Don't do as I do. Do as I say.

Published: June 22, 2011 at 12:16pm

When Partnerxipp won the referendum, Alfred Sant urged his supporters to go out and celebrate

It has become fashionable for former prime ministers to render themselves foolish and irritating by telling us what they think, instead of maintaining a discreet silence for all manner of reasons.

Fortunately, one of the four surviving former prime ministers has gone ga-ga and is confined to barracks, otherwise we would have to contend with Dom Mintoff giving us his two cents’ worth too.

First we had Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici telling us, as fighter jets flew overhead to bomb his friend, that Gaddafi is a wonderful but much misunderstood man.

Then we had Eddie Fenech Adami telling us that MPs should overturn the divorce referendum decision and make divorce legislation an electoral issue instead. As Arnold Cassola put it, he is basically telling his successor to call a snap election and lose it. And as I prefer to put it, he thinks it is a ruddy good idea to sacrifice the country to five years of Labour and PM Muscat on the altar so that a couple of people can salve their consciences – a deeply immoral act in itself, but that doesn’t seem to occur to them. If they want direction from the New

Now we have Alfred Sant making a total ass of himself – you know, for a change – by hectoring us on democratic values and respecting the outcome of a referendum.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I think a former party leader and prime minister who continues to contest elections and retain his seat in parliament, while his party is led by his former poodle and former personal assistant’s husband, is bloody ridiculous.

Neither Sant nor Poodle Joe wanted that referendum on EU membership and both fought against it tooth and nail. Then when it became inevitable they campaigned hard to get us to – what was it again? – vote No, abstain or hassar il-vot.

We all know what came next. The Yes vote won and Sant and Poodle Joe weren’t having any of it. Poodle Joe went on to become party leader and say to an interviewer that with four years of hindsight he could see that the Yes vote won the referendum. And Sant could never stomach it.

The man who is telling the prime minister now to respect the result of the referendum back then did nothing of the sort. He got onto the back of a lorry, looking totally plastered and with his tie knotted somewhere beneath his ear, and slurred at the assembled mob of freaks that they should celebrate because partnership had won the referendum.

Then he went on Super One television, bookended by deputat mexxejja Joe Brincat and George Vella, the first looking as though he wished he could sink through the ground and hide, and said the same thing: “Minn illum il-quddiem nistghu nghidu li pajjizna jista jimxi fit-triq tal-Partnerxipp.”

Ma, x’imbarazz ta’ nies.

Just listen to Alfred Sant go this morning:

It would be the worst example of bad faith to retreat from what the outcome of a direct consultation of the people has decided, on the spurious grounds that this is a moral matter and beyond the principled decision that MPs are bound to take on issues which they must decide as representatives of the people.

But then of course he hangs true to form by telling us that it is all right for MPs to vote No or abstain and ‘respect the minority’. It must be of such great consolation to the prime minister to know that Alfred Sant thinks as he does. With luck, he’ll see it for the Red Alert wake-up call that it is.

47 Comments Comment

  1. Stephen says:

    Daphne, I was expecting and looking forward to your comments about the great ginger leader’s appearance on last week’s Xarabank.

    His performance offered critics loads of opportunity to rip him to shreds, and wipe that godawful smile off his face. Will we have the pleasure…?

    [Daphne – I didn’t watch it.]

  2. Erable says:

    We are witnessing the final scene of Fellini’s La Voce della Luna. The Micheluzzi Brothers have captured the moon and stashed it away inside a barn.

    Politicians and priests have mounted a massive propaganda campaign that merely addles the minds of a frazzled public, turning everything sacred into a tarnished, tired, profane pile of crap. Finally, a madman pops up, brandishing a pistol and screaming, “What am I doing here? Why was I put here in the first place?”

    “If we all quieted down a little, maybe we’d understand something.”

  3. David Ellul says:

    Daphne, but remember that Alfred Sant was against the EU referendum as soon as it was announced. Gonzi, on the other hand, was the first one who wanted the divorce referendum.

