Monday 18 June 2018

Who wants to chase a millionaire?

And, as I had long suspected, it was never about genuine patriotism at all was it? Because, if you are patriotic, you do not send your TV crew to stalk a private person at the airport, just because he is a Chinese billionaire who came here briefly on business, in order to scare him off from any potential investment.

Even if he did come to enquire about the citizenship scheme, as far as I know this is not illegal and yet the man was harassed and followed around as if he were a common criminal. The man was very low-key, and there is no way that you could guess he was wealthy from the way he acted or the way he was dressed, so someone must have pointed him out to the cameraman and journalist. He came to Malta on a private jet so for the crew to have shown up at the precise time he was at the airport means that they were tipped off (an investigation is now taking place to ascertain whether it was an airport employee, which would be in breach of regulations). I can (perhaps) understand taking one photo, but the ensuing footage was an invasion of his privacy, pure and simple.

Last night I read with growing disbelief all sorts of accusations tinged with mounting hysteria from PN diehards about this man’s ‘shady’ motives for coming to Malta and why he had an Italian in his “entourage” (because, apparently, Italians and Chinese nationals are not allowed to mix).

Is this going to happen every time a wealthy foreigner lands at the airport?  And what is patriotic (or even European) about portraying Malta as some sort of backwater where businessmen are harassed on their arrival or departure?

Over the years, we have had many wealthy people from Kuwait, Libya, Dubai, Russia and other non-EU countries who slip quietly in and out of the country to negotiate deals, pour investment into the country, buy property and to sign various types of contracts. They usually prefer to keep a low profile and are very discrete in the way that seriously rich people are. Have they ever been hounded at the airport, their identity revealed and their faces splashed on the evening news? No.

I think the Nationalist party has really gone too far this time and I would not be surprised if yesterday’s antics will backfire as people who think for themselves recoil in disgust at the implications. The party is either being given completely the wrong advice, or else, in its zeal to milk the admittedly unpopular citizenship scheme to the hilt and to inflct the maximum possible damage to the Labour party (even if it means crippling investment in Malta), it has well and truly lost the plot.

They can call it every name under the sun, but please, please, do not even try and call this patriotism.

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