Opposition leader Bernard Grech has called for better regulation of political party stations in order for the Maltese electorate to become more mature and responsive to the most important issues facing the country.
Grech was speaking at the end of a conference on the state of the nation, where he called for an end to partisan politics.
“If we want to have a mature electorate, we must stop deluding ourselves into thinking that political party stations can balance each other out. How can you balance out the character assassination that Daphne Caruana Galizia suffered before she was killed,” Grech said.
He called on both parties to be courageous and to ensure that both stations were under the proper supervision of the Broadcasting Authority.
The Opposition leader called for a serious discussion to be had on the state funding of political parties, in order to put an end to the practice of soliciting donations from big business.
“It doesn’t make sense for us to speak about the environment, when the reality is that both parties need to beg developers for donations, only to have them exert their influence on policy once the party is elected,” he said.
Turning to the independent media, Grech said there also needed to be more state support in this regard, so as to ensure that journalists are able to hold those in power to account. Moreover, he said there needed to be a more transparent system for how government advertising is administered and more balance by the national broadcaster.
“We also need to stop manufacturing consent using state-funded trolls who assassinate the character of critics of those in power,” Grech said.
Referring to the political developments witnessed in Malta in recent years, including the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia, Grech insisted that a shadow had been cast over the country and its politics, with people no longer assured that politicians were working in the national interest.
Country can’t progress unless people reach their aspirations – PM
Robert Abela said he had accepted the invitation to speak about the state of the nation immediately, because self-reflection was essential to making the right decisions.
The nation, he said, was the people that it consisted of. “There is no strong nation without strong people. The country can’t move forward unless people reach their aspirations.”
He expressed his pride in the manner in which the country had handled the COVID-19 pandemic. “Had we not managed to beat the pandemic, today we wouldn’t be speaking about what nation we want after all this is over.
Instead, we’d be talking about how to sustain those people who had lost everything.”
Abela said he was not surprised by the findings of the survey, which found that family remains at the centre of the Maltese’s worldview. This sense of community, he said, was also at the core of Malta’s success in dealing with the pandemic.
He reiterated his view that a strong economy was at the centre of any aspirations the country might have for the future.
Abela stressed that the government would continue in its efforts to improve people’s lives through targeted social measures. “Given the necessary tools, every person can make a valid contribution to our society.”
He touched upon the fact that the survey had also found that people were happy to be living in Malta and that people were generally optimistic about the future.
The Prime Minister to the fact that the number of people living in a state of severe material deprivation had fallen since the Labour Party returned to power in 2013.
Turning to the environment, he said it was unfortunate that people considered its protection to be at odds with economic development.
He stressed his belief that it was possible for Malta not to miss out on any economic opportunities but to do this sustainably.
This, he said, would be one of the country’s biggest challenges going forward.