    [Daphne – Being against the referendum does not give you the right to ignore the outcome or the justification for doing so. The fact remains that the Labour Party participated actively in the referendum campaign and also gave its supporters instructions on how to vote. Therefore it was an active participant. ]

  4. A Grech says:

    No matter what Sant says, you have to find faults :))

    Alfred Sant has been very prudent during this whole divorce storm and what he said was also prudent. Why criticize him?

    In the EU referendum no one raised the conscience issue – it was just a political matter.

    [Daphne – Alfred Sant was ‘prudent’ – the word you’re looking for is discreet – during the divorce debate for the very same reason that Joyce Cassar, Marie Louise Coleiro, Eddie Fenech Adami, Stephen Spiteri and others should have zipped their lips. Their marital track record or that of their children does not withstand scrutiny.]

    • cat says:

      This has also been my personal opinion. Certain politicians should keep their mouth shut about certain issues. They can’t just pretend to speak about morality when in their own lives and the lives of their children there were situations that the Catholic Church does not approve of.

      [Daphne – In the former president’s children’s lives there are situations which the Catholic Church clearly approves of, but which nevertheless are perceived by others to be morally wrong. This is not just about religion. People who are not religious are perfectly capable of making moral choices and often make better ones than religious people because they do not use doctrine and dogma as an excuse for what is essentially bad behaviour.]

  5. Zian says:

    To me it seems that both Alfred Sant and Eddie Fenech Adami believe in democracy only when the majority happens to agree with them. It’s such a shame that Fenech Adami who was seen as the person who brought real democracy to this country would show us this side of him and it makes everyone wonder whether he would have really been so pro-democracy had the majority not always agreed with him for 30 years.

    • Antoniette says:


      Having an opinion and voicing it may not please those who do not agree with Eddie Fenech Adami on this issue but it does not make him undemocratic.

      This great man has strong Catholic beliefs and those beliefs made him a better politician.

      In my view, it was never his aim to please everybody; he only ever did what he felt was right.

      Most of us supported him because we could understand that he was right. By trying to question his democratic integrity just because you do not agree with him on this point you are showing that it is you who believe in democracy only in so far as it serves your goals.

      Dr. Eddie Fenech Adami can never, N-E-V-E-R, be compared in any way to Sant or any of the MLP’s leaders, and that is crystal clear and should go without saying.

  6. Norwegian Wood says:

    “And as I prefer to put it, he thinks it is a ruddy good idea to sacrifice the country to five years of Labour and PM Muscat on the altar so that a couple of people can salve their consciences ……”

    I am getting the impression that the PN itself thinks this is a good idea and is doing everything possible to lose the next election.

    After a number of blunders, a further 62 parking spaces in Tigne Sea Front Sliema disappeared overnight. Minister Gatt consoles us by reminding us that we can always use The Point’s parking facilities to be able to return to our homes.

    [Daphne – Please, please, don’t make me cringe any more than I do already when I see what passes for news here. Greece is about to collapse, Britain is refusing to cooperate on a bailout, NATO is bombing Tripoli 200 miles away, and back home on the ranch, the big debate is whether Arriva can drive down Bisazza Street and why the government should resign because 62 parking spaces have been wiped out at the Ferries. You know how some tribes used to send their adolescent males out into the jungle to survive alone for a while and catch a lion before being eaten? I think all Maltese adults should be sent away for a spot of real life elsewhere, because living here is like playing, electricity bills and all.]

    • Harry Purdie says:

      Daphne, I love when you vent your spleen and valiantly attempt to drag the plebes into the real world, such a difficult task.

    • el bandido guapo says:

      Daphne it is true that the loss of parking spaces in Sliema does not even rank on any scale of importance in comparison to the other news you refer to.

      But consider that if your friend breaks a leg, at best you may comment “miskin”, but if you prick your own finger, tell me which one feels worse.

