The Malta Independent 23 June 2024, Sunday
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Gozo's new PN member of Parliament says sincerity earned him a seat

Sabrina Zammit Sunday, 10 April 2022, 07:30 Last update: about 3 years ago

ALEX BORG is one of the new faces of the Nationalist Party in Parliament. The Malta Independent sat down with newly elected Gozitan lawyer to discuss his vision for the future, his new role in Parliament and what issues he will be raising

Did you always see yourself working in the political field?

Yes, although I never thought I would be directly involved in politics as a Member of Parliament. Politics has always been a part of my life. My father spent 15 years as chief of staff working for Giovanna Debono and he also spent years as the mayor of Fontana. I felt that I have, so to speak, a duty not to stand still but rather be a part of a movement that is the hope for Malta to revitalise its politics and show that youths can be the people to take politics forward.

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Was your general election result an expected one?

No, I did not expect to get 6,000 votes, but this shows that the nation wants new faces in the Nationalist Party; this was also reflected in the house visits I conducted.

We were very impressed when they started to count the votes and that one vote after another, I was being assigned the number one.

Maltese voters have changed and they are showing they want new faces in Parliament.

 

What was your reaction when you got to know the result?

I was almost left without words when I saw 6,000 votes; I competed with people who had been longer than me in the Nationalist Party. Apart from that, I was also competing with people who were ministers and members of Parliament in the past, such as Chris Said, Joseph Ellis and Kevin Cutajar. I was also competing with reputable candidates from the Labour Party, such as Anton Refalo, Clint Camilleri and Jo-Etienne Abela.

I am still a young man who has just left the university compared to these candidates. I think that what might have made a difference is that I have remained humble and close to the people. I haven't changed because I have entered the political scenario and I have no intentions to do so as politics will not change the way I live; I will remain the Alex I was before.

 

Do you think that people voted for you just because they want new faces?

No, I don't believe that is the only reason they voted for me. I think they did so because the kind of politics I pursue is positive.

The kind of politics that although one criticises, it is done constructively, by asking what I can do better to improve the situation, as that is how you win people's credibility. A very clear example was when they introduced the fast ferry; I praised the Labour government as it is a good project that helped Gozitans, but I also criticised it when the timetables offered were not in favour of students and workers.

When you label what is good as good and bad as bad, it gives you a certain edge that provides popularity, especially among Gozitan voters, because being sincere will make you reconnect with the electorate and will make you regain trust.

 

What will be your first commitment as a member of the new Parliament?

I have first to seek what the Nationalist Party leader Bernard Grech wants from me. I will respect his decision as I am willing to work in any shadow ministry portfolio or any role he wants to assign me. Obviously, as a Gozitan MP, I am ready to work especially in favour of the interest of Gozitans and address their several needs.

In Gozo, certain factors make it different from Malta, and that is why I believe that we, as Gozitan MPs, will have a little more work to do than Maltese deputies.

 

Why do you think people voted more for you than others who have served longer as members of Parliament?

To be exact, I cannot compete with my colleagues; I believe that the result is what it is, and I respect it.

 

In what way can’t you compete with your colleagues?

If you have noticed, all Nationalist Party candidates did a campaign together; even the last activity in Gozo was one between all Gozitan Nationalist candidates. On the other hand, the Labour party did an event for each candidate, which showed a particular division.

There will always be competition, which is only natural in these situations. Still, at the end of the day, the Nationalist Party candidates are pulling one rope to make the party a concrete and alternative opposition. Our main goal is for the Nationalist Party to regain its faith in the Gozitan district in the next five years.

 

Since you got the most votes from the PN in Gozo, do you expect the PN to appoint you as a spokesperson for Gozo?

That is a mandate in the hands of the PN leader, who I respect if he decides to give me the role of spokesperson for Gozo. If I am not given that position, I will still respect whatever he decides at the end of the day.

 

Don't you think that the fact that you got many votes affects this decision?

Yes, it does without any doubt. The fact that you have many votes in favour, I think gives a certain weight to such a decision, but it is not the only factor that influences it.

 

What is your vision for the future?

My vision for Gozo is based on different factors, such as sustainable development, which I believe is an important sector for Gozo. Gozo, as we know, has characteristics that are different from Malta's. We have to take care of our environment. Still, obviously, we cannot stop progress from happening. That is why I believe we have to find a balance between development and the environment to keep those characteristics that make Gozo different.

I am not saying that we should keep Gozo as a crib, as progress is important, but we also need to take care of our surrounding environment.

