Photo of Adrian Delia – PN; Photo of man sleeping on a bench – Facebook- Frank Psaila
Opposition leader Adrian Delia harshened his rhetoric against foreigners today, urging the Maltese to stand up for their national identity and “Christian values” in the face of a growing threat.
“In these so-called best of times (l-aqwa żmien), hundreds of people are sleeping in cowsheds, on our sheets and in our gardens,” Delia told a group of supporters at the PN’s Tarxien każin. “They are robbing the Maltese people of their liberty, making our elderly people feel scared in their own homes and our youths scared to walk the streets. The government’s strategy of bringing in more and more foreigners is eroding our values and our principles and is causing havoc with our Maltese identity. Don’t be afraid to stand up for your Christian values, to show who you are and declare you are Maltese and Gozitan.”
“If our country must welcome foreigners, then let us know who they are and where they’re coming from and let’s ensure that they don’t just come for a few months and leave, but that they integrate with us and want to become Maltese like us.”
Delia’s speech comes as PN officials have upped the ante on migrant-related issues ahead of next year’s European Parliament elections, in which immigration is expected to be a major theme.
PN MEP candidate Dione Borg has warned against the rise of migrant-owned shops in Ħamrun
PN MEP candidate Frank Psaila has repeatedly urged the government to address the issue of migrant homelessness, while fellow candidate Dione Borg recently took the rhetoric a few steps further by warning that Maltese residents of Ħamrun are concerned at the proliferation of migrant-owned shops in their town.
Delia’s speech today was preceded by heartfelt statements from PN Tarxien councillor Lawrence Bonavia and Ħamrun councillor Efrem Buttigieg about the drawbacks of migrants moving in their towns.
“Several police cars recently drove up to this place in Tarxien and expelled a lot of foreigners from it,” he said. “Before long our village square was packed with these people carrying suitcases and some ended up sleeping in our public gardens.”
“Elderly people are feeling scared inside their homes, women are leaving their homes less frequently to do their chores, parents no longer trust their children to walk out of the house alone, and youths are scared to walk on the pavement because of all the foreign gangs who only care about stirring up trouble,” he said. “The people are angry and frustrated and the government’s shameless response is to tell us to brace ourselves for even more foreigners. The government only cares about the economy and the surplus, not about residents.”
PN Ħamrun councillor Efrem Buttigieg warned migrants are having a harmful impact on his town
And then it was Delia’s turn. The stage set, the Opposition leader derided the Labour government for promoting a model of economic growth that requires immigrants to fill out newly-created jobs due to a shortage of Maltese workers.
The PN leader’s repeated use of the word ‘foreigner’ meant it was unclear what sort of immigration he was referring to. He started out by citing national statistics which showed that Malta’s population increased by an average of 10,000 a year between 2013 and 2016, largely spurred by immigration.
However, he then claimed that no one knows where these migrants are coming from or what checks and controls were coming from, implying that these 10,000 people a year are all undocumented asylum seekers even though the statistics referred to all immigrants.
Delia specifically referred to asylum seekers later on, arguing that the Maltese government has a humanitarian responsibility to save people from drowning but also an obligation to safeguard Maltese identity.
Homelessness appears to be on the rise in Malta. Photo: Frank Psaila
“Malta has always welcomed people from all over the world and indeed we ourselves originate from other Mediterranean countries,” he said. “Yet we came here because we wanted to live here, just as many foreigners nowadays do, and we cannot allow our country to become a ship in the middle of the sea.”
The Opposition leader did not delve into how he thinks asylum seekers are threatening Maltese identity, nor did he propose any solutions for how such a ‘balance’ could be struck. Unlike other European leaders who have adopted a hardline approach on migration, Delia did not criticise the European Union or other countries for not doing enough to alleviate the issue.
His speech then turned onto immigrants who come to Malta in search of cheap labour, suggesting his gripe with immigrants extends beyond asylum seekers.
“The government wants to fuel the economy by increasing the country’s population and not by increasing its productivity, a sign of its failure to dream of and attract new sectors and industries,” he said. “The economy is only growing because more people are coming here and therefore increasing the total expenditure, and bot because people’s lives are improving. This is the tragedy we’re witnessing here.”
Delia did not propose any alternative economic models or niches the government should, but isn’t, tapping into, but pledged to propose clear alternatives for the country’s future in the coming months.