Journalist-activist Manuel Delia has opened up about events in his life which weigh on his conscience, including giving small bribes to Zimbabwe airport officials to help him get through passport control quickly.
“I knew that if I didn’t leave $20 in my passport, I’d have to spend six hours waiting at passport control,” Delia, who used to work in Africa, said in a podcast with Jon Mallia.
“Can you say I’m corrupt too? We all have things that weigh on our conscience, as do I, and I’m confessing to it.”
In his interview, Delia also revealed he regrets not doing more to push for the expulsion of former MP Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando from the Nationalist Party in light of the Mistra scandal.
Back then, Delia worked in the secretariat of former Transport Minister Austin Gatt.
“When I saw Pullicino Orlando crying and accusing [then PL leader] Alfred Sant of lying about him, I felt bad for him and would have voted for him if he was on my district,” he said.
“However, I got angry when I found out that Sant was right and it weighs on my conscience that I did nothing about it. I spoke internally but that’s it. The PN had a one-seat parliamentary majority at the time and they placed politics over ethics, when they should have kicked him out.”
And jogging his memory even further back, Delia said he had found out in the 90s that former Finance Minister John Dalli had offered his colleague illicit payments to convince him to join his ministry.
“Dalli tried to poach my colleague and told him he would end up party leader one day, and my colleague asked him if his salary will be the same – seeing as salary levels are set by Parliament. However, Dalli told him that he will give him some extra cash on the side every month which wouldn’t be declared.”
“He was Finance Minister at the time and I was shocked when I found out, but I didn’t do anything.”
However, Delia said that while such events prick his conscience, it’s balanced out by how he rejected other events during his tenure in public life.
“I often went on work holidays often but refused to take advantage of frequent flier miles, even though there were no rules about it, because those benefitted me personally while my trip was government work.”
“Once, I helped organise parking in Valletta and had a meeting with a cinema manager where we sorted some things out. He gave me two free cinema tickets but I sent them back because I was just doing my job; I assuaged my conscience that way.”
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