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MALTATODAY 3 April 2022

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6 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 3 APRIL 2022 OPINION 2 maltatoday EXECUTIVE EDITOR Matthew Vella Letters to the Editor, MaltaToday, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann SGN 9016 E-mail: Letters must be concise, no pen names accepted, include full name and address maltatoday | SUNDAY • 3 APRIL 2022 If Grech stays, his reforms must be far-reaching Editorial BY staying on as leader, Bernard Grech ultimately sty- mies any sort of credible leadership challenge from as- pirants who would advance a radically different vision for the Nationalist Party. To participate in a leadership election that upsets the establishment that initially forced Adrian Delia out and introduced Grech to the leadership, would stoke yet more division in the party, to go by past experience. Grech's failure at the polls is not his own entirely. Much inside the PN structures and the lasting legacy of its established MPs prevents a leader from effect- ing the party's much needed changes. Grech's shortcomings are certainly evident: the election betrayed his inability to manage his party's internal divisions, with unhappy candidates (also one-time Delia allies) making surprise announce- ments on day one of the campaign that they would not contest; the PN manifesto proffered a complex, management handbook for tax credits enabled by undefined environmental, social and governance criteria; and Grech was hampered by the PN's can- tankerous voice vying for influence in the party – with conservatives and liberals trying hard to get on in this broad church. Only a leader with a clear vision for this party, with the stamina to coax it gently towards the road they want to take it, and some ruthless decision-making, can address the toxic brand the PN seems to repre- sent today. Grech was unable to do this, whether by dint of the internal obstacles he faces, or because he fails to identify the ingredients of what a modern European, centrist party like the PN's own counterparts in the continent, requires. The result is a PN with just over 123,000 people supporting it. Its only consolation is that Labour's overall support is today smaller than 2013's resounding victory. In 2003, Labour leader Alfred Sant faced an inter- nal challenge from the likes of Anglu Farrugia and John Attard Montalto. Notwithstanding their ambi- tions to make Labour more electable after the party's failed campaign against EU membership, Sant's te- nacious hold kept away two pretenders whose pros- pects of success were nowhere as close to Sant's. Af- ter 2008's near-miss, Sant made way for a leadership election of historical significance: Joseph Muscat was elected leader, overcoming George Abela's chal- lenge, whose son is today prime minister. Grech has also been unlucky in having stepped up to accept an onerous challenge mid-way through a legislature in which the divided PN saw a backbench rebellion brutalising Adrian Delia. Grech was only glad to serve. But Delia was also bound to lose and was taking the PN into dead-end political alleys. Grech, or any other aspirant, could have provided a fresh start today in 2022. But Grech's promoters had shown themselves in- creasingly callous about the popular election in which their paid-up members had chosen Delia. The party's establishment and its vocal supporters car- ried the day, forgetting how many had been scarred by their whims. The effects of their intransigence are evident today. Labour in the meantime was delivering what it promised, generating upward mobility for work- ing-class and middle-class families, and pushing more infrastructural investment especially in the south. Abela's election and his ability to revamp his parliamentary group away from the Muscat legacy, was fortuitous for Labour despite its problems with governance. The PN has much work to do on what has ham- pered this party's inability to modernize itself ever since it carried the nation into the European Union. But its refusal to attune itself to the changed ex- pectations and aspirations of a liberal democracy, its political disconnection from the southern con- stituencies, and its cultish subservience to its own exceptionalism and self-serving conformism, has punished it. One can hardly speak for the 60,000 voters who stayed away from the polls – these are hardly a ho- mogeneous bloc, and many of them could be enticed to return to their party homes under different con- ditions. Indeed, much of what Abela's second administra- tion does in these next two years, could again recal- ibrate the electoral map – if participation at the Eu- ropean elections shows itself to be healthy, it would signify a clean bill of health for Maltese politics. But the PN must change. It must not ditch the fight against corruption – but it cannot turn it into a mor- al crusade for 'anti-Labour' sentiment. And its MPs cannot berate voters' democratic choices as simply the malady of the 'amoral familism',or appear inured to the vilification of anyone remotely connected to Labour. If Grech is going to be the caretaker leader of a di- minished PN, he must start by recognising the par- ty's shortcomings and prepare it for a courageous evolution. The reforms he ushers in for his party, must be far-reaching. 3 April 2012 UHM suspends directives at Mater Dei Hospital UNION Haddiema Maghqudin directive could have halted operations at Mater Dei Hospital on Monday due to the lack of steri- lised surgical tools. The Union Haddiema Maghqudin has sus- pended directives issued to its members within the Central Sterilisation Supllies Deparment at Mater Dei Hospital. Speaking to MaltaToday, UHM president Jesmond Bonello confirmed that the directive has been suspended for the moment, as the un- ion is to meet with Health Minister Joe Cassar and Finance Minister Tonio Fenech. The meeting is to be held next Monday at 4pm. UHM had also issued directives to pharmacy technicians and to pharmacists, with the risk that on Monday, not only operations would be halted but as well as the Pharmacy of Your Choice scheme and government's pharmacy. Both directives have been suspended. The directives were in relation to ongoing discussions on the new sectoral agreement. The first one, for the grade of Paramedic Aides (Decontamination) at the CSSD (Central Sterilisation Supplies Department) at Mater Dei Hospital, targeted at the preparation of sterile equipment and instruments for elective (planned) surgical operations. The Health Ministry said that the impact of these directives would result in the cancella- tions of most elective operations at Mater Dei Hospital. "Government has already agreed to the award of an additional allowance to these em- ployees of €1,150 per annum upon signing of the agreement," the health ministry said. "This allowance is in line with the established parameters and given the particular nature of their work." But in comments to MaltaToday, Jesmond Bonello also said that he did not agree with government's solution in how it employed new personnel to address staff shortage: "They are going to employ people on self-employed basis, instead of the normal work contract. This is unacceptable, most especially since all trade unions are trying to fight precarious works. ... Quote of the Week "We will convince you with our humility. I will not be tolerating any arrogance within my team." Prime Minister Robert Abela's first speech after his landslide victory on 27 March, 2022 MaltaToday 10 years ago

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