The Armchair Critic | The Future is Female?

On International Women’s Day, we embrace the women we love and remind ourselves of how far we have come and progressed. With a general election currently ongoing, it is the perfect opportunity for us to watch what the political parties have done from the comfort of our own sofas and/or armchairs. This is one of those times.

What are we criticising?

Bernard Grech and Robert Abela’s separate interviews yesterday and the two parties’ proposals which specifically pertain to womens’ rights. And also, what they did for International Womens’ Day.

What do we know so far?

The Labour Party has pledged that if re-elected, it will roll out free contraceptives, as well as the Morning-After Pill, and widen the applicability of breast screening, amongst other proposals. The Nationalist Party held a special event for Women’s day and discussed many issues.  

International Women’s Day

We have previously mentioned that how both parties will move forward and take key issues which women face on a daily basis will be key in shaping one’s decision on who to vote for. On a programme today, Labour Party President Ramona Attard and Nisa Laburisti Head Nikita Zammit Alamango announced a number of Labour Party’s proposals in the upcoming electoral manifesto. Both said that if re-elected, a new Labour Government will see that contraception, including the Morning After Pill will be offered in pharmacies and health centres. More so, sanitary products, such as tampons and hygenic sanitary pads will be available, free of charge, in schools. This was based on a position taken by Nisa Laburisti in 2020. Truly, a remarkable proposal.  The Nationalist Party reaffirmed that they had taken this position earlier in 2021, however, this proposal was not clear in the party’s election manifesto. 

Abela faces questions 

Last night we headed to Marsaxlokk, a town most notorious for its unique culture and fisheries and a branch of the 3rd Electoral District. We start with some light hearted jokes- always a good start. We are reminded that it has been two years since the first case of coronavirus had been discovered in Malta and what was inevitably, a rollercoaster not just for Malta, but for the world. Abela admits that this was a moment of tension, because of the uncertainty and the limited information available on what contracting COVID-19 meant.

Abela did not fall short of giving a detailed account of how he handled the pandemic. He maintained the efficacy of the decisions taken by his administration on the advice of the health authorities, difficult as they may have been. We’re guessing that, immaterial of the party leading the government, handling a global pandemic is no walk in the park, coupled with balancing people’s needs, Abela said that the load should be carried on the Government’s shoulders, not the people’s.

Greylisting, a very important topic which can shape the final voting outcome. Let’s see what Abela has to say about this. Abela said the FATF’s decision to greylist Malta was a reality check for the Government, which witnessed the accumulation of the lack of action on issues which needed serious redress. But with a new action plan to demonstrate that these goals have been achieved and an upcoming visit, the future is optimistic, for the after effects have also been considered. Abela also further elaborated on the problems faced by businesses and that the current proposals put forward by the Labour Party aim to cater for these problems. 

Back to the notorious 700 million proposal, Abela was asked if the conservation of current green open spaces will also be part of the government’s mission to invest in green projects. Abela mentioned the rationalisation project done back in 2006 and that going forward, while admitting mistakes were made, with the right and carefully concocted solution, the environment will be further preserved and incentivised by a new Labour government. On fisheries, Abela maintained the importance of this sector, he said that discussed a few proposals addressed for this sector. 

Abela was honest that despite opportunities, there are still factors which hold back women who aspire and choose to enter the workplace.

Finally, time to dedicate to what the Labour Party will do in light of International Womens’ Day. Abela jumps straight to the point and says that women serve a crucial role in every organ of the State and the way reform is shaped. Abela was honest that despite opportunities, there are still factors which hold back women who aspire and choose to enter the workplace. A proposal? Please, this better be good. Women above the age of 40 and who have never been in the workplace, for whatever reason, will be paid 30% of their salaries by the tentative government, by means of capping, over a period of 3 years. This is a good point, Abela said, a lot has been done, but a lot more is left to be done. And we close off with a positive attitude. We guess we are not at the finish line, but the road ahead looks bright. 

