Busuttil stands by Hong Kong comment: ‘we don’t have protests, but democracy is threatened’

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil says Prime Minister wants ‘to compromise after creating the problem’

Simon Busuttil (Photo: Ray Attard/MediaToday)
Simon Busuttil (Photo: Ray Attard/MediaToday)

His comments may have stirred criticism that the comparison may have been “too exaggerated”, but Opposition leader Simon Busuttil this evening once again drew comparisons between Malta and Hong Kong.

Hong Kong students are currently protesting for more political freedom and full democracy. Protestors want the right to nominate and directly elect the head of Hong Kong government but the Communist Party insists on maintaining political control.

“In Hong Kong people are fighting for the right to choose their own candidates… in Malta the Prime Minister wants to remove the people’s right to vote. Once you understand this, you realise why we can draw comparisons between the two. The only difference is that in Malta we don’t have the protests,” Busuttil said.

In a 10-minute interview on Net TV’s Newsfeed, hosted by PN MEP candidate Norman Vella and Louise Tedesco, Busuttil said he couldn’t remain tight-lipped when democracy was being threatened.

Following the May 2014 MEP elections, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat floated the idea that local council elections should be held with the European Parliament elections. Subsequently, the government embarked on a consultation process and as yet it is not clear whether the government plans on postponing the 2015 and 2017 local council elections to 2019 or leave everything as is.

During yesterday’s activity, Muscat said the decision to postpone them to 2019 was due to electoral fatigue. He also said that there might be a "compromise solution" on the holding of the elections, claiming that a public consultation process had showed a  "convergence of ideas" between stakeholders, including local councillors, the general public, as well as "some people from the opposition."

The government’s decision to postpone the local council elections elicited suspicion that Joseph Muscat was attempting to dead-leg a possible referendum to abrogate spring hunting by reducing electoral participation.

“A public consultation process showed there was an agreement to postpone the local council elections. Everyone, including the opposition, agrees that it is not sustainable that an election be held every year,” he claimed.

Busuttil said that Labour had only consulted once with the PN, speaking directly to the party’s secretary-general Chris Said.

“We made it clear that we were against any cancellation of local council elections. It goes against the principles and values we believe in,” the PN leader said, adding that he “prepared to die” for what he believed in.

He also accused Muscat of deceiving youths by first promising them a vote at 16 years of age, and then “taking away the elections”.

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