Muscat calls out hypocrisy of pro-lifers who are unable to show compassion towards migrants

In the case of the Alan Kurdi, Muscat said that Malta had once again opted for dialogue and persuasion rather than closing its ports and taking the easy way out 

Joseph Muscat said he could not longer take the double standards of people who constantly went on about the need to protect the unborn child but who were unable to show compassion to living people who arein need  (File Photo)
Joseph Muscat said he could not longer take the double standards of people who constantly went on about the need to protect the unborn child but who were unable to show compassion to living people who arein need (File Photo)

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said he could no longer take the double standards of people who constantly went on about the need to protect life and the unborn child while at the same time devaluing the lives of migrants at sea.

Speaking at a political activity in Mellieha, Muscat insisted that human life was not a relative issue, and that like the unborn child, migrants searching for a better life were also human.

“What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. We are speaking about the same human life, and I can no longer take the hypocrisy in people who have these double standards,” Muscat said.

“If there are groups and people who want to lead us to believe they are saints on issues like abortion, they must accept everything because it is the same human life.”

Muscat was discussing the latest migrant standoff, which came to an end yesterday, after four European countries agreed to share the 64 rescued migrants on board.

The Prime Minister defended his government’s position during the standoff, insisting that Malta could not be pushed around and be allowed to face the challenge posed by migration alone.

He explained how the NGO vessel Alan Kurdi had rescued a group of migrants from within Libyan territorial waters last week. He said that while he could understand the NGO’s decision not to return to Libya, both Tunisia and Italy were safe and closer to the rescue than Malta. 

Italy, he said, had maintained its closed ports policy, meaning the vessel was forced to move towards Malta and wait in international waters.

Muscat stressed he could accept international pressure from NGOs asking for Malta to let the vessel into its ports, but said he could not let anyone try and paint the nation as “heartless”, or to make it seem as thought the problem was Malta’s doing.

He said that Malta could have chosen to let the vessel in, but this would have set the country up for a summer in which NGO vessels brought all rescued migrants to Malta expecting to be let in.

Another option, he said, was to close Malta’s ports. “It would definitely be very popular on Facebook but it would be playing around with the country’s reputation and its principles.”

Instead, he said that his government had opted for the third route, the route of persuasion and good sense.

He thanked the European Commission for understanding Malta’s position and for working with the country to find a solution that would not see any of the migrants remain in Malta.

Genuinely worried people must be understood

Muscat said that Malta could not allow a situation to develop where people spoke of migration as though it were “the end of the world”, but at the same time, it needed to understand those who were genuinely worried.

He added that one could understand the apprehension of those who might have lived their whole life in a community of people they knew and were familiar with, and who were now faced with a variety of different people and cultures.  However, he warned against buying into “extremist propaganda” that foreigners were somehow a threat to the Maltese’s livelihood.

Nationalist Party can’t be true to its own manifesto

Turning to the proposed Gozo tunnel, Muscat said he could not understand the Nationalist Party’s position.

He recalled how the tunnel had originally been proposed by a PN government led by former Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi, and had included it in two electoral manifestos.

He said that Labour had pledged to determine whether a tunnel was feasible back in 2013, and after doing so, had included the tunnel in its 2017 manifesto.

“There shouldn’t be any controversy on this issue, but all of a sudden, we start to hear voices from the Opposition saying they don’t agree with this, or that they want a referendum about that. So why write things in a manifesto. This isn’t an issue about the tunnel but about how seriously we want to take politics. At this rate we can stop publishing manifestos and base everything on posters and slogans,” Muscat said.

The government, he said, had this week tabled an “apolitical” motion in parliament in order for it to express itself on a project that would likely span a number of legislatures.

“I would have expected the Opposition to say it has no problem and would all be voting in favour. I haven’t heard anything from the Opposition.”

He questioned how one could trust a party, which, “can’t even agree on such a clear issue that was written in black and white on its manifesto”.

Unlike the PN, he said the Labour government was united and able to instill confidence in people. “If others consider themselves a heap of rocks, we are a bastion from which the Maltese and Gozitan people will continue to benefit.”