Why we ask you to vote no

This issue goes beyond party politics. The disproportionate sense of empowerment among the most lawless of the hunting community means spring hunting has to stop

Cartoon by Mark Scicluna
Cartoon by Mark Scicluna

MaltaToday has united in a common front with The Times and The Malta Independent and the environmental lobby to put an end to the continued use of political blackmail by the hunting lobby.

This for this initiative has been borne out of the dramatic failure on the part of the political class to adequately regulate this sector, with serious consequences that affect all levels of society.

Malta’s hunting phenomenon is no longer about birdlife conservation or even the environment.

It has become a destabilising political force with significant impact on the rule of law, and a strong influence on decision-making that impacts on all law-abiding citizens and those who believe in democracy, honesty and civic-mindedness.

The sheer level of lawlessness into which this pastime has descended is no longer tolerable in a 21st century EU member state. The State has to respond with such harsh penalties, because it finds it to be unable to allow hunters to regulate themselves.

This bad faith has pushed environmentalists, conservationists, the media, and lovers of the countryside and nature, to petition the courts and ask the people of Malta to decide on the future of hunting in spring: the killing of migratory birds.

The truth is that the hunting lobby is visibly not in a position to control its unruliest members, and unable to rely on the public’s faith, it blackmails political leaders with its votes to keep on derogating from the EU’s ban on spring hunting.

By defying even the harshest of measures and even going out to protest at the Prime Minister’s rightful decision to close the autumn season, despite the generosity of the administration towards them, hunters have told the Maltese public and the rest of the EU that they refuse to acknowledge any form of authority whatsoever.

This pattern of behaviour repeats itself with every hunting season, in spite of all reasonable efforts to keep it in check.  Such attitudes can only make extreme measures inevitable.

It is precisely this repeated failure to evolve beyond brutish thuggery that has led to an unprecedented common against this lobby.

And the issue transcends party politics: both Nationalist and Labour parties have wooed the same sector with unfeasible and generally undesirable promises.  It is precisely this attitude by the political class that has resulted in a disproportionate sense of empowerment among the most lawless of the hunting community.

The only conclusion is that, left to their own devices, the political parties are incapable of legislating in a way that offers adequate protection to migratory birdlife, or even to citizens who are sometimes victims of the hunters’ excesses.

For these and other reasons, we ask you to vote no to this brutality and abuse of our democracy. Vote no for a better Malta.

More in Editorial