Tony Zarb should be stripped of the nation’s highest honour for his “divisive speech” concerning murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, Opposition leader Adrian Delia said on Monday.
Dr Delia was speaking outside parliament shortly after he presented a motion to parliamentary speaker Anġlu Farrugia calling for MPs to debate Mr Zarb’s inflammatory comments and take a vote on stripping him of his Ġieħ ir-Reppublika award.
The motion, which accuses Mr Zarb of being "an apologist for murder", was unanimously approved by the PN parliamentary group.
Mr Zarb, a former union leader who now serves as a government consultant, outraged many people last month when he said that the most important thing about controversy surrounding a memorial to Ms Caruana Galizia “is that she never returns”.
He subsequently claimed that the remarks were taken out of context.
It was the second time in a year that Mr Zarb’s comments made headlines. Last October, the former GWU secretary general was forced to backtrack after labelling women activists “traitors” and comparing them to prostitutes.
Tony Zarb seems to be saying that whoever killed Daphne should get a Gieħ ir-Repubblika- Adrian Delia
On Monday, Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia said that having a parliamentary debate and vote on stripping Mr Zarb of the nation’s highest accolade would be an opportunity for government MPs to distance themselves from his remarks.
If government MPs voted against the motion, Dr Delia said, they would be condoning hate speech.
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“Tony Zarb seems to be saying that whoever killed Daphne should get a Gieħ ir-Repubblika,” he said.
This will be the second time in recent history that MPs will be asked to decide whether or not to strip a Ġieħ ir-Repubblika recipient of the honour. In 2011, parliament had voted to strike Libyan dictator Muammar Ghaddafi from the list of awardees.
PN MP Jason Azzopardi also signed the motion calling for Mr Zarb’s award to be revoked.
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