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Archbishop needs ‘allies’ in Labour and PN

Archbishop Charles Scicluna delivers damning indictment of Malta’s politicians and their short-sighted approach, says there is no need to turn Malta into Dubai or Singapore

4 September 2016, 4:59pm
Archbishop Charles Scicluna, seen here with Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, has said Malta’s politicians lack a long-term vision (Photo: Curia Communications Office)
Archbishop Charles Scicluna, seen here with Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, has said Malta’s politicians lack a long-term vision (Photo: Curia Communications Office)
Despite delivering a damning indictment of the short-sighted approach that Malta’s politicians adopt and to admitting to “wincing” when seeing the agendas of Malta’s major political parties, Archbishop Charles Scicluna has conceded that he needs to find allies everywhere, including in the Labour Party and the Nationalist Party.

Scicluna made these comments in an interview on The Sunday Times of Malta, where he pulled no punches in denouncing Malta’s politicians for lacking a long-term vision and for having their re-election as their main concern.

“A party in power wants to remain in power, so it has a short-term vision, but if it loses the long-term vision, then we are in a pickle … I hope that our politicians’ decisions go beyond elections. I am talking about both parties. They have to be courageous in their decisions, but unfortunately, unpopular decisions lose you votes, and I don’t think any party in the world wants to lose an election,” he said.

Asked whether he foresees a solution to the short-sightedness of Malta’s politicians, a candid Scicluna pulled no punches and said that if the country had “politicians who do not really care about the power but do care about the common good, then it would be a step in the right direction.”

“I think people will then acknowledge that a politician who does not care about his power, but is there to serve people, is worthy of being re-elected … I am hoping for a new generation of politicians, without losing hope in the politicians who are in their seat today.”

“When I see the agendas of both political parties I always have to sort of wince. The reality is that both main political parties have the temptation to adopt a liberal agenda, because they think that is what sells and what gets votes,” he argued.

The Archbishop – whose outspoken criticism of the government is often met with disdain by Labour activists, including the prime minister’s aide and blogger Glenn Bedingfield – dismissed claims that he was pushing the PN’s agenda or that he was feeling threatened by the government’s liberal values.

“I am not here to carry the flag of any political party, or serve any political party. I want to serve Jesus Christ, and Maltese society in his name,” the Archbishop said.

‘There is no need to turn Malta into a Dubai or Singapore’

The Archbishop – a vocal critic of the proposed high-rise development in Sliema and Mriehel – also called on the government to take the environment seriously, arguing that the government should implement policies that continue sustainable development which do not ruin Malta’s heritage.

“The environment is not only about the sea, about the countryside. It is also about our landscape, which is our heritage. There is no need to turn Malta into a Dubai or Singapore. We are Malta; we are a Mediterranean Island,” he said.

Hitting out at the recently-announced planning amnesty which the government said it aims to ‘regularise’ illegal developments, the Archbishop said it “is not a necessarily a very positive signal” for illegalities to be forgiven.

Similarly, Scicluna said that the MEPA demerger - which had envisaged giving the environment a stronger voice, only for the newly-established Environment Resources Authority (ERA)to be branded ‘toothless’ by the Environment Ombudsman – was not a good idea. Nevertheless, he said “the government has the power to rethink or at least give the teeth to the ERA needs, as I think it has lost them on the way.”