The Malta Independent 22 October 2020, Thursday

TMID Editorial: Silvio Parnis’ roly-poly

Wednesday, 23 September 2020, 08:11 Last update: about 28 days ago

Silvio Parnis is rarely in the news. The position he occupies as parliamentary secretary responsible for the elderly and the disabled is not a controversial role and his contributions to general politics have rarely been given consideration by the media – simply because they did not deserve any consideration.

Last week, however, a gesture of his reminded many of how politicians can use their function for their own benefit, trying to gain respect and possibly votes from vulnerable people who are easily influenced and who fear that, unless they comply, they could suffer.


Over the past days we have had an increasing number of elderly people who have succumbed to Coronavirus. Malta has registered more deaths in the last four weeks than it did in the first five months of the pandemic, and the youngest of them was 72 years old. Elderly people have unfortunately become the victims of the rushed decisions that were taken by the powers that be at the start of summer.

In his wisdom, Parnis found a way to try to get close to elderly people by gifting them with a roly-poly, neatly wrapped in single-use plastic on which there was a sticker telling them to have “courage”. He made it a point of letting it be known that he was behind the idea. There was his name on the sticker, full title and all.

We will not go into the issue of the kind of snack that Parnis, or whoever for him, selected. We all know that there are other, healthier options that could have been chosen for people who, it is no secret, are likely to be suffering from different ailments in this stage of their life. If he’s going to repeat what he did – hopefully not – maybe next time he could select something more appropriate for people of that age.

What is sad is that, in this day and age, politicians still believe they could buy their way into their constituents’ hearts by giving them a gift, in whatever shape, form or cost. We have had other, similar gestures in the past, and in all occasions the news was treated with disdain. With social media having so much of an impact and reaching out to all corners, such stories attract even more scorn, and it was to be expected that Parnis ended up being a target.

Some may argue that, after all, it was just a roly-poly and not an expensive gold watch or necklace. Fair enough, but these kinds of things are, to say the least, unbecoming and unethical because the receiver feels obliged towards the giver. And, given that the receivers are vulnerable people, one cannot but help seeing an attempt by Parnis to influence them.

Vulnerable people, especially those living in homes, depend on others for everything. Their health preoccupations have been exacerbated in recent months by the Coronavirus pandemic which, as we all know, is more harmful to older people. They are the ones who fear for their life the most after a huge surge in the number of cases.

Rather than hand out roly-polices, it would have been better for Silvio Parnis to speak out, in public, against the decisions that were taken earlier this year and which hit the sector he is responsible for so badly.

That would have certainly attracted some positive media attention for him.

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