Opposition’s Huawei criticism ‘sour grapes’ – Joseph Muscat

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat insists government want to fight corruption at all costs, heralds party financing bill as “breakthrough”

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has this morning hit out at the Opposition’s criticism of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, arguing that this was a case of “sour grapes” and not sound criticism. 

Speaking during a radio interview on One Radio, the prime minister also heralded the party financing bill, branding it as a “breakthrough law” which encapsulates the government’s attempt to “fight off corruption at any cost.”

“The government wants to fight corruption at any time. The government wants to ensure that no one is tainted by corruption; this is why corruption should be tackled, fighting it head on, and not remaining idle,” Muscat rallied.

While denouncing the previous Nationalist administrations for “lacking the proper courage” to implement the party financing bill, Muscat pointed out that in its short tenure, the government had managed to remove prescription on acts of political corruption and also introduce the long-awaited Whistleblowers’ Act.

“The party financing bill is a breakthrough. The Opposition’s criticism is hypocritical as this was the same party that created excuses to justify its indecision during 25 years. Whereas previous administrations dragged their feet to avoid enacting the law, the government is doing so after just two years,” the Labour leader explained.

Muscat was also quick to defend the decision to vest the Electoral Commission with the authority to act as a watchdog over party spending, arguing that the Commission itself had been trusted for years to oversee elections in Malta. Muscat’s comments came in the wake of the PN’s declaration that it may institute legal action to challenge the Commission’s appointment, with its main rallying cry being that the governing party appoints the chairman. 

Despite his clear attempt to address – and denounce – the Opposition’s concerns on the bill, Muscat was mute on the decision not to impose any financial capping on the spend of political parties.

Taking umbrage at the Opposition’s criticism at the Huawei memorandum of understanding, the prime minister insisted that this was the case of “sour grapes”, arguing that while Labour was in opposition it “was never this negative and gave credit when credit was due.”

On Tuesday, Chinese telecoms giant Huawei signed a memorandum of understanding with the Maltese government. The MoU includes a commitment  by Huawei to start testing 5G in Malta. However, the presence of Huawei came under fire from the Opposition, with the latter insisting that the investment has not been quantified.

Moreover, the PN has argued that only a handful of people have been employed. Defeding the opening of an office by Huawei, Muscat argued that he could not understanding the Opposition’s criticism to malign at everything.

“When Labour was in opposition it was never this negative because the Labour Party gave credit when credit was due … This is the largest telecommunications company in the world, in a year it managed to yield €47 billion,” he said.

Muscat also dispelled fears that Huawei would complete would establish providers Vodafone, Go and Melita, instead arguing that Maltese providers could be used to test 5G.

The PL leader also explained that Huawei’s involvement will not be limited only to the testing of 5G but also sees the telecoms giant the setting up of a date recovery centre to back up their operations in African countries.

“The government is not content on being average, and it is ready to take decisions. I would rather be criticised for a decision I take than being criticised for not taking a decision. This is the difference between the PN and the Labour government, the previous administrations were reluctant to take any decisions out of fear they would upset someone,” he said. 

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