During a recent activity in St Paul’s Bay, Opposition leader Adrian Delia said the government has no plan on integration, accusing it of relying on foreigners to solve problems.
While integration is an on-going challenge in Malta and overseas, Delia’s perspective in this circumstance is problematic in three ways.
It is under-researched
Delia’s critique does not do justice to the diverse and research-informed efforts that have been undertaken in recent years to mainstream integration in local policy-making.
Examples include A National Curriculum Framework for All, Malta's Lifelong Learning Strategy 2020 and, in a more explicit and equity-oriented manner, the I Belong Programme.
Comparative research investigating adult migrant education in Malta, Cyprus, Scotland and Estonia also flagged Malta’s thorough policy address to migrant integration and education.
It is counterproductive
When Delia’s critique associates solving problems (such as pensions, the tunnel and the economy) with foreigners’ remit in Malta, it overgeneralises and oversimplifies how addressing such challenges is concurrently being resourced.
For example, the Ministry for Family, Children’s Rights and Social Solidarity is investing in research-informed educational and media campaigns on financial and retirement literacy and capability.
Such over-generalisation also reinforces an ‘us and them’ rhetoric.
Arguably, this may be intended, considering right-wing populist hues that, every so often, seemingly colour Nationalist Party discourse.
Irrespectively, it is ironic and contradictory that, in criticising the government’s shortcomings, the ‘us and them’ rhetoric underlying Delia’s critique (as just explained) undermines precisely what it should be advocating – namely, integration.
It is contradictory
Delia’s critique exemplifies the umpteenth episode when a number of diverse critics of current affairs in Malta, roll out accusations that could be very easily addressed to the accusatory party or his/her platform.
Case in point: Presently, how can the Nationalist Party accuse anyone or any entity of not having a plan addressing any issue or aspect, before addressing the pressing need of producing an informed and thorough plan to fulfil its remit in providing Malta with a competent Opposition?
Isn’t it ironic and disappointing, that the Nationalist Party, in its current state of affairs, chose to criticise someone else for not having a plan?
Aren’t too many candidates running in upcoming elections basing their entire campaign on what-they-will-not-do-that-others-are-doing, rather than on a well-informed, proactive and strategic manifesto?
Notably, clean house prerequisite is not only a Nationalist Party liability, but also of a small number of ‘holier-than-thou’ individuals and entities in Malta.
Such inconsistency renders disservice to the credibility of civil society.
In turn, this increases the risk of a one-party-state, of which avoidance is foundational to the very mission of civil society.
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