      Unfortunately there are plenty of individually insignificant matters that the government seems to be getting wrong, and they add up. It can feel rather oppressive at times.

      Very very sadly, the alternative adds up even less, although by the looks of it, we’ll have to adapt.

  7. Dr Francis Saliba says:

    Apart from former Presidents of the Republic and apart from previous Prime Ministers are there are any more categories of people who should be deprived of the fundamental right to hold opinions and to express them?

    I know that there are some who would be eager to put me in that list but please note that I am asking for categories, not individuals.

    [Daphne – I don’t think anybody is talking about depriving individuals of their right to hold or express an opinion. I, at least, am talking about something quite different: discretion. An example: a mother-in-law has every right to think her son’s wife doesn’t feed him properly and that she shouldn’t expect him to iron his own shirts, and she has every right to say so. But we all know that in situations like that, discretion is the better part of valour, because saying what she thinks to her son’s wife will destabilise her relationship with her daughter-in-law, possibly her relationship with her son, and cause trouble between the couple. In the same way, Eddie Fenech Adami should avoid causing trouble for his own party by keeping a zip on it, hard though he might find it. He is the mother-in-law in the equation.]

    • Cookie says:

      Daphne, what if one day, one of your children starts dating a Labourite?

      [Daphne – A most hypothetical situation, given that the prerequisites for a sound relationship include a similar outlook. Being a Labour Party supporter in Malta is not about politics. Also, we don’t say ‘Labourite’, as in Semite and Hittite.]

    • silvio says:

      I fully agree, and the example of a mother-in-law is well thought. May I add that the best way for a happy family is for the mother-in-law to retire gracefully from the day to day life of her children, and when the day comes she (and we) should spend our last days reviving our memories in some home thus assuring ourselves that only our nice points are remembered by our loved ones.

      This, of course, goes for fathers-in-law as well (Eddie Fenech Adami, please note).

    • dery says:

      Dr. Saliba, it seems that you only defend the rights of others to express themselves when they express themselves in favour of your Roman Apostolic Catholic Church… the one and only beacon of truth and wisdom in this world.

  8. Harry Purdie says:

    C’mon, Daphne, you’ve got to give the weird, wigged wonder some credit for his consistency—consistently politically stupid.

  9. Joseph Vassallo says:

    If you think that Eddie is rendering himself foolish, you have gone ga-ga too! You cannot compare Eddie to the other three. You know the big differences – I do not need to mention them. What you should say is that Gonzi can no longer master a majority in Parliament and should call Pullicino Orlando’s bluff or call a general election. I do not think that it is healthy for the Country to continue to be governed at the mercy of the Mistra boy. How people forget! The Labour Party, or whatever it is called this day (It is still the same Partit tal-Haddiema, Malta Labour Party and Partit Socjalista – Bongu Malta), had criticised the Mistra Boy so much before the last elections and in the aftermath of their third consecutive defeat, but now Muscat (as Mintoff would call him) sees him as some sort of hero. MUSCAT’S principles continue to baffle me. You should compare Muscat, Gonzi, Mintoff, and KMB to eachother and leave the person who did so much for Malta in the past 30 years alone. Afterall, he won all elections but one (1981. 1987, 1992, 1998 and 2003 + referendum in 2003), so the Maltese people did see something good in him. The only election he lost was because the Maltese people were deceived by Sant – the people thought that Alfred would remove VAT. Sant did remove VAT but not the receipts.

  10. yor/malta says:

    A good way of clearing the cobwebs would be three terms elected and out, also no serving or ex mp can become president. A rather brutal way forward but new blood would be always filtering in.

  11. Steve Forster says:

    Playing devil’s advocate here, but don’t you think it’s part of a life cycle to have “life changing moments” where you think “WTF did I say or do there?”

    Albeit not being in a public persona which you have to approach completely differently if you choose to be visible to everyone on a daily basis.

