Twixt green and clean

While concern about the environment dropped, in the last four months there was a substantial increase in concerns regarding buses and corruption. This says it all.

The results of the latest survey on what are the main concerns of the ordinary citizen in Malta, as published in this newspaper last Sunday, make interesting reading, more so in the background of the two main political parties pushing their hype on the very same day via speeches by the two leaders.

Simon Busuttil must have been surprised that in spite of his party’s convention on the environment and his boast that the PN’s new green policies will prove to be an election winner, the public’s concern about environmental issues dropped by some three points between September last year and January this year.

Even more interesting is the fact that practically half of those who listed the environment as a concern are people with a university education, a sector of the population where the PN already has a substantial majority support. In other words, in spite of Simon Busuttil’s pious hopes, pushing the environment issue will not gain the PN many new voters.

Lest somebody misinterprets me – maliciously or otherwise – I am not saying that the environment is not an important and major issue in Malta. I am just saying that from the survey published last Sunday, it results that the environment is not one of the leading concerns of the ordinary Maltese citizen, eclipsed as it is by concerns about traffic, immigration, buses, corruption, low income, cost of living and parking — in that order.

While concern about the environment dropped, in the last four months there was a substantial increase in concerns regarding buses and corruption. This says it all.

As a matter of fact in his speech to the party faithful last Sunday, Simon Busuttil ignored environment issues as well as the shortcomings of the ‘improved’ public bus service and went ahead attacking the government on corruption, concentrating on the Gaffarena case.

Rather than an intended strategy, this could have been just a coincidence, considering that this was his first public speech since the publication of the report of the Auditor General on the Gaffarena mess and its subsequent outcome.

According to my reckoning, the best thing the PN has done in opposition is the publication of its policy on good governance. It is such a pity that it was a flash in the pan and that it has not sunk in yet among the general public. The PN should never rest pushing it.

Talking in Gzira last Sunday, Joseph Muscat had to make a balancing act: publicly praising Manuel Mallia and Michael Falzon while saying that he intends to tackle the issue of good governance head-on. It was akin to the impossible exercise of trying to square a circle, considering that the two gentlemen he hailed and praised both had to resign on issues obviously related to lack of good governance. 

Claiming that the PN does not have the moral authority to introduce a better standard of governance was rather pathetic, but one understands that Muscat cannot tell his followers that the PN is right on the governance issue while declaring that he will take it ‘head-on’.

The editorial of Labour’s own weekly ‘Kulhadd’ last Sunday teased the PN by saying that the way it had conducted itself in government had provided the current administration with a road map of what should not be done. Yet it went on to declare that it was the paper’s opinion that the public administration should be in the hands of persons who know how the Civil Service works, adding that those who were never involved in the civil service have a good chance of making mistakes and embarrass everybody without wanting to.

One wonders whether the paper’s opinion will ever become the party’s opinion and subsequently the government’s opinion. Ignoring the schizophrenic exercise of trying to make a difference between these three bodies pushing the same vision – almost an unholy trinity – the message was clear: many people picked from the party ranks and employed in positions ‘of trust’ by the administration were making too many messes. 

Nothing new here, except that it was said in Labour’s own official organ!

If Joseph Muscat really wants to tackle the issue of good governance ‘head-on’, he should take the advice of the editor of his own party’s official organ and curtail the power that he has given to the party hacks who were let loose roaming in ministries, government departments and state entities.

Quite a number seem to have adopted the ‘Malta taghna lkoll’ slogan literally!

Reining them in would do wonders for the administration, besides reducing considerably the number of Muscat’s daily headaches!

Joseph’s dinosaurs

The leading article in the last issue of the left-wing ‘Żminijietna’ (January-March) is a scathing attack on Joseph Muscat’s administration. After lamenting that the electoral promises on the protection of the environment and the upgrading of social services were not kept, the anonymous writer of the piece went on to say that Malta now belongs only to party insiders and everything is done in the interests of capitalists.

Under the heading: ‘Malta qed taqbad rotta neoliberali’ (Malta is taking a neoliberal route) and titled ‘Gvern li qed ibiegh kollox’ (A government that is selling everything), the piece attacks the transfer of property to the Jordanian contractor who owns the American University (now Institute) of Malta as well as the privatisation in the energy and health sectors, among other things.

The organisation and its publication of the same name seem to be the last relics of the left-wing in the Maltese political spectrum since Joseph Muscat moved Labour into the Blairite centre to win the election, leaving the party’s extreme left political dinosaurs behind him.

Uncannily, most of the gripes in this article are no different from some of the gripes against the administration listed almost daily by the PN media.

In the Maltese political milieu, losing one’s bearings has become the norm.

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