The Malta Independent 5 August 2021, Thursday

Please, don’t call them amateurs

Claudette Buttigieg Sunday, 18 July 2021, 09:20 Last update: about 17 days ago

What is an amateur? Strictly speaking, it is a person who does something purely out of love and not for financial gain

You can achieve high standards and still be, in the proper sense, an amateur. Although in Malta we have a number of persons who work to a professional, expert standard in the fields of sports and the performing arts (for instance), the majority do not make a living out of it and are, therefore, technically “amateurs”.


In practice we also use the word “amateur” to refer to someone who is incompetent or out of his league. However, I find that calling someone “amateur” may be more of an insult to a true amateur than to the person we are meaning to insult.

Our government is a case in point.

Unprecedented speed

Wednesday was the last day of parliament before recess.

Just a few days before, Robert Abela’s government realised that there was a substantial number of laws which needed to pass through parliament before the holidays.

A good number of these laws are linked to EU Directives and Regulations. One quick look at such laws and you immediately realise that our government has failed to stick to the deadlines in these directives. Some are expired by a few months, others by close to two years.

That is not amateur. It is pure incompetence.

Anyone who truly loved this country and its reputation would have kept these deadlines.

Does anybody know how Malta and our citizens are affected by the fact that these laws were not passed in time? If an EU directive has become obsolete because we were meant to implement it nearly two years ago, what rights and remedies did any ordinary citizen (or business) lose?

In order to muddle through this mess, Abela’s government opted to do something which, in my eight years in parliament, I have never seen. In recent days, parliament was flooded with an unprecedented list of laws which passed through parliament at the speed of light. I have no doubt that some of these laws will be back in our laps to be amended again in the very near future.

Another COVID wave

Sadly, we are once again experiencing yet another pandemic wave. Could the government have avoided or mitigated it? As I write, we have seen the number of active cases soar to over 1,200 cases.

Yes, the government could definitely have avoided this wave.

First, the Minister for Tourism opened the gates of our country to anyone and everyone. Unvaccinated people were given €300 vouchers to spend in Malta as an incentive to visit us.

The airports and seaports were unprepared for the flood of tourists willing to take up the opportunity. Within days of opening up to tourists, control was lost at our frontier.

In situations like this, when Abela and his Ministers find themselves with their back up against the wall, they first blame the PN (but this time they simply couldn’t), then they blame the sector. Anyone but themselves.

All over the social media, the language schools were demonised. The source of such important income for our economy became a public enemy.

A circuit-breaker decision had to be made to stop the damage or at least slow it down. However, the decision to shut down the language schools overnight has created a very serious problem.

We now have thousands of unvaccinated students roaming around the streets in groups of close to 50, many unmasked, with very little to do except use up the vouchers given to them by our government.

Do we know how many are infected and consequently making the virus spread faster?

These students were here for a purpose which kept them together in contained places. Now that purpose is gone. Some came to Malta for three weeks. What is happening to these students?

There is another situation which also needs to be addressed. There are hundreds, possibly thousands, of older, vaccinated students who are currently in Malta and who could be attending schools. Many of these students came here on their own initiative and they are very motivated to learn. They are definitely better-quality tourists. These older students could help the tourism sector keep afloat without adding much health risk. Why can’t the schools open for just the vaccinated students?

The English Language Schools in Malta could be, and should be, part of the solution. They should not be treated as a problem.

I am aware that representatives of the schools met Robert Abela, but nothing much came out of that meeting. So much for consultation.

Naxxar Caravan Saga

Back in April, the Naxxar Local Council decided to draft a bylaw to put a stop to a number of caravan sites which began to sprout in different parts of the coastline, from Salina to Bahar ic-Caghaq.

The government was not forthcoming on this issue. Two days ago, it was announced that the government will be doing the exact opposite of what the local council proposed: setting up temporary caravan sites in the very same places the local council is objecting to.

Amateurs, you say? No! There are many other adjectives which fit the bill. Immature. Incompetent. Populist.

Alas, possibly even vindictive.


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