The politics of appeasement

Surrounded by pro-hunting lobbyists and weak ministers, Joseph Muscat has imposed his pro-hunting agenda.

Cartoon by Mark Scicluna
Cartoon by Mark Scicluna

The politics of appeasement by Labour Prime Minister Joseph Muscat towards the hunting lobby is stomach-turning and revolting.

More so because the country was looking forward to a dramatic change of mentality in the new administration.

It has to be said that the present administration has chosen to uphold the politics of yesteryear and is willing to go that extra mile to appease a lobby that is unusually loud and aggressive.

It is not only the hunters that it is appeasing: the speculators and big business are two other groups. And the other is the vast number of xenophobic Maltese who object to immigration because of their prejudices.

Nowhere in the Labour Party manifesto was it stated that the afternoon moratorium on hunting in September would be removed.

Nonetheless the Labour prime minister chose to remove the ban, which will lead to the massacre of hundreds of birds of prey - protected and endangered wild birds.

It was introduced years back to allow the government of the day to give the impression that it was serious about enforcement.

Surrounded by pro-hunting lobbyists and weak ministers, Muscat has imposed his pro-hunting agenda.

The prime minister has not only bowed to pressure from the hunting lobby, but reconfirmed that the Ornis Committee, headed by political appointee Louis F Cassar, lacks any credibility and is simply a tool in the hands of the government.

Muscat's position on hunting is governed by his partisan instinct that a pro-hunting stance will reap electoral rewards.

There is nothing progressive or rational about his decision, which goes to show that his politics is purely and actively one-sided.

Over the years the hunters, headed by their long-time leader Lino Farrugia, have argued that they are discriminated against and sidelined.

In reality their bullying tactics have left them with two major political parties afraid to take them on. Indeed the only political party willing to confront them are the Greens.

Over the years, habits which were ingrained in our society have changed, because we have simply progressed and moved on. They have included a plethora of issues including smoking in public places, the application of corporal punishment in schools, inciting violence, gender equality, the dumping of sewage in the sea, wearing a helmet on a motorbike, animal cruelty and hundreds of others.

Hunters and trappers, on the other hand, have continued to believe that they are above the law and spared any form of change.

They argue that change will lead them to emotional crises and undue stress on the hunting lobby.

That kind of argument holds no water, less so when one considers the changes many sectors or segments of society have gone through because of EU accession.

Joseph Muscat has conveniently stated that he does not take surveys into consideration, which in reality is rather uncharacteristic of the Muscat we know. Our impression is that Muscat is really and truly driven by surveys.

He should appreciate that the majority of Maltese are for a ban on spring hunting and more and more are in favour of a total ban.

This newspaper has actively always sought to campaign for those things it believes in. European Union accession, transparency and, more recently, divorce. In all such situations, we have taken an active role and supported the campaigns.

This is our new campaign: to support the coalition for a ban on spring hunting and to highlight the government's foolhardy and rash decision to continue appeasing the hunting lobby.

If Muscat wishes to ignore this anti-hunting sentiment he may do so, but at his peril.

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