Time running out for the PN

The Maltese Catholic Church has a leadership crisis. We have a defunct church

Does the Maltese Catholic Church have a leadership crisis? File photo: Archbishop Paul Cremona shakes hands with Opposition leader Simon Busuttil
Does the Maltese Catholic Church have a leadership crisis? File photo: Archbishop Paul Cremona shakes hands with Opposition leader Simon Busuttil

Reshuffle the [shadow] cabinet

The Nationalist Party needs to inject new blood, and fresh ideas in its rank-and-file. It needs to rope in persons who are not presently part of the PN’s internal machinery. Thousands of traditional PN voters have crossed, comfortably, the political Rubicon twice in 12 months.

Identifying the reasons why this has happened is not enough - bold action is expected from the PN leader. All hands are needed on deck, but Simon Busuttil would do well to reshuffle his shadow cabinet; actually he should make it one of his top priorities in a tall order of other, pressing, priorities. Time is running out for the PN.

Drug decriminalisation

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat expressed his government’s intention to decriminalise drugs for first time offenders. The Nationalist Party is waiting for government proposals, and will, eventually, take a stand. Alternattiva Demokratika went one step further, and this week presented justice minister Owen Bonnici with their party position on the reform in drug policy.

Auxiliary Bishop Charles Scicluna challenged the politicians to deny that the decriminalisation of drugs would help the drug barons, while Archbishop Paul Cremona, OP, was, unsurprisingly, absent. Malta, definitely, needs to move towards a more humane policy on drug use and addiction.

Bunker mentality

The Maltese Catholic Church has a leadership crisis. Archbishop Paul Cremona has been out of action for a very long time. Media requests for interviews with the Archbishop are either ignored or met with lame excuses.

We have a defunct church. The Catholic Church in Malta seems to be immune to the welcoming changes being implemented by Pope Francis; our Curia is in a bunker mentality, afraid of the regeneration of ideas within it – scared that someone would upset the apple cart.

Perhaps it’s time for Pope Francis to take stock of the situation at the Maltese Curia and pave the way for fresh blood, and strong leadership at the head of the Maltese Catholic Church.

The bridging exercise must commence

If the PN wants to win back the pale blue and middle-of-the-road voters, it cannot afford to keep getting it wrong on civil rights issues. Both the divorce and civil unions issues served to disappoint, further, pale blue voters and middle-of-the-road voters. The political stakes for the Nationalist Party are high. It lost the liberal wing which, for years, gave Eddie Fenech Adami its full support. The bridging exercise must commence. Time is running out for the PN.

Unsurprisingly unpopular

Minister Manuel Mallia’s refusal to furnish the Ombudsman with necessary information to carry out an army promotions inquiry is unacceptable. Simon Busuttil and the Nationalist Party are right in stating that checks and balances are crucial for any country that deserves to call itself democratic.

Mallia quotes the law in his support – the public perception is that the minister is avoiding an investigation. Public perception is king. It is no surprise that, according to MaltaToday surveys, Mallia is one of the most unpopular cabinet ministers.

Common sense, please

Joseph Muscat’s electoral pledge, ‘You may disagree with us, but you will be able to work with us’, does not apply to leading cardiologist and opposition MP Albert Fenech. The Health Department made the leading cardiologist perform part time work. Prof. Fenech told MaltaToday that this move goes against the government’s own political aims, and that he’s forced to work in precarious conditions.

The health authorities quote the employer’s right to terminate the employment of an employee when he reaches retirement age. However, common sense should have prevailed – as it should have prevailed in the case of surgeon and then opposition MP Anthony Zammit. It is beyond me how a country with limited resources can afford to let such expertise go to waste.

Integration is not an option

The report issued by human rights organisation Aditus caused a bit of a stir with one of its proposals, to grant migrants the right to vote in local elections, attracting a lot of attention, discussion and controversy.

However, the Aditus report makes other suggestions, including the creation of a consultative council that would allow migrants to dialogue with the government on legislation and policy affecting migrants, on new initiatives and on outreach projects.

It’s a shame that successive Nationalist Party administrations failed to come up with an integration of migrants’ policy; and there is little, if any, hope that the new Labour government would remedy this unacceptable situation.

Smart move          

After being trounced at the MEP election, Simon Busuttil took the sensible decision of putting a stop to the political Sunday sermons – political events which serve the, useless, purpose of preaching to the converted.

Busuttil’s decision to move this year’s PN independence festivities in order to make way for joint national celebrations of the 50th anniversary is a step in the right direction, too, and is a welcoming indication that the PN is, finally, thinking outside the box.

Shame on us

Eurobarometer figures released this week reveal that the Maltese are becoming increasingly concerned with patient dignity; and rightly so. But nobody gives a damn about a Somali patient who earlier this week was dragged to the health centre barefoot and in handcuffs. It got wall-to-wall coverage, not because he was dragged to the healthcentre in an undignified manner and the police made a spectacle of him, but because he escaped policy custody. Shame on us.

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