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Nationalist MP Albert Fenech resigns, cites travel pressures from healthcare job

by April 2, 2016 General

Nationalist MP and cardiac surgeion Albert Fenech resigns from Parliament, due to travel commitments in his new role as head of a cardiology hospital at St Luke’s

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Nationalist MP and cardiac surgeon Albert Fenech has resigned from Parliament, citing work commitments in his new role as head of a cardiology hospital within St Luke’s.

“In order to maintain my manual skills until the new hospital would open, I would have to travel abroad on a monthly basis for a period of not less than four days in order to continue operating,” Fenech wrote in his resignation letter to PN leader Simon Busuttil. “That would at best interfere with parliamentary attendances and therefore proceedings. You generously agreed to wait to see if in fact this would occur.”

In his response, Busuttil said that Fenech’s resignation developed as a result of the Labour government’s “senseless” decision to stop him from working at Mater Dei beyond pensionable age.

“It is nothing short of scandalous that the health minister [Konrad Mizzi] finds no qualms in opening a secret company for himself in Panama, but then finds no inner strength to overcome partisan considerations and retain your services in the best interests of Maltese patients. I find this deeply disturbing.”

Albert Fenech was elected from the tenth district to fill a seat vacated by George Pullicino. A casual election could see the return of St Julian’s mayor Karl Gouder to the House of Representatives, who was last elected by casual election during the Gonzi II administration but lost his seat in 2013.

In his resignation letter, he said that his new job would require him to advise and participate on collaboration projects with Georgia and Slovakia, entailing a considerable amount of travel.

The new cardiology hospital is part of a €200 million investment project into St Luke’s, Karin Grech Hospital and the Gozo Hospital by Singapore-based Vitalis Global Healthcare.

The project has been harshly criticised by the PN, but Albert Fenech vehemently denied that his resignation from the party boiled down to conflict of interest.

“We discussed any possibility of conflict of interest as the party was not in favour of the Gozo project,” Fenech wrote. “However, we both agreed that as I was not a member of the VGH executive board I would have no say in that regard.”

However, Labour in a statement said that Fenech chose the hospital project “over Busuttil’s negativity and bitterness”.

Fenech admitted that he would not be able to dedicate enough time towards the forthcoming general election, which he described as “so crucial for the country’s future”.

“The party will need all hands on the pump to show a new, different, decent and honourable way of running our country again,” Fenech wrote. “For the reasons I have explained above, I will not be in a position of putting in my all for this to happen and I think it best for the country and the party that someone else takes over who does not have these constraints and who can wholly dedicate resources to this important and imperative cause.”

“I am sure there is agreement on the fact that were it not for the personally motivated machination which, unfortunately, found backing from the highest quarters of government, the circumstances of my professional career could have remained unchanged, and the commitment I had taken when I ran as candidate for the party you lead would have sustained. Regrettably I have had to adjust to these changed circumstances and I would be loath to see these circumstances also affect further the political contribution I would have wished to make.”