people but also politicians and political parties themselves, which must submit themselves to the verdict of the electorate.

Lacking the courage to do what is fit and proper will prove the former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger right when he said: “Ninety per cent of the politicians give the other 10 per cent a bad reputation.”

Politicians must lead by example, more so, the leaders.

This is a Times of Malta print editorial

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