Friday, 1 December 2017

These government actions rub me on the wrong side

This government is continuously unfairly criticised by Opposition and opposition friendly quarters for stupid things based on arguments of convenience by those who do not seem to understand that they are no longer in government and that they have no God given right to obstruct a government legitimately elected through a fair democratic process.

There is however very little or no criticism of the real constructive type and this does not help an executive to take better and more informed decisions.

There are two policy matters  which  are currently rubbing me on the wrong side.
Freedom of the press is essential to the preservation of a democracy; but there is a difference between freedom and license. Editorialists who tell downright lies in order to advance their own agendas do more to discredit the press than all the censors in the world.
Franklin D. Roosevelt

The first is the proposed liberalisation of the rights for the media to act without risk of punishment through criminal libel proceedings and garnishee orders by those who feel offended and damaged by media publications.   The only remedy for victims of unfair media exploits is civil libel with maximum compensation of just over ten thousand euro and through a process which in the best of circumstances could take two years and often much longer.

I am all in favour of progressive liberalisation of the space that the media need to operate in but such liberalisation must bring with it increased protection for the rights of individual against gutter media who prefer populism to factual reporting and fair comment.

At a time when government is protecting the rights of minorities and helping them to live as normal citizens in this peace loving nation, we must be wary not to oppress a new minority by exposing them to ill-intended allegations by media who can take risks in the knowledge that at most they will be found guilty under civil libel proceedings several years down the road. 

If we allow such a state of affairs to flourish, knowing how easily the anti government media calls for resignations on the slightest perception of infringements, we will see many careers destroyed, many valid people distancing themselves from politics and and families hurt and damaged as the balance of power shifts towards the media and against the individual.   I can of course speak from personal experience but I am not here to defend my personal case.   I am defending the rights of several individuals who like me have been hurt by irresponsible pseudo journalism and are still working through the several years it takes for civil libel proceedings in court to come to a final conclusion.

I am NOT suggesting for government to walk back on the proposed liberties for the media.   What I am proposing is the setting up of an Arbiter for the media on the same lines as the Arbiter for Financial Services where libel cases can be heard in an informal setting and brought to a conclusion in a matter of months not years, with full right of appeal for those who feel aggrieved by the Arbiter's decision. 

If we have created a mechanism for easy despatch of financial grievance that may involve a mere few hundred euros against payment of a token fee, how much more we need such mechanism for libel cases that may ruin careers, families and lives!!  Civil libel proceedings currently cost an arm and limb even to file let alone to follow through all the way to appeal if necessary.

What is also rubbing me the odd way is yet another Air Malta restructuring.  As an honest taxpayer I am afraid nobody is representing my real interest in the negotiations going on at KM hoping to give it a sustainable future.

Before conducting another half baked restructuring at Air Malta I suggest people concerned read what I had written about previous restructurings in 2010/2012.  See links below.

Image result for air malta
A serious restructuring cannot but start with identifying the number of people and related skills needed to run an efficient operation .  All the rest are a load on Air Malta's finances which will not allow the Company to fly into profitability. 

Sunday, 26 November 2017

Understanding why

Image result for self destruction
PN should stop pressing the button
I muse how is it possible that the PN continue so obstinately to destroy themselves;  how is it possible that the PN continue in their mission to damage Malta's international reputation when they have tangible evidence that such manoeuvres are backfiring in terms of loss of electoral popularity; what pleasure or benefits do they get by magnifying our weaknesses ( of which we have just as much as anybody) to the delight of foreign interests who are eager to pull away business from our shores to theirs.

After much meditation I came to the conclusion that the root of this pitiful situation that the PN find themselves in can be found to the events of summer 1998 when the PN after losing, unexpectedly, the  October 1996 elections to newcomer like Alfred Sant, unbelievably found themselves back in government in September 1998.

The 1998 event has imbued in the PN leadership a sense of false superiority and they started firmly believing that:

  • PN has a God given eternal mandate to govern this country
  • PL have no right or skills to ever be in charge of governing this country
  • Anybody with Labour sympathies must be deficient on their intelligence quotient and cannot be trusted in any executive positions so that all promotions and appointments should be reserved for intelligent PNers. 
  • If for any reason the electorate were to trust the PL to govern, than the search for a higher order national priority to have the PN in government justifies the PN sabotaging a PL government even if in the process some 'temporary' harm is inflicted on our country.   To the PNers, the end of having a PN government according to God's will as shown in 1998, justifies the means to harm the country.
The blog of Daphne Caruana Galizia (DCG - God bless her soul) is the most obvious example of such frame of mind that Labourites are children of a lesser God, and that PNers have a natural superiority in terms of intelligence, skills and abilities. 

