[WATCH] Maltese political system betrays environmental awareness, marine biologist says

Alan Deidun argues that the two major political parties in Malta do not have much elbow room to implement change when it comes to the environment

Alan Deidun
Alan Deidun

Marine Biologist Alan Deidun is a self-confessed "cynic" when it comes to his belief in politics as a tool to preserve the environment.

"I do not have faith in the political system anymore, especially because they both depend on big businesses for financing," Deidun said, when interviewed by Saviour Balzan on TVM's Xtra Sajf on Thursday evening.

He argued that the two major parties in Malta do not have much elbow room to implement change in the country due to the risk of losing votes, especially when it comes to the environment, a sector that usually matters little to the electorate. 

The marine biologist, environmentalist and university lecturer reminisced on his candidacy for the MEP elections back in 2009 where his idealism on environment issues fell on deaf ears. "I knew from the start that I wouldn't make it," he said. "All I wanted, though, was a platform through which I could deliver a message."

Deidun talked about the press conferences he used to organise next to quarries as opposed to what other candidates were doing in more predictable locations. "My aim wasn't to get elected. I knew there were candidates with lesser opinions but more money who would definitely be elected instead of me." He said that, in fact, he was one of the very few candidates at the time who declared how much money he spent on his campaign.

"If you had to ask me whether I would do things differently now, I would say yes," Deidun said. "I wouldn't have come out as a PN candidate. I would have been an independent contender."

He said that there were people at the time who valued him as a singular voice for the environment but were disappointed that he represented the Nationalist Party.

"People, even now," he said, "would justify and support my opinions on the environment but they are not willing to sacrifice their political choice." 

Deidun said that fortunately Malta is seeing an increased awareness for the natural enviroment lately and that the collective consciousness is awake to what's being lost. 

"There's another thing," he said. "The memory of environmental landscapes which we lost still moves people of my generation, but the current generation, those who are ten years and younger are not aware of what has been lost and what's currently being lost."

He said that youngsters today are obsessed with their gadgets and they do not bother much because they are not exposed to the environment. "Have they ever seen a frog?" he asked. "Do they know what a dragonfly is?" For this reason, he argued, half the battle is lost.