Civil society group Repubblika has written to Prime Minister Robert Abela to demand that he take action against the government’s members on parliament’s committee for standards in public life after they again refused to participate in a committee meeting.
Last month, Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis and Labour MP Glenn Bedingfield walked out of a committee meeting which was to discuss a complaint by Repubblika about their colleague Carmelo Abela which has been investigated by the Commissioner for Standards in Public Life.
The complaint was signed by Repubblika president Robert Aquilina, who is the brother of Nationalist MP and justice spokesperson Karol Aquilina. Karol Aquilina is one of the PN’s representatives on the committee.
The two Labour MPs argued that, given the relation, Aquilina had a conflict of interest and should therefore not be present for the meeting, which was not due to discuss the actual complaint, but rather the Commissioner’s report.
The committee was due to meet today at 10:30am, however Zammit Lewis and Bedingfield wrote to the Speaker of the House yesterday to inform him that they would not be attending the meeting.
“Repubblika expects you to take immediate and decisive action to ensure that ethical standards are upheld by your minister and members of parliament,” Repubblika told Abela, adding that he was “responsible for their behaviour”, even more so if he failed to take action.
“These puerile games are an insult towards the Maltese people by those who are meant to represent them.”
The voluntary organisation emphasised that the meeting had already been postponed as a result of the two MPs refusing to participate.
“A banal excuse is being used to cancel this meeting. In the meantime, you have a report that could indicate that Minister Abela broke the Ministerial Code of Ethics,” Repubblika.
“We also expect to know the result of the investigation into a complaint we made ourselves.”
Repubblika stressed that the government MPs’ manoeuvres risked making parliament “a place where those who are meant to be working for the whole nation are becoming a group of people whose only interest is in protecting and covering up for each other”.
Meanwhile, Zammit Lewis and Bedingfield have requested that the Speaker investigate leaks from the committee after the findings of the report were published in the media yesterday.
Newbook reported that the Commissioner had found Abela guilty of a breach of ethics. He did not reply to Newsbook’s questions on the matter.
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