Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia has insisted that he is willing to accept criticism levelled against him over his political work, but he could never accept having his family being dragged into the controversy.
Farrugia was asked about a recent spat he had with the satirist behind the popular website Bis-Serjeta after it poked fun at Farrugia over the fact that his mother often comments beneath his posts.
“When family members are brought into it, that’s not on,” Farrugia told Lovin Malta during an interview this week. “When your kids or your parents are mentioned, especially if they’re going through difficulties, that’s not on.”
Ultimately, Farrugia said that he understood that as a politician he was always going to be subjected to criticism online. “I read comments and sometimes I engage too, even if sometimes something happens [like the Bis-Serjeta incident].”
Farrugia was very frank about his engagement online, arguing that politicians needed to remain in touch with the public.
“I read the comments. I know others who don’t but I do bother reading them and sometimes I also bother answering. Just this morning, I answered a few comments,” Farrugia said.
According to the minister, many people commenting online are “genuine” and simply looking for answers from their representatives. “You reply to them, sometimes you might forward them a link so they can read about whatever initiative they are concerned about.”
Then there were those who had “their own agenda and whose only interest is rubbishing everything”.
“I accept that because this is a democracy at the end of the day. But it is very important for a politician to keep in touch with these blogs and comments online because you get an idea of what the people think, and sometimes you even understand that what you’re doing isn’t being communicated well.”
What do you make of Farrugia’s comments?