What’s wrong with migrants’ businesses now? PN candidate sets tone of campaign

PN journalist turned MEP candidate ‘reports’ from Marsa with videoblog on migrants, crime, and Hamrun’s new businesses

Plantains and hummus are ok from a supermarket but not from Hamrun because migrant-owned businesses “are undoubtedly affecting the community here”, Borg says
Plantains and hummus are ok from a supermarket but not from Hamrun because migrant-owned businesses “are undoubtedly affecting the community here”, Borg says

Journalist Dione Borg knows well the power of the media.

Armed with his trusty microphone, Borg – now an MEP candidate for the Nationalist Party – fired off his first videoblog from Marsa to set the tone for what will be a recurring theme in the coming European elections: immigration.

But while claiming to find out for himself the problems faced by a town exposed to migrant communities and asylum seekers – by adopting his reporter’s delivery  “instead of being a populist” – his scripted commentary wasted no time in linking migration to criminality.

Marsa has hosted an asylum reception centre for years. Today cheap housing has also attracted migrant communities but recent street violence has harmed the community’s relationship with foreign residents. On the other hand Hamrun’s commercial centre is now welcoming various ‘ethnic entrepreneurs’ setting up shop.

“One of the main changes in Hamrun and Marsa is that previously Maltese-owned businesses are being taken over by immigrants. Undoubtedly this affects the communities here,” Borg says outside a Taste Of Africa outlet – without explaining exactly how.

Borg said he was briefed by authorities, although nowhere did he stop to interview migrant residents or workers for a comment.

“Marsa… is shouldering the burden of irregular immigration, a problem that is affecting the community,” Borg says outside the Marsa police station, woefully manned by just two police officers.

Here he suggests a lack of police coverage in the area by pointing out that Marsa falls into the same policing district for Hamrun, Sta Venera, Rabat and Mdina, Mtarfa and Bahrija. That’s because Malta’s police districts are geographically split over 10 administrative regions.

“It is unacceptable that the Maltese police does not have the necessary resources to do its work,” Borg says – a commendable observation, but one that has nothing to do with the way police stations are allocated to their districts.

Borg suggests that the police are prevented from taking any meaningful action because Marsa itself touches upon Hamrun, Valletta and Qormi – so police resources are spread thinly over the four towns. But it is not the first time that the Rapid Intervention Unit is deployed to make a show of strength and disperse migrant workers waiting around to be picked up for odd jobs.

Borg’s video attracted commenters on Facebook from the far-right Patriots’ Movement, which soon led the MEP candidate to try and ward off what he called “racist elements” from “exploiting the situation” in Marsa.

“Racism keeps us clean until anyone of you preachers find a better and real solution,” said one PN activist, Tonio Zampa. “Until then, yes proud to be racist, just like La Vallette that kept these c**** out of reach way back in the 16th century.”