The grave deficiencies of the present government in the provision of adequate housing for young people planning to marry, for those who have passed through the travails of a marital breakup, as for those displaced by a market increasingly unbalanced by the uncontrolled influx of foreigners, have indeed now come to the fore. 

Prices in the rental market have increased to unbearable levels. 

Families feel that their basic needs are under threat. They feel threatened in their efforts to sustain an acceptable standard of living with a take home pay increasingly drained of its purchasing power. Furthermore, we are all aware of the challenges of the unreasonable cost of living increases. 

Communication by roads has become so obviously awfully difficult to control and manage that the fact itself does not even require written comment. However, it requires planning skill and commitment, both of which this present government does not have.

On the Opposition benches, there are some who think that Labour’s populist rhetoric is meant to cover incompetence and inefficiency, and some others who think that it just covers corruption. However, it always tries to hide an insensibility to the suffering and anguish of fellow citizens. 

Mercenary considerations have also invaded almost any field of government, including education, the area in which one would have imagined there would be a heavy investment in knowledge and in its great abundance to beneficial effect. 

This government has embraced the establishment of an ‘American’ university, apparently because of it being a “good business deal”. The general level of education, which rose steadily during the years of Nationalist government, is now giving indications of stagnation.

The environment has become less of a priority: our trees are losing out to many other concerns; the landscape, as well as the cityscape, are also not being adequately safeguarded by the State apparatus. 

Those who have demonstrated in favour of the defence of the environment have been manhandled by controlled forces who should have been the first to defend the environment themselves. 

One of the worst features of this present administration is its cavalier way of dealing with matters of the rule of law and of probity. While publicity is one of the principal safeguards of the proper working of the whole machinery of justice, and while the whole purpose of the system of ‘magisterial’ inquiry is that of finding, conserving and registering evidence of the true facts, it has been deemed lately, by the government side that ‘publication’ has to be selective. No convincing justification of the limitation of publication has been made. 

Labour’s populist rhetoric is meant to cover incompetence and inefficiency, and some others who think that it just covers corruption

In the face of these challenges, our project of government should deal with the truth. People elected to govern, even if with lopsided majorities, are not exempt from their preeminent duty of dealing openly with the truth. 

This government, seemingly does not subscribe to the injunction: the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. More so when dealing with the findings of an investigative court, the constitutional function of which is that of establishing the truth.

Our project in government has to deal with liberty and justice, as with security. 

It has also to deal with the way government powers are exercised vis-a-vis the citizen. We do not pander to the demagogy that pits people against the State. 

The State exists for the people; all people, of whatever class or faction. Liberty and justice cannot be secured without the State. The State should not be taken as ‘owned’ by those elected by a majority. 

Those momentarily in power should feel the obligation of maintaining and sustaining respect for the State, not merely as a result of fear and resentment.  This is possible. 

It is a challenge to which we, now in Opposition, look forward to – to the time when we shall, again, show that we respect people beyond and through the powers bestowed upon us by the State.

We look forward to the day when we shall, again, put the well-being of every human being at the centre of government. 

We believe in equality. We do not believe in privilege. Not in the privilege provided by wealth, by social class or by political party, or by partisan friendships. 

We are not, and will not be, intoxicated by power. We are decided to maintain the humility of listening to the voice of deprivation and the cries of those who suffer injustice.

Because of what we have achieved in the past, and because of that which our electorate has always expected from a Nationalist government, we pledge to maintain the highest of standards.  

This is our resolve: we intend to deliver in meeting the challenges which our society is increasingly facing, mainly because of the failings of the present government.

Carm Mifsud Bonnici is the Nationalist Party spokesman on foreign affairs and trade promotion.

This is a Times of Malta print opinion piece


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