Monday 08 August 2022

Our greatest problem is the political divide

Lisa Galea has something to say about the immigration issue

At present I am reading a very interesting book  Io Credo, dialogo tra un’ atea e un prete. Margerita Hack and Pier Liugi di Piazza chat together about various issues. (For those who do not know her Margherita Hack was a famous Italian astrophysicist who died recently). This book is a solid intelligent discussion between two people who we would traditionally think have opposing views however surprisingly at times their views are antipodes and at other times they are not.

Margherita Hack discusses in a short passage the role of religion. Religion she says should not be tied up with governance. This passage sums up the problems of some of the most recent revolts. Egypt, Turkey etc. Both Turkey and Egypt fought against the imposition of a religious state. Likewise I agree with Chiccitto even though his critique was met with controversy in Italy, he was man enough to chide the Pope for mixing religion with governance. Likewise our bishops should take heed of this reasoning and not use morality as a tool to combat politics. Governance and religion are two different realms and should remain separate.

The immigration issue should likewise not be instrumentalised into a moral crusade. Yesterday I heard very positive constructive comments in a civilized discussion programme coming from Dr Licari, who said Malta’s greatest problem at the moment is its political divide on the issue. As the Italians would say “tra I due litiganti il terzo gode”, the two parties are bickering between them and the EU can use our bickering as an excuse for not doing anything. He hit the nail on the head and said even if the politicians had to lock themselves up, they should come up with a common solution and be a united front in discussions with the EU.

Dr Fearne also came up with good ideas one of which was of a quota to be determined by the EU of access, by size of country, the other was of attempting to regularize acceptance on numbers of migrants where they have the opportunity to apply to work in European countries, the influx will be determined on a yearly basis, a system which has worked in other countries. This is the kind of discussion I feel the media has so far failed to propose, a constructive one; so far I feel the media has been using the same aggressive tones bloggers have been using.

I feel the national perception is that of fear, this fear is justified, we are seeing our European neighbours (Italy, Greece, Spain etc.) in economic difficulty and we are aware that a larger influx would tax our social security and healthcare system, however the EU refuses to help by burden sharing and insists on monetary compensation. This is a short lived solution because if immigrants come and stay the compensation the EU gives will never be enough, it is just not tenable. With more people on the island, you would have to have a social security that can take more cases, more revenue for the government and a daunting expansion for the healthcare services. This disproportionate expectation from the EU is simply not possible. However with all the tantrums and drama that has been going on this week, we can not be taken seriously.

I read comments by readers of papers in the British press about Muscat’s reaction to immigration and their reactions were no different to that of the Maltese. This means that the sentiments some Maltese express are not different in Britain. This also means Europe is failing day by day. The EU has become a distant glasshouse were those who work in the institution, think they are always right. Shouldn’t (EU Home Affairs Commissioner) Cecilia Malmström have got the first plane to Malta and Lampedusa this week if she really cared rather than dismissed us so easily by referring us to two EU organs on our shores? What is the motivation behind Busuttil’s U-turn on the push-back policy? Is it just plain and simple opposition – quite probable but not necessarily.

Roberta Metsola Tedesco was  quick to label her PM (perhaps not the one she voted for) as racist. Unfortunately the word racist is used too quickly today, we are using words in their wrong context. Saying what you think is not racist, it is how you say it that makes the difference. If you say “I do not like Ahmed”, you are not being racist, but if you say “I do not like Ahmed because he is Arab”, then you are. The PM may have seemed to be a bit of a cowboy, however it was the first time the BBC bothered to headline news about immigrants coming to Malta, in a long time. I think his strategy was intentional, it does not mean I agree with it but yes! it drew the attention towards our troubles with immigration.

I cannot refrain from commenting that to a certain extent some of these migrants do seem to choose when to come here, if we had to go to figures between 2008-2010 we would surely see a reduction of migrant voyages because of the world-wide recession. Giovanni Maria Bellu writes in his book I Fantasmi di Portopalo, that at times these boats are released from larger boats at a certain distance from the shores they want to reach, that is why tracking them is no easy feat.

I think this is more like organized crime at the expense of others, but who is getting rich with all the money exploited for these journeys? Are there larger and more influential fish? One has to remember that if illegalities happen somebody is cashing in, particularly on this human trafficking.

My reflections about the immigration issue are like Dr Licari’s, we have to be united on this one, our politicians particularly the PN need to show us that they understand the troubles if we go on being ignored and “invaded” by boats. The general view of the populace may seem tragic to some, however truly with all these conflicts around us does somebody think we are not going to be subject to large numbers in migratory patterns, like the thousands of Albanians who sought refuge in Italy?

I discard the nationalism and all the rest, some immigrants do an honest job and are given the opportunity to do it, others are exploited (and that is also where our politicians have failed, in creating a safety net to avoid worker exploitation). It is time for both parties to show political maturity and not serve us with the circus we were spectators of this week.





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