Nationalist Party assistant secretary-general/Delia campaigner forged signatures of party electors to collect their voting documents

Published: September 22, 2017 at 11:48am

Malta is alight this morning at the news that Jean Pierre Debono, the Nationalist Party’s assistant secretary-general and the only member of the party administration who did not tender his resignation after the electoral defeat last June, forged the signatures of party electors to be able to collect their voting documents without their knowledge.

The crime was discovered when one of those electors turned up at the Nationalist Party headquarters to collect his document, only to be told it had been picked up already by somebody using his proxy. He was adamant that he had not authorised anyone to do that.

An internal inquiry before the election for the party leader last week, with checks on the list, revealed that the PN’s assistant secretary-general had forged not one but many signatures to collect other people’s voting documents in this manner. The information by the inquiry committee was kept secret and not revealed even to the party’s secretary-general, Rosette Thake, or its then leader, Simon Busuttil.

This is particularly disturbing, because forgery of many signatures by the party’s assistant secretary-general so as to collect voting documents would have been grounds for invalidation of the proceedings. Instead the proceedings were allowed to proceed.

This is what I mean about ‘bad people’ – and how no good can come from them. You simply cannot trust them at any level because they have no ethics and no barriers to action that decent people would consider obvious and non-negotiable. This shows not only a complete disregard for the basic rules – on the forgery of signatures by officials, for example, and on electoral procedures which are there for a reason – but also a cavalier attitude to the rights of others: you forge their signature and collect their document without their knowledge.

We are dealing here with a set of persons who are all of a disgraceful piece in one way or another. Jean Pierre Debono’s nonchalant attitude towards forging the signatures of party electors, in his position as party assistant secretary-general, is completely of a piece with Adrian Delia’s obtaining, by hook or by crook, his wife’s proxy in 2006 and using it for the 11 years since, including last July for a deed of constitution of debt with HSBC to the tune of 7.3 million euros, of which she was probably not even aware, as otherwise she would have been present herself for something so serious, as was his partner Georg Sapiano’s wife.

Some people became agitated when I gave such importance to the fact that Delia has been using his wife’s proxy for more than a decade. They thought it was entirely normal or not significant. But no, it is hugely significant. It is, in fact, one of the most significant pieces of information about him. The law was changed in 1993 precisely to avoid husbands going behind their wife’s back on material matters, as they could do up to that point. The law was changed for a reason and it has nothing to do with whether you trust your husband or not. There isn’t one law for women who trust their husband and another law for those who don’t. There is one law for all.

Allowing a man to obtain his wife’s open proxy and to use it unhindered for 11 years is a way of circumventing that extremely important law. It should not be allowed. One of the first things this government should address is precisely this: that open proxies between a husband and wife are to be made illegal, and that any proxy given by a wife to a husband or vice versa should be specific, for X contract, and indicate in the proxy document itself that the person giving the power of attorney knows exactly the specific and once-only reason it is to be used for.

But the wife gives the proxy of her own free will and can withdraw it at any time, I hear some people argue. No, of course not. Women who are completely financially dependent on their husband can be bullied into doing whatever their husband wants by the simple expedient, used by more husbands than you would think possible, of the threat of withdrawal of funds. The wife is left literally without money until she concedes to whatever it is her husband wants her to do. I think – through the experiences of so many women that I have listened to and know of – that this is exactly what we are looking at here.