Anybody mulling a move into politics should weigh their decision carefully, former Minister Manuel Mallia cautioned in Parliament on Tuesday.
"I entered politics in 2013 with a degree of reluctance and it turned out that reality was different than I expected,” he said during the debate on the Budget Measures implementation Bill.
Dr Mallia who served in Cabinet in the last legislature recounted that contrary to public perception, life for politicians was not always plain sailing. “Becoming a ‘politically exposed person’ meant that banks treat you like having bubonic plague with respect to the levels of scrutiny,” he remarked.
Dr Mallia also complained on what he described as the unethical behaviour from certain MPs, journalists and bloggers whom he accused of resorting to personal attacks rather than genuine criticism on policy.
Becoming a politically exposed person means that banks treat you like having bubonic plague
“This is what you get after going into politics to serve the country,” he said.
As for the level of remuneration, he said that an MP was left with just €1,200 per month after tax, while there were circumstances under which they were not entitled for their full pension.
“Politics is not there to make money or business,” he said.
“Neither does politics mean taking a cut from a lucrative contract. Whoever harbours these concepts is harming politics and is unbefitting to be a politician,” Dr Mallia said.
The former minister also lamented the treatment reserved for Maltese parliamentary delegations travelling abroad.
“As a representative in Strasbourg, I feel ashamed as we have to travel by bus early in the morning and reside in three-star hotels with no air conditioning in summer,” he said.
Dr Mallia warned that unless conditions and respect for MPs, even among themselves, improved, the country would struggle to attract talented persons to enter politics.
“How can serious people be attracted to the political arena, if they realise you are constantly targeted. Such conduct is harming the political class,” Dr Mallia said.