Former PN candidate George Muscat has opened up about how he felt sidelined by the party and how it even tried to censor some of his social media posts.
Interviewed by Lovin Daily this week, the Qormi councillor warned his former party lacks a political vision for the nation and is too “negative” in its tone.
“We can’t say that corruption is good but we can’t say that everything is bad either,” he said.
Muscat recounted how he recently uploaded a Facebook post in praise of Prime Minister Robert Abela’s announcement of two new fast ferry services linking Malta and Gozo.
However, two top PN officials – secretary general Francis Zammit Dimech and communications head Alessandro Farrugia – called him up and told him to delete the post.
“I welcomed the fast ferry news. I’m a very progressive person and I want to call good things good and bad things bad, regardless of whether they’re coming from the PL or the PN.”
“Just because I formed part of the PN camp didn’t mean I wanted to say that everything is bad, and I would get worried when uploading comments and posts.”
“However, they told me to understand that I had shared the Prime Minister’s post.”
Muscat said he deleted the post to keep the peace but that many people asked him why he deleted it, seeing as he had done nothing wrong.
He resigned from the party earlier this month, both as a candidate and a member (tesserat), while maintaining his position at the Qormi local council as an independent councillor.
It came around month after the resignation of candidate Tiffany Abela-Wadge who, just like Muscat, warned the PN didn’t allow her much autonomy to speak her mind.
During his time at the PN, Muscat, a secondary school Maltese teacher, also formed part of an internal cluster set up to discuss and draft education policies.
However, he warned that his proposals – such as giving teachers an option to retire after 25-30 years of service to prevent burnout and improving conditions at several schools – were either ignored or else picked up by PN colleagues who weren’t even involved in education policies, and who would take credit for those ideas.
“I feel the PN needs someone to shake it up and make it ask itself why people are leaving. I often asked them why they aren’t showing their valid candidates and why I had to reach this point.”
In fact, Muscat said he was never invited to PN press conferences, TV shows and debates, and Bernard Grech’s public visits.
“Sometimes I would get invited to radio shows but I would practically have to beg them for it,” he said. “It was always the same faces on TV shows and people often asked me where I was and why the PN never showed me.”
“People are less saddened that I left the PN than because they have lost a valid person who could have done good.”
Muscat added that he was hurt by the way Grech didn’t even reach out to him after he resigned.
“I have friends in both the PL and the PN and many PL MPs messaged me after I resigned… even the Prime Minister wished me well. Unfortunately, my own leader didn’t reach out to me and ask me what my problem was, and that hurt.”
“When I resigned, I cc-ed Grech and Zammit Dimech and Zammit Dimech called me up immediately to request a meeting.”
“However, I had requested several meetings in the past to pan out certain issues but they never materialised, so I apologised to Zammit Dimech and told him that I had made my mind up and wasn’t going to attend this meeting.”
With Malta set to head to the polls within the next 12 months, Muscat admitted he had his doubts on whether the PN will be able to win.
“You need a strategic plan on how to draft policies,” he said. “It’s useless to just sit and fight on which candidate will appear on TV and which one will appear on a radio show. Discussions should focus on how to improve Malta.”
“The PL is doing well because it is close to the people and is listening to their grievances. Of course, they don’t do everything right, we’re all human after all, but you have to remain close to the people all year round and not only when an election is approaching.”
“It’s useless to visit a businessperson and ask how they’re doing with all those cameras and candidates swamping you. You should sit down with them and truly ask them what they think needs to happen. I’m not seeing this happening, especially nowadays. There needs to be a clearer vision under this leader.”
“One of my ideas was that the PN should propose building on the good that [former Prime Minister] Joseph Muscat did and not fear telling people this. If you just criticise all the time… speaking as George, negative people bother me.”
And Muscat is keeping his options open for the future, not ruling out a potential switch to the PL.
“I don’t want to make rushed decisions and it’s too early to respond on whether I will move to the PL or not,” he said. “However, I feel comfortable with everyone and work with everyone, regardless of their political colour. What’s important to me is that I can work for a better Malta.”
Alessandro Farrugia responds:
Following the interview, Alessandro Farrugia sent Lovin Malta this response to clarify his communication with George Muscat.
“I refer to the article in question. For the record, with regards to the allegations posed by Mr Gorg Muscat please note that whilst I confirm that he was contacted in writing re a post he posted, it is pertinent to underline that Mr Muscat immediately replied that this was done in error, stated that he wanted to share a different post, expressed his concern as to how this had happened, thanked me for drawing his attention to it and that as a result he would be removing it out of his own volition immediately.”
”I trust that this clarifies an intended misrepresentation of facts.”