Grech urges supporters to spread message in face of Abela’s ‘media capture’

Bernard Grech lists government’s shortcomings, which he says are eroding the quality of life but fails to enthuse supporters during Sunday speech

PN leader Bernard Grech at the party club in Mqabba
PN leader Bernard Grech at the party club in Mqabba

Bernard Grech elicited the support of Nationalist Party activists to spread the party message in the face of what he called government’s control of the media.

Referring to the Prime Minister’s admission last week of having spoken to a magistrate, the Opposition leader told supporters at the PN club in Mqabba this was Abela’s way of controlling institutions.

“If he can do that with the judiciary, God knows what he does with journalists and editors,” Grech exclaimed, adding the national broadcasting station was simply a mouthpiece for the Prime Minister.

Grech again reiterated it was wrong for the Prime Minister to engage with a magistrate. “What is more worrying is that he has not understood the gravity of the situation,” he added.

In a lacklustre speech that elicited little enthusiasm from the crowd in front of him, Grech called out government shortcomings that he said were eroding the quality of life.

He spoke of out of stock medicines, blaming this on lack of government investment. He also shamed the government for the hospital wards that were set up inside the former canteen at Mater Dei and in store rooms.

“What a difference from when we had a state of the art hospital. Today we have wards in a former canteen and stores. But Robert Abela prefers to spend money on his friends, erecting dinosaur statues in Valletta and on propaganda rather than improve the health service,” Grech said.

He insisted that the hospitals concession agreement with Steward Healthcare should be rescinded. “Instead of giving millions to Steward, government should be investing them in public hospitals. Give us our hospitals back,” he added.

Grech also called for more investment in road safety and enforcement. “Introducing higher fines for traffic infringements is fine but on its own is not enough unless enforcement is improved and maintained consistent throughout,” he said.

The PN leader also questioned why the Prime Minister was against setting up an independent public inquiry into the death of JeanPaul Sofia last year. The 20-year-old youth died after a building under construction at the Corradino Industrial Estate collapsed, burying him underneath the rubble.

“Who are you protecting?” Grech asked the Prime Minister.

He then lambasted government for wanting to introduce abortion, insisting the PN was the only pro-life party.

Grech ended his speech saying people deserved a good quality of life, peace of mind and a government that understands their concerns.

“We have to be there and remain there [as a party] but we need you to help us spread the message. Government is using money to stifle criticism. You have a right to a good quality of life. You have a right to peace of mind. You have a right to have a government that understands you and cares for you. To us you have value. I want you to move forward in life,” Grech said as he ended his intervention on a hesitant note.

The speech came as MaltaToday published its first survey findings for the year, which showed Grech’s trust rating plummeting to its second worst result since becoming leader. The Opposition leader’s two worst results came in the past four months alone, while the cohort of non-voters today is larger than the PN’s voting base.