I do not know Robert Henry Bugeja, the candidate who spared Labour’s blushes by failing to get elected in the casual election for a parliamentary seat. For all I know, he may have been the most competent candidate on the PL list in the last general election.
But that doesn’t take away the fact that his comments on black migrants and Malta’s top philanthropic initiative are repulsive.
What is even more shocking, however, is the reaction of his own party, when Times of Malta divulged the idiotic comments he posted on Facebook.
One such post features a photo of a vessel loaded with black migrants with the caption ‘President’s charity ride’. He also urged people not to donate to l-Istrina, claiming that the President was forcing the Maltese to integrate with African migrants. And were it not enough, he even called for a referendum to pull Malta out of the EU.
Instead of ordering Mr Bugeja to immediately pull out of the race, and rebuking him publicly, the Labour Party merely asked him to delete the offensive posts on Facebook. That doesn't even count as a slap on the wrist.
If an aspiring candidate on a centre-left ticket overseas had to post the same diatribe, he would be humiliated in public... by his own party!
But then again should we be surprised with the reaction of a Maltese political party which changes principles like used nappies to suit its electoral cause?
Labour failed to take Mr Bugeja to task because it knows it would win them no votes. Just a quick glance at the online comments boards and you realise that many agree with Mr Bugeja’s frankly racist views.
Public figures who are in a position of influence have a social responsibility over what they say or post in public.
But then again, this is the same party which went on to award former minister Joe Grima as special envoy to the United Nations’ World Tourism Organisation, months after he called human right NGO Aditus “cultural rapists”.
Labour is lucky Mr Bugeja failed to get elected in the casual election because it would have earned it the rebuke of the independent press.
It is a pity that Mr Bugeja’s candidacy in the first place failed to jolt a centre-left party to stand by its socialist (liberal, progressive?) principles.
Joseph Muscat cannot claim the moral high ground and proclaim he condemns racism when he is so willing to compromise when faced with candidates holding bigoted views.
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