Another example is the pretensions of ex-shareholders of the National Bank of Malta who expect courts to award them  hundred of millions of euros in compensation for what they believe that a Labour Government in 1973/74 expropriated from them without fair compensation.   Little do they heed the facts that a Labour government had to intervene to save the Bank from evident bankruptcy and at least protect depositors, creditors, borrowers and the general economy from  disaster while wiping out shareholders who carried the risk and allowed their bank to be mismanaged.    This happens all the time in Europe where not only shareholders have to carry the load but also in a priority order, subordinated and senior bondholders, creditors and in the end also uninsured deposits. 

The main challenge for Adrian Delia, as new way (?) leader, is to extract the PN from this sense of false superiority and accept once and for all that we are all Maltese with same rights and obligations.  Those who will not accept this reality have no place to be in politics.

Malta needs a strong and constructive opposition, that can be viewed as an alternative government thus keeping the executive on its toes.   There is no space in Maltese politics for attitudes as those exposed by the PN MEPs.   There is ample space for genuine PNers who really want to save their party from financial and political destruction.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Not in my name

Can someone explain to me by what authority the Civil Society Network (CSN) championed by the likes of Michael Brigulio, Andrew Borg Cardona and Manuel Delia are speaking in the name of Civil Society.

I am a law abiding member of civil society and did not authorise anyone of these guys to speak in my name.   The only bodies that sought my endorsement were the political parties at last general elections in June and the only body that can speak in my name and in the name of the vast majority of the electorate is the government led by Joseph Muscat.

Image result for peter grech attorney generalBrigulio, Borg Cardona and Delia and their vanishing flock of followers have every right to protest and hold demonstrations but only in their name not in the name of civil society.  They have every right to continue making fools of themselves protesting that government is not upholding the rule of law when in fact they have been given all liberty and facilities to protest as they wish and themselves urge for total disrespect of the rule of law.

In using mob rule methods to demand resignation of senior executives in the Administration i.e. the Police Commissioner and the Attorney General, they are betraying the very cause they are supposedly fighting for.    The removal of the Police Commissioner is a decision which belongs solely to the Executive and if pressure has to be made on the Executive for such a step than it is only Parliament that can bring such pressure.   In case of the Attorney General his removal can only be taken for causes which are currently not obtainable and only with a 2/3rd parliamentary majority.

However the most laughable is the suggestion that their replacement has to be made by parliament with a 2/3rd majority.  Hell would have to freeze over before such a wide consensus can be reached and the proposal is meant only to render the country ungovernable without an Attorney General and without a Police Commissioner at this delicate time when we need to find out who murdered DCG and caused so much grief and disrespect to the family, to the profession of journalism and to the whole country.

History shows that Police Commissioners work at the pleasure of the government and they tend to come and go quite easily upon change of administration or even during the same legislature if they are judged to be under-performing.   Clearly we have had a series of underperforming Commissioners under this government in its 2013-2017 version.  Finally in the person of Lawrence Cutajar there seems to be stability in evolving the role of the police force to be of service to society.  Fair  criticism about the length of time police take to prosecute in cases where clear suspicion exists is more than reasonable.  However police do not trade in suspicion, they trade in evidence that can stand up in a court of law.   Prosecuting suspects without a reasonable degree of evidence will be clearly counter-productive and wasteful of resources.

However Attorneys General do not work at the pleasure of the government.  The Constitution gives them security of tenure similar to that of the judiciary.   We have had ample record of Attorneys General who were appointed by a party in government and then continued to serve when another party eventually acceded to  government.   The most notable is probably Dr Edgar Mizzi appointed by Borg Oliver and served well and for long under Mintoff.

I have been searching for a reason why all this animosity towards Dr Peter Grech, Attorney General, who was appointed by a PN government and has continued in position under a PL government.  As the saying goes 'Malta zghira u n-nies maghrufa'.   Dr Grech until a few months back was extremely respected by one and all whatever the political colour or the profession.   Not a single murmur, complaint or negative speculation about his integrity was ever vented.   He is a true professional with a highly dedicated sense of service.  

