Whither Marlene Farrugia?

Is it just to introduce abortion by any other name? Another good reason I can think of, is to put the PN in a quandary... and the PN promptly swallowed the bait – hook, line and sinker!

Last Wednesday MP Marlene Farrugia tabled in Parliament a private members’ bill proposing the decriminalisation of abortion.

While Malta is the only EU state that bans abortion, whatever the cause, the draft legislation contrasts with the declared position of both sides of parliament.

Maltese women who seek an abortion today normally go to neighbouring Sicily or to the UK to have the procedure. Others purchase abortion pills online. In spite of its illegality, therefore, abortion in Malta is not a rare thing.

The PN immediately reacted saying it could never back the decriminalisation of abortion, assuming a permanent hard anti-abortion stance.

Farrugia’s announcement came a day after an approved PN election candidate withdrew from the PN, saying that she felt disconnected from the party and that she was ‘shut down’ when she tried to pitch ideas on subjects such as women’s rights and health. That’s food for thought!

The bill will also ensure that no medical professional will be criminalised for medical assistance they provide to others. This is, of course, the real important change in the law.

One article she wants to introduce to replace those that will be deleted says: ‘Any person who for non-medical reasons, by means of violence, force, deceit, bribery, threats and/or coercion, causes the termination of the pregnancy without the person’s full and informed consent, shall unless the fact constitutes a more serious offence under any other provision of this Code, be liable on conviction to imprisonment of between four to ten years.’

Farrugia’s bill does not only mean that a woman who decides to abort her foetus can no longer be accused of a crime, and therefore the possibility of being sent to prison for her crime is removed from the statute books; the proviso regarding the protection of medical professionals who help a woman to procure an abortion is the real issue that matters in the proposed law.

As regards the decriminalisation of abortion, this is an almost imaginary exercise in the case of women who opt for abortion. During the last fifty or sixty years, as far as I can recall, no woman was ever accused of abortion in Malta; let alone being sent to prison for it. I do remember one or two cases – ages ago – when persons who procured abortions (and acting as unlicensed doctors) had to face court proceedings, but the police never accused in Court any woman who did have an abortion.

So why is Marlene Farrugia doing this? Is it just to introduce abortion by any other name? Another good reason I can think of, is to put the PN in a quandary... and the PN promptly swallowed the bait – hook, line and sinker!

The great story is that Marlene Farrugia is a Member of Parliament thanks to Simon Busuttil and to the PN voters of the tenth district (Sliema/St Julian’s). They certainly never suspected that their vote for Marlene Farrugia could be used in this manner!

The naivété shown by Simon Busuttil when he decided to allow members of another party to appear on the PN list has now been completely denuded. I know it for a fact that Simon Busuttil ‘negotiated’ the arrangement with Marlene’s imaginary ‘party’ on his own and then presented the PN executive with a fait accompli. That is the way the big champion of the rule of law ran the PN! In fact, Marlene’s party had announced the deal before it was presented for approval to the PN executive.

The viper was welcomed to sit cosily in Simon’s shirt sleeves – as the Maltese idiom puts it. Such mistakes will come back to haunt whoever does them.

It was Simon Busuttil’s ham-handed manner when leading the PN that led to the post-election sentiment that ‘anyone’ but the PN establishment was preferred. Adrian Delia’s election to PN leader was not the result of so many PN members admiring him, but the result of him being the only candidate in the PN leadership that was cut off from the old regime.

Eventually, the old regime struck back and was persuaded that Bernard Grech would better fit their specifications, despite his lack of experience. The result is more disappointing opinion polls for the PN.

And Marlene Farrugia has now done her best to push the PN numbers down! Marlene’s motion is not just a stupid, reckless, solo act. It is just more damage to the PN.

Is this Marlene’s last hurrah or will this lead to yet another resurrection of this devilish political actor?

Who broke the law?

The Malta Chamber of Commerce has reacted to the National Audit Office’s damning report on a €274 million direct order awarded by St Vincent de Paul by calling for a level playing field for all business and full transparency in public tenders.

As the Chamber rightly pointed out that “as public procurement accounts for a substantial portion of the taxpayers’ money, governments are expected to carry it out efficiently and with high standards of conduct to ensure high quality of service delivery and safeguard the public interest.”

The NAO report expressed doubts about whether the deal secured value for money, and found that no political authorisation to enter into a negotiated procedure with the consortium was requested and provided by the parliamentary secretaries involved. The NAO said the contract was in breach of the law.

In this case, who broke the law? What’s the use of the NAO declaring that a contract was in breach of the law while hiding from everybody the names of the people who negotiated the contract with the private consortium?

My point is that there is no such thing of a law being broken with nobody being responsible for breaking it! The NAO report does not indicate even one person with whom the contractors negotiated on behalf of government but simply said that the law was breached!

And when the NAO says that the law was breached, do not the police investigate how and by whom?

Interestingly, the Financial Regulations make no mention of any punishment due to whoever is found guilty of breaching the regulations. I assume that such action is indicated in the principal law.

Is it too much trouble for the NAO and the Police to look into this?