    The whole basis of “whoring” yourself to every person in your constituency must be unbearable in Malta and makes you wonder where the politicians’ mindset comes from in getting involved in the first place.

  12. Dee says:

    I guess that a lawyer can still give valid legal advice even if he may be a convicted criminal himself. Same goes of a chain-smoking doctor when it comes to warning his patients about the dangers of smoking.

    When the people went to Christ to complain about the hypocritical high priests, he told them that they should do as the priests tell them, but not follow their bad example.

    • silvio says:

      I beg to differ.

      Lawyers and doctors are there to do a job. Priests, whether high, low or whatever, are there to teach, and the first rule for a good teacher is that of always giving a good example.

      Whoever tells us to do what they tell us and not what they do is only justifying hypocrisy.

  13. H.P. Baxxter says:

    I was revisiting an old boyhood classic and came upon this:

    “…thy conscience may be drawing ten inches of water, or ten fathoms, I can’t tell; but as thou art still an impenitent man… I greatly fear lest thy conscience be but a leaky one; and will in the end sink thee foundering down to the fiery pit…”

    From ‘Moby Dick’

  14. Dee says:

    Anyone happened to watch Marisa Micallef on TX this evening, cooing about Joseph Muscat? Is looking artificial and smug a pre-requisite for appearing on ONE TV?

    [Daphne – Perhaps, but behaving like a teenager with an erotic-romantic crush on the party leader appears to be a prerequisite for Marisa Micallef, who had all but to be stopped from brushing imaginary fluff off Lawrence Gonzi’s lapels at one point.]

    • dery says:

      One thing she did not look is ‘smug’. She seemed unsure and apologetic. While watching her I thought to myself that Joseph Muscat must have employed her because he thought that she could help him understand or appeal to the psyche of what he perceives as the typical PN voter.

  15. Matt says:

    @Joseph Vassallo,

    No doubt Eddie Fenech Adami is a giant in Maltese politics. In my opinion he is the father of modern Malta. He achieved this accolade without maliciously hurting anyone.

    You also have to realize that Mintoff’s antidemocratic regime frightened many many Maltese which elevated Dr.Adami’s persona even more.

    It pains me to see Dr. Fenech Adami making his comments like this in public. He can’t behave idiotically like Sant.

    The people decided and now the PN government must accept the verdict whether they like it or not- This is what we call democracy.

    If the people sees that divorce legislation is not wanted in Malta, in time, they will tell the politicians to reverse course. Again the people will decide.

    [Daphne – You cannot undo divorce legislation. The very idea is crazy and ridiculous. Only The Philippines did that. They had divorce under the Americans then pulled the law.]

    • David says:

      Not only in the Philippines was divorce repealed. France and Spain had divorce, then abolished it and later reintroduced divorce.

      [Daphne – Do you spend all your time nitpicking and quibbling, David? You’re talking of particular (non-democratic) conditions in the 19th century. When you make comparisons, try to stick to the same parameters: parliamentary democracy, 20th/21st century. Otherwise we might as well go all the way back to ancient Rome.]

    • Etienne A. Calleja says:

      ..and now they’re debating to re-introduce it.

  16. Etil says:

    Daphne – very good column in the Malta Independent today – ‘Religio et Patria – time to get rid of that one’. Hopefully the Nationalist Party will study this carefully before they lose the next election.

    Note to the Nationalist Party – time to move with the times and stop burying your heads in the sand. People are no longer voting with religion in mind.

  17. Matt says:

    Daphne, any legislation can be undone, including divorce, as long as the people want it reversed. In fact that is the basis of democracy- the majority of people freely decide.

    [Daphne – How do they do that? By getting the government to call another referendum? And no, it is not any piece of legislation that can be repealed as long as the people decide. Try repealing VAT and tax laws, for instance – national insurance, compulsory education, the laws that oblige you to maintain your children, criminal law that has to do with murder or violence or abuse. I don’t think you’ve thought this one through. For different reasons, a divorce law will not be repealed. Certain things, once they are in place, will not be undone because the consequences are too chaotic and disruptive.]