What on earth has brought this change of attitude against Dr Grech without even bothering to explain clearly on what grounds he is being demanded to resign or get fired?

There is no logical answer to this question and to attempt some possible answer one would have to enter into the realm of speculation.  But in the absence of logic,  speculation becomes a second best alternative especially if can be corroborated by certain unconnected events and if it respects some elements of logic.

My elements of logic rests on the following:

  • The removal of Dr Peter Grech must serve some particular cause which is still not evident.
  • The said cause must have a substantial monetary value
  • Dr Peter Grech is considered as a stumbling block for achieving the much aspired prize.
I will continue searching to find the true reason for the astonishing change of attitude towards Dr Peter Grech.  I may have an idea about a particular case that ticks all these boxes.  

Sunday, 29 October 2017

A footnote in PN's history

That Malta's economy is doing well is undeniable.  Testimony is the strong and consistent economic growth, balance of payments surplus, strong government finances, falling public debt to GDP, low unemployment and job vacancies that cannot be filled.

Image result for adrian delia
Show us the new way!
The positive state of affairs is certified by international rating agencies who regularly up their opinion about Malta's economic position and prospects, by the IMF and by EU organs. Malta's success is also being noticed by its competitors who envy our state of affairs and will miss no opportunity to challenge our advantages believing that our loss would be their gain.   This is the reality of the competitive world we live in.

Competitors obviously notice that Malta's success is built on these foundations:
  • Political stability, serene way of life and a beautiful and efficient place where to do business
  • Tax system which gives advantages to investors
  • Strong success in tourism and attractive residency/citizenship schemes
All these factors lead to influx of foreign investment, flourishing property ownership and rental market, and creation of new economic niches like international gaming, medical and educational tourism, financial services and back office operations and a next big challenge to become a recognised international centre for fintech and blockchain technology.   Economic growth generates wealth and substantial revenue flows to government that permits not only maintaining strong public financing but offering a social structure ( in terms of free universal healthcare, generous schemes for care of the elderly,  free - and compensated- education up to tertiary level and beyond) low tax rates and strong investments in infrastructure development.

It is therefore not surprising that the brutal murder of a Maltese blogger/journalist, irrespective of her considerable strengths, gross weaknesses and total absence of objectivity in her political assessments, has brought together foreign interests who consider it an unmissable opportunity to weaken Malta's advantages.   Through DCG's murder these competitive forces assume that Malta can be depicted a place where criminal gangs operate with impunity rather than a serene place where to live in security, our tourism will suffer, residency and citizenship would lose their attraction, foreign investment gets scared away irrespective of fiscal advantages, and the economy will see its strong foundations crumble.

These are not insurmountable challenges, no matter how unfair they are.  First hand experience of investors remains strongly positive and will not be structurally challenged even if doubts unavoidably emerge in the immediate impact of such skin deep fake razzmatazz.   Word of mouth recommendations  and sharing of first hand experience are what ultimately drives behaviour of tourists and decisions of investors.   What is needed from our end is calm, belief in our own resources and unity of purpose to expose and bring to justice those who in silencing DCG have in fact opened an attack on us all.

It is therefore very condemnable that in the state of confusion that the PN opposition finds itself in, those factions that were humiliated by the electorate's verdict of last June, see in the DCG murder an opportunity to exculpate themselves from their responsibilities.   They create  fake scenario of collapse in the rule of law in an attempt to regain control of the PN to further their personal ambitions, without any regard to the broad electorate's decision of last election and the PN membership decision to elect Dr Adrian Delia as their leader.

In so doing such factions, putting their personal ambitions before the national interest,  are teaming up with foreign interests to weaken the economic base for our economic success and standard of living. Those who want this or that to resign without good reason have no other purpose but to render the country ungovernable knowing well that their proposals for 2/3rd parliamentary approval for executive positions is both impractical and so unreasonable that such practice is not in operation in any democratic country.

