The Malta Independent 15 April 2021, Thursday

A war that is not war

Alfred Sant MEP Monday, 8 March 2021, 08:00 Last update: about 2 months ago

The metaphors of war have been used for quite a while with regard to the coronavirus pandemic. They make sense, though not completely. The mobilisation of communities that is really required if the pandemic is to be controlled... as well as the common will to make huge sacrifices until it is extinguished, resemble closely the qualities that a war calls for. If they remain absent, in the end a final success cannot be ensured.


A problem has continued right through the sanitary campaign that we have been through: The mobilisation of society has not been constant, nor observed by all. Let us say some, perhaps many, have actively evaded the duty of respecting the rules that were set.

In a democracy that happens to be so small, enforcement of regulations is a problem for it is so easy for the enforcer to become hated. When the supreme consideration is how voting will go, the ways by which people could squeeze themselves out of the rules of war remain easy. So, a state of anarchy can develop quite rapidly, which, when the enemy is a vicious pandemic, could soon lead to a deeper crisis. In war and during a pandemic... that further sense of crisis inevitably will lead to "too many" deaths.  


State aid

I attended a meeting of a group of MEPs who follow economic issues in the European Parliament: it discussed the state aid that SMEs in the EU have received or are receiving since the Covid-19 pandemic struck.

Unfortunately much of the information that was made available related to national economic data - like, what portion of the economic disposable wealth in a country was diverted by the state towards SMEs?

Of course, it is interesting on such a topic to be able to compare how the figures posted by one country compare to those posted by others, or to the overall European outcome. From such comparisons, a number of conclusions will emerge - such as that for Europe there has been a truly considerable effort undertaken to extend assistance to SMEs.

What I found worrisome was that there seems to be a lack of concrete information about how, in specific instances, state aid was decided and implemented.


Press questions

I agree that the professional and semi-professional media - TV, radio, online and the rest - that deliver daily news should be accorded the highest esteem. I believe that it's true that without them, many issues would remain hidden, though I also always held that none of them are or can be truly "independent", as they claim.       

Yet, their role in the social communications of this country needs to be safeguarded.

On the other hand, the representatives of the media must show that they have a robust and serious perspective on affairs. They would do so by having at the ready new and significant facts about the stories they are following up on.

Nothing undermines more strongly the kind of interest they should attract from society at large than the kind of questions they were asking Prime Minister Robert Abela during his press conference of the 4 March about new anti-Covid 19 measures. Are you going to apologise for...? Are you going to request forgiveness from...? or questions of this sort.

In hot debates between PM and Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, one would expect such exchanges to take place; in a press conference sad to say, they sound childish.


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