A leading environmental activist has called out the insular tribalistic view of politics on the island that only sees things in black and white… or red and blue, to be exact.
“From the moment I took a step into the public light with my cleanup movement some years ago, whatever I did, I got messages saying ‘oh, you’re taking photos next to Muscat. So you’re with Labour now?’ Or ‘aha you’re meeting with Delia… PN from now on or?” It was neverending,” outspoken activist Cami Appelgren said in a long and powerful post.
“I empower people, I speak up against what I believe is bad… and I do it by addressing the individual, not the party,” she continued.
Appelgren’s words come after she was “butchered” by a number of people for posting a photo of Environment Minister Aaron Farrugia standing in the countryside.
She praised the image, saying: “what does instil some hope is to see that we at least have a current Environment Minister actually spending time in nature. It’s a very good start.”
However, some people were not having it, calling Appelgren “naive” and telling her she’s being used by the government.
“Don’t think for a moment that you’re not being used,” one woman said. “Enough with the encouragement! These are the same people you fight, and yet you’re applauding him. As much as you think he’s on the right side, you’re wrong. You’re completely wrong.”
“As much as you will deny and put emoticons and reason it out, you’re being used.”
She went on to say: “I’m sure Daphne [Caruana Galizia] would put you straight if she could. Unfortunately, your friend’s colleagues had her killed. That’s part of the people you’re defending.”
Amid the attacks and low blows, Cami remained defiant and stuck to her guns.
“Just because I am cheering him enjoying being in nature doesn’t mean that I will not scrutinize every step he takes. That is the big fault with Malta and people thinking that I cannot cheer one thing without being a hundred per cent loyal. I do not work that way,” she said.
“I cheer the good, I scrutinise every step and I will speak up against the bad no matter what party you belong to.”
PN MP David Thake, the Opposition’s spokesperson for the environment, even piled on, showing his displeasure at her thoughts.
“Cami, don’t be taken in by a few selfies. It takes more than a few selfies to convince me that a minister has the balls to stand up to his corrupt peers,” he said.
“I am not taking in for anything,” Appelgren shot back. “The good actions will be cheered, while all actions will be scrutinized and the bad ones spoke up against. No matter what party you belong too. That has always been my way to do things and will always continue to be.”
Appelgren had contested the 2019 MEP elections of the Partit Demokratiku ticket, and performed surprisingly well for a Swedish person in Malta, getting more votes than her party leader at the time Godfrey Farrugia.
Indeed, the Swedish system, which has numerous political parties covering a wide spectrum of ideologies, has clearly coloured her approach to civil debate and policies.
Malta historically has had two major parties dominating the discussion – and many Maltese people automatically tend to think in these kinds of duopolies, unlike Cami.
However, if anyone thought by piling on to Appelgren they’d be shutting her up, they have another thing coming.
“My behaviour reflects who I am. Other people’s behaviour reflects who they are. I will not let other’s frustration get to me,” she said afterwards.
“I will use my energy to do what I believe in – safeguarding the environment. And if a ‘selfie in Majjistral’ would benefit our environment by encouraging others to acknowledge the beauty… well, then I believe that should be cheered,” she continued.
“Either we unite and move forward or we keep on fighting and hating everyone based on party colour,” she ended.