“Speaker Anglu Farrugia carried out important work in the last few years, I mention… (long pause) the reform he carried out to bring administrative autonomy, he carried out other important reforms… there should be no change in Speaker. That was Prime Minister Robert Abela announcing that Farrugia, as predicted, will get his reward.
Abela struggled to find any plausible justification for re-appointing the comical figure to an unprecedented third term. Abela’s excuse for rewarding Farrugia’s dishonourable abuse of his role to Labour’s advantage was as farcical as Farrugia’s notorious speeches.
For Abela, Farrugia deserves to remain Speaker for three terms because he brought administrative autonomy to parliament. And because he carried out ‘other important reforms’ that Abela didn’t or couldn’t name.
What Farrugia certainly brought parliament was shameless partisanship, fawning ingratiation and utter embarrassment. Nobody doubts Farrugia is entirely unfit to preside over the highest institution – even for a day, let alone three terms. Abela knows he brings further humiliation on a country whose reputation lies tattered.
Considering Farrugia’s penchant for travel, there’s little chance he’d stop making a fool of himself and our country on the international stage. In just 30 months, Farrugia travelled abroad 41 times. While parliament was dissolved for elections, Farrugia travelled to a Slovenian conference – making the most of it until the last minute.
In just two years Farrugia ran up a €103,000 travel bill and another €38,500 in additional expenses. We’re paying through our noses to enable the parliamentary jester to ridicule the entire nation.
The only records of Farrugia’s efforts are YouTube videos painfully depicting his gross ineptitude and pathetic unintelligibilty. From Uganda to the Commonwealth, to the Institute of Cultural Diplomacy – Farrugia was there putting his foot in it. “It gives me great welcome and pleasure to you all” was outdone only by his “ubiquitous” performance.
This is no ambassador for Malta. This is the king of stand-up comedy. We can only squirm at the hilarity Farrugia elicits wherever he goes. That ridicule doesn’t harm the man – it damages the country.
Abela couldn’t care less. What matters is that Farrugia always takes Labour’s side.
Farrugia isn’t just a clown. He is a threat to democracy – in Malta and elsewhere.
From the Speaker’s seat he mocks the free press, “I ask The Times to find somebody to read my ruling in Maltese so maybe they’ll understand it”. He demanded The Shift ‘correct’ its story after Glenn Bedingfield complained to him, without even bothering to inform The Shift that a ruling had been requested, far less to seek the newsroom’s position.
He undermined efforts to hold erring MPs to account. In 2021 he abstained from adopting the Standard Commissioner’s report condemning Carmelo Abela for abusing public funds for self-promotion. He rejected the report on Rosianne Cutajar’s dealings with Yorgen Fenech, voting for further investigation and claiming it was only “prima facie evidence”. When the Committee finally voted to reprimand Cutajar, Farrugia insisted he’d do it. His ‘stern’ reprimand consisted of a letter informing her of the committee’s decision.
When the Commisioner found Joseph Muscat breached ethics and behaved in “an unacceptable manner” by holding journalists against their will, Farrugia voted against publishing the report. Farrugia even accused the Commisioner of exceeding his powers.
Farrugia previously refused to summon Muscat before the Standards Committee when he abusively gave Konrad Mizzi a lucrative contract worth tens of thousands of euro. Farrugia even bizarrely moved a motion to prevent Muscat from being punished for accepting lavish gifts from Yorgen Fenech.
He let Justyne Caruana off the hook by ruling in favour of a government motion to suspend debate on Caruana’s abusive lucrative contract to her friend Bogdanovic.
Farrugia hasn’t just been defending Labour. He’s sabotaged the opposition. In 2013, he ruled Simon Busuttil committed breach of privilege when he accused government of halting John Dalli’s prosecution. Busuttil was right. After long delays, Dalli was finally charged over the €60 million bribe. Faced with outrage from the opposition, Farrugia shouted hysterically: “Whether you like it or not that is my ruling”.
In 2015, Farrugia reported Busuttil to the police who swiftly requested a magisterial inquiry – on the ludicrous charge of consuming €70 of fuel per week. The inquiry concluded there was no case – but only after months of false accusations and humiliation for the innocent driver.
When Jason Azzopardi accused Owen Bonnici of lying when he concealed the 4% commission Henley and Partners had received from government stocks, Farrugia ordered Azzopardi to retract his allegation.
Repeatedly, Farrugia has stifled MPs. In 2018, he prevented questions about Keith Schembri’s Pilatus Bank account. “PQs must have a factual basis and not seek confirmation of media rumours,” Farrugia said. Schembri now stands charged with money laundering using that ‘rumoured’ Pilatus account.
Farrugia prevented PN MP Karol Aquilina asking whether the Egrant report would be published and who had access to it. “Such questions are not relevant,” Farrugia said arrogantly.
Farrugia refused a debate on the Caruana Galizia investigation. He refuted another on Zammit Lewis’ grovelling messages to Yorgen Fenech. He rejected naming a parliamentary hall for Daphne Caruana Galizia as it would “erode the impartiality of the House”. He demanded action against protestors for soiling an MP’s jacket with egg yolk during protests in late 2019.
Farrugia declared Aliyev’s fraudulent election victory “free, democratic and transparent” while the OSCE found “intimidation, imprisonment of opposition figures and lack of media freedom”. In 2016, Farrugia ruled Azerbaijan’s constitutional referendum “transparent and free”. The European Partnership for Democracy witnessed “massive violations, ballot box stuffing and multiple voting”.
Farrugia hailed the referendum “a big democratic step” while the OSCE condemned the brutal murder of journalist Rasim Aliyev, beaten to death. Critical columnist, Rafiq Taghi, was stabbed to death. Several others were beaten and imprisoned. As the OSCE called for media freedom and safety of journalists, Farrugia lauded Aliyev’s democratic credentials.
Farrugia’s kinship with Aliyev is no surprise. As police inspector Farrugia held 19 year old Caruana Galizia in a dark faeces-smeared cell for 27 hours and then forced her to sign a false confession he wrote himself. The court found that “confession” to be false as it was obtained through the use of threats.
Farrugia’s spinelessness culminated at the Caruana Galizia inquiry. “I have no names to give,” he insisted, although he had said in 2017 that “big businessmen and contractors are close to people involved in Labour’s finances”. But when offered to testify behind closed doors, Farrugia refused to co-operate with the inquiry.
Anglu Farrugia is a danger to democracy. Robert Abela knows it. That’s exactly why he’s reappointing him.