St Julian’s mayor Albert Buttigieg has hit back after the PN gave him a 24-hour ultimatum to substantiate his claim that a party official had colluded with a big businessman to undermine his election campaign.
In an email to PN secretary general Michael Piccinino, Buttigieg said he has nothing to add to what he wrote in his Times of Malta article and has no intention of divulging his source.
“I trust that we can agree that the ethos of the PN includes the uncompromised will and the moral imperative to fight against sleaze and to uncover uncomfortable truths about unacceptable behaviour by people who should know better,” he wrote.
“With this in mind, I wrote the truth. I owe it to myself, to the Party whose values drive my daily political activity and to my constituents to be truthful and prevent others from going through what I went through.”
“This is not about me and/or my ‘political journey’, which is coming to an end but about the political class and the national well-being begin hijacked by the greedy few.”
“May I kindly draw your attention that your press statement, ‘give us proof’, sounds similar to what the Labour Party say when accused of sleaze!”
In his bombshell article today, Buttigieg said that a long-standing acquaintance of his informed him of a meeting that took place at the beginning of the year between a high-ranking PN official and a ‘fat cat’ at a hotel.
Without naming the two people, the mayor said the businessman has “vast commercial and construction interests in St Julian’s” and that he only found out about it after the election.
The mayor said the businessman specifically asked the PN official to “shut him [Buttigieg] up” and the party official promised to oblige.
He linked this alleged meeting with the way the PN machine displayed favouritism to other candidates during the general election campaign.
Rather than taking proactive action to investigate these claims, the PN gave Buttigieg a 24-hour ultimatum to substantiate his allegation in front of the party’s Ethics, Discipline and Social Media Commission.
The PN had taken the exact same stance with Jason Azzopardi after the former MP claimed this month that two relatives of murder suspect Yorgen Fenech had donated money to the PN in return for the party campaigning for Fenech to be given a presidential pardon.
Rather than face the commission, Azzopardi opted to resign from the party entirely.
Buttigieg is opting for a different route, arguing that he didn’t infringe any part of the PN’s statute.
“If I have to pay a further price, let it be! It is better to die on one’s feet than to live on one’s knees,” he said.
“I only asked pertinent questions and maybe uncomfortable ones. If you consider them worth investigating, then it is up to you as General Secretary to follow them. I encourage you to be proactive.”
“What it is indisputable is that I am on record in underlining that I was side-lined prior and during the campaign. This leads me to trust that as Secretary General you ought to request why this occurred and what were the reasons, which lead to this.”
“Although the scar of betrayal deeply hurt, I have not resigned (and have no intention in doing so). I intend to continue working for the common good of my locality.”
“I have no problem in meeting you and discussing further.”
Buttigieg was elected St Julian’s mayor at the 2019 local council elections with 1,069 votes, almost half the votes the PN won in the town.
If the party expels him and Buttigieg opts to go independent, it will mean that PN St Julian’s councillors will represent fewer votes (1,209) than their PL counterparts.
What do you think of the PN’s new strategy with regards to critical politicians?