Despite being exposed by the media as not telling the truth on the size of Malta’s population, Opposition Leader Bernard Grech not only did not withdraw his incorrect statements, but even went on the attack, arguing that it was the National Statistics Office (NSO) that was manipulating information.
When a Times of Malta journalist asked him why he was repeating a lie about the population has doubled, Opposition Leader Bernard Grech burst into an attack on the journalist who had compiled the article published by the newspaper that exposed his lie.
Grech said that it was the Times of Malta that had got it wrong, and that they should check the facts. In true post-truth fashion, it was he who was inventing facts as he was going along. Grech, similar to other populist leaders, attacked the official statistics office (NSO) and claimed that its figures are wrong. According to him, there are hundreds of thousands of foreigners who are unrecorded. Thus, just like politicians like Geert Wilders in the Netherlands, he said that he will keep repeating what he believes despite what official statistics.
Grech, who in recent days has been criticised by the media for the xenophobic comments he is making, tried to undermine the NSO. This attack comes just after the NSO has been given a very good certificate by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, after a peer review process of its operations. Moreover, the NSO has just joined just another 30 statistical institutes around the world to whom the International Monetary Fund (IMF) confers a special statust in recognition for both the quality and transparency of its data. It is worth recalling that our country has spent many millions to carry out a comprehensive census of the population, which has been verified and approved by Eurostat.
Bernard Grech’s statements also sparked a reaction from the Director General of the NSO, Etienne Caruana, who in an article in The Malta Independent stated that the office he runs uses the same high standards of information gathering, in accordance with European Union regulations, as other national statistical institutes. Thus, if Malta’s population figures are wrong, then all the numbers of the rest of the EU are also wrong.
Facts, however, will certainly not stop the Opposition Leader from his negative campaign. In the last few days, in fact, Grech has been caught lying about teachers’ wages and about class sizes. Truly a recurring case of dishonesty and statistical manipulation, demonstrating his disregard for truth and accuracy.