[WATCH] Mask-clad BirdLife activists drop in on Gonzi and Muscat

Masked Birdlife Malta activists call at CNL and Dar Centrali to drop off hard copy of hunting-related questionnaires that went ignored by vast majority of electoral candidates.

Bird Life Malta activists, led by Executive Director Steve Micklewright, striding into the PN headquarters.
Bird Life Malta activists, led by Executive Director Steve Micklewright, striding into the PN headquarters.

It was with an uncanny sight that the fifth week of electoral campaign kicked off as BirdLife Malta activists strode into the PN and the PL's party headquarters on Monday morning, clad in masks depicting the faces of party leaders Lawrence Gonzi and Joseph Muscat.

Continuing the theme of Malta's leading parties being 'silenced' into submission by the hunting lobby, the masks of Muscat and Gonzi were depicted as being gagged by the iconic and ubiquitous RTO sign (Reserved To Owner).

The mask-clad activists, led by BLM executive director Steve Micklewright and communications officer Rupert Masefield, delivered boxes containing hard copies of a questionnaire on hunting and trapping, personally addressed to each candidate, to the headquarters of both parties.

The reason for this personalised delivery, Micklewright and Masefield explained to the media, is because despite sending out the questionnaire electronically to the parties, they received only five replies to date.

On 18th January BirdLife Malta sent an electronic questionnaire to all general election candidates asking them to state their positions on a number of important issues relating to wildlife and the countryside.

So far, the replies received  were from Labour candidates Yana Bland Mintoff, Marc Sant, David Farrugia Sacco, and Anthony Bezzina, and PN candidate John Zammit Montebelo.

All Alternativa Demokratika candidates have returned completed questionnaires, he said.

Micklewright said that while Labour Leader Joseph Muscat had told them in meetings that replying to the questionnaire was the responsibility of each respective candidate, the Nationalist Party had opted to reply in writing instead.

He said that in an email penned by PN Communications Coordinator Frank Psaila, the PN delivered a "bland" and "noncommittal" policy statement where it said that EU directives would be respected, while the rights of individuals to access the countryside would be respected.

Micklewright insisted BirdLife Malta firmly believes that people have a right to know the positions of their general election candidates on issues which affect the majority of people in Malta, and insisted that the candidates have a democratic obligation to answer these questions.

The mask-clad BirdLife Malta members were met with stony-faced party officials at the respective party headquarters entrances, before being met by the respective communications personnel.

Kurt Farrugia accepted the printed questionnaires for the Labour Party, while Karl Gouder did so on behalf of the Nationalist Party.

Both respective party leaders were in the building at the time when BirdLife Malta dropped by with the questionnaires, but did not make an appearance.

AD supported Birdlife Malta's attempts to get party candidates to reply to their questionnaites.

In a statement, AD Chairperson Michael Briguglio said "The fact that both Nationalist and Labour candidates are largely refusing to fill in Birdlife's questionnaire is very revealing. To the contrary, all AD candidates have filled in Birdlife's questionnaire, and we supported their statements."

He insisted that "in parliament, Alternattiva Demokratika will propose the abolition of hunting in spring, full compliance with EU legislation, and increased enforcement against illegalities".