“I am convinced that Gavin Gulia contesting was not a devious plot to keep anyone out of Parliament,” Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST) Chairman Jeffery Pullicino Orlando told The Malta Independent.
On Tuesday, a casual election took place between former Rabat mayor and now PN life-member Charles Azzopardi, MTA chairman and former PL MP Gavin Gulia, and MCST chairman and former PN MP Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando in order to ascertain who would to take up the vacated seat of former Finance Minister Edward Scicluna in Parliament.
Gulia won the casual election but resigned just minutes after, saying that Prime Minister Robert Abela asked him to consider staying on as MTA chairman due to the Covid-19 pandemic which “is a crucial time for tourism.”
This sudden change of heart – Gulia had told journalists that he would be resigning his post at the MTA – raised eyebrows with people thinking that this was simply a ploy to have the PM opt for co-option. In a statement the PN in fact said; “nobody believes that Robert Abela and Gavin Gulia did not have everything planned before today’s scene, which was a scene of disrespect to the will and choice of the voters.”
On Thursday, PL insiders told this newsroom that the PM had pressured Gulia to contest Tuesday’s casual election because he did not want either Azzopardi or Pullicino Orlando to take Scicluna’s seat.
This newsroom contacted Pullicino Orlando, asking if he felt cheated from getting a seat in parliament and if he believes that this was all a set up from the get-go.
“I am convinced that Dr Gulia contesting was not a devious plot to keep anyone out of Parliament”, Pullicino Orlando said.
“He had every right to contest and it was a closely fought competition,” he said, adding that there was nothing to indicate that Gulia was aiming to deprive him or anyone else from getting the vacant seat.
“I am very satisfied with the result I obtained. I came very close to being elected – despite a short, ten-day, campaign. I am grateful to my constituents for placing their faith in me, once again. I fail to see why I should feel ‘cheated’.”
Pullicino Orlando added that Prime Minister Abela has encouraged him to continue spearheading Malta’s efforts in the field of Research and Innovation, as MCST Chairman together with the newly appointed Minister for Research and Innovation Owen Bonnici.
From his end, former Rabat mayor Azzopardi hit out at Gavin Gulia’s resignation, saying that he knew that it would not have been possible for him to have been elected in the casual election, as he and his wife had seen a “block vote,” during the election itself. He also told PM Abela to not contact him any longer and leave him in peace, saying that with the scenes in Parliament on Wednesday, democracy had died.
Reports have indicated that Chairman of the Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disability, Oliver Scicluna, is expected to be co-opted to Parliament instead which has been received well from people of all walks of life.