The Malta Independent 21 April 2024, Sunday
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Why I left Labour: I can work better as independent councillor, Kaylocke Buhagiar says

Isaac Saliba Sunday, 25 February 2024, 09:30 Last update: about 3 months ago

Birkirkara Local councillor Kaylocke Buhagiar believes he can work better as an independent candidate, largely because his main interest will be the locality, not that of the political party he represents.

Buhagiar garnered widespread attention last week when he announced through his social media that he would be leaving the Labour Party and contest as an independent candidate in the upcoming elections in June.

Buhagiar was elected as a Labour candidate five years ago in the 2019 elections where he had received 329 first-count votes, and the fifth most total votes out of the Labour candidates. The Labour Party had acquired seven out of the 13 Birkirkara council seats available in that election.

The Malta Independent on Sunday reached out to Buhagiar and asked him about his plans and intentions moving forward. To start, he was asked if he expects to receive significant support as an independent candidate, and what the reaction has been so far from his constituents.

He answered that he has always been in contact with citizens or local organisations and businesses. He continued that it is their “collective realisation that Birkirkara needs to be elevated”, which he remarked could only be done by everyone coming together and moving away from partisan interests that some may have, as “our interest should only be our locality”.

Buhagiar said that he has worked and helped in different Birkirkara-based organisations since he was young, and that he has always strived to elevate the locality by participating with local band clubs, festival organisers, sports organisations, along with cultural and environmental organisations. He added that he spends a lot of time speaking with many residents as well as local small businesses.

The Birkirkara councillor said that he “took the plunge” because he believes that he will be able to do better work as an independent councillor. He added that irrespective of his political leanings and tendencies, his interest is Birkirkara and doing his work in the best way possible, and that he should not be tied down to other interests.

He was then asked regarding his thoughts about the increasingly centralised power structure of local government, and whether or not it is taking away responsibilities and agency from local councils. Educator George Vital Zammit had told this media house some months ago that there seemed to be a pattern where the government was centralising local government, resulting in a reversal of responsibilities from local to regional.

In response to this query, Buhagiar said that this new centralised system had begun with the pre-2013 administration which had sought to centralise decisions away from local councils and that the current government has opted to keep moving in that same direction. He continued that he believes local councillors know their locality best and are in constant communication with members of their locality, and so therefore it would be natural for decisions to be taken at the level which is most closely interacting with the local residents. “That is why subsidiarity is all about and why we had created local government in the first place,” he commented.

When asked about his main messages or issues which he would like to prioritise leading up to the election, he answered that Birkirkara is one of the largest localities with a lot of potential which has been mostly disregarded. He continued that it is now time to “take the bull by its horns and elevate our locality”. He said that it is clear something needs to be done to focus on the locality, “From public cleansing to culture, from events to a sense of community. It’s time to come together for our locality.”

Buhagiar was then asked if he had become disillusioned with the Labour Party, and why so if that was the case. He answered that many young people have become disillusioned with politics but “rather than being an armchair critic,” he has decided to take action and hopes that many others will do the same.

The now-independent candidate said that Birkirkara needs a long-term vision which goes beyond the interests of political parties and focuses more on all the local residents. He concluded that it is time for Birkirkara to move to the next level as one of Malta’s biggest localities holding a lot of potential and important history.

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