Today’s Ranking

Yesterday’s  interview was insightful, and we saw a side of the Prime Minister which might not be publicised- the emotions and the work it takes to make hard decisions. Yesterday’s interview focused on subjects which are on people’s minds, such as the future going from the COVID-19 pandemic, women’s rights and the FATF’s decision to greylist Malta. Abela did not focus on blaming Grech or going on a petulant rigor, but rather addressed key issues and answers which were on everyone’s minds. The one thing which we think Abela can work on is simplifying his words so that anyone who is watching can understand every single word and remember it for the rest of the tenure. 

Solid Answers: 9

Pragmatism: 8

Clearly spoken: 9

Presentation: 7

Grech takes the 5th District

Grech starts his interview by sharing his condolences to the family of Sandra Shields, a key player and part of the Nationalist Party’s team. We share our condolences to her family. Grech jumps straight on Abela’s proposal for allowing companies with a legal right to open bank accounts, pointing to the specific page of the Nationalist Party Manifesto. More on the plagiarism platform. Grech admitted that while the survey results may not be promising, the Nationalist Party’s campaign is aimed at celebrating the country’s successes. 

This is an interesting question, on whether the Chief Campaign Manager of the Nationalist Party and Grech agree on the constitutionality, or lack thereof, of media entities owned by political parties. Grech maintained that the choice was made because of the mutual interest of moving the Nationalist Party forward. As an answer, Grech quoted his predecessor, former Prime Minister Eddie Fenech Adami’s words but did not elaborate on their future, rather the bias of the national broadcaster. Band-aid? Maybe. And a court case? Well, this escalated. 

On why Grech wishes to keep the citizenship by investment scheme, he said that the difference between himself and Robert Abela, is that Grech is the better innovator and visionary because of his idea of creating “new” economic sectors. Not exactly sectors which would be like introducing a new technological advancement to a child, but anyways. Grech adds it as part of his creative streak, in that the Labour Party’s imagination is limited in this regard. Grech maintained that one must make a valid contribution for one to become a Maltese citizen, along with a good level of due diligence. (Which Abela already ascertained that that is in place) 

Grech said that he’s the better innovator and visionary because of his idea of creating “new” economic sectors.

Oh this is even more interesting, a military question. Will Bernard Grech, if elected, put forward an amendment to the neutrality clause in the Constitution of Malta and instead, form an alliance and enter NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization). Phew, at least Grech maintains the Constitution’s supremacy. He ruled against dropping neutrality, however was open to allegiance. Grech criticised Abela’s ‘inaction’ over taking sooner action- and specified that there are Russian citizens who have been naturalised and have done good, but anyone who has other intentions will be faced with closed borders. Ah, mention of the drone incident-  apparently a ploy to get an early peek into the Nationalist Party’s electoral manifesto. Surely, the Labour Party is too focused on getting a solid and unassailable manifesto and has little time to stay worrying about what its adversary is up to?

Abela the ventriloquist. At least, that is what the Nationalist Party is alleging him to be. The way Grech depicts it, it seems to be a bigger mystery than any Agatha Christie novel imaginable. A question on conservatism, or at least the Nationalist Party’s approach to conservatism. Grech labeled his position as one which does not aim at buying people’s votes, and elaborated on the Nationalist Party’s liberal stances in its track record by giving example: maintaining the economy, accession into the European Union, etc. I think the focus of the question was more intended on radical issues, such as soft drug legalisation. On this,  Grech maintained that with the Labour Party’s attempt at legislating, the act of law normalised cannabis use. Because…that was the intention in the first place? We can agree on Grech that stopping at simply enacting a law is good but its implementation is even more important. Anyways, let’s rank. 

Today’s Ranking

 Grech gave solid answers for some questions, but was not entirely direct in others. While hanging out with the younger generation is a good look, not being willing to discuss radical issues which the same generation may wish to see unfold in the future of the country is telling. Grech makes a good pledge, but his limiting factor may be his focus on almost everything which the Labour Party and its leader does, rather than chiseling the current ground upon which the Nationalist Party has been built on. But he made good points nevertheless. 

Solid Answers: 6 

Pragmatism: 7

Clearly spoken: 7

Presentation: 7

4.8 4 votes
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