Grech – a weak opposition leader

The newly elected leader of the opposition has already had at least two golden opportunities to stamp his authority on the PN opposition and the party. On both occasions, Bernard Grech failed miserably.

The first occasion presented itself when Repubblika’s Manwel Delia publicly humiliated Grech when he warned the opposition leader that if he “f****s it up”, they would find another one to replace him.

He also added that they were watching him closely!

When Andrew Azzopardi asked Grech for his reaction to Delia’s public warning, Grech incredibly replied: “What’s wrong with that?”

The second occasion quickly followed, when both Nationalist Party MEPs, Roberta Metsola and David Casa, voted against a European Parliament resolution condemning the Bulgarian government for widespread corruption, involving directly also the prime minister, Boyko Borisov. It also condemned other serious rule of law transgressions, as a result of which daily, widespread mass public demonstrations were held during which many Bulgarian people were injured.

Instead of siding with the people, both Nationalist MEPs sided with the Bulgarian government. This brought the condemnation of the Bulgarian people, who noted that while the two MEPs were so ready to take a stand against corruption and in favour of the rule of law in Malta, they have done the exact opposite in the much more serious case of Bulgaria. In fact, Metsola has been nomi­nated in the Bulgarian media for the title “Mrs Mafia”.

When pressed by journalists whether he had taken any action against Metsola and Casa, the opposition leader simply said that he had spoken to them “and urged them to keep working”. Simply incredible!

This is already a clear indication that Grech is more of a figurehead or spokesman than a real leader of the PN and of the opposition.

He knows that he cannot dare stop any of his MPs and MEPs from damaging Malta’s interest.

He knows that Delia’s sword is hanging over his head.

Eddy Privitera – Mosta

Time for a lockdown

The virus is spreading alarmingly (more than 100 new cases a day at the time of writing) and many of the known victims are the family members or work colleagues, or friends of known carriers. The clear deduction is that people are not following the quarantine/self-isolating rules.

Malta originally had reacted quickly to stop the spread, then acted foolishly and then relaxed rules on the movement and socialising of its people.

It seems obvious that the tourism industry is at a standstill for the foreseeable future. Near-bankrupt airlines are not expecting any improvement before, say, April. And that’s if they can somehow remain sufficiently viable to restart then. So a lockdown would hardly affect our most important industry, in any case.

The majority of new cases appear to be among people aged 25 to 45, who – as is obvious anywhere you look – are failing to keep to the rules (which require little more than common sense). This age group appears to think they are immune and, in any case, will recover quickly, which they usually do, although they will probably be unaware that they have contracted underlying heart conditions that could be serious in later life.

So, while Malta’s main currency earner is temporarily crippled, it might as well start a serious lockdown now, while it would not be disruptive, rather than later – when it would otherwise become necessary.

All non-essential travel – perhaps starting with channel crossings at the weekend and partying on Gozo – should be stopped. Bars and restaurants that can’t isolate customers (limiting groups to no more than six and shutting off alternate tables) should be closed. Street congregations of more than half a dozen should be banned. And the laws should be enforced (which is not currently happening).

These islands are going nowhere this winter. Now is the time for action with the least amount of damage, in the hope that the virus will be contained and, therefore, eradi­cated in time for a restart in spring. Otherwise, when and if tourism resumes, nobody will want to come here.

Revel Barker – Għajnsielem

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