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WATCH: ‘You Lot Gave Free Fridges And TVs!’: Rosianne Cutajar On The Warpath After Orangegate

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Labour MP Rosianne Cutajar has called out unnamed PN politicians for giving out free fridges, televisions, microwaves, and other appliances to their constituents.

In Parliament last night, Cutajar accused Repubblika of adopting a two-weights-two-measures approach after the NGO reported her to the police for ‘treating’ after she gave out small bags of oranges to residents of a Qormi nursing home.

“[Repubblika president] Robert Aquilina called for a police investigation because I handed out oranges to elderly people. Their lot don’t hand out oranges ahead of elections… they give fridges, microwaves, televisions and any appliance you can imagine, particularly on some districts.”

“Then when they’re in government, they start dishing out public land on the eve of elections. But wonder of wonders, Repubblika got offended by a few oranges and forgot everything else.”

Cutajar took a personal dig at Aquilina, accusing him of putting on an act for the cameras but then avoiding her in the streets.

“I’ve seen him walking down Republic Street before but he either bows his head as though he didn’t see me or crosses the street. He never spoke to me about a few oranges or anything else.”

“I suggest that if he likes making appearances so much, he can do like his brother [PN MP Karol Aquilina] did and contest a general election so that we can have another addition to the Opposition’s clique of arrogance.”

Robert Aquilina retorted by reminding Cutajar how he and other Repubblika activists had visited her office earlier this year to pressure her to resign as Parliamentary Secretary for Reforms, but that Cutajar refused to meet them.

“I didn’t hold back when I had to confront the President of the Republic six days after the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, and I certainly won’t have any problems confronting Rosianne Cutajar. However, I will do so decorously because my criticism towards her isn’t motivated by hatred but by strong disapproval of her behaviour.”

In her speech, Cutajar also challenged Aquilina to ask his brother whether he ever gave free goodies to elderly residents during his tenure as Siġġiewi mayor. She also questioned why the Repubblika president didn’t report PN MP Jason Azzopardi for ‘treating’ after he donated food to an anti-charity charity in his district.

Azzopardi has explained that his gift cannot be classified as “treating” because the ultimate recipients of the food won’t know who had gifted the food items to them.

However, Cutajar insisted that if her gift broke electoral laws, then Azzopardi’s did too. 

“But it seems that Jason Azzopardi and Opposition politicians are allowed to make these gestures in their districts, while we [PL politicians] need to get permission from Repubblika to visit our elderly people and be close to the people,” she added sarcastically.

She added that her ‘orange’ gift was intended to show respect to elderly people, and not score political points, questioning why she would even need to seek political mileage when surveys have consistently placed the PL miles ahead of the PN.

The General Elections Act criminalises “treating” – the act of providing or accepting food, drink, entertainment or provisions which were handed out with the intention of corruptly influencing electoral choices.
People found guilty of treating are liable to a fine of up to €1,160 or imprisonment of up to six months. However, this law isn’t enforced and it’s common practice for politicians to dish out freebies to their constituents in the run-up to an election.

Have you ever received a freebie from a politician?

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Tim is interested in the rapid evolution of human society brought about by technological advances. He’s passionate about justice, human rights and cutting-edge political debates. You can follow him on Twitter at @timdiacono or reach out to him at [email protected]

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