Hundreds of people offer their services to organisations that aim to promote the activities they believe in. These organisations may have connections to business, philanthropic, sports or other worthy causes that in some way benefit society.

The officials that serve on such organisations are the public face of the causes they represent. They are often not paid for the services they render but expect the public to treat them with respect. However, to earn the trust of the public, such officials must make public rectitude the hallmark of their behaviour in private and in public.

Public rectitude has been defined as “honesty and correct moral behaviour”. Abiding by the rules and laws of the country is an essential element of moral rectitude.

The investigations carried out by The Sunday Times of Malta on the behaviour of Matthew Pace, the recently-appointed president of the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association, have revealed that proper due diligence on the moral rectitude credentials of this official may not have been properly carried out by those who elected him.

It is alleged that, at the time he was elected president of MHRA, Mr Pace was operating a restaurant that was not covered by a current permit for on-site cooking. He claims that “he had attempted to obtain the necessary permit but had been hindered by the (restaurant) landlord’s failure to provide him with the relevant documents”. Mr Pace seemingly saw nothing wrong with operating a restaurant without all the necessary permits and declared that there was “absolutely no reason to even consider resigning” from his MHRA post.

He allegedly also “rented out tourist accommodation without a permit and has been summoned to testify in court against an Enemalta employee he had paid to tamper with his restaurant smart meter”.

What is more worrying is the attitude of the MHRA executive board members who, when asked whether they felt that the position of their newly-elected president was still tenable, answered that “they were aware about his restaurant’s licensing concerns prior to his appointment but still unanimously supported his presidency”. They basically tacitly approved the breaching of regulations by a colleague who should be promoting the fair treatment and promotion of hard-working hoteliers and restaurateurs.

Non-government organisations are essential to the good governance of the country where the public expects that its leaders, both in the public and private sector, believe in the rule of law and do nothing to break the laws of the country however much they may disagree with them. This maxim applies to any decent citizen but more so to those who present themselves as leaders of the organisations they represent.

The newly-elected president of the MHRA did in fact resign under pressure but his initial attitude and that of the officials who elected him left much to be desired.

Officials of non-government organisations usually give a sterling service to the causes they serve and to society in general. The MHRA is one such organisation that deserves to be heard in all forums where issues relating to the tourism industry are discussed. This industry employs thousands of hardworking people who earn a living by serving those tourists who choose to visit us.

They deserve to be led by people who make moral rectitude the hallmark of their behaviour.

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