Apart from that, I also believe that we as Gozitan MPs have to be at the forefront to get better jobs in Gozo, as this has been a never-ending problem, not only under a Labour government. We have to work together with Labour MPs to seek what is the best solution for there to be better jobs for Gozitans.

Education is also another factor. As per the electoral manifesto, we as a party have proposed an investment on the university campus in Gozo and on MCAST so that it is better equipped for the Gozitan student so that he is not at a disadvantage when compared to the Maltese student.

 

What problems do you think are being forgotten in the country?

According to a very recent survey, the majority of the young people, if I am not mistaken, around 70%, want to leave the country. This is a very worrying statistic, because if these young people had to leave due to lack of opportunities, we would have a brain drain affecting our country. As a  young political person, I will do everything in my power in Parliament to address any shortcomings that may affect youths and persuade them to remain in Malta.

The same survey also showed that there are other factors affecting the youth's decision to leave the country, such as corruption, rampant development and the lack of open spaces.

Nowadays, the quality of life of many people in Malta has decreased with all this congestion, pollution, traffic and unsustainable development. This is why I believe that the only solution to this problem is sustainable development. There should even be certain changes in the MEPA policies; I believe that the PA's policies are antiquated for today's world as they do not address problems that allow for the exploitation of the environment, which are not leaving any open spaces for families.

 

Would you like for Bernard Grech to remain party leader?

That is something that needs to be internally discussed. The Party has its administrative and executive, which I form part of and I believe we will choose the best solution.

 

Many young people also see you in the position of the new leader of the Nationalist Party instead of Grech. What is your answer to this?

I obviously respect the opinion of the young people, but I am still a new MP and I am still learning politics. I believe that these opinions need to be discussed internally between the Nationalist Party so it can bring unity rather than division.

 

Do you agree with the tunnel between Malta and Gozo?

One of the PN's proposals was to hold a referendum to let the people decide what they wanted on the matter. If we were in government, I would respect the decision resulting from the referendum as it is the interest of the Gozitan, which I care about.

One of the PN's proposals, especially regarding the interconnectivity between the islands, was to increase the Gozo Channel fleet with another two new ferries; one for merchandise and another for passengers' use. This would have bettered the service offered as it would have been more frequent.

It was also proposed to conduct studies to see whether there is a possibility of doing an airstrip in Gozo, which would have allowed for an air method of transportation between the islands.

We have also proposed a helipad at the Gozo General Hospital. This method would increase efficiency as, currently, patients coming from Mater Dei Hospital land at the Heliport in Xewkija, where reaching the Gozo General Hospital takes at least another 15 minutes.

 

What do you propose for Gozo? What are the first problems that you like to address and discuss in Parliament?

Most of the problems mentioned by Gozitans are regarding the environment. We are witnessing unrestrained building development; as I said earlier, I favour sustainable development. That is why I believe there should be progress that respects the surrounding environment.

I believe that one of the important things we can do is to propose certain new policies with regards to the planning authority so that these respect Gozo's characteristics.

We have also visited the MCAST campus not long ago. We felt that the campus, together with the University campus in Gozo, needs regeneration so that they can provide new and better opportunities for courses in Gozo for Gozitan students. 

 

Were you surprised that the turnout was the lowest since 1966?

From the feeling that I was getting from house visits, I felt that the nation had lost its faith in current politics. Yet, I was surprised that it was so low.

This was a very clear sign that Maltese and Gozitan voters do not like the current politics, and that is why I believe that, especially young politicians should try to rebuild voters' trust in politics and politicians. This is a direct result of all the corruption and lack of vision from the precedent government. 

 

There is disappointment with the PN result, as the distance between the two parties has increased

From the various house visits I have conducted, I have felt the nation's pulse and I was not expecting the Labour Party to increase its advantage. Nonetheless, I respect the decision of the Maltese and Gozitan voters. Despite this, the Nationalist Party will remain the alternative government I still believe in and embrace its principles. Together with other nationalist deputies, I will continue to work towards regaining the trust lost.

 

During the last election, the PN lost a seat in Parliament in Gozo. What can the Party do to get it back?

The Nationalist Party needs to seek where it went wrong. I genuinely believe in humility; one needs to seek where they went wrong and what mistakes they made to work on the discovered problems and work towards regaining the trust of the nation.

Yes, we respect the decision of the Maltese and Gozitan voters. Still, this loss should not stop us from doing our job, but rather I believe that I, as a new politician, should work more than before so that I will be part of the regeneration process of the Nationalist Party – a process that will strengthen us so that in five years’ time we will be the alternative government that voters can have more faith in.

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