Alex Agius Saliba’s face, contorted with hostility and wounded pride, filled the screen. He recorded himself in a 10-minute rant, replete with bizarre and outrageous accusations, at the European Parliament.
Agius Saliba had made a fool of himself at the CONT meeting. Chided by the committee chair for being out of point and overrunning, he defaulted to coarseness, incivility and rudeness.
He accused the chair of interrupting him, the invited speaker. Defying basic manners he drowned out the chair as she politely asked him to stay in line with the committee’s duties.
As he raised his voice, Chair Hohlmeier exclaimed “I expect you to respect the chair, this is very impolite”.
Instead of apologising, Agius Saliba ploughed on with churlish hostility: “This is a futile discussion pushed by partisan interests of certain political groups”.
Out of his depth, he read his statement, eyes glued to his papers while waving his arms frantically. Agius Saliba had not bothered to prepare. Is it so difficult to learn a 5-minute speech? Or is he too busy posting repugnant nauseating posts to have time for real work?
He even got the title of the debate wrong and had to have this explained to him. Yet he insisted that “it was changed”. It wasn’t. He insisted the title included Daphne Caruana Galizia. It didn’t.
Agius Saliba’s obsession with Caruana Galizia is not new. In 2010 as Secretary General of Forum Zgħazagħ Laburisti he called her “surely a 100% scum bag” on a Facebook post. He promoted an offensive website entitled ‘Daphne is a trans-sexual’ and ‘Taste-your-own-medicine” which threatened to “shame your dirty children”.
If you haven’t learnt basic manners and decency by the age of 20, you’re hardly going to at 33.
If his performance inside the committee room embarrassed the nation, his subsequent puerile reaction outside was eye-watering. Feeling affronted, he posted his splenetic diatribe just outside the committee room.
His long-winded rambling intervention in the committee was followed with an even longer incoherent video outside. Heroic self-idolisation and wild accusations came thick and fast. “I was the only Maltese representative given the opportunity to speak” – and he blew it. “The mask is off the EPP, David Casa, Roberta Metsola and Simon Busuttil,” he declared.
Agius Saliba was like a student chastised by the headmistress, who on leaving her office writes offensive graffiti about her on the class blackboard. He attempted to discredit Hohlmeier accusing her of being “an intimate friend” of Metsola and Busuttil.
He falsely accused her of pushing underhand manoeuvres in the committee to put Malta under a dark shadow. He claimed she “tried to ridicule me in this committee” and called her “supposedly independent”.
“Because I stood up to her, she didn’t appreciate it, nor did Jason Azzopardi” he proudly announced, utterly pleased with himself. “They thought I was going to hide because Hohlmeier decided to hold a discussion on Malta,” he declared. “Even if I’m alone I will not let Jason Azzopardi, Roberta Metsola, Simon Busuttil and David Casa deter me from defending my country,” he bragged in utter delusion.
Beyond the 5th minute, his video descends into hysteria. “This is a partisan attack by the EPP”, “they are trying to deprive Malta of European funds”, “you should be ashamed of yourselves”, “go and hide”, “you use these disgusting tactics to harm your country”. His inflammatory parting shot to his fellow MEPs: “you do not deserve to be called Maltese”.
Proud of his backwoods aggression and coarseness, he peppered his Facebook page with offensive posts. “Roberta Metsola and her friends have disgusted everybody with their politics of hatred against our country” (qażżew lil kulħadd bil-politika ta’ ħdura kontra pajjiżna).
He accused Hohlmeier of “trying to play the bully” and “creating today’s obscenity” (pastażata bħal dik li għamlet illum). “I want to assure her that no political bully, Maltese or German, will bother me,” the self-styled strongman declared.
It was difficult to distinguish between his posts and those of his semi-literate supporters who egged him on – “PROSET HAFNA ALEX..IPQA SOD BHAL DEJJEM” – in error-strewn block capitals.
Agius Saliba conjured a melodrama out of nothing. By antagonising and insulting his parliamentary colleagues he damaged the reputation and interests of his country.
In a system dependent on cross-party collaboration to achieve favourable conditions for individual states, maliciously offending colleagues is hardly the path to success – especially for a tiny state with only six representatives.
Agius Saliba’s rudeness reinforces the stereotype that the Maltese are an uncultured, untrustworthy bunch who will cut their nose to spite their face and who will sell their mother to make a quick buck.
Agius Saliba’s disgraceful antics for personal publicity follows a long tradition of coarse incivility. The man who set the standard with his “what the heck” comment at the European parliament was Joseph Muscat.
When he realised there was no translator for his speech in Maltese he threw a tantrum, “no, no I am not delivering my speech”. As the chairman apologised politely, Muscat persisted “no way, no way,” as fellow MEPs smiled in bemusement. Rudely wagging his finger, Muscat shouted “you either really give us our language, or thank you and goodbye,” as he stormed off, to the relief of MEPs.
Both Saliba and Muscat received their formation in that bastion of civility and politeness – Super One, rebranded One productions and led by Jason Micallef, another model of diplomatic courtesy.
Why does Labour keep inflicting boorish louts steeped in the Super One graceless sub-culture to damage the country? Because its base perceives abusive discourtesy as strength and politeness as weakness, after years of feeding on One’s royal jelly of bad-mannered insolence.
At least Agius Saliba’s assault on Hohlmeier was only verbal. Had it been veteran Joe Debono Grech she might have been threatened with physical assault – “għax niġi għalik u nifqgħak”. That would really help our cause.