Delia has been given one hell of a chance to prove his leadership qualities and to put into practice his new way.   In appeasing the factions that are trying to build a fake scenario for their exculpation and return to the old ways,  Delia is showing that he does not have what it takes to be a prospective national leader.   He either mends his ways or he should  go back to his profession before the vultures feed on him and consign him to a footnote in the PN's history.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Life goes on

Image result for rule of lawJust when I thought that the PN could not stoop lower in abusing the horrible murder of DCG for political advantage , there comes of all people ex-PN Minister and now MEP Francis Zammit Dimech (FZD)  and  further surprises with a vile effort to obscure our government and harm Malta's reputation.

The rule of law in Malta is under threat and on the brink of collapse, MEP Francis Zammit Dimech told European Parliament president Antonio Tajani during a meeting.

Does one realise what the rule of law being under threat and on the brink of collapse mean?   Has anyone seen prisoners being set free to feast on their criminal instincts?  Are people being arrested without any protection and locked away without charge? Are people disappearing in Pinochet style of desaparecedos?   Are journalists being threatened and censored? Has the Opposition been locked out of parliament?  This is what an international reader unfamiliar with Malta situation might think when he hears our MEP ex-Minister describing Malta's rule of law being on the brink of collapse.

He reiterated that the Maltese did not trust the Police Commissioner, who, in the latest of a series of debacles did not find time to meet the Anti-Mafia Commission visiting Malta, even if calls had been made, including by Mr Tajani, for an international investigation with the involvement of Europol.

What evidence does FZD possess to state so assertively that 'the Maltese' did not trust the Police Commissioner?  Or have a few hundred self-appointed representatives of civil society, with clear political agenda, suddenly become the official voice of  'the Maltese'.   The last time 'the Maltese' have spoken with undisputed authority and absolute clarity was on the 3rd June and those who are doing their best to weaken the mandate given by the electorate to the government less than 5 months ago cannot at the same time present themselves as champions of democracy.  And how has FZD concluded the police are not collaborating with Interpol and other international experts in order to bring justice to the heinous  perpetrators of DCG's murder?

This is a time when Malta should be totally focussed on solving the crime and bringing the murderers to justice.   Those appealing for the resignation of the Police Commissioner and the Attorney General have no idea of what they are talking about or are purposely clouding the issue to create distraction from  focus.

Logic would dictate that for the Commissioner of Police and the Attorney General to be removed and replaced by new appointees that command the confidence of 2/3rd majority in parliament, they must similarly be removed by 2/3rd majority.  In case of the Attorney General this is a constitutional requirement.   Were the Police Commissioner and Attorney General to be kicked out without 2/3rd majority it is most unlikely than such a majority could be formed to appoint their replacement.  If the PN and the civil society pretenders have their way we could well finish with two important executive roles remaining vacant.  This has never happened in normal times let alone now when we need focus to solve a crime that has done so much harm to Malta's self-esteem and international reputation as a country where such things do not happen.

And why do people continue to pretend that the Commissioner of Police and the Attorney General can singly or jointly  press charges (**) against anyone based on mere suspicion rather than hard evidence?   That would be a real collapse in the rule of law if mere suspicion becomes the basis for police pressing charges.

(**)( the Attorney General has no authority to bring people to justice, only to give advice to the police, when asked,  on the quality of the evidence gathered and whether it can stand up in a court of law)

Those who are posturing as true defenders of democracy and of the rule of law are doing their damn best to ridicule them.  

Regulators, law enforcements authorities and judiciary must be allowed space to perform their duties without undue pressure.  God forbid if the police were to submit to pressures to charge on the basis of mere suspicion and in the process expose their leads which in time could deliver the necessary evidence to press charges successfully. 

The police are not only Commissioner Cutajar  .  The Attorney General office is not just Dr Grech.   There are within both organisations a whole cadre of professional officers who daily perform their duties against all odds, often threatened and  risking their life to deliver justice.   They will be judged by the overall result not by a single incident.

And yes life goes on.  It always does.  DCG paid the price  and in her memory we must defend by all means the freedom of the press which as events have shown since her murder is in no way being repressed by government.  Those who eliminated DCG are the ones who are trying to shut us all up and we must not succumb to that.  We must bring them  to justice to ensure that whilst one was cruelly eliminated, many will remain and fresh ones will crop up.

P.S. Today would have been the 66th birthday of my never forgotten friend and colleague George Fenech - Tumas Group who left us nearly 3 years ago.   Life goes on, regardless. RIP George.

