Footage of migrants chanting ‘Viva l-Labour’ aboard a tourist ferry boat currently docked outside Maltese waters is an invitation to other migrants from African countries, Adrian Delia claimed on Saturday.

The leader of the Opposition was being interviewed on PN media by L-Orizzont journalist Matthew Charles Zammit.

Some 425 people are currently being held on four boats off Malta after they were rescued by the armed forces over the past five weeks. 

In May, following claims by NGO Alarm Phone of a hunger strike among the rescued migrants, videos and pictures were leaked on social media showing an apparently happier scene.

They showed the migrants dancing and singing, and plates of pasta being served. In one, they sang the Labour party anthem 'Viva l-Labour'.

Delia said on Saturday that he understood the sensitivity of the migration issue: the authorities were dealing with human lives on one hand and the country’s security on the other. 

Delia warned that once Malta dropped its state of public health emergency triggered by COVID-19, it had to let in migrants as the argument that the island was not the closest safest port would no longer hold water.

“I have asked for a meeting with the European Commissioner for Migration to warn him that this could result in tragedy. We are asking for help. We have saved people, as we should have done, and now Europe should do its part,” he said, adding that the government should however be cautious. 

“Everyone saw footage of migrants singing Labour Party songs. This is an invitation from [Prime Minister] Robert Abela for all of the African content to come to Malta. If we saw this video in Malta they must have seen it in Africa,” he said.

Delia added that the government had spent six years saying our doors were open to foreign workers.

“From day one we said that Malta cannot bolster its economy by increasing the population.

“At one point the government said we needed 10, 20 thousand more people a year, and now it is saying we cannot take in more people. The government is not credible.”

During the interview Delia was asked several times for his reaction to surveys showing that the PN was not faring well among the electorate.

However, Delia said that the numbers he was most concerned with were related to unemployment, not surveys.

There are currently 10,816 people without a job, however, the government was only acknowledging the 3,900 registered with Jobs Plus, he said.

The 7,000 families who have lost their job due to COVID-19 are not only dealing with the ordeal of unemployment and searching for a new job, but also the fact that they had been forgotten by the government, Delia said. 

“Are these 7,000 people ghosts? Don’t they have feelings,” he asked.

Politics of persuasion 

Pressed about the low trust figures Delia said he believed in politics of persuasion: “listening to people and being there with them”. 

“This is a much-needed exercise for the PN… Politics should not be top-down. We have created policy clusters, led by experts, and we are inviting everyone and anyone to participate in this change,” he said. 

He added that the party might have distanced itself from people, but it now needed to start rebuilding a rapport with people and provide an alternative to the government.

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