Needed: a coherent Opposition

Malta needs a coherent Opposition led by people that do not have to check for potential back-stabbers every time they take a decision

Oddly, I find myself in complete agreement with former Labour leader and Prime Minister, Alfred Sant, who in a recent television interview was reported to have expressed concern that Malta’s democratic governance stands to suffer without a united and “coherent” Opposition.

There is no doubt that he is correct in depicting the PN as being currently in disarray after two rival factions – one loyal to PN leader Adrian Delia and the other loyal to his predecessor Simon Busuttil – appear to have entered into a war of attrition.

As Alfred Sant put it in a Smash TV interview: “An incoherent Opposition will reflect on the democratic governance of the country. Government needs an Opposition with consistent criticism whilst providing alternatives to its policies.”

The recent spat on Facebook between Pierre Portelli, the head of the PN’s media, and PN Member of Parliament Jason Azzopardi, is a clear indication of the troubles within the PN. Incidentally this spat was apparently removed from Facebook not long after it appeared. I could not find it again – although I had already recorded it.

Jason Azzopardi reproduced an editorial that had been published in The Times and invited his friends to read it and ponder upon it. The editorial – that accused the wives of the PM and of the Leader of the Opposition of intentionally dragging their children into the political spotlight – must have been the work of the anti-Delia faction as it strove to equate Adrian Delia’s wife with the wife of the Prime Minister. This ruse is in line with the strategy of the anti-Delia faction that pushes the idea that Delia is in cahoots with Joseph Muscat. Pierre Portelli immediately rubbished him, calling it “pathetic”.

I do not consider the editorials published by The Times as reflecting some serious editorial line, as Jason Azzopardi tried to do. The Times has a large array of opinion leader writers who often disagree with one another. Contradictory editorials are therefore not a very rare occurrence.

But the spat confirms that Malta has a serious problem because the Opposition is weak and divided. Again Alfred Sant was correct in stressing that since Independence, the PN was always coherent during Gorg Borg Olivier’s and Eddie Fenech Adami’s times.

Sant noted that when he returned to Malta in 1977 from his diplomatic posting, PN leader Eddie Fenech Adami was surrounded with seasoned politicians like Louis Galea, Guido Demarco, Ugo Mifsud Bonnici and Censu Tabone.

Interestingly he queried whether the PN’s lack of serious politicians is because there has been so much economic expansion lately, that talented individuals are preferring to make the best of the present circumstances for economic and social reasons rather than pursuing a political career within the PN. And that is, in my opinion, a very good point. The shallowness and superficiality of most of the current PN political human resources is, indeed, very worrying.

Malta needs a coherent Opposition led by people that do not have to check for potential back-stabbers every time they take a decision. Those who have not accepted Adrian Delia have now gone overboard. They are dishonestly trying to undermine him because of their personal interest at the expense of Maltese democracy and not simply of Delia’s leadership.

Their cry for democracy and the rule of law rings hollow because they have not accepted a democratically-elected party leader and are prepared to undermine him using all sorts of underhand and devious tricks.

Malta needs a coherent Opposition.  Those – within the PN – that are undermining Delia’s attempts to provide what Malta needs should never be trusted.


Pope Francis at bay

The recent Papal visit to Ireland has exposed the dwindling support of the Catholic Church in countries that have traditionally supported the Church without any reservations. Ireland is one such country. Malta is another.

Pope Francis has long faced criticism from traditionalists – a group that includes academics as well as cardinals – who say the Church is too willingly following the whims of the anything-goes modern age.

Much of the dissent has remained within the Vatican walls, even as Francis’s opponents worked to stonewall reforms. A few high-ranking Church leaders have questioned him publicly about his teachings. But the simmering opposition has suddenly exploded across the Catholic world, with a former Vatican ambassador accusing the Pope of covering up sexual abuse — and demanding that Francis step down.

The accusations came in a 7,000-word letter written by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò that could be viewed either as an act of courage or as one of unprecedented defiance. Either way, it sheds light on the opposition movement, and particularly its insistence that homosexuality within the church is to blame for the sexual abuse crisis.

Some say that this is petty Vatican politics gone wrong with Viganò adopting a ‘tit for tat’ stance as he feels he was badly treated by Pope Francis. It is no coincidence that the letter was published at perhaps the most challenging point of Francis’s papacy, when abuse scandals have surfaced in the United States, Chile, Australia, and elsewhere.

The document alleges that Francis, as well as his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI, had known for years about abuse allegations against Theodore McCarrick, who last month became the first cardinal in nearly a century to resign. Asked about the accusations, Pope Francis simply replied that the document “speaks for itself”.

In the letter, Viganò goes into detail about years of failures to act within the Vatican bureaucracy, and describes “dismay and sadness over the enormity of what is happening.” He mentions “homosexual networks” within the Church and quotes an academic who holds such networks as a core reason for clergy abuse.

Though Pope Francis did not directly address the claims in the letter, on Sunday night he delivered a message to reporters on the papal plane. Asked by a reporter what a parent should say to a child who comes out as gay, the Pope said: “Don’t condemn. Dialogue, understand.”

“I’ll never say that silence is a remedy,” Francis said. “To ignore a son or daughter with homosexual tendencies is a lack of paternity and maternity. You are my son, you are my daughter as you are! I’m your father, mother. Let’s talk!”