Time to pour my heart out

With a heavy but honest heart I must declare that I am bitterly disappointed with the Labour Party's (LP) 20-point action plan on illegal immigration as presented in Parliament by Dr. Joseph Muscat on the 16th of March 2009. It is a plan riddled with contradictions and one which goes against human rights and human dignity. It is a plan which favours division over international diplomacy. Ultimately, it is a plan which goes against all doctrine attributed with democracy, socialism, liberalism, humanism and progressivism.

The LP prides itself with its socialist ideal. There have been numerous occasions in which the LP fought for a better and more social Malta - championing social justice, the workers' cause and equality. For these reasons I found no qualm and neither shame in aligning myself with the LP as I began to mature politically. When the Labour Conference elected Dr. Muscat as its leader in June of 2008 the inclination to seek a more active role within the party was a natural one, for I strongly believed in the qualities of the man, whom I supported openly. As a result I became a delegate in November of that year and thoroughly enjoyed my first experience in the General Conference which at the time was implementing changes to the party statute.

It was during this time that Dr. Muscat called for a change in mentality and started to steer the party towards progressivism. I strongly believed that with my contribution I would be part of this change. There were many issues which truly made me feel proud to form part of the movement that was taking shape. There were others, which I thought were lacking such as open support for gay marriage, which any progressive/socialist party would fight for. However, I had accepted the fact that change does not come about in a matter of days and nothing in life can be exactly the way you wish it to be.

Yet today I cannot see any change in mentality. Rather, I see a reversion. Dr. Muscat stated with much pomp that he and his party are defending the national interest. He declared that he and his party were the pioneers of that great dogma: Malta l-ewwel u qabel kollox! Decades ago, when Malta was still under colonial rule such mentality and spirit was necessary for Malta to obtain unequivocal freedom (which coincidentally we will celebrate its 30th anniversary in the coming days). Times have changed, but it seems that this mentality is being revived for reasons I cannot comprehend. How can Dr. Muscat ask for a change in mentality in the one hand, and sustain the old one with the other?

I feel that it is this mentality in particular which is destroying all that Labour should stand for and which is ultimately denying Malta a leftist/socialist voice. For the national interest can NEVER take precedence over the rights and dignity of the human person. In his speech, Dr. Muscat made alluring references to 'human dignity' and 'equality' remarking also about the inhumane and degrading conditions of detention centres. He tried to appear diplomatic in what he was saying. But he contradicted all that was said when he came to point 19 of the action plan which considered the suspension of our international obligations. Amongst the latter I assume is the Geneva Convention which gurantees right and humane treatment to persons who have achieved refugee status and international humanitarian protection. If you throw that away, asylum seekers and those eligible for protection are stripped of all their rights.

This behaviour was something I certainly did not expect from what should be a modern socialist and internationalist party but I must admit that I felt that it was coming. I feel that in its ambition to revive the Mintoffian era (an ambition which is becoming manifestly clear as time passes) in today's context and in the conext of immigration, the LP has fallen prey to the far right which is taking hold over Europe (look at Austria's last election results for example). We know what happens when the national interest takes precedence over human rights and international obligations. The events of the recent Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the loss of innocent life speaks for itself. I've been told that this may have just been a bargaining tool - that it is doubtful that Muscat really meant it. I claim that it is grossly irresponsible to negotiate and threaten when it comes to this human tragedy.

I have never doubted the fact that Malta has its physical limits and that it could not possibly welcome thousands upon thousands of immigrants. I also agree with increasing political pressure at a European level and with efforts to bring burden sharing into action. I never stated that Malta should keep its mouth shut on the subject and that we should merely accept whatever comes our way, as some accused me of doing. It was correct for Dr. Muscat and our politicians to discuss this matter openly in Parliament.

My trepidations however arise purely from ideological/political lines which the LP is taking. I reiterate that I did not expect this behaviour from a socialist party which now finds itself pandering to the far right.

I wonder how it is in the national interest to convert Malta into a pariah State.

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One Response to Time to pour my heart out

Anonymous said...

oh come one, Andrew. Why don't you come down from your melodramatic cloud.

There were 20 proposals, some were good, others need some clarification. No need to pour any heart out.

If anything the first 6 proposals call for an imporvement on the detention centre and the dignity of the migrant and more practical measure for integration.

soon, enough people like you and James debono will go on and call the PL an extremist right-wing party ... forgetting who has been running the show for the past 7 years and what kind of a process of de-humanization goes on in the centre. Did you for instance hear JPO on Bondi+ ... if not, you should.

However, I still have to hear anyone call for an investigation of the detention. sure enough they will be found in breach of human rights.

The Left has so far talked in a vacuum, and the result has always been a defeat ... not just in malta but in the rest of Europe too.

Even though with some reservation, the proposals were good, int he sense that they address the concerns of the Maltese, while respecting the dignity of the immigrant as a human being and not as a 2nd class being in a supposedly Catholic country.

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