The Malta Independent 18 October 2021, Monday

‘Media law doesn’t deserve the paper it’s been written on if we keep living this reality’ – Busuttil

Monday, 27 November 2017, 21:32 Last update: about 5 years ago

Nationalist Party MP and former leader Simon Busuttil this evening expressed his frustration at the 'reality' of freedom of expression in Malta, contrasting it, in an impassioned speech, to the Media and Defamation bill draft which was entering  the third reading in parliament.  

Following addresses by Justice Minister Owen Bonnici and Labour MP Glenn Beddingfield about the bill, Busuttil praised the revamped bill, but noted that "some of their statements were a bit surreal in the light of what we are living in as a country."

"There is a difference between this law and what is happening outside," he said, "the law can be as good as you want, but is what people outside are living a reflection of the law? I say absolutely not."

"Outside there is a climate of insults, fear and murder," he continued. "We are living in a country where if you do not agree with the government they let it pass the first time, the second time they try and buy you, then they try bring you down, and that is the reality. As nice as it is, (the law) does not deserve the paper it is written on if we keep living this reality."

Busuttil went on to mention hate speech, referring to recent attacks on MEP Roberta Metsola and Michael Briguglio. As well as the Times of London articles published over the weekend featuring interviews with former FIAU official Jonathan Ferris and the Russian whistleblower Maria Efimova. Busuttil pleaded to the government to give protection to these individuals "and make sure they do not end up in situations of isolation."

Government 'trying to buy independent media with adverts'

Busuttil went on to state that 'the Government controls national TV station PBS' and alleged that it is 'trying to buy the independent media with advertisements'.

"The government controls PBS, Super One is an assassination of characters, the former editor of L-Orizzont, who was not a fan of freedom of speech, is employed in Castille, and the government tries to buy independent media with adverts, and when the media doesn't ring the government's bell, they stop advertising with them," he stated.

Busuttil went on to mention government expenditure on social media and slammed the government stating "wherever you go on social media there is always some advertising from the government, with our taxes." 

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