Hold yourself to your own standards, Franco, and resign

Published: November 6, 2011 at 10:55am

This is my column in The Malta Independent on Sunday, today.

I have been checking the news to see whether Franco Debono has done the honourable thing and handed in his resignation as the prime minister’s parliamentary assistant.

I have not been disappointed.

The man is still there, expecting to carry on serving in that capacity, carry on collecting his extra remuneration while doing nothing to earn it, or waiting for the prime minister to sack him so that he can justify – to his narcissistic soul at least – kicking up another ruckus in parliament when the budget allocation for the justice ministry is put to the vote.

Because it is now an open secret: Franco Debono wants Carmelo Mifsud Bonnici’s job. He wants to be minister of justice.

It goes without saying that the Honourable Franco Debono has not held himself to the high standards he lays down for others. He has not done the decent thing and resigned after his vulgar and totally unnecessary personal tirade against his boss, who was sitting directly in front of him in parliament on Friday.

Perhaps he will do so this week, but let’s not hold our breath or we shall need to be resuscitated.

Debono was supposed to speak about the buses and present cogent arguments as to why a cabinet minister should resign.

Instead he begged or borrowed 50 minutes of the Opposition’s speaking-time for a ranting-and-venting session that was more appropriate for a psychologist’s consulting room (“Tell me why you think you suffered at the hands of the prime minister and Lou Bondi, Franco…here are some tissues.”) than for parliament, with practically the entire country tuning in to listen to him unburden himself.

His voice “quivered with emotion”, The Times said. Emotion? I think it was the excitement of being in the limelight with the whole of parliament held hostage.

And then, of course, he had to wrap things up by running down his boss, who was seated directly in front of him, to great applause by Anglu Farrugia and other assorted and inept scum in what should be, to him, the enemy trenches.

But like damned fools throughout history, Franco Debono spies enemies in his own trenches and reaches out instead to grab at flying gifts from the real enemy, discovering only too late that they are grenades.

In Debono’s curious world view – perhaps they do things differently in Hal Ghaxaq – you can publicly insult and denigrate your boss as the entire country listens, then blithely carry on working as his parliamentary assistant ghax m’ghandux x’jaqsam.

I expect nothing less from somebody who spent an hour on the telephone trying to convince me why he was perfectly justified in taking on Cyrus Engerer as a client when it meant he would have to conceal the facts of Engerer’s prosecution from their party leader and prime minister, for whom he was supposed to be working as a parliamentary assistant.

“Jien irrid niekol ukoll,” he said to me.

If so, it’s certainly not because he’s got a wife and six children to support or a household to run, because at the age of almost 40 he still lives with his parents and goes out on dates with his long-suffering girlfriend of many years, but let’s not go there because some people might say li m’ghandux x’jaqsam, even though I think it does, and plenty.

Oh yes, Franco Debono should have resigned a long time before now, but he didn’t and he’s not going to do so any time soon because the world owes him a living and he owes the world nothing ghax miskin kemm baghta, u hadd ma baghta bhalu, jahasra.

Exactly what did Franco Debono gain for himself or for anyone else by creating that build-up of tension and then abstaining from the vote?

To abstain is to sit on the fence, and those who sit on the fence, as I like to say, end up with a fence-post up their nether regions.

He has gained nothing and pretty much lost everything, including the all-important trust of his political peers and his constituents.

Vallapena, eh? It was really worth voting Louis Galea out to let in this crock of wotsit instead. I can’t see them doing it again, just like round my neck of the woods we’re not going to be tripping over ourselves to vote for Pullicino Orlando.

And Debono hasn’t even won the respect of the Opposition, not that the Opposition’s respect is worth tuppence, because he failed to give them what they want and vote in favour of their motion.

By painting himself with such fabulous intelligence into this tight little Alfred-Sant-like corner, Debono has earned for himself the contempt of both sides of the House. Facebook is teeming with comments from Labour supporters calling him a desperate and directionless individual who lacked the wherewithal to go all the way (translated from the sub-literate), and from those who support his own party and who would like to see Debono put in the stocks and pilloried for all the pointless trouble he’s caused.

The most frightening thing about Franco Debono right now is that, like others with the selfsame psychological flaws, he has absolutely no sense of perspective.

His needs and desires loom larger than anything else. His problems are the country’s problems.

If he’s got a beef with the transport minister, the transport minister’s personal assistant or the justice minister, then that beef must perforce eclipse the eurozone crisis and the need for everyone to pull together and do what they can to avert as much as possible of the inevitable fall-out for Malta.

While the world – yes, the world, because stocks and shares plummeted internationally at the imminent threat to the euro – held its breath as the Greek parliament took a vote of confidence in the government, back home on the Valletta ranch our own parliament was forced into the incredibly surreal position of having to discuss the all-important Franco Debono and his feelings of pain, suffering and being hard done by.

It wasn’t even about Austin Gatt, was it. It was All about Franco.

The euro was a hair’s breadth away from collapse, the Greek vote went through with a razor-thin majority, and here we were in Malta, talking about godforsaken buses and Jahasra Poor Franco’s emotions. His behaviour verges on the criminally irresponsible, plummeting to the level of the Opposition’s, which acts and speaks as though there is no world outside Malta.

