Three atypical Appointments of ‘Speakers’ from among Members of the House: Political Expediency, Temperance & Restraint in use of Public Funds.

Commentary in two parts by Dr Hermann Farrugia.

Part Two (continued from previous post) 

It is interesting to note how this unusual positioning by Malta’s most formidable Socialist Prime Minister resurfaced twice after January 1982. Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami must have certainly (although manifestly more subtly) nurtured more or less the same notion  of imparting the civic message for the necessity for continuity, his requirement to avoid fragmentation of our Nation’s human resources as well as the urgency for proper control of Public Spending. After the fatidic April 2003 General Election (wherein the Popular Vote went in favour of confirming Malta’s EU Accession) he had apparently felt upbeat and possibly over-comfortable with his repeat 35:30 seat Majority in the House. He had subsequently reaffirmed the role of veteran Gozitan MP Mr Anton Tabone (who had just been returned to Parliament after an unexpected lapsus in the 1998 General Elections) and retained him as Speaker for Parliament’s Tenth Legislature after having been first appointed to the Chair of The House as a defeated candidate in 1998.  
However the most surprising yet stoic decision of the three episodes being discussed here happened just prior to mid-point in the subsequent Eleventh Parliamentary Legislature  that followed the tight-rope ‘photofinish’ result of the March 2008 General Election. Prime Minister Dr Lawrence Gonzi then brinkly ‘enjoyed’ a razor-thin Parliamentary Majority composed of one sole seat (35:34). Nonetheless, after his initial and vastly unquestioned decision to propose Party heavyweight yet then freshly and bitterly defeated Candidate Dr Louis Galea as Speaker for the initial part of the Legislative term, later opted to recommended him to the prestigious post at the EU Court of Auditors. Consequently, inspite of the ever intensifying  callous cascade of internal Party strife and constant unremitting Labour Opposition adversity verging on real calumny, Prime  Minister Gonzi surprisingly persevered and had no qualms in opting to select to the Chair of the House Dr Michael Frendo , a then sitting most valid member of the Nationalist Parliamentary Group who had incidentally been returned to Parliament through the process of a Casual Election wayback in 2008. This unexpected decision at near mid-term had also been facilitated by the fact that a determinedly obstinate Prime Minister Gonzi had upon his Election quite unstrategically gone for a very condensed form of Cabinet. Although this shortfall had led to Dr Frendo’s failure to be assigned a Ministerial Portfolio, paradoxically this enabled his eventual appointment as Speaker of the House during the latter troubled sequence of our Parliament’s Eleventh Legislature.
Now, necessarily turning to our present day’s ‘Game of Thrones’, Parliament of Malta’s Fourteenth Legislature was gallantly inaugurated last Saturday. The previous Labour Government’s meticulously applied pre-Electoral Stratagems and profoundly determining Power of Incumbency has predictably enabled Labour to reap ‘abundant fruit’ and inevitably regaled Prime Minister Robert Abela with the largest imaginable electoral Jackpot in the form of a Nine (44:35) Parliamentary Seat majority. Yet Dr Abela paradoxically opted to handpick and reconfirm Dr Anglu Farrugia as the Hon Mr Speaker. This was most probably a semi-hearted yet somehow inevitably proper choice made from beyond the confines of Labour’s Parliamentary Group. Dr Farrugia has been re-elected by simple Parliamentary Majority to the most prestigious Chair of The House. 
This option appears to have been taken with the obvious intent of  favouring the notion of Merit, rewarding competence  and hardwork, maintaining stable continuity and peace-of-mind through the delicate Role assigned. Yet there ought have been furthur considerations that would have brewed in the Prime Minister’s mind. It has been after all a straightforward preference by Dr Abela when one cannot miss observing the very limited Human Resources that were effectively available to him at the level of the Government’s Parliamentary Group. One must necessarily consider the extent by which Labour Parliamentarians (18 plus 6) having already been handpicked to form an integral part of Dr Abela’s magnanimously sized Cabinet as they serve in their assigned Ministerial and Parliamentary Secretariat Roles. The remaining set of twenty so called Government Back-Benchers ( as are after all a good half of the Nationalist Opposition complement of young freshly-elected MPs) is constituted by a novel mixture of semi-skilled or unskilled Apprentices who obviously seem manifestly inapt for the job.  The complete list is compounded by the handful of resilient reelected People’s Representatives who perceptually tend to belong to Abela’s ominous ‘Muskateer List’. They have therefore been rendered politically ‘aberrant’ as functional MPs and inspite of their experience and former commitment would never be in a position to get easily nominated to any high profile Constitutional Office.                                     
On the other hand, yesterday the Nationalist Opposition’s official albeit ‘divided’ disapproval of Dr Anglu Farrugia’s unprecedented successful sequence through his third successive appointment to the Chair ought have been veritably better articulated and explained in this its full proper historic Parliamentary context.Instead the Opposition appeared  lamentable and ought already be feeling remorseful. It simply and immaturely drags along…on and on… insistently pointing out its one same-sole-sorry excuse. Indeed this irresponsible attitude has been based on a now already quite outdated pretext. Openly deciding to stir up baseless animosity and dissent instead of manifesting a reasoned sense of temperance and sober propriety is politically inopportune in the context of the ‘aura of fresh young hope’ that was expected to be generated in this new Legislature’s Inaugural Session in full exposure of the Public eye.

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