    • Etienne A. Calleja says:

      Matt what happens to people who have since divorced? What will their status be? Repealing divorce laws would also create two classes of people.

      Frankly, all talk of repealing progressve laws is primitive and Talibanesque in character. It also prevents a people from moving on.

    • jb says:

      [Daphne – How do they do that? By getting the government to call another referendum?]

      That’s exactly what was attempted in Italy. The divorce law was passed in 1970, and an abrogative referendum asking voters whether they wanted to repeal the law was held in 1974. In the meantime, several thousand couples had obtained a divorce.

  18. Dee says:

    My two eurocents worth on the subject;

    I was one of those who voted NO. I may not agree that what the majority wants is necessarily what is good for the country and society in general.

    However I feel uneasy about the blatent attempts being made in certain quarters to delay the introduction of divorce legislation at all costs.

    The vast majority voted YES and trying to thwart their will is, as far as I am concerned setting a dangerous precedent.

    One does not have to be a seasoned political analyst to understand the reason why MPs who were elected in an overwhelmingly NO district are unhappy about voting YES in parliament. Humiliating them, as Dr .Busuttil pointed out is simply not on.

    I think it is about time that Mr Prime Minister summoned enough gumption to:

    1. ask his predecessor to please keep quiet in public;
    2. order his anti-divorce MPs to stay at home on the day of the vote in parlament;
    3. put his money where his mouth is and vote YES, not as plain Lawrence Gonzi the MP with a concience, but as Dr.Gonzi THE PRIME MINISTER OF MALTA WHO PROMISED SOLEMNLY TO RESPECT THE WILL OF THE MAJORITY.

  19. il-Ginger says:

    And now for something completely different…

    [Daphne – Shame that for all talk his talk of ‘pah-r’, he then says inHARitence.]

  20. dery says:

    I usually have no time for pompous and convoluted writing. However this piece by Ranier Fsadni ( ) sets out a good argument for the defence for the recent behaviour of our ex PM.

    [Daphne – This piece is neither pompous nor convoluted.]

  21. dery says:

    Let me clarify what I said about Ranier Fsadni. He is older than me but for a time we attended the same school and I know how we were encouraged to write English. It was correct but old fashioned and not real world at all.

    I was made very aware of my language shortcomings when I started working with Germans who are known to be efficient even in the language they use. I once submitted a report that started with “Gibt es einen großen Mangel an Informationen” ( In English that would be ‘there is a great paucity of information”). But the person who saw this basically told me that I sounded like a pompous ass and corrected this to : “Gibt es sehr wenig Informationen”. (in English this would be ‘there is very little information).

    That was my first lesson that economy in language is often a good thing when one is trying to communicate ideas.

    • Etienne A. Calleja says:

      Your German interlocutor’s lack of appreciation of refined English (or German for that matter) only highlights his shortcomings and not yours.

      A dearth of linguistic skill and total linguistic ineptitude have inhibited our capacity to think and to form cogent arguments. This new breed of individual now criticises those he cannot understand as being pompous and aloof.

      Had I been in your position, I would have told that patronising German friend of yours exactly where to stuff his advice.

      • Interested Bystander says:

        Hear hear

      • Esteve says:

        Well, I’d think twice before correcting somebody on how to express themselves in their mother tongue. One also has to appreciate in what context the phrase was written (formal / informal).

        Each language has a different style. Sometimes it is difficult to use the right style in a foreign language because the necessary cultural context (the “feel”) of the language is missing. It is easy to end up coming across as too aggressive or too weak.

        In my opinion clarity is king. To communicate a complex idea in a simple, concise and clear manner actually demonstrates one’s linguistic skill.

  22. Matt B says:

    In other news, the EU has expanded its horizons and now has 74 members – according to Maltastar, of course.

    *If they fix it by the time this comment is uploaded, I have a photo to prove their mistake.

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