NEWS | Sunday, 30 September 2007

Tony Abela flees Malta instead of Charlon Gouder


Last week, Tony Abela asked One journalist Charlon Gouder in a threatening tone whether he would emigrate from Malta if the Malta Labour Party lost the elections yet again. But so far, the only one to flee the country and the media has been none other than Abela himself.
Sources close to the Office of the Prime Minister The junior minister in charge of the Armed Forces was given a beating by his colleagues and the PM’s advisors for his “idiotic comment” at the Granaries while the Labour journalist was interviewing Lawrence Gonzi.
But when called by MaltaToday and asked if he regretted making the comment, Abela said he was abroad and that he would not answer any questions.
When pressed for his answers, Abela said the question should be put to his “office” and hung up, although people in the PN had already expressed their utter indignation at his outrageous blunder.
Called again on his mobile, Abela’s head of secretariat Tonio Farrugia answered instead, insisting that his boss would not answer calls when he is abroad.
Farrugia could then be heard telling Abela it was MaltaToday again asking the questions.
“He told me to tell you that the sky is blue. Don’t call again. Bye,” Farrugia said, also cutting the line in the same style as his boss.
The following day, Abela sent an email to MaltaToday claiming he “did not recognize the voice of the caller” who asked him for his comments.
But when called again, Abela was unrepentant about his Gouder remark.
“It was just a question I asked on the spur of the moment; no threat whatsoever,” he said, showing no hint of regret. “God knows how many other people were commenting besides me. Gouder first asked Gonzi what would become of him if he lost the election and then asked him who will be the new faces on his new Cabinet. So he has to decide – is Gonzi going to win or lose?”
Gouder, who has been hounding Abela ever since his past connections with a smuggler and drug dealer were revealed, told MaltaToday that in contrast with Gonzi, Abela seemed “very aggressive and agitated” whenever he was asking the questions to the Prime Minister.
“I wasn’t taking notice of him as I was focused on the Prime Minister, but Abela kept butting in with his remarks and couldn’t sit still on his chair,” Gouder said.
Asked what he made of Abela’s threats, Gouder said: “It just goes to show that according to Tony Abela, whoever disagrees with him has no place here if the PN is re-elected. It is not just about me personally. Far from the inclusive policies the PN speaks about, Abela is just downright intolerant.”
Tellingly, a well-known troublemaker went chasing Gouder soon after the interview with Gonzi, parroting Abela’s own threat and shouting that Gouder would have to flee the country if the PN is re-elected. Gouder had to be escorted out of the Granaries by PN information officer Gordon Pisani and MP Jean Pierre Farrugia as the man attempted to assault him.
Abela is not new to fleeing the limelight; on countless occasions he ran away from Gouder like lightning as the journalist chased him for his comments about his misdemeanours.
Once he even told a MaltaToday journalist he was about to jump from the Barrakka bastions after he had called him for a comment.
Since his unlikely appointment at the office of the Prime Minister, Abela has been a constant embarrassment to his party.
Abela was the prime liability for the PN in the Rabat election when he attracted all the flak towards the party, thanks to his past business associations with smuggler and drug dealer Indrì Zammit, also residing in Abela’s hometown. Zammit was also Abela’s canvasser before he was first convicted in 1994.
According to MaltaToday’s survey, carried in the midst of the storm last year, Abela is among the least trusted government members by the Nationalists themselves.
Abela also faced accusations from the Labour Party of breaching ministerial ethics for acting as a notary on behalf of a citizen from his constituency in informing the Joint Office that he was accepting the price set by the office on a property.
Two years ago he went live on Net TV during a fundraising marathon pulling out stacks of cash out of his jacket as donations to the party from undeclared donors.
For the past years, Tony Abela has been also covering up the dangers of fireworks factories, withholding sensitive information about the non-existent inspections unit while more and more people die yearly in fireworks explosions.
It is also not the first time he was reprimanded by the Prime Minister and his people. Two years ago he was strongly admonished for inciting to racism and xenophobia when he kept talking of “a tsunami of immigrants” reaching Malta’s shores.
He was also caught misleading parliament, when he alleged that immigrants had refused the AFM’s assistance as they were passing through Maltese waters in November 2005. MaltaToday had published the AFM log book clearly showing that far from refusing assistance, the immigrants were never asked by the AFM rescuers in the first place. Hours later, 29 of them drowned off the coast of Sicily.
Nor is it the first time that his head of secretariat, Tonio Farrugia, is sticking up for people behaving weirdly.
Farrugia went public on Xarabank defending Angelik Caruana – dismissed as a fraud by the Archbishop’s Curia – who claims to have a chat with the Blessed Virgin on a regular basis, besides other little miracles involving exploding effigies and statues crying tears of cooking oil. Caruana is now reportedly feeling one of Christ’s thorns somewhere in his throat.
Considered as the government’s PR nightmare, Abela is still somehow valuable for his party at a district level, being the only candidate to have garnered more than 1,000 votes from the same district contested by former party leader Eddie Fenech Adami.


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