To quote a report by the Press Association, “a week of unending drama in Athens has horrified the indebted country’s European partners, spooked the markets and overshadowed the Group of 20 summit in Cannes. (…) The threat of a Greek default or exit from the euro worsened a European debt crisis that has already forced massive bailout deals for Greece, Ireland and Portugal.”

And in one of those European partner nations, the prime minister was taken up with other important business: coping with a spoiled brat throwing a shrieking hissy-fit at the supermarket check-out counter because he wasn’t allowed to have two Mars bars and this made him suffer most horribly.

If I were Franco Debono’s mother, I would have given him a good slap a long time ago, but he’s clearly had a lifetime of being told that the world revolves around him, when the people who turn out well are repeatedly reminded of the precise opposite.

A British expatriate friend emailed me on Friday. “I am lost for words,” he wrote. “It is like the outside world doesn’t exist for Malta. First Libya, and now the EU is crumbling and nobody seems to care. I don’t remember having one conversation about Libya with a Maltese person. When will people wake up?”

I’ll bet he isn’t having many conversations about the EU either, given that all people seem to want to talk about is buses, even if they haven’t ridden one since they were at school.

You know what? Franco Debono Syndrome is a lot more widespread than we think.

27 Comments Comment

  1. Tinnat says:

    Well said, Daphne. Very well said.

  2. maryanne says:

    Here’s another one with two weights and two measures, one for himself and one for others.

    “In a changing world, considering the eurozone and the fiscal situation, I can’t bind myself to certain details today. I can’t change my position in 10 months time,” Dr Muscat tells The Sunday Times in an interview today.

    The Labour leader says he expects Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi to carry out his pre-electoral pledge to cut the maximum income tax rate in next week’s Budget or else admit it was a false promise.”


  3. Hot Mama says:

    Undoubtedly the Hon Franco Debono ( I use ‘Hon’ in jest for there is nothing honourable about this man, as his girlfriend would know, miskina) would view this article as another reason why he has been portraying himself as the latterday Joan of Arc.

    He is a martyr for principles and no one has acknowledged this!

    One caveat: the principles only hold up when they serve him.

    I have no words to describe what I think about this ‘man’. I do not have a way with words like you do, Daphne, other than I am disgusted.

    As for The Times, ‘Quivered with emotion’ indeed. What are they now, Barbara Cartland?

    I’ll give them ‘quivered with emotion’:

    Dear Allied Newspapers, it is about time you put your house in order. You disgust me too with your not-so-hidden agenda(s) and posturing as the prime source of news.

    Allow me to tell you something: this primacy has long been snatched from you by internet sites like this one.

    I, for one, no longer buy your rag, nor do I go online except to read some blogs or check who’s died.

    Now I’m quivering with emotion, too.

  4. Emma says:

    Franco’ s agenda is not even clear tohimself.

    He has not understood that get a seat in the cabinet you need to work and be loyal to your party.

    The guy is completely delusional if he thinks that by trying to eliminate people around him he will become a Minister.

    What is the difference between him and Emanuel Delia? Franco has been in parliament for three and a half years and since his election he has disappeared from his constituency.

    He is far too busy going from strategy to strategy to acquire a cabinet portfolio.

    Emanuel Delia has been working for the government for many years, taking part in decisions that have avoided giving us a similar catastrophe to Greece, privatising the ship Yard and removing subsidies on water and electricity.

    This is where people really show their primary interest . Franco shows his thirst for power, Delia takes criticism for things that needed to be done and helped the country grow.

    People will know how to choose when the time comes.

    • A. Charles says:

      A man from Hal Ghaxaq, who votes PN, told me that between Franco Debono and Manuel Delia there is a “bahar xjaqsam”. Franco Debono is yesterday’s man already, he said.

  5. Stacey says:

    So the Labour party has a top-secret plan on how to reduce water and electricity bills.

    Joseph Muscat cares so much about il-familji Maltin that he is waiting “for the right time” to reveal the plan.

    In the meantime he is prepared to keep his familji Maltin “suffering” till it suits him, even if that is for another year and a half.

    If he really has a plan, he should tell the prime minister about it so that we can put it into practice starting now and save families from paying more for another 18 months.


  6. J Farrugia says:

    That is what I call a great article. Well done

  7. il-Ginger says:

    Thank you for the quick post. The Malta Independent on Sunday was out of stock.

  8. Martin says:

    It was not about Austin Gatt or Arriva or Franco Debono’s ego.

    It was about ministerial accountability and good governance.

    And that is more important than any crises for, without them, there is no hope of progress.

    [Daphne – Yes, and no doubt you’re one of those who thinks that when your wife makes a scene because you’ve left the top of the toothpaste tube off again, it’s because you’ve left the top of the toothpaste tube off again, and not because you’re pissing her off in general. Crises – plural; crisis – singular.]

    • La Redoute says:

      About the toothpaste: when a wife makes a scene about toothpaste, it’s not because you leave the top off the toothpaste tube – it’s because you have done it a thousand times already and have done it again, knowing how much it irritates her.

