Editorial | Less pride, more maturity and good will

With an election around the corner, time is limited and in some of the proposed reforms, meaningful consultations with different stakeholders is likely to conflict with the short period available


The eve of an election is not the right time for political discussions on important laws that require bipartisan commitment.

But this should not be a stumbling block for a tough but needed discussion on laws that tackle head-on the red flags highlighted by the Daphne Caruana Galizia public inquiry.

Government has said that over the past months it has held discussions with a number of stakeholders that led to the announcement of a committee of media experts as requested by the inquiry.

Government has also handed over a number of media reform laws to the committee so that it can review them and give its feedback before they are tabled in parliament. The Bills are intended to offer journalists and the media more protection.

At the same time, the Opposition has come out with an omnibus motion proposing several laws and amendments to fight corruption, mafia-like organisations, foster good governance and strengthen the protection of journalists.

The flurry of activity of recent days comes months after the public inquiry concluded its work. Its findings were damning on government and its recommendations spanned various sectors.

It does not appear, as yet, that apart from the work to set up the media experts committee and prepare the relevant laws targeting the journalism sector, that government has embraced other recommendations made by the inquiry. This is a failing.

But crying over spilt milk will get us nowhere. There are now a raft of proposals from government and the Opposition on the table.

The Bills presented by the Prime Minister to the committee of media experts are more extensive than those put forward by the Opposition but on the key issues of constitutional safeguards and anti-SLAPP legislation both sides are not far away from each other.

The committee of media experts can bring both views together and put forward a consolidated proposal that offers wide-ranging protection to journalists and the media.

As for the anti-corruption and good governance proposals put forward by the Opposition, these are by no means perfect or exhaustive but provide a very good basis for discussion.

The legal changes propose several new concepts that will require serious debate such as the special anti-corruption inquiring magistrate with prosecutorial powers and a specific anti-mafia provision.

The Opposition is also proposing new crimes such as abuse of public office and regulating government’s power of incumbency when an election is called.

Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis has publicly said that government would be willing to engage with the Opposition although he included the proviso ‘if the proposals make sense’.

This leader agrees with the Chamber of Commerce that no more time should be lost.

Politicians on both sides must show less pride and more maturity at this juncture in this country’s trajectory.

Government must display genuine willingness to engage with the Opposition in a meaningful way on its proposals. The Opposition must also be willing to compromise so that the legislative initiatives not only bring about change but also take into account Malta’s peculiarities as a small country.

This leader is certain that with good will significant reforms can be introduced to right many of the wrongs identified by the public inquiry.

With an election around the corner, time is limited and in some of the proposed reforms, meaningful consultations with different stakeholders is likely to conflict with the short period available.

In these cases, both major parties must make a political commitment to continue discussions after the election.

With good will a lot of progress can be achieved in 2022.

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