Monday, 23 October 2017

Beware confusing issues

 Image result for from Oscar Wilde

A week ago Daphne Caruana Galizia (DCG) was brutally murdered by expert hands normally associated with contract killings.  Someone had motivation to shut her up.   In a country where we pride ourselves of  peace and tranquillity this is was as shocking as it was unexpected.

No need to elaborate why it is shocking.   Unexpected because whilst such crimes within criminal gangs settling scores among themselves are not uncommon, using same tactics to shut up a journalist, a blogger or a private individual exercising their right to speak freely, is something we thought would never happen here. Even the victim herself was not expecting such retribution having been refusing police protection and evidently taking little precautions about her own safety.

During this week unfortunately we have seen a mixture of true remorse about the hideous murder mixed with opportunism to exploit this tragic event to perpetrate political objectives.

This is condemnable.  There are two issues which must not be confused.

The first is the right to express opinions freely without fear.   “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”   is commonly attributed to Voltaire or people in his circles.    George Orwell is quoted saying; “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”

This does not mean that the right of free expression comes with complete impunityIf it did it would be usurping other people's right to safeguard their honour and reputation.      But retribution for abuse of free speech has to be settled in courts of law.   Furthermore penalties for abuse of free speech should be commensurate with the need to protect its right.   The removal of criminal libel is thus a good measure introduced by the current government that has been at the receiving end of DCG's criticism for decades. My judgement is as always based on deeds not words.   So the words from accusers that government wants to curtail free speech must be confronted with the tangible measure to remove criminal libel to make it less restrictive on free expression of opinion.

I therefore endorse and applaud all efforts by journalists, civil society and other interest group to band together and pledge that they will not be frightened and that they will pursue the right to free speech with the same vigour as followed by DCG.

The other issue which is equally important is that efforts to make DCG 'santa subito' are to say the least misguided.   Her tragedy does not absolve her excesses in character assassination and her lack of objectivity in her reporting which was consistently directed at causing harm to Labour's cause.

DCG was very selective in pursuing and blowing-up stories that could hurt Labour.  Whilst leads that could somehow expose faults on persons associated with Labour were followed up vigorously, often without proper investigation and presented as factual rather than mere suspicions, other leads involving PN personalities were rarely followed and certainly not with equivalent dynamism.

DCG was unquestionably the standard bearer for that faction in the PN which upholds that labourites are children of a lesser god, that the PN has a God given right to govern this country, and that pro-Labour democratic choices made by the electorate no matter how clear, consistent and impressive, result from both ignorance and greed of the electorate in choosing those who are feeding them the fruits of corruption.

Confusing the right of free speech with a certificate for DCG journalistic objectivity is a grave error that is being purposely committed by those who want to abuse of the tragic event of last week to further their political agenda.

What sense does it make to call for the resignation of the police commissioner because of this murder?   What proof for assertions that law enforcement institutions have been allowed to break down purposely by government?   Why are such unproven assertions repeated to international press with a clear purpose to damage the country's reputation?

The search for the truth should be the only thing that matters at this time to find out who was behind this murder.  Calls for resignation are a direct challenge to the electoral mandate given just four months ago and a dangerous distraction from the need to devote all energies to solve this murder case.  It is quite suspicious that some quarters are more interested in resignations rather than in bringing the cruel perpetrators to justice.

Arguments that the institutions have broken down are a grave insult to people who are doing their utmost in a professional job which returns very little appreciation whilst exposing them to severe personal risks.  Why have institutions broken down?   Because the police take their time to investigate suspicions to the point of having solid proof that can stand up in a court of law?   Because the Attorney General is not free in his position to defend himself and some expect him and his office to interfere in police investigations?   Who says that the police are not investigating all accusations irrespective of the colours of the abuse.

My experience speaks the opposite.  In the subject case for which I have pending civil libel proceedings against DCG she made very damaging assertions in my regard, presenting them as factual, just three weeks before my appointment as Governor of the Central Bank of Malta.  Such accusations take time to defend and disprove.   I had no option but to abandon my career dream and asked the Prime Minister to consider me no further.   After one year I also voluntarily resigned from my position as Deputy Governor even though my mandate still had three years to run.