  9. Martin says:

    Erm – no, apparently you are the one who thinks that, judging by this article.

    Thanks for the correction.

    [Daphne – You know Franco, do you? Maybe you’ve had conversations with him? Long ones? Well, then.]

  10. rustic fairy says:

    I never saw Reno Bugeja getting so flustered as he did yesterday.

    Debono’s arrogance started coming out in waves from the TV set.

    Another problem is that he knows he is not bad-looking either . If I were his girlfriend I would ditch him if he is so reluctant on making a commitment..

    And as for living with his parents at his age!

    I can imagine his Mummy washing his underwear and warming his dinner ghax miskin Franco ghadu l-Parlament u min jaf kemm ikun bil-guh.

  11. Carmel Scicluna says:

    Franco Debono affaxxina ruhu mit-teatrin ta’ Mintoff fil-1998 qabel qaccat ras Sant. Il-kelma ”qassata” kien uzaha anki Mintoff, tiftakru?

    Franco ried jaghmel xihaga simili. Bid-differenza li kbira hi d-differenza u vast hu l-bahar jaqsam bejn Mintoff u dal-qrempucu mhejjem, li se jintebah kif tilef il-qaleb u l-gbejna wara l-elezzjoni generali li jmiss.

    Ommu missha kienet ittih xebgha fuq sormu kuljum. Ghax ghandu xebgha fsied li ma nghidlekx.

  12. ciccio2011 says:

    This article is what I regard as an exercise in democratic accountability. I am sure Dr. Franco Debono will be happy to read it. He defends the principles of democracy so staunchly.

    • A. Charles says:

      He should read it but he would not understand it and say “Defni writes for people who hate me; I will tell mummy that she (Daphne) is picking on me and I hate her”.

  13. pazzo says:

    A case of delusional grandeur. Franco should study chess moves. Sometimes an opponent gives you a queen and then what? Checkmate.

    I take it that Franco studied Latin? Timeo danaos et dona ferentes.

  14. Matt says:

    “The broadcasting media today is worse than it was in 1980?”….. What a boob.

    People risked their lives so that the people could receive some kind of a fair balance on the air waves from another neighbouring country.

    Franco is very dangerous to the party and country.

    He is purposely trying to destabilize the government and consequently many people livelihoods. The Nationalist Party without hesitation must kick him out.

    The parliament seat does not belong to him. Since he was elected under the party ticket and not as an independent, the seat belongs to the electors and his party.

    People voted for him because he promised to support and represent his party. For God’s sake we are not talking about treason here, but rather about controversial bus routes.

    Instead he betrayed his electors and the party. He betrayed and abused our democracy to fit his nefarious agenda.

    He must go. The PN must to be strong and sends a no-nonsense message.

    Franco must be forced to leave.

  15. Dee says:

    Great article.

    First things first, Dr Debono. First go and grow up in the real world and learn how to fend for yourself and assume the responsibility of a a family of your own .

    THEN aspire to tell us how to do things.

    You are a “mammone”, through and through.

  16. Neil Dent says:

    An excellent article, Daphne. You’ve expressed exactly what I was thinking while listening in live during the debate in parliament, and then some.

    I’ve never heard such a cry for attention. Arani ma, everyone listen to ME! Do what I say! DO WHAT I SAY PRIM MINISTRU!

    Yelling, directly at Dr. Gonzi, criticising the Prime Minister, Dr. Debono’s direct boss, and leader of Dr. Debono’s party, (supposedly his party) there in parliament in the face of ‘the enemy’ (yeah right).

    Go, Dr. Debono, and go now. You’re done here.

  17. carmel says:

    Let democracy work please, keep it up Franco.

    [Daphne – Funny that it’s only Laburisti who are telling him to keep it up, whether it’s women hoping he’ll keep it up them, or people like you, who hope that this shoddy fool will be Labour’s Trojan horse.]

  18. Today the buses tomorrow the world says:

    Franco sounds like a self-centered asshole but that No vote to legislation that voters had backed in a referendum has already come back to haunt the PM.

  19. Min Weber says:

    Also, it’s nobody’s fault but the PN’s.

    They have known for ages that Franco spends a lot of time with Jose’ Herrera. Min jaghmilha maz-zopp, gheluq is-sena bhalu jsir.

    Herrera must have scored points with Muscat, by promising and delivering him damage to the enemy camp and damage to his former competitor at school.

    That’s what you get from bad company, Franco.

  20. Chris Ripard says:

    I’m sorry, but the point had to be made that the changeover to/by Arriva WAS a disaster, the €400’000 consultancy fees were a complete waste of my money and yours and yes, someone should be held responsible. Why is nobody mentioning this?

    For all his faults, I back Dr Debono for upholding the principle of accountability. U kif!

    I’ve stated many many times that the PN’s downfall will eventually be its inability to listen to the taxpayers it has so far studiously ignored, so as to continue throwing their money at every problem this country faces. After 25 years of PN government, there is still rampant tax evasion, 30’000 jobsworths directly employed by the government (proportionally, must be the free world’s highest) and another 10’000 in quangos.

    Yes, we’re free, yes, we’re in the EU, but boy has it cost!

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