Alternattiva Demokratika has many times claimed that there only cosmetic difference between the two large parties, hence the term PNPL. On immigration, this couldn’t be more true.

Many have the wrong impression that the PL are the tough guys on immigration while the PN are for tolerance, respect for human rights and Christian values. Bullshit. The only difference is they way they talk about it, the package. The policies are exactly the same.

The only “difference” is that while the PN talk about voluntary burden sharing with the EU, the PL talk about compulsory burden sharing. Once again, this difference is no difference at all for a very simple reason. Burden sharing is EU law and whether it’s voluntary or compulsory isn’t up to Muscat or Gonzi to decide. In fact, all parties in Malta, including AD, support compulsory burden sharing and consider the present scenario as unfair to the border states. But the reality is that many EU countries, already struggling with their own far right problems, will never agree with compulsory burden sharing. (Keep in mind that if such a mechanism is to take place, it would not have to cover only Malta where asylum seekers are a few thousand but also other countries like Greece, Cyprus and Italy where they run into millions).

On issues that can actually make a difference for the immigrants and minimize the costs for the Maltese, such as revising detention policy and grant work permits instead of a permit to work, as suggested by AD, the position of the PNPL is exactly the same.

Same thing on the minimum wage controversy. AD is the only party for increasing the minimum wage. Yet, the PN managed to spin it that Muscat is the evil anti-worker pseudo-socialist that wants to freeze the minimum wage. Truth is, the PL are just against increasing it, which is the exact position of the PN.

These two examples, amongst many others, make it clear that unlike most other EU countries that have a variety of parties with different beliefs and ideologies in parliament Malta has less than two. Most of the time it just has one: PNPL.

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According to Dr Chris Said, the cohabitation bill which overtly discriminates against same-sex couples and ignores crucial issues such as taxation, is “based on what the government believes is right and is acceptable to society.”

I beg to differ on the generalization about what is acceptable to society but for the sake of the argument, let’s say he’s right.

So? Does that make discrimination justifiable?

One of the very basics in human rights law and ethics is that minority rights should be respected irrespective of what the majority thinks, as long as fulfilling those rights doesn’t involve denying the rights to others.

It is definitely not the case here. Not-liking-gays-getting-married is NOT a human right. It’s bigotry.

If you’re afraid that same-sex couples getting married is going to affect your own marriage because “it weakens the institution of marriage” is such a twisted way of thinking that maybe you weren’t really suited for marriage in the first place. What the heck are you thinking, that your wife will leave you because Olga and Priscilla next door are going to tie the knot?

Same-sex marriage is about treating equals as equal. It doesn’t interfere on the rights of the majority in any way and those who oppose it are motivated by either bigotry or irrationality.

Needless to say, the PL were quick to point fingers at Chris Said accusing him of “homophobia”. Ironically, Joseph Muscat has already stated clearly he believes marriage is for people of the opposite sex only. In other words he doesn’t consider gay couples as equal either.

Introducing same-sex marriage isn’t just about LGBT rights. It’s also a reflection on whether our government (and opposition) really believe in equality in diversity or whether they consider it as just a slogan.

The first word I heard when visiting Block B in the detention centre for migrants at Safi was “Freedom”. Which, as Col Brian Gatt had informed us beforehand, is the first word any visitor hears as soon as he approaches the immigrants.

Though we didn’t visit the warehouses where the conditions are worse especially due to overcrowding, the inmates at Block B didn’t complain about the conditions they were kept in. Miles away from a one star hotel, but the atmosphere wasn’t tense. The relationship between the officers and the detainees also looked very positive, and it is clear that Col Gatt is looked at as both a person in authority as well as someone who deserves respect.

What struck me was their reaction to the amount of time they have to remain detained. I expected anger towards this aspect, and while there was a certain amount of anger, what was clear from what they said and their body language is a sense of awe. They simply couldn’t understand why they were being detained for so long (18 months).

I tried to be honest with the detainees as much as I could. I told them that we were a small political party and the only party in Malta that suggests a 6 month maximum detention period, rather than the irrational 18 months. While I promised we’ll keep on insisting on the more reasonable 6 month maximum, this wasn’t likely to change any time soon.

I also tried to explain the reason why. First of all that since they entered the country in an irregular manner they needed to be monitored. Quite reluctantly they understood this. But why for so long?

The truth is that up to a decade ago, one would barely see a black person in Malta. Unlike most other Western European countries most black people entered the country as asylum seekers, on boats, sometimes in large numbers. This created a sense of shock, not necessarily racism but while we have our fair share of racists, it was more a question of fearing what was new, things we hadn’t been exposed to before – in this case, seeing a substantial amount of black people in Malta

I tried to explain that it is this was caused automatic and long term detention. That the hysteria that was felt in the country in 2002 has decreased a lot since Maltese people now meet immigrants on a day to day basis and know them personally. Also, that detention gives the Maltese people a sense of safety that what is yet “unknown” is being closely monitored.

Some understood, others didn’t. “No one was a afraid when we saw the first white people in Nigeria”, one immigrant told me.

That is what I told them. Unfortunately, there is more.

I didn’t tell them that since 2002, Malta has seen the birth of two extreme right movement, who aside to the lunatic ramblings, also decided to contest elections (one of them Alleanza Nazzjonali has by now closed shop, the other, Imperium Evropa has actually went further extreme and intends to finish what Hitler didn’t).

In order not to cause any agitation I refrained from telling them that the only reason they were being detained for so long is that both government and opposition lack balls and are afraid that they lose some votes to the remaining extreme right party if they dare rock the boat.

That their real fear is not that black people let loose will become werewolves, but that a hallucinating neo-Nazi gathers his few, but fanatically loyal followers, tell them that the blacks were let loose to rape their women and eat their babies – and then, contest elections.

What I did tell them is that what we, the Greens are asking for is not abolishing the monitoring of people who enter Malta in an irregular manner. I explained that some time in detention (maximum 6 months) is necessary. That the monitoring should go on after the immigrant is released through regular signing at police stations and mandatory health checks.

What we are proposing is nothing more than common sense, humane and cost efficient. The only reason these people are being detained for so long is that both government and opposition lack balls.