Minister Ian Borg blasphemed – in public, on live TV. Standards Commissioner George Hyzler agreed that Borg indeed uttered those words (Hq Aa). And promptly sprang to his defence.
“Those words were not said with any premeditation,” Hyzler muddled, “Effectively the words slipped out of his mouth in the heat of the moment”. And decided that there was no point investigating Borg.
The Commissioner again took it upon himself to defend a Minister. Instead of promoting the highest standards, Hyzler condones politicians uttering obscenities. “I don’t want to give the impression that swear words are acceptable but…” went Hyzler’s pretext. By protecting Borg from condemnation, Hyzler normalised the degradation of political public discourse.
Where would you find a Commissioner for Standards defending a Minister swearing on live TV? Only in despotic autocracies. The Commissioner should be the bastion protecting standards. Instead, he is the one laying dynamite at its foundation. Defending the indefensible is not his remit – it is the preserve of Jason Micallef’s One News. Probably he fears Labour’s retaliation or Bedingfield’s vitriol.
In defending Borg, Hyzler damns both of them. The profanities, according to Hyzler, “slipped out of his mouth in the heat of the moment”. Borg was on his own political party station. If the “heat of the moment” in favourable conditions causes Borg to lose control, what chance is there that he will make rational cool-headed decisions in real crisis situations?
Hyzler is warning us that Borg is indisciplined and immature and cannot be expected to rein in his foul mouth. Profanities just slip out of his mouth when he loses it. What Hyzler is really saying is that he is unfit for office.
Ministerial positions require cool, collected, controlled statesmen who in the most stressful and pressured situations can maintain their calm and exercise sound judgement for the national good. Borg is not one of them, based on Hyzler’s conclusions.
When Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, was caught without a mask for a brief moment at a funeral, she owned up. “I was in the wrong and I’m sorry,” she apologised. “I’m not going to offer excuses, I was in the wrong and I’m kicking myself”.
Not Ian Borg. Instead of kicking himself and apologising, Borg lied again. He denied uttering the swear words he clearly stated. His far-fetched excuse was that he uttered the words “ha qalanqas” – words nobody had ever heard. Hyzler was right. Borg is an immature, infantile fabricator who will defy the audible truth with falsehood to protect his skin.
But Borg did not stop there. He accused the PN media of maliciously editing the tape to make him sound like he uttered profanities he didn’t. Borg stoops to any low to save himself – even malicious defamation.
If Borg’s profanities were a mere slip of the tongue, his subsequent blatant lies and devious unfounded allegations are calculated and thoroughly premeditated. If the Commissioner of Standards can exonerate Borg for his vulgar execration, he cannot overlook his malicious dishonesty.
Minister Borg is building a veritable repertoire of deviousness and chicanery. Just two months ago, the court found his testimony “hard to believe”. Borg claimed he was unaware that a man from whom he acquired land for a pittance was mentally ill – the court did not believe him. When Borg was contacted by the man’s son after the deed was signed, Borg claimed a doctor had been present at the notary’s office. No doctor was present according to the court. Borg was caught lying again to justify his callous act of robbing the man of his inheritance.
Prime Minister Robert Abela felt it was not prudent to comment about Borg’s villainy until after the period of appeal. That period is long expired – Abela remains silent, and Borg messes up again.
Borg even lied in a leaflet circulated to Dingli residents where he claimed the road he planned to build was necessary for emergency services to access those areas. Moviment Graffitti duly noted that emergency transport already reaches those areas through Sqaq il-Mużew.
When gaping holes in the new Marsa flyover were publicised, Borg explained that these were due to “temporary asphalt” until “expansion joints are installed”.
The Ombudsman condemned the “devious manner” in which he applied for development permit 0708/14 for his matrimonial home. Borg’s application was submitted by his father when the real owner was Borg himself. The Ombudsman noted “a series of omissions that cannot be put down to human error but point to a deliberate attempt to hide the only reason for refusal – taking up fresh land”. Ian Borg concealed his ownership and the fact that he planned to take up fresh land.
The Permanent Commission against Corruption endorsed the Ombudsman’s conclusions that Borg used “stealth and dubious methods” – but Borg faced no repercussions.
His complete disdain for basic decency was further emphasised when he commissioned Redmap Ltd to work on his development. Redmap’s owner is Pierre Sladden who was named in the Panama Papers. Sladden, through Nexia BT, opened a British Virgin Islands company, Blue Sea Portfolios. Emails between Nexia BT and Mossack Fonseca showed US$1 million of debt between Redmap and Blue Sea Potfolios via A2Z, a Cypriot company belonging to Sladden, Keith Schembri and Adrian Hillman, the Managing Director of Allied Newspapers. Redmap carried out works on the €30 million relocation of Allied Newspapers and received government contracts worth thousands.
When Borg tabled the contract with Redmap in parliament, 12 pages out of a 31-page document were missing. Borg doggedly refused to submit the missing pages. Even after the tax compliance unit launched investigations into Sladden’s tax evasion, Borg retained his services.
The real blasphemy is not the two words Borg uttered. It is the constant crookedness of a contemptuous charlatan, unchecked by a lame Prime Minister and a pliable Commissioner.