The Malta Independent 23 April 2019, Tuesday

It is only fair

Timothy Alden Sunday, 2 September 2018, 09:54 Last update: about 9 months ago

It is the job of the Opposition to hold the government to account. For the first time since Independence, the Maltese have also voted for a watchdog in Parliament and, through a third party, we now have the privilege of the Opposition also being policed. One of the foremost criticisms against Adrian Delia is that under his leadership, the Nationalist Party is perceived as being far too friendly with the government and is not carrying out the duty of the Opposition, which is to monitor the government. It is left to Partit Demokratiku to fulfil this role, as seen with the St Vincent de Paul "direct order".


In Malta, due to tribalism, politics is often hostile and deeply personal. It comes as no surprise that it is this way, when the winner takes all and supporters of the losing party are punished professionally and socially for their loyalty, while the supporters of the other benefit hugely from a victory at the ballot box. Politics in such conditions is automatically personal, because it has great consequences on one's quality of life. This hostility is, however, counterproductive. Why is it that talent in the country must be split down the middle, when every institution should be meritocratic, making the most of our education system and human resources? At different points in history, this has been more extreme than other times.

Yet, how can we change such a hostile atmosphere, when the Leader of the Opposition is criticised for trying to end the Cold War between the Nationalists and the Labour Party? Actually, the answer is rather simple. We must, for the first time, draw a line and distinguish what is Opposition for the sake of opposition and take a moral stand. We must similarly distinguish between collusion and being constructive. By not speaking up about the St Vincent de Paul "direct order", the Nationalist Party failed in its constitutional role because it was seen as colluding with business interests to protect its own interests. However, when politicians oppose projects for the wrong reasons, then it is merely causing trouble just to be seen or heard. That is why a truly proactive, constructive and honest Opposition must be one which calls a spade a spade, without sabotaging the interests of the country. A political party must always put the interests of the community and the country first. That is the aim of Partit Demokratiku, and that is why it is holding both the government and the Nationalist Party to account, while also proposing improvements and solutions.

Last week, I accepted an invitation by the university psychology students' association BETAPSI to participate in a video to raise awareness about mental health. There, I teamed up with Nickie Vella de Fremeaux who provided her advice so that we would get the best possible product. That weekend, I also participated in a clean up organised by Ambjent Malta, with Malta Clean-up. There, I chatted with Labour politicians and told them what the country needs, environmentally, based on my own experience and research. Having done so, and having got a good idea of the challenges facing Ambjent Malta, as well as its opportunities, I will be in a position to hold them to account.

It was very interesting to observe the reaction of the Labour politicians to my presence at this event. I think they did not know how to interpret it, or my intentions. In the end, however, I think they realised that my intentions were good, even though we disagree on many issues, and we will ultimately be on opposite sides when it comes to voting day. However, if one is in politics to make a positive change, then one does not need to wait to be in government to do so. Just as democracy is not just about elections, so too must we not consider politics to be all about conflict. To end tribalism, we must never lose sight of our principles, and we must stop treating our neighbours as if they are monsters because of the way they were brought up. Indeed, independent institutions, meritocracy, and all the reforms which we need, are all about moving away from being a bipartisan society. Good governance is good for everyone. Everyone deserves an equal chance, free from being labelled. It is only fair.

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