31 Jan – 6 Feb 2001

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Taking us back to the kulturpolitik of the early eighties

The well organised conference held last weekend at the Labour Party Headquarters underlined the thinking process within Labour or rather the absence of it.

And we say so, not because we are mercenaries as Dr Alfred Sant has ably argued but because we do not see any vision in his words.

Dr Sant has back tracked, parading with his neutrality trump card, a relic from the Mintoffian days and his diatribes on his pet issues: the Daewoo case and the HSBC take-over.

On the former, Dr Sant must come to terms with the fact that his font of information is knee deep in the whole affair.

Need we proceed with more details?
On the HSBC take-over, Dr Sant has not come to terms with the role of private foreign companies, in his effort to rally support in the militant core.

And yet, worse still, is the adamant position taken by the Labour leader over Europe. It would be understandable if he suggested that the negotiations were feeble or that Malta need to take a stand on transitional period or derogations.

But Dr Sant is caught in a time warp. He has a Brussels baggage to deal with, he believes that we would be better off as a free trade area

But then he should tell the multitude of delegates that a free trade area entails the implementation of the EU directives.

It also requires the removal of all levies and the need to erase all subsidies.
Dr Sant has a short memory. When he was Prime Minister he instructed his Minister of Public Works and Construction Mr Charles Buhagiar to see that the requisites dictated by the European Investment Bank EIB were implemented.

These meant the removal of subsidies for certain utility bills and the introduction of the drainage tax.
If there was ever a leader who indulged in doing what the foreigners said it was Dr Sant himself and the aftermath to that reasoning led to his downfall in the 1998 elections by his former mentor, creator and idol: Dom Mintoff.

This government should be criticised for many of its management struggles and mishaps but not for its vision to get Malta into the European Union.

Not only because it will mean participating in a market of 500 million citizens but furthermore because it is the key for long term economic growth.

That line of thinking is not shared by many of Dr Alfred Sant's immediate faithful and unquestioning lieutenants such as the newly appointed Mr Cuschieri and Mr Philip Borg. But then there are others who could easily change their political orientation if Dr Sant had to get up and leave.

The funniest part was watching convinced Europhiles address the delegates and spout venom at the monster called Europe.

This is an interesting time for the media but a dangerous interval for the future of this country.

And at the end of the day Dr Sant is only interested in winning an election even if it means taking Malta back to the good old kulturpolitik of the early eighties.

The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07
Tel: (356) 382741-3, 382745-6 | Fax: (356) 385075 | e-mail: editorial@networkpublications.com.mt