It resulted that the same accusations that DCG swallowed without proper search for proof or without due care about evil motivations of informers, were made to the Police directly by the informer in 2006.  In 2006 it was a PN administration and certainly there was no political protection in my regard.  Yet the police never informed me about these accusations and the only logical conclusion is that the Police were not satisfied, in the absence of proof, with the honesty and veracity of the accuser and the accusations. In 2016 the same accusations were channelled through DCG, who sensing an opportunity to embarrass me and the government, splashed it on to her blog without seeking further proof as she herself admitted during evidence in court.

In 2016,  the Police, triggered by DCG's blog, under a Labour administration offered me no favours and investigate they did and how.   I spent an awful summer in 2016 going to CID to be questioned and provide evidence to defend myself.    In spite of finding no evidence of the alleged wrong doing the police would not even issue a statement to clear my name.  So much for favours to Labourites!!

This is not to say that the Institutions need no improvements.  They certainly need to learn how to defend themselves and explain their role and the limits of their mandate.  They need to hone their communication skills and resources to ensure that the media works for them not against the police during delicate investigations.   They certainly need to enrich their investigative resources and capabilities given that economic openness and opulence acquired by the country has imported new risks different from the native risks with which they were familiar.

I am the last person who would seriously suspect that the murder motive was political.  It has all characteristics of a contract killing from the criminal world.   But  suggestions that the motivation could have been political should absolve Labour.   Labour was at the receiving end of DCG's criticism for a quarter century.   It got immune to it.  Some even thought that the criticism was so extreme and wild that it was counter-productive and working in Labour's favour. The election results of 2013 and 2017 seem to suggest so.   Then following the June 2017 election DCG turned her guns against the new PN leader and did all she could to blow up his campaign.  Having failed she never let up in her criticism of the new PN Leader and made it her mission to ensure that he fails.

For a time these last four months Labour was enjoying DCG tearing apart the new PN leader, not as a favour to Labour, but because she had an inner belief that what she considered as heavy baggage he was carrying would make it impossible for the PN under his leadership to win future elections against Labour. I must say this was a new experience.  It was almost enjoyable.  

How cruel that new experience when DCG main focus was not Labour had to be cut so short.  How cruel that DCG was not allowed to practice what she believed in - the right to express her opinion freely.  I repeat Oscar Wilde: “I may not agree with you, but I will defend to the death your right to make an ass of yourself.”  

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Collective Wisdom 2

Image result for collective wisdom quotesYet again the Maltese electorate has delivered a judgement in the tradition of its collective wisdom.

I had written about this already in an article published in 2014 which can be accessed through this link:

It is terribly na├»ve for quarters close to the PN to blame the electorate for its loss.   Arguments that the majority of Maltese must be stupid to hand  Joseph Muscat a re-instatement mandate with an even bigger majority, expose arrogance and disdain just at a time when humility and self-assessment are called for.

The electorate saw no reason to depart from its long held tradition to mandate same government for two consecutive  terms and all the claims of corruption and bad governance marshalled by the members of the network of power of which the PN is simply the political cell, could not move the electorate one teeny weeny bit from its determination to judge Muscat on overall performance rather than on unproven suspicions of mal-practice which are still being investigated.

This reminds me of 1992 when PN gave Labour a bigger drumming at the polls than the first win of  1987.  It was only after the second electoral defeat that Labour realised that unless it re-invents itself it will remain unelectable.   Alfred Sant as new leader working on a blueprint I had penned in 1990 won the following 1996 election against all expectations.

The PN must now realise that to be considered as a true alternate government they must act like an alternate government and not simply obstruct  all the way using questionable means which harm the country's  international reputation.

We should all celebrate the electorate's further demonstration of its collective wisdom.   It rewards Labour and PM Muscat with a well-deserved second mandate.   It hopefully forces the PN to re-define its strategies, consider the best persons who can lead the necessary transformation to regain electoral credibility, and above all stop playing dirty games by internationalising our defects beyond all proportions.

Most of all PN must allow our regulatory institutions and law enforcement organs  to work with the autonomy bestowed upon them by law and uphold the rule of law by desist orchestrating internal leaks which create huge obstructions in the proper functioning of such institutions.

It is never too late for a new beginning.   Malta needs not only a strong government but an effective opposition which can keep the executive on its toes without damaging our international reputation.  Even for the PN the election result of 2017 could be a covert victory just as the electoral losses of 1992 and 2008 where covert victories for Labour.