On May 25th, Insite was anonymously contacted and received the screenshots which Social Policy Commissioner hopeful, Mr Dario Cacopardo, made public last Thursday during summer’s first KPS meeting with the heavy allegations that SDM President Gabriel Micallef was influencing a number of organisations to vote against him for whatever reason. Both Mr Micallef and Ms Sutton were approached and interviewed with the intention of an article being published that very evening with the screenshots and the replies of both concerned parties. However, upon finding out that the screenshots were actually gained through illegal hacking of the unnamed third party’s Facebook account, Insite never published the screenshots or interviews.
These are the questions asked to and answers given by both Mr Micallef and Ms Sutton on the issue. Starting with current Social Policy Commissioner, Ms Sutton, who won the independent election 22 votes to 17, Insite’s question were clear and to the point.
Were you made aware that anyone from SDM was campaigning for you?
“I wasn’t aware of what other people did, I can only speak on my behalf so, what I can say is coming from me only. From my end, I approached different organisations. I approached everyone, both SDM and Pulse, to get everyone’s opinion. At the end of the day I believe that KPS is not there just to serve one political party or the other but I wanted to apply because it is the platform for student organisations. With regards to student organisations, I wanted there to be the highest outreach possible and I believe that I was elected because of my merit; because I had good proposals, because of the way I spoke, and the way I answered particular questions. I think those were the reasons I was elected and, to be honest, I don’t have any control on what other people do.”
So throughout the campaign you never went to SDM and asked them for help?
“No. I had a meeting with them, just as I did with Pulse regarding my proposals but I never reached out to them in terms of help or what not. I mean, obviously I reached out to all other organisations for their feedback and I asked SDM for the same feedback as Pulse and other organisations.”
Following Ms Sutton’s answers, Insite then approached Mr Micallef with questions directly related to the allegations, particularly keeping in mind the screenshots which were revealed during Thursday’s KPS meeting:
Did you help Gabriella Sutton?
“We did not give Sutton any help, but what [SDM] did was evaluate the proposals presented by both candidates. As we have already clarified as well, we met both candidates on the same day so that we can consider both fairly. I can say that we did not help Sutton, but her proposals were a lot more credible than Dario’s; however, that is my personal opinion. A vote was taken among the executive and we chose our candidate as an executive.”
The conversation then turned to the particular topic of the conversations with an alleged member of an organisation:
“Myself and [name withheld] were talking on quad about the KPS elections and we were sharing our views. Eventually [he] brought up issues with Room Allocation and I think that Dario’s proposals were not fair to the voters because he proposed something that could not happen and shows that he had little to no idea how the actual procedure works. Let’s say that I come out on quad and start making unrealistic proposals that I can’t really promise. At the end of the day, I worry for KSU because imagine Dario came up with all these promises and then when it came to room allocation, what was promised didn’t happen. KSU would in turn look bad because he would be part of the team as a whole after all, not Dario on his own. I explained the repercussions of the proposals and how KSU can get a bad name in the future. If someone had to knock on KSU’s door and ask about the proposal promised by an individual member of the whole team, only to find out that it cannot be done, then the student will not turn his back on a single team member, but on the team as a whole. I felt that I had the duty to explain things to my friend, but at the end of the day he voted according to his conscience.”
Did you, at any point, speak to members of other organisations as well with the final goal of swaying their vote against Mr Cacopardo?
“No! Of course not. There was a point when coincidentally in the room I was in, there were two people from two different organisations speaking about the same proposal and then even extended the argument about the vote to the viewing gallery. Obviously without wanting to, I couldn’t avoid giving my personal opinions on the issues, but that was in no way an attempt at interfering.”
When pressed about the fact that KE and KPS elections are the only two independently held elections and asked whether SDM should have at least stayed out of those roles, Mr Micallef replied that SDM “gave a level playing field to both candidates.” When asked why members of organisations approached him personally for advice, Mr Micallef replied that he obviously has friends in organisations and a number of them turn to SDM because of their experience, knowledge, and a good enough relationship across organisations to be able to speak about such issues.
The questions moved specifically to points where Mr Cacopardo was being directly badmouthed saying that he “doesn’t know what he’s doing” and also to messages like, “do me a favour”:
“Things need to be said as they are. I’m not going to trick you into saying that the proposal was realistic, it is not a direct attack against Dario, but his ideas were not realistic and don’t have a basis for enactment as he thought they could have. In fact, I liked his proposals about the environment which are very much in line to SDM, and I very much appreciated how he used Leave Your Mark as a basis for some processes in KPS. In fact, the meeting with him took a good hour where various members of the exec all considered and discussed his proposals, and you can even double check this with him. Another worrying proposal was the idea of giving a vote to the viewing gallery; and don’t interpret this as me not wishing to give students a vote, but we will lose the sense of a vote for organisations, and a sense of the viewing gallery. The example given was that if there is an issue that particularly concerns SDM, I could easily get coaches up to University with upwards of 200 people and the proposal would completely go in our favour.”
This newsroom has stuck to what was said on record as unedited as possible to allow readers to come up with their own conclusions, and in the name of transparency and coherence. This saga will probably not end here, but much like Thursday’s KPS meeting, it is bound to go in circles for a long while.