There have been many instances during Gonzi’s leadership where it has become dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong. Franco Debono is the latest example, but there have been many others who have had to face the consequences on speaking out, in search of the truth.
During this legislature and indeed since the time that Lawrence Gonzi was elected as leader of the Nationalist Party, all those in any senior position within Government circles have had to give their consent to the decisions taken by the few that affect the many. Anybody not in agreement was deemed to be dissenting as against opposing.
One of the first casualties was John Dalli and it is widely known that there is no love lost between Dalli and Gonzi. John Dalli has disagreed with the leadership of Lawrence Gonzi and he has spoken publicly about it.
Another important decision for which the PN parliamentary group was expected to give its consent, after the event, was the € 500 weekly increase that Gonzi and his clique decided to give to his ministers, behind the people’s back. The Gonzi clique even managed to keep such a massive increase ‘hidden’ from the PN backbenchers. Yet they had to give their consent to this selfish increase and be seen to back the government. Dissent was not on the cards.
There are many other instances which include the replacement of the MEPA auditor, the resignation of an eminent consultant because he disagreed with government polices and the replacement of several other persons in high positions within government and state owned companies.
Opposition to GonziPN blunders was simply not accepted. Minister Austin Gatt referred to any parliamentary opposition as useless, since his party had a voting majority in parliament. When such opposition came to the fore, it was re-classified as dissent. Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando, Jesmond Mugliett and Franco Debono are but the latest examples. In fact Dr. Debono has stated many a time that there are other backbenchers who disagree with the way that GonziPN runs the country, but have not spoken up about it.
Franco Debono, talking on the programme Resume, once again highlighted this scenario within the Gonzi government. He said that unless one is a ‘yes man’, the Prime Minister and his clique will “destroy you”. He again accused the government of being intolerant of any opposition, which GonziPN regularly turns into dissent.
During this interview, Franco Debono pointed out that irrespective of the mismanagement of certain ministers, such as Austin Gatt, Dolores Cristina, Joe Cassar and Tonio Fenech, the Gonzi government still gave its full support to these persons. Franco Debono’s remarks were given the cold shoulder by these same Ministers, when asked to comment about Debono’s remarks.
Dr. Franco Debono reiterated his remarks that the PN was being run by Richard Cachia Caruana, Edgar Galea Curmi and Austin Gatt and that unless one is in their good books, there is no hope for that particular individual.
The scene is set for a final showdown. Gonzi no longer has a majority in parliament. Even if Pullicino Orlando were to give GonziPN his blessing, with all the conditions set by JPO, the Prime Minister cannot count on the vote of Franco Debono. Franco Debono has been used and abused but his silence was not up for sale. As Mahatma Ghandi once said: “Silence becomes cowardice when occasion demands speaking out the whole truth and acting accordingly.” Opposition to the Gonzi administration cannot be silenced for fear of accusations of dissent.