Some 3 weeks ago Malta went to the polls and had a unique and life-changing chance to finally rid the country of a yoke, a burden that has weighed down on it for decades. They had the chance to show the politicians of this island where the Hunter’s Lobby should be – that is: NOT in the Driving Seat of their decisions.
Yet Malta failed.
And it failed on more counts then one.
Not only did it fail to protect nature, to protect those wild birds that would be, unfortunately for them, passing over our lands on their way to their breeding grounds.
It also failed to stand up to the bullying of a minority of people who feel that they have the right to kill, to destroy, to occupy and to contaminate.
To kill harmless and defenseless animals
To destroy their habitat and in the process the habitat of many other fauna & flora
To occupy land that would/should belong to the public at large
To contaminate the land with their lead pellets
It also failed to show the political class that the country will no longer stand for this nonsense of them being held at ‘gunpoint’ (so to speak) by the hunter’s lobby.
It failed to mature beyond the gullibility of the past when people would gawk and take as fact every single word spewed out by the few no matter how obviously fact-less those claims were.
It failed, ultimately, the future generations of Maltese and the world by allowing the few bullies today to destroy and thus deny them their right to be able to watch, listen and be mesmerized by these beautiful creatures.
A campaign run by the Yes vote – ie the hunters and those who were in favour of retaining the derogation for Spring Hunting in Malta – was built on a mountain of disinformation, subtle and not so subtle untruths, blatant lies and hypocritical appeals to the mental health of the hunters themselves. Shoring up all these deceitful tactics was the Prime Minister of Malta who did his utmost to help push forward the Yes Campaign’s agenda – first by publicly stating that he will vote yes (and thus turning this environmental issue into a political issue and automatically securing all the votes of his die-hard supporters who just follow the leader like sheep), and secondly by actively campaigning for the Yes group towards the end of the campaign despite having said he will not do so.
On the other hand we had the No Camp – those against Spring Hunting – who started off too late and were weak and quite ineffectual with their campaign. Despite all their good intentions they never really managed to address the real issues at stake and instead went for the tear jerkers. Many people decided to sun their own mini-campaign as a result.
The referendum of 11th April came and went – we all know the disastrous result but right until the very end we all hoped! We all prayed that Malta had finally grown up and matured enough to be able to decide for themselves on such an issue and not rely on their political fathers for ‘facts’ and definitely not to simply toe the line just because some politico said so. Unfortunately that was not the case. Malta is still stuck in its childish pique based politics.
The Yes Campaign, and thus the hunters and all those who are for ‘hobby’s’ that include killing of wild animals, won the referendum with 50.4% of the votes vs 49.6% who voted against spring hunting – a mere difference some 2220 votes. With about 2500 votes being marked as invalid and no way of knowing which way that vote would have gone if not invalidated (either by the voter intentionally or through some minor error) the actual result was very, very close.
So maybe my previous paragraph is not entirely true… however…
As soon as the result was out and official our pompous PM announced that there will be Zero tolerance to abuse threatening with closure of the season if flagrant abuse is reported.
Hold on a sec… wasn’t that already on the cards, hadn’t zero tolerance already been announced, so what’s new this time round?
Thing is, the hunters themselves thought he was just posturing again as has happened countless times before and off they went with their shotguns in hand and started to blast away willy nilly with nigh a thought about the consequences. Soon, actually on the very same day Spring Hunting opened, obviously, reports of illegally shot birds were being made.
First a cuckoo (but that could have been two, or maybe three?), then a lapwing, then a dutch boy (hold on, that ain’t a bird so what excuse this time?), then a kestrel – shot right next to a school outside the allowed times for hunting! Flagrant if that wasn’t then heck I never know what would be. However these were just the few illegalities that were actually witnesses and recorded – God alone knows how many went unrecorded.
Our dear PM had no choice, he had dallied enough delaying his decision as long as possible and in the meantime allowing the hunters their barbaric pass-time until it was literally forced on him. He wouldn’t take the decision earlier as he would lose out with the hunters and their families (votes are more important than anything else) but he couldn’t wait any longer as it would have been utterly ridiculous.
In a way it is ridiculous already as with only just 3 mornings left of the Spring Season he didn’t really deny the Hunter’s much despite all the flagrant abuse that was going on.
So, yet again, it was just a load of posturing for personal advancement.
Tough decision-maker? Not really!