Sociologist, Local Councillor, Activist from Malta

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Civil Protest Aftermath

A big thanks to all those who attended the civil society protest calling for the resignations of Konrad Mizzi and Keith Schembri from their respective Governmental posts in view of their direct involvement in the #Panamapapers scandal.

Around 400 people attended. Judging by previous protests which were not organised by major political parties or trade unions, the crowd was sizable, though probably smaller than what most people, including myself, expected. Still, the courageous people present can say, hand on heart, "I was there", "I stood up to be counted", "I believe in the common good". 

Was this number significant? In my upcoming article in Times of Malta on Monday 9th May  -which I wrote before the protest- my views on the logic of numbers of protests and other  forms of activism will be explained. 

Still, something which needs further analysis and debate, and for which I myself do not have an answer, is to what extent different voices sharing a common opinion can be reconciled. 

The Wied Ghomor victory last Thursday was a case in point of what it means to have a victorious common front - as was the case for example, with other campaigns such as Front Kontra l-Golf Kors (1999-2004), LGBTIQ campaigns, the EU and divorce referenda, and others. 

In this week's Wied Ghomor case, all those involved, from residents to local councils, from Front Harsien ODZ to environmental NGOs, and from the different parties, worked together for the common good, rather than resorting to sectarianism. To be fair, though, the issue was not as controversial and charged as #Panamapapers.

Civil Society Network, which I co-founded with James Debono, Monique Agius and Karl Camilleri, did our best to act as a nodal point in today's civil protest. We did our best so that different voices - which nevertheless agreed on the severity of #Panamapapers - could be in the same protest, characterised by free speech and no power of incumbency or stage-managed machinery. We knew that this has contradictions and limits, but we also know that unity is strength. 

I remain to be convinced that an insular and exclusive agenda is more effective than a tidal wave against an adversary. 

I also want to thank the signatories of the civil society statement which emphasized that "We are simply demanding what is normal and obvious in a democratic society: politicians and politically exposed persons should not be associated with tax havens and dubious financial dealings, as this can result in conflict of interest. This can also have long-term political and social repercussions such as distrust in politics and normalization of corrupt practices"

The signatories are myself Michael Briguglio, Monique Agius, James Debono, Karl Camilleri, Angele Deguara, Mark Anthony Sammut, Michael Grech, Alfred Mangion, Reuben Zammit, Daniel Desira, Marie Lucia Briguglio, Martin Abela, Paul Portelli, Joseph Pace Asciak. Jurgen Balzan, Robert Louis Fenech, Andre' Callus, Salvu Mallia, Antoine Cassar, Charlot Cassar.


Wenzu said...

All comments must be approved by the blog author

Is that how democracy works? What a dipstick

Josephine Cassar said...

Maybe timing was not exactly right-know it was difficult holding it on Sunday as it is Mother's day- but many people are still at work; there were many activities-Mayors' meetings comes to mind and one cannot be absent; or worse still voter fatigue now: people realise nothing is going to be done?

Anne Zammit said...

Seems like Civil Society is still struggling to find its identity in Malta when it comes to critical mass and numbers

Unknown said...

It didn't help that it was on the eve of Mother's Day, panic shopping day. And protesting numerously over the same issue might not go down well with the majority. At least offer a different angle, a new insight. So the attendance was actually not bad.

Anonymous said...

come on,admit was a excuses

doreen said...


Lina Ghirxi said...

We are fed up of protests. Yes, also timing was wrong, cos this one was after the great mass of people on May1 supporting Pm's reshuffle of Paliament, and last tuesday's M. Farrugia's motion in parliament which was defeated. So this particular protest was out of place and time.

Ronald Mifsud said...

The timing was bad. Who in his senses would take a day's work leave to attend a protest? Not only that but on the eve of Mother's day. I would have come had it been